Richaun Holmes Future with the Sacramento Kings’

Feb 12, 2021; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings center Richaun Holmes (22) drives to the basket against Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) during the second quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Richaun Holmes has proven himself to be a formidable NBA starting center ever since gaining the nod early into his first season with the Kings in 2019. The Sacramento Kings’ previous regime signed Holmes to a meager two-year $10 million contract in the 2019 NBA offseason. The 27-year-old big has shined in his stint Kings so far and has found a snug spot in the core of Sacramento’s young talent. However, his contract is soon expiring, and the trade deadline is approaching quickly. With all this in mind, Should Richaun Holmes be part of the Sacramento Kings’ future?

On the Court

Mar 15, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Sacramento Kings center Richaun Holmes (22) blocks shot attempt by Charlotte Hornets center Bismack Biyombo (8) during the first quarter at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Before looking at his potential outcomes, it is important to understand what Holmes brings to the court and his team. He’s a gritty big that hustles and performs well on both ends of the floor. He puts up around 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game. As of March 24, 2021, he leads the NBA in field goal percentage at 65% and is ninth in rejections with 61 on the year, per Basketball-Reference.

On the offensive end, Holmes doesn’t shoot the three-ball enough to stretch the floor. Although, he makes up for this negative in a multitude of ways. He sets solid screens and rolls to the basket, often with success. The 6’10” big is on the smaller side for a center but makes up for it with athleticism and a near-automatic push shot. Below is a compilation of his teardrop shots from last season.

When it comes to the defensive end, Holmes is no pushover. Even though he lacks size like I previously mentioned, the 6’10” big has athleticism that more than balances out the scale. He can switch on to guards with ease and guard them a lot better than most bigs in the league. In the paint, Richaun Holmes is an anchor for the Sacramento Kings, and he has a knack for blocking defenders at the rim.

His game on the court is solid, and he likely ranks in the better half of the league’s starting centers. His game complements the games of young Kings De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton excellently. There are some concerns about the lack of floor spacing when paired with Marvin Bagley in the starting frontcourt. Overall though, he’s quickly developed great chemistry with the team and is a big factor in what little success Sacramento has had since acquiring his talents.

On the Books

Mar 4, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Sacramento Kings center Richaun Holmes (22) scores a basket against Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter (11) during the first half at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of his acquisition, Richaun Holmes was signed to a two-year/$10 million in the 2019 NBA offseason by former Kings GM Vlade Divac. It was arguably the best signing that Divac made in his stint in the Kings’ front office. Holmes should be looking for a significant pay raise, though, as that contract is set to expire after the season.

I expect Holmes’ new contract to land somewhere between $12 and $16 million annually, based on the current market for centers. Since they originally signed him to his current contract, the Kings have “Early Bird” rights. This means that they can go over the cap to sign him to a deal worth 175% of his current salary. This comes out to only $8.75 million per year, so I expect Richaun to look for more money rather than inking that contract.

What are the Kings’ Options?

Mar 15, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton argues with referee Mark Lindsay (29) as center Richaun Holmes (22) looks on during the fourth quarter against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center. The Charlotte Hornets won 122-116. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

If Sacramento cannot create cap space before the trade deadline or in the offseason, they likely cannot resign Holmes. The Kings’ cap situation is starting to get crowded after De’Aaron Fox signed his max contract extension over the offseason. The Kings likely need to move one of Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, or Marvin Bagley to resign Holmes. Let’s look at possible outcomes that lay ahead for Richaun and which course the Kings should take.

Let Holmes Walk in the Offseason

Feb 21, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Sacramento Kings center Richaun Holmes (22) and Milwaukee Bucks forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo (43) reach for a loose ball in the third quarter at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The most simple thing the Kings can do with Richaun Holmes’ situation is do nothing at all. However, this is also the worst possible option for Kings GM Monte McNair to get nothing in return. If they move no pieces around at the trade deadline, it is unlikely that we would see Holmes in a Kings’ uniform next season.

There is a small chance that Sacramento could sign him to the aforementioned “Early Bird” rights deal, though. However, that is not very likely, considering Holmes has outperformed a contract of that value and should seek more. I find the idea of this option being the least likely of the bunch, though. Kings ‘ management would be making a major misstep by letting him walk and get nothing in return.

Trade Holmes Before the Deadline

Feb 6, 2021; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings center Richaun Holmes (22) and guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) during the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The last two options are probably the most likely options for the Kings and Richaun Holmes. His name has been brought up a few times in trade talks, so it could be possible that he gets moved. The rumors have mostly come in the form of teams inquiring about the 27-year-old big.

Two teams called Monte McNair and asked about the availability of Holmes. These teams were the Toronto Raptors and the Charlotte Hornets, first reported by Shams Charania. Both teams have struggled and could use the support on the interior that Holmes could provide. However, Shams’ report was before star rookie LaMelo Ball’s injury, so the Hornets may back off from making any moves this year.

If the Kings know they cannot free up space anywhere to resign Holmes, this would be the next best option for them. Holmes could readily bring competitiveness and hustle to any team he goes to. He could be traded as a rental for the rest of the season on a contender or to a team that can afford his talents and gives him a new deal. As crucial as his talents have been to the Kings, something is better than nothing.

Free Up Cap Space and Resign him in the Offseason

Mar 15, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Sacramento Kings center Richaun Holmes (22) brings the ball up court against Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozier (3) during the second half at Spectrum Center. The Charlotte Hornets won 122-116. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Lastly, the most beneficial option the Kings can make is to trade one of their other players making big money to make room to sign Holmes. According to Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated, the Kings will only trade Buddy Hield and/or Harrison Barnes if they are blown away by an offer. However, McNair should not squander a sizeable return by hoping for more.

Buddy Hield has not been linked in any trade rumors so far this offseason. The Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets have inquired about Harrison Barnes, though. The Kings could likely move Barnes for a young player and a first-round pick if they wanted to. Doing this would make the team younger and allow the Kings to lock down Holmes for the future.

Locking down Holmes should be the priority for the Sacramento Kings at the moment. The Kings have no other major decisions in the pressing future. Being able to keep the youngest, most solid parts of the core together is the most important thing the Kings need to do for their future. Flipping vets for future assets and locking down Richaun Holmes would be a win in every possible way for the Sacramento Kings.

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