3 NBA teams who’ll be kicking themselves for not upgrading in free agency

James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers NBA (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento Kings (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

NBA Team #1: Sacramento Kings

What is not to love about the Sacramento Kings? They were the best story in basketball last season and unexpectedly sat with a top record in the league, ending the longest playoff drought in NBA history. De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis were one of two tandems in the league to make All-NBA teams.

When the summer began, during the NBA Draft, the Kings dumped Richaun Holmes. It created a sliver of cap space connecting them to the auctions of the upper echelon of July’s marketplace. Kyle Kuzma, Khris Middleton, and Jerami Grant. Even the intriguing rumor of a potential attempt to meet with Draymond Green surfaced prior to the abundance of forwards staying put.

None of those scenarios occurred, as Sacramento elected to bring back Harrison Barnes on a three-year, $54 million deal. A great locker room leader for the underdog story this year in its early stages, $18 million annually for Barnes is a hefty amount for the production the 31-year-old provides with the new CBA lingering.

The Kings added a likable fit in Chris Duarte, reigning Euro League MVP, and sniper Sasha Vezenkov. They also retained spark plug big man Trey Lyles. Sacramento will absolutely show plenty of growth and improvement in their continuity of development, led by Sabonis, Fox, and Coach of the Year Mike Brown. Brown further confirmed his guidance’s capabilities in crushing the ceiling off any sort of projection with his in-house motivational schemes for the team. Keegan Murray is a special sight to see entering his sophomore season, along with the maturity of Kevin Huerter.

Last season’s record-breaking modern NBA offense will remain one of the league’s best shows, with something to prove. The western conference has stayed loaded with upgrades beyond that, to a great degree, the forefront of contenders. The Kings will still be a powerhouse-type opponent and a challenger for every elite team to go with an even greater postseason threat now, but the book of the Cinderella story may be a lot longer than expected. All the pressure is off their backs now, ending the curse and nearly taking down the 2022 defending champion Warriors.

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They could be semifinal bound at least, but Sacramento’s upward trend may be only marginal for this season given their minimal boosts within the market.