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Just as the Kings looked content to start their season with 13 players on their roster, they have instead added an affordable and athletic talent to the mix.
Nine-year veteran Desmond Mason is expected to be signed to a non-guaranteed one-year deal for the league minimum of $1.18 million today, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. His deal is what's widely known as a 'make-good,' with Mason needing to still be on the roster on Jan. 10 to have his entire salary guaranteed. The Associated Press first reported the story that Mason would be signed, but did not indicate contract terms.
UPDATE: (2:03 p.m.) Mason's agent, Roger Montgomery, has just informed me that Mason has signed the deal and already left town to get his life organized before returning to Sacramento.
The former Oklahoma City swingman is coming off one of his toughest seasons, having hyperextended his right knee on Jan. 28 against Memphis and missed the second half of the season. He has averaged 12.2 points throughout a career in which he has played in Seattle, Milwaukee New Orleans and Oklahoma City. The Kings have long had their eye on Mason, having attempted to trade for him in 2005 in a deal involving Kings forward Kenny Thomas. The season prior was Mason's best, as he averaged 17.2 points for the Bucks.
Not long after the Kings and Bucks talked about Mason in October of 2005, he was sent from the Bucks to the then-New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets for center Jamaal Magloire, an unconditional first-round pick in 2006 and cash. He returned to Milwaukee in the summer of 2007 when he signed as a free agent, then averaged 9.7 points and 28.8 minutes per game while playing in just 59 games. He was traded to Oklahoma City last summer in a three-team trade with Cleveland also involved.
His addition will add some real intrigue to training camp, as he now joins a list of players fighting for minutes at the wing spots that already included Kevin Martin, Tyreke Evans, Andres Nocioni, Francisco Garcia, Donte' Greene, and Omri Casspi. Mason is going to turn 32 next month, so don't expect the same high-flyer who was drafted 17th overall by Seattle out of Oklahoma State. But the man has long been known for his highlight-reel material, and the Kings can only hope he has just a little bit left.
- Sam Amick