The deadline for teams to exercise certain options or extend contracts with restricted free agents came and went last week, with Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette learning he will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Sacramento chose to decline their $3.1 million team option for Fredette, but it’s not as if the former Brigham Young shooter’s NBA career is over. Without naming anyone specific, the same report said at least two teams have approached the Kings about a possible trade for the three-point specialist.
Oddly, the Utah Jazz reportedly weren’t one of the interested teams. Netting 28.9 points per game, Fredette became a national sensation after guiding the Cougars to the Sweet Sixteen in his senior season.
The move by the Kings isn’t surprising considering Fredette’s lack of minutes since he was drafted 10th overall back in 2011, and the Kings are reportedly more interested in bringing back restricted free agent point guard Greivis Vasquez, according to Yahoo! Sports.
Bringing on Fredette could have a two-fold impact for a contender or a young, rebuilding squad. Never given an extended amount of playing time and trapped behind a number of more athletic guards on the Kings bench, the 24-year-old still improved his three-point shooting to nearly 42 percent in his second season.
Also his $2.4 million in salary could be shed right away next summer if say a team like the Toronto Raptors or Washington Wizards wanted some extra wiggle room ahead of 2014’s expected free agency bonanza. Big names like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony could opt-out of their contracts, and Laker power forward Pau Gasol will be an unrestricted free agent.
Contenders that could need an infusion from downtown include the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder. The Bulls are tied for last in the NBA with 4.3 threes made per game, and the Thunder are barely ahead with five. The Bulls are already over the cap, and with contracts required to more or less match in a trade, a deal involving only players would require Chicago to send some of their younger assets like Tony Snell and Marquis Teague -- two players who would find themselves in the same position as Fredette and wouldn’t really help Sacramento.
Oklahoma City welcomed Russell Westbrook back earlier than expected this past Sunday to the tune of 21 points and seven assists, and while third-year point guard Reggie Jackson was an excellent stopgap, the team could still use more depth and punch off the bench. The Thunder could hand over a 2014 second round pick they received from the New York Knicks and some cash.
Fredette has appeared in one game this season, a 98-87 loss to regional rival Golden State in which he converted one of his two shots for two points in three minutes of action. He didn’t attempt a single three-pointer, despite shooting 9-for-15 from beyond the arc during the preseason.