I want to be excited about the Sacramento Kings signing undrafted rookie free agent Eugene "Pooh" Jeter to a guaranteed contract. The speedy 5'9" point guard averaged 14.4 points (48% FG, 80% FT) and 5.4 assists on the Cleveland Cavaliers' 2010 Summer League team after honing his skills in the NBA Development League and everywhere else, from Ukraine to Jerusalem over the last four seasons. A solid playmaker and an improved outside shooter (40% 3PT last year), Jeter, who actually began his professional career on the the Kings' Summer League squad in 2006, drilled a game-winning three-pointer in the closing seconds against the Chicago Bulls on July 16 to cap off a fantastic 20-point, seven-assist outing.
But the Kings, like most teams, have been down this road many times before. An NBA training camp invite, even one with a partially or fully guaranteed deal, doesn't always lead to a regular season nod for a fringe player, with names such as Nik Caner-Medley, Rashid Byrd, Lanny Smith, Chen Hsin-An, and Zhang Kai, among others, appearing on Sacramento's preseason rosters. The Kings haven't had much luck with signing undrafted free agents either, rarely striking gold while declining to keep several solid role players. Here's a look back at recent notable rookie signees, none of whom, of course, hold a candle to the legendary Michael "Yogi" Stewart, the one-time team ball boy who ranked seventh in the league in blocks (2.4 per game) and was named to the All-Star Weekend Rookie Game in 1997-98.
Ronnie Price: After winning the 2005 NCAA Division I Independent Player of the Year award at Utah Valley State University, Price put up 7.3 points (43% FG, 50% 3PT) and two assists per game in the Las Vegas Summer League and signed a two-year contract with the Kings. The dynamic 6'2" point guard became an immediate fan favorite — he'll always be remembered for a spectacular, one-handed dunk over the 6'9" Carlos Boozer of the Utah Jazz — but played limited minutes behind Mike Bibby and Jason Hart.
Price averaged 2.9 points (38% FG, 29% 3PT) and 0.7 assists per game in 87 contests (but just one start) over two seasons. He signed with the Jazz when the Kings rescinded their third-year qualifying offer in 2007, and recorded a career-high 4.3 points and 2.1 assists per game last season while serving as Deron Williams' primary backup.