Sacramento entered Thursday's draft with three picks — No. 24, No. 38, and No. 54. They traded No. 38 and a future second-rounder to acquire Xavier guard Colby Jones, the 34th pick of the draft. Jones was a terrific pick at that spot because of his potential to become a two-way player in the NBA. He is a 6-foot-6 guard who already has defensive chops as well as an intriguing skill set on the offensive side of the floor. Later, they took Furman forward Jalen Slawson at 54th overall.
Sacramento just wound up with those two rookies to end the night. Nonetheless, though Jones and Slawson are far from household names, the Kings were still one of the biggest winners from last week's NBA Draft. That is in large part due to their decision to trade the No. 24 overall pick, who ended up being Olivier Maxence-Prosper, along with veteran center Richaun Holmes to the Mavericks.
Why did that trade become Sacramento's best move in the 2023 NBA Draft? Here is why.
Best Kings move in 2023 NBA Draft
The trade to send Richaun Holmes along with the 24th pick to Dallas happened to open up around $36 million in cap space for the Kings. Well, that figure now down to about $34 million after Sacramento exercised Kessler Edwards' $1.9 million team option. Regardless, the Kings are still the only playoff team with over $30 million in cap space. That is a ton of room for a team that just finished with the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference and is only on the upward trend moving forward.
Holmes, who was set to make $12 million this season, had been a large part of the Kings rotation through his first three years with the franchise. But the big man eventually lost his spot in the rotation during the 2022-23 season. Having played just 42 games and averaging eight minutes, Holmes was the odd man out. So, it just made sense for the Kings to re-rout the 6-foot-10 big man elsewhere.
The trade instantly shedded about $15 million in expected salary from Sacramento's books. While this doesn't mean the Kings are just about to land one of the highly-coveted free agents or trade candidates in the market, it nonetheless opens up all kinds of possible scenarios for Sacramento to make a huge move this summer.
The additional wiggle room gives the Kings flexibility in how to go about their decisions on their incumbent free agents. Key veterans such as Harrison Barnes, Trey Lyles, Terence Davis, and Alex Len will hit free agency by Friday, when the market officially opens.
Barnes, who started all 82 games for them last year, is undoubtedly a must-keep veteran. They could sign a big name free agent into that cap room, then later retain Barnes and go over the cap using his Bird Rights.
Golden State Warriors free agent forward Draymond Green has been a popular name that the Kings could pursue. The former Defensive Player of the Year, despite his infamous spat with Domantas Sabonis in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, would be a prime target to improve their 24th-ranked defensive rating from last season.
Nonetheless, whatever the Kings end up doing, they have done their due diligence by putting themselves in a position to maximize their offseason. That is all because of their massive draft day move to trade Richaun Holmes and the 24th overall pick to the Mavericks.