NBA agent Jeff Schwartz blasts Sacramento Kings for ‘mismanagement’ of Marvin Bagley III

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The ill-fated relationship between Marvin Bagley III and the Kings took another ugly turn Tuesday when his agent ripped the organization for mismanaging his client a day after the team declined to offer him a rookie-scale contract extension.

Jeff Schwartz, Bagley’s agent at Excel Sports Management, released a strongly-worded statement 24 hours after the deadline for Bagley’s rookie extension passed without even a whisper of a new deal. Schwartz revealed the Kings have told Bagley he will not be part of coach Luke Walton’s rotation when they open the season on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. Schwartz also said the Kings passed on potential trades involving Bagley over the past seven months because they weren’t satisfied with the returns.

“Sacramento has informed Marvin Bagley he is not in the opening night rotation, which is completely baffling,” Schwartz said. “It’s clear they have no plans for him in the future, and yet, passed on potential deals at last year’s deadline and this summer based on ‘value.’ Instead, they chose to bring him back but not play him, a move completely contradictory to their ‘value’ argument. This is a case study in mismanagement by the Kings organization.”

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst noted Schwartz’s statement was an “unusual step” from a high-powered agent who has nearly 40 NBA players under contract for more than $450 million, making him “the most prolific” agent in the league. The timing is curious considering Bagley, who has projected a positive outlook throughout training camp, desperately needs to prove something after three injury-plagued seasons filled with family drama.

Bagley, 22, is entering the fourth year of a star-crossed career that hasn’t gone as planned. The Kings selected Bagley out of Duke with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, passing on the likes of Luka Doncic and Trae Young because the organization, under former general manager Vlade Divac, believed so strongly in Bagley’s talent.

Bagley was an NBA All-Rookie First Team selection after averaging 14.9 points and 7.6 rebounds in 2018-19. He appeared in 62 games as a rookie, but he was limited to 13 games in 2019-20 and 43 games in 2020-21 due to a variety of injuries. Making matters worse, Bagley’s father has routinely trolled the team on social media, even issuing a public trade request on Twitter.

Bagley is headed for free agency next summer after the team let Monday’s deadline pass without signing him to a rookie-scale contract extension. The Kings had until 3 p.m. to sign Bagley to an extension, but that deadline passed with no new deal in place, adding to the uncertainty over Bagley’s future in Sacramento.

Under rules of the collective bargaining agreement, Bagley will be eligible for a qualifying offer of either $14.8 million or $7.2 million, depending on whether he meets “starter criteria.” To meet the criteria, a player must start at least 41 games or play at least 2,000 minutes in the previous season, or as an average of the previous two seasons.

Bagley started 42 games last season. He would have to start a minimum of 40 games to hit the two-year average of 41 or log 2,000 minutes this season to reach the criteria for the full qualifying offer. That seems highly unlikely if Bagley isn’t even in Walton’s rotation.

The qualifying offer for a top-14 pick who does not meet “starter criteria” cannot exceed the qualifying offer for the 15th pick in the same draft class, according to Larry Coon’s NBA Salary Cap FAQ. Troy Brown Jr., the No. 15 pick in 2018, will have a qualifying offer of $7.2 million, according to various estimates. Bagley’s qualifying offer could drop by more than $7 million if he doesn’t reach the criteria, representing what could be a huge hit to his earning power.

This stalemate sets up a number of possible scenarios for the Kings. They could trade Bagley this season, re-sign him this summer as a restricted or unrestricted free agent, or simply let him walk away, ending a rocky relationship that began when the Kings chose Bagley in the 2018 draft.

If the Kings extend a qualifying offer this summer, Bagley would become a restricted free agent and Sacramento would have the right to match any offers he receives. If they don’t extend a qualifying offer, Bagley would become an unrestricted free agent.

Walton on Monday told The Sacramento Bee contract talks are between players and the front office, but he said he had every expectation Bagley would remain focused and committed to his team as he plays out the final year of his rookie deal in Sacramento.

“All that type of stuff, I’m very clear with my players all the time, any of that is upstairs,” Walton said. “When we’re on this court, it’s about basketball and team, so that just keeps it simple for everyone.”

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