Salmons, who once starred at the University of Miami, closed the 2009-10 season by averaging 19.9 points in 30 games after being acquired by the Milwaukee Bucks. That got him a five-year, $39 million contract from the Bucks.
Salmons is in the third year of that deal and second with the Kings. But he’s hardly scoring the way he once did.
Salmons is averaging just 9.1 points entering Sacramento's game Wednesday at Orlando. The forward was asked if he’s cool with the role he now plays for Sacramento.
“No, it’s not cool,’’ Salmons said before the Kings' 141-129 double-overtime loss Tuesday to the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena. “But I’m just trying to help the team win. I’m not going to be a distraction or complain about it. I’m just going to try to be professional and go out there and try to do the best I can with the touches or the minutes or whatever I get.’’
Salmons, 33, was traded by the Bucks to the Kings in June 2011 after his scoring average had slipped to 14.0 in 2010-11. It fell off even more last season, when Salmons averaged only 7.5 points during the lockout season.
“I know he’s frustrated with his role,’’ said Kings guard Tyreke Evans, who, like Salmons, is a native of the Philadelphia area. “It’s tough for him, but you can’t (score like he did before) for every team. There’s always something different. But he’s handled it like a pro. He’s playing through it.’’
Salmons averages 29.6 minutes as a starter, eight less per game than during his impressive Bucks run three years ago, although he did log 50 minutes Tuesday. Salmons isn’t one of Sacramento’s top offensive options, ranking sixth on the team in scoring and in field-goal attempts. Of course, he hasn’t helped his cause by shooting just 41.3 percent.
Salmons, making $8.08 million this season, is scheduled to earn $7.58 million next season and $7 million in 2014-15. But only $1 million is guaranteed in that final year, which could make Salmons an intriguing trade piece this summer and beyond.
“I’m not sure,’’ Salmons said when asked if he could be dealt and might not even be with the Kings if they move next season to Seattle. “I don’t know. Who knows what’s up with the move? Who knows what will happen? It’s all up in the air.’’
Salmons might not be enthralled with his role on the Kings. But he sure is enjoying watching the Hurricanes having reached as high as a No. 2 ranking before dropping this week to No. 5 after having a 14-game winning streak snapped.
While in Miami on Monday, Salmons visited his alma mater to meet with players and with second-year coach Jim Larranaga. It was his first meeting with Larranaga, and the two agreed to catch up after the season.
“It’s definitely exciting,’’ said Salmons, who played for the Hurricanes from 1998-2002. “This is really the first time I’ve been able to really brag since I’ve been out of school. I brag to everybody, particularly with how good we’re playing. Hopefully, we can keep it up.’’
The Hurricanes have given a lift to Salmons during a dismal Sacramento campaign. The Kings are 19-39, tied for the worst record in the Western Conference, and are 5-26 on the road.
Home hasn’t been much better considering the Kings are last in the NBA in attendance, drawing an average of 13,473 fans per game, and are a good bet to be sold and moved after the season. Only a miracle will keep them from going to Seattle.
“It’s as real as it’s ever been,’’ Salmons, who also played for Sacramento from 2006-09, said in regards to other possibilities there have been that the Kings might move. “I really don’t worry about it too much. The biggest concern is I’ve got a son going to kindergarten so we got to register him soon, so we got to figure out where we want to register him.’’
Considering Salmons looks expendable, there might be more options than two cities for his son’s registration.