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Kings’ worst move of 2022 NBA offseason

Kings, Donte DiVincenzo, Keegan Murray, Kevin Huerter

The last time the Sacramento Kings made the playoffs was in 2006. No current player has ever faced them in the postseason and the team is trying to end its playoff drought after 16 seasons. In 2021-22, the Kings went 30-52, leaving them four wins away from the play-in tournament.

During the offseason, the franchise made some moves that are aiming toward the playoff goal. They brought Malik Monk in a two-year, $19 million deal to partner with his former Kentucky Wildcat teammate De’Aaron Fox and traded for Atlanta Hawks wing Kevin Huerter. Also, although criticized at first, Kings’ No. 4 pick Keegan Murray showed promise in the Summer League by winning the Most Valuable Player award.

However, not every move the Kings made was worth praise. They let a potentially important piece walk on free agency.

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Kings’ Worst 2022 NBA Offseason Move

Sacramento acquired Donte DiVincenzo in February in a four-team trade involving Marvin Bagley III. In 25 games as a King, the 6-foot-4, 25-year-old guard averaged 10.3 points, 3.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds, plus adding 1.5 steals a night.

DiVincenzo struggled with his efficiency last season, shooting only 35.1 percent from the field and 33.9 percent from beyond the arc, following a severe ankle injury that made him miss most of the Milwaukee Bucks’ title run.

Still, the former Villanova standout is only 25 years old and has shown defensive abilities when healthy. Because of that, the reigning champion Golden State Warriors signed him to a two-year, $9.3 million contract to replace Gary Payton II. If a franchise like the Warriors is interested in someone’s services, they are probably seeing something that others are missing.

The Kings had the option to extend a qualifying offer to DiVincenzo but chose not to, showing that they wanted to let him walk on free agency. Was a sample size of 25 games enough to determine how good of a player he will be post-injury?

From a financial standpoint, Sacramento is slightly over the salary cap by bringing Monk, bringing the team to over $128 million in the books, which is not ideal for a non-playoff team that is not a very popular free agent market destination.

From a basketball perspective, DiVincenzo brings championship and playoff experience that most of the Kings’ roster lacks. He also brings defensive hustle and energy from the bench, which could have helped the Kings, who finished second-to-last in points allowed per game, plus being in the bottom 10 in many other defensive categories.

Yes, DiVincenzo was not the same after returning from the injury. However, based on the contract he got from the Warriors, it was a low-risk, high-reward type of investment.

If the Kings really want to return to the playoffs, signing players like DiVincenzo — who are trying to re-establish themselves in the league but already have shown flashes of potential — could be a short-term solution. Letting him walk and play with Stephen Curry and company could turn out to be a mistake that might go unnoticed at first.

By this time next year, Kings fans would have already seen what the guard can provide on the court, and, if things go as expected, he and Golden State will have at least completed a solid playoff run.

Overall, seeing DiVincenzo leave might not seem like a big deal in the NBA. But for a team struggling to go beyond being a lottery team for more than a decade, any help is welcome. Although his time in Sacramento was short, the front office will wonder what could have been if they had DiVincenzo coming off the bench with Huerter and complementing the Fox-Monk backcourt.