If a DNP-CD in the first game of the season weren't evidence enough, the Kings made a declarative statement Thursday regarding Jimmer Fredette's future with the team.
Despite the generally attractive nature of rookie-scale contracts, Sacramento has reportedly chosen to decline the fourth-year option on Fredette's deal, according to USA Today, making him an unrestricted free agent next summer. The option for the 2014-15 season was worth only $3.1 million, but with Marcus Thornton and rookie No. 7 pick Ben McLemore holding rotation spots at shooting guard and Greivis Vasquez and Isaiah Thomas sharing time at the point, there isn't much room for the 24-year-old Fredette to assume a regular, contributing role for Sacramento.
Via Yahoo! Sports, Fredette offered a generic statement in response:
"This is a business decision for the King and they are doing what they believe is best for the organization. I will continue to work hard and be the best I can be moving forward in my career."
It's strange that the Kings would decline this option because it has no practical cap implications and serves only to complicate Fredette's trade value. By no means is Fredette so promising a prospect that he demands keeping, but one would think he might be a viable trade chip based on his three-point shooting (38.4 percent in his two-year career) and potential for burst scoring (18.4 points per 36 minutes last season). It'll take time to bring him along on both ends of the floor and diligence to define his optimal role, but he's still a talent worthy of such basic investment.
Other teams seem to agree. USA Today also reported that an estimated six franchises have contacted the Kings about trading for Fredette. Declining his option should broadcast his availability to an even greater pool of interested teams, but the fact that he'll hit the free-agent market at the end of the season could result in lesser trade offers than Sacramento might have fielded otherwise. With a young player on an affordable deal, control is even more important than flexibility. That Fredette is on an expiring contract (which is worth $2.4 million) spares suitors any substantial commitment, but those looking at him as a long-term prospect could well be turned off by the year shaved off his contract and the forfeiture of his restricted free agency. No matter what happens, Fredette will be able to sign with a team of his choosing next summer, leaving any franchise that acquires him in a potentially vulnerable position.