The math certainly suggests something could be brewing on the trade market in Sacramento when it comes to guard Bogdan Bogdanovic. The Kings made him the best offer they could under NBA rules (four years and $51 million) and he has declined to sign it, instead looking ahead to the offseason, when he can become a restricted free agent.
But because Sacramento already has a crowded field of young players wrapping up both dollars and minutes, Bogdanovic’s status with the Kings could be shaky. They gave a sizable extension to Buddy Hield last week (which will start in the 2020-21 season) and are likely looking at a max extension for point guard De’Aaron Fox next season (which will start in 2021-22).
With big man Marvin Bagley also looking like a keeper—and an expensive one—the Kings are facing a payroll crunch in which a quartet of Hield, Fox, Bagley and Bogdanovic could cost them more than $100 million per season. In 2022-23, the final year of Harrison Barnes’ contract, the Kings could be paying out more than $120 million to just five players.
Thus, opportunistic front-office types around the league have been eyeing Bogdanovic as a potential trade target. But, as one general manager told Heavy.com, the Kings are not yet entertaining offers for their sixth man.
“That’s not something they’re looking at too seriously now as far as anyone can tell,” the GM said. “They’re probably going to have to, but that’s not something to rush into. There would be a good market for Bogdanovic if they figure they can’t go far right now, but (the Kings) are still looking at how to make all of this work this season.”
The Kings have gotten off to an 0-4 start, with Bagley out another month or so because of a dislocated thumb. If the slow start persists, Sacramento might be better served dealing away Bogdanovic, who could probably fetch a first-round pick in a trade before February’s deadline.
Among teams expected to be interested are the Knicks, who are seeking to leverage their short-term deals and cap space to add talent, having missed out on players in free agency. The Knicks have all their first-round picks available to trade and have Dallas’ picks in 2021 and 2023.
But the Knicks might be reluctant to forfeit a first-rounder, even one of the Mavericks’ picks, for a player who is already 27.
Dallas, for its part, has had interest in Bogdanovic before and could absorb him by using the trade exception it got in the deal that sent Barnes to Sacramento last year. But the Mavs would not be able to offer the Kings much else.
The Kings Have Options WIth Bogdanovic
Because he is a restricted free agent, the team with Bogdanovic’s rights has a big advantage, able to match any offer he receives on the market next summer. The free-agent market will be limited in 2020, which could nudge a team with cap space into giving a big contract to Bogdanovic, who is 27 years old and averaged 12.8 points on 42.9 percent shooting (37.6 percent from the 3-point line) before this season.
He’s been off to as bad a start as the rest of his team, averaging 8.5 points and 27.5 percent shooting from the field.
The Kings also could allow Bogdanovic to receive an offer on the market next summer, match the offer, then trade Bogdanovic somewhere down the line. Sacramento had high hopes when it signed Bogdanovic in 2017 to a three-year, $36 million contract that made Bogdanovic the highest-paid rookie in NBA history. But the relationship may be turning.
There have been rumblings that Bogdanovic is not happy working as a sixth man behind Hield and Barnes, and he has played 25.0 minutes this season, lower than his first two seasons (27.9 minutes). But a league source indicated that Bogdanovic has not yet lodged any such complaint with the team and that concerns about his role would have little impact on the team’s decision whether to trade Bogdanovic.
If Bogdanovic is helping the Kings win, they’re not planning on trading him. But the Kings are not winning yet and their average margin of defeat has been 19.5 points in the four losses. It was always going to be difficult for Sacramento to push toward the playoffs this season with the improvements made on other Western Conference teams, but a slow start makes it even more difficult.
The Kings aren’t actively shopping Bogdanovic. But at the rate things have been going in Sacramento, that position might change.