Sunday Musings: Strong battle for Kings' final roster spots expected

Monte McNair add brings roster to 20, Brown announces staff

Is the Sacramento Kings’ offseason roster renovation done?

With the addition of Sam Merrill on Friday afternoon, the Kings’ roster now stands at 20, which is the maximum allowed by the NBA during the summer months.

There is still time to make a major move between now and the start of the season, but it’s looking more and more like this will be the squad that at least opens camp in late September.

We covered the depth chart a little over a week ago, before the additions of Merrill, Quinn Cook and Kent Bazemore. The calculus has changed slightly since that time and created competition for the final roster spots in Sacramento.

Between now and opening night, Kings general manager Monte McNair has to shave a minimum of three players from the current roster to shrink down to the league limit of 15 standard players and two two-way contracts.

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The two-ways appear set. Neemias Queta played well last season in Stockton and showed major improvement during summer league, both in Sacramento and Las Vegas. The Kings are high on the 7-footer out of Portugal, although he will still need plenty of time to develop at the G League level this season.

In addition to Queta, the Kings inked undrafted shooting guard Keon Ellis on draft night and he was a major bright spot during the summer league session. Ellis will likely spend a lot of time playing with Queta this season with the Stockton Kings, but his skill set as a 3-and-D wing is something the Kings covet.

Training camp battles are usually reserved for who will start or who might earn minutes, but the back end of the Kings’ roster is intriguing this season. Once you get past the standard rotation, there are options for head coach Mike Brown, many of which have deep ties to the Kings’ new conductor.

Matthew Dellavedova played for Brown with the Cavs during the 2013-14 season and for associate head coach Jordi Fernandez for a few additional seasons in Cleveland. Bazemore and Cook spent time with Brown during his time with the Warriors. Chima Moneke and KZ Okpala (along with Chimezie Metu) were on the Nigerian National team with Brown and half of the Kings’ new coaching staff.

The lone player out of the group vying for one of the last roster spots, who hasn’t worked under Brown at some point, is Merrill, and he spent two seasons in college playing with Queta at Utah State and was with new development coach Deividas Dulkys last season with the Memphis Hustle.

McNair took a broad approach to filling out the back end of his roster, but he also looked for ties that bind. Familiarity is a good thing, especially when a new coaching staff is trying to implement their terminology and schemes.

The Kings will likely keep one of the two veteran point guards in Dellavedova or Cook, just to provide depth behind De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell. Dellavedova is the bigger and more physical of the two, but injuries have severely limited him over the last five seasons.

Cook is a big time shooter, knocking down 40.8 percent from 3-point range during his five years in the NBA. He’s also younger than Dellavedova by nearly three years. This should be a fun competition between two players with solid NBA experience.

There could be an unexpected cut amongst the veterans, especially with Alex Len, Terence Davis and Trey Lyles entering the final year of their contracts in Sacramento. But it’s more likely that those players are kept, even if it is for salary cap and trade matching purposes down the road.

Metu had his 2022-23 contract guaranteed by the Kings at $1.9 million early in the offseason, but there is a possibility that he finds himself lumped in with remaining players vying for one of the last two or three remaining spots, like Merrill, Bazemore, Moneke and Okpala.

Healthy competition is a good thing. So is depth and versatility. The Kings have plenty of this at the back end of the roster, which they haven’t had for a few seasons.

Training camp should be intriguing. Almost every player is competing for something, be it for a starting position, a rotational spot, minutes or even a spot on the roster. This feels like a change for the good.

Coaching staff announced

With McNair putting the final touches on the training camp roster, Brown was also busy announcing his coaching staff for the upcoming season.

Most of the staff was already known. Fernandez will serve as Brown’s right hand man as the associate head coach. Long time NBA coach Jay Triano is also joining the team as an assistant after spending the last four seasons in Charlotte.

Luke Loucks is reuniting with Brown after spending last season with the Suns. The two were together for five seasons in Golden State, with Loucks spending most of that time as a player development coach on Steve Kerr’s staff. Loucks also worked with Fox’s new bride, Recee Caldwell, who was a player development intern with the Warriors a few years back.

Former King shooting guard Doug Christie is back as an assistant coach, as is Lindsey Harding, who will serve as an assistant and player development coach. These are the only two holdovers from Luke Walton/Alvin Gentry’s staff last season.

Brown stole Leandro Barbosa from the Warriors on his way out the door. Barbosa spent 14 seasons as a player in the NBA and gets a bump from a player development coach in Golden State to an assistant coach in Sacramento.

Dutch Gaitley is joining Brown’s staff as well. Gaitley spent the last four seasons working with Triano in Charlotte after cutting his teeth in the league with the San Antonio Spurs.

Dulkys, a native of Lithuania and long time fixture on the international basketball scene, is joining Brown’s staff as a player development coach after working with the Memphis Hustle of the G League last season.

Rounding out the group is Robbie Lemons, who is in his seventh season with the Kings and will act as senior director, coaching analytics and strategy. Charles Allen is the Kings’ new video coordinator after coming over from the Utah Jazz, and Garrius Adams is back for a second season in Sacramento as an assistant video coordinator.

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