As first tweeted by our friend Carmichael Dave, Sacramento Kings brass were seen around town Monday with Orlando Magic restricted free agent Ryan Anderson. That’s right folks, the Kings are not just sitting around, watching the 2012 free agent class stroll by.
Anderson played high school ball at Oak Ridge in El Dorado Hills and college ball down I-80 at Cal. The 24-year old forward averaged an impressive 16 points and 7.7 rebounds per game last season for the Magic, taking home the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. He also led the league in 3- point attempts (422) and 3- point makes (166), which equated to a stellar 39.3 percent.
While Anderson would present some interesting dilemmas, it appears that this is not a plan B type situation. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee not only confirmed that Anderson was in town, but threw out a second bit of interesting information via twitter. According to Jones, the Kings have already made a contract offer to their own restricted free agent, Jason Thompson.
Here is the hitch in the plan. With Thompson in tow, the Kings have at least five big men on the roster – DeMarcus Cousins, Chuck Hayes, Hassan Whiteside and rookie Thomas Robinson. They also have Travis Outlaw, a combo-forward on the roster, who can add depth against smaller power forwards. Is there room for a player like Anderson who has only played the 4 position most of his career?
My guess is that Geoff Petrie watched enough of Peja Stojakovic, similar in size to Anderson, and believes he can handle the position. Petrie also understands what a pure shooter like Anderson can do for your offensive scheme and I think he is willing to take a gamble.
There are other issues at play as well. Again, Anderson is a restricted free agent, which means the Magic can match any offer. The Kings currently sit around $11 million under the cap once Robinson signs his rookie deal. Can they fit both Anderson and Thompson into their current payroll structure?
They have options. The Kings still have their amnesty provision from the new collective bargaining agreement. They could hand veteran Francisco Garcia a check for $6.1 million and wish him well. They could also hand a much larger $16.6 million check to veteran John Salmons to start fresh at small forward.
A move like this would allow coach Keith Smart the luxury of moving Tyreke Evans back into the guard rotation where he rightly belongs. It would also provide Evans with the best shooting wing he’s ever had in his three NBA seasons.
There are a lot of woulds, coulds and ifs in this proposition, but it doesn’t hurt to kick the tires on a homegrown talent like Anderson. He is the kind of shooter the Kings need, but the questions still remain – can he play small forward and how much will he cost to sign?