Jimmer's future with Kings unclear after team adds Brooks to the mix
LAS VEGAS -- Jimmer Fredette was Jimmer Fredette again Monday night, burying jumpers and runners and generally looking like the scoring machine that created so much hype back in his halcyon days at BYU.
But all is not well for the second-year Kings guard, even with the 30-point outing he unleashed in a summer league game against the Rockets at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center. Just minutes before hitting the floor, Fredette received word that the Kings had signed veteran point guard Aaron Brooks and thus moved the 10th pick in the 2011 draft even further down the team's depth chart.
Fredette insisted that he didn't play with any added motivation because of the team's decision to add another point guard to the mix, even if it does put him behind Brooks and Isaiah Thomas entering next season and qualify as the latest setback to an already frustrating start to his career. The obvious impact of the move could be spotted in the stands Monday during the Kings game, where Fredette's agent, Jeff Austin, was seen discussing the unexpected situation with Geoff Petrie, Sacramento's president of basketball operations, for nearly a half hour.
Austin, whose client shot 38.6 percent from the field and averaged 7.6 points in 18.6 minutes last season, declined to comment. Petrie, whose team has missed the playoffs for six straight seasons and finished 22-44 last season, said he was looking to improve Sacramento's personnel no matter the roster ripple effect. Fredette is not the only guard being affected, as Thomas was a Rookie of the Year candidate last season after being drafted No. 60.
"That's a good question; it's a fair question," Petrie said when asked what it meant for Thomas, who is not on the Kings' summer league roster, and Fredette. "But it's something that's going to play itself out over time. I think to try to predict that on July the 16th is probably a little premature. When you're winning 20 or 25 games, or thereabouts, any time you can add a real good player, I think it makes sense to do that."
The Fredette camp was clearly surprised by the addition, as the plan entering the offseason was for him to transition into the lead guard position. Now, however, the question becomes whether the 23-year-old Fredette will be seen as a valuable shooter off the bench or a possible trade chip.
"It is what it is," Fredette said after the game in which he hit 10-of-21 shots. "You just go out there and play. Aaron is a really explosive scorer, a guy who can really put the ball in the basket as well.
"It's all about trying to get the team better, and I'm going to go out and play as hard as I can and try to get as many minutes as I can, and just help the team in any way I can. Whatever is best for the team."
Asked if he would be seeking more clarity as to what this means for his future in Sacramento, Fredette said the answers would come soon enough.
"I'm sure they'll tell me," he said. "So we'll cross it when it comes. I'm not too worried about it right now, just worried about getting better."
Petrie has been a fan of Brooks' ever since his Oregon days and had tried numerous times to bring him to Sacramento in recent years. Brooks was the league's Most Improved Player during the 2009-10 season after averaging 19.6 points, but he was traded to Phoenix midway through the 2010-11 season in what was a down year for him overall.
He signed with the Chinese team Guangdong during the lockout last summer, then missed the entire NBA season because his contract did not include an out clause. Brooks' two-year deal in Sacramento will pay him an average of $3.3 million and has a player option in the second season, according to a source.
"I think [Brooks] is ready to come back and re-establish himself in the league," Petrie said. "He's already got a terrific all-around history as far as the level of play that he can compete at, so I think he'll come back and be a very, very good player."
The Kings, who spent most of the last two seasons near the league's minimum payroll, had to waive center Hassan Whiteside to make room for Brooks' deal and have now reached the salary cap of about $58 million. They had been in talks with free agent small forward Terrence Williams, but a source with knowledge of the team's plans said he is no longer part of the Kings' future. The addition of Brooks came just hours after the team announced the addition of small forward James Johnson, who was acquired from Toronto for a second-round pick.