by Charlie O. Mallonee
The Sacramento Kings appeared to be in neutral on the free agent market while waiting to see if the Washington Wizards would match their offer sheet for Otto Porter Jr. In reality, they were working on deals in a stealth mode that caught most observers by total surprise.
Kings get experience at point guard
Sacramento is very happy with the talent they drafted at point guard in De’Aaron Fox and Frank Mason III. The only problem is that neither player has one minute of playing time in the NBA. That is not an acceptable situation.
The Kings point guards from last season were both free agents. Darren Collison just signed a two-year deal with the Indiana Pacers. There were reports that Sacramento was in discussions with Ty Lawson about returning to the team, but he certainly would be looking for a guaranteed contract with multiple years or options. Lawson played last season on a one-year non-guaranteed contract.
Enter George Hill. Hill had been rumored to be heading to Los Angeles to play with the Lakers and to be a mentor to Lonzo Ball. Reports are circling the Lakers were only willing to offer a one-year deal. Not the kind of security a 31-year old, nine-year NBA veteran in a salary market gone mad is looking for this year.
It has been reported the Jazz tried to sign Hill to an extension during the season valued at $88-million but he and his representatives thought he would do better on the open market in the offseason. The free agent market did not fall Hill’s direction.
According to the Vertical who broke the story, the deal is for three years and worth $57-million. David Aldridge of NBA.com is reporting the third year is only partially guaranteed.
Hill will almost certainly be the starter in Sacramento. Head coach Dave Joerger makes no bones about not being thrilled about throwing rookies into starting roles. Last season, first-year players sat at the end of the bench and then were summoned into the game for limited minutes. Depending on their performance, more or less playing time was awarded to the young players.
Hill will be expected to mentor the young point guards. He can also play along side them as an off-guard. Joerger also liked using an offense that incorporated two point guards on the floor in a “small ball” lineup.
Hill averaged 16.9 points per game in 49 games last season. His overall shooting percentage was 47.7. He shot 40.3-percent from 3-point range. Hill averaged 4.2 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1 steal and 1.7 turnovers per game.
The injury that caused Hill to miss so many games last season was a sprained big toe. He said it was a freak injury and it proved to be a nagging injury that did not heal well under the pressure of playing. The toe did not require any surgery in the offseason.
He’s big — he’s bad — he’s Z-Bo and now he is a King
The other player the Kings reportedly signed on Tuesday brings a dimension of toughness to the team that they lost when DeMarcus Cousins was traded away. The difference is that Zach Randolph knows how to keep things under control while banging under the basket.
“Z-Bo” as he is known has reportedly signed a two-year, $24-million contract with Sacramento. The signing was first reported by the “the Woj” of ESPN. Randolph’s signing also reunites him with his old coach Dave Joerger who was the head man in Memphis for three seasons.
Last season in Memphis, Randolph worked as a sixth man for the Grizzlies. He averaged 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds in 29.5 minutes playing time per game. Will Randolph be a sixth man in Sac? Dave Joerger likes to vary starting lineups based on matchups and on who is hot at the moment. The one thing you can count on is the Randolph was not signed to come sit on the Kings bench.
Randolph — who will turn 36 later this month — has been in “the association” since 2001. He has made stops in Portland, New York, Los Angeles (Clippers) and Memphis. Randolph played his college basketball at Michigan State for Tom Izzo and helped lead the Spartans to the NCAA Final Four in 2001.