Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee characterizes the Kings’ move for Derrick Williams as “playing a hunch” – a hope that a new situation will help the former second-overall pick tap into his potential. With the franchise in rebuilding mode, Voisin writes that outside of DeMarcus Cousins, Ben McLemore, and Isaiah Thomas, pretty much everyone else is up for grabs on the trading block. Here’s more out of the Pacific Division tonight:
- Mark Deeks of the Score evaluates the Williams-Luc Mbah a Moute swap for both Sacramento and Minnesota. Keeping Williams’ potential in mind, Deeks writes that the Kings took a gamble that was nearly “impossible to pass up,” whereas the Timberwolves appeared to have created a logjam at the wing with Dante Cunningham‘s minutes to account for as well as the eventual return of Chase Budinger.
- According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni ”hated” that Elias Harris had to be cut today. Both Bresnahan and Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News report that the team isn’t expected to fill in their 15th roster spot anytime soon (Twitter links).
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel says the Lakers dropped the ball in sacrificing future financial flexibility in order to reward Kobe Bryant with a generous extension. The Los Angeles Times relayed a handful of fan reactions this afternoon regarding the deal, and most didn’t seem to be enthused either.
The Thunder surprised many when they traded star sixth man James Harden to the Rockets right before the 2012/13 season start. Serge Ibaka was awarded a 4-year, $48MM contract earlier in the summer of 2012 and tells Jeff Caplan at the NBA’s Hang Time Blog that he’s worked on his ball handling and offensive game this season.
After Russell Westbrook went down with a torn meniscus against the Rockets in last year’s opening round of the Western Conference playoffs, the Thunder struggled without their playmaking point guard. Kevin Durant had to carry a heavier offensive burden, and Ibaka’s play suffered without Westbrook to alleviate defensive pressure.
The Thunder will need Ibaka to inherit a more substantial offensive workload to begin this season with Westbrook expected to miss the first couple of months recovering from a second surgery to fix issues stemming from the original surgery on his meniscus.
Here are some notes from around the Western Conference tonight:
- With Westbrook out, there are concerns about how much Durant will have to do for the Thunder to survive Westbrook’s absence in the first part of the season. Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman tweets that head coach Scott Brooks says KD will play between 38-40 minutes this season.
- Mayberry adds, via Twitter, that no player within the last 9 seasons has gone on to win a title after logging more than 3000 minutes in the regular season, but Brooks doesn’t place much stock in that info.
- Dee Bost, Richard Howell and E.J. Singler are likely headed to the Blazers’ D-League affiliate after camp, according to Gino Pilato of D-League Digest. That’s no surprise, since they’re the only three players on Portland’s roster without fully guaranteed deals.
- New Kings coach Michael Malone says rookies Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum are making the most of their minutes during the preseason (Twitter).
- Malone also said, via the Kings‘ official Twitter account, that playing defense as a cohesive 5-man group is the key for this year’s Kings team to be successful.
- The Clippers Blake Griffin will play tonight against the Jazz after suffering a bruised knee in practice on Tuesday, reports ESPN LA. MRI results showed no structural damage and Griffin returned to practice on Friday.
Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune underscores the Jazz' competitive disadvantage in having to share a D-League affiliate with four other NBA teams, considering how each team can only have so much individual expectations. He also notes that NBA teams with single affiliation hire their own coaches, provide support and direct on-court decisions, whereas the Jazz have to leave things up to the discretion of their independently owned D-League team. Should the ideal opportunity present itself, Oram mentions that Jazz president Randy Rigby would be interested in putting an expansion development league team in St. George, Utah, though that possibility still remains a dream scenario for now.
Here are some more news and notes out of the Western Conference tonight:
- Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes that DeMarcus Cousins is still waiting to hear from Shaq, who pledged last month that he would "make (him) the best big man in the game."
- Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek made quite an impression on the players he led during this month's summer competition, writes Matt Petersen of Suns.com. In a separate piece, Petersen, Brad Faye, and Ben York of Suns.com give their thoughts on who and what stood out for them the most this month in Las Vegas.
- Trail Blazers standout Damian Lillard reflects on his successful rookie campaign and discusses his thoughts on the team going into next year (Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld).
- Kings.com takes an in-depth look at Ben McLemore's first day in the NBA summer league (video link).
Metta World Peace was officially amnestied by the Lakers on Thursday, and remains on amnesty waivers, rather than regular waivers–instead of claiming his entire salary, teams can now place partial bids for his services, with the highest bid winning out. Here's the full explanation of the amnesty provision, and this year's amnesty primer.
Doug Davis, one of a pair of agents for the former Ron Artest, suggested that his client's assertion that he may leave the NBA should be taken with a grain of salt, notes Marc Berman of the New York Post. World Peace doesn't want to uproot his family, so the Clippers appear to be his first choice among NBA teams, but Knicks coach Mike Woodson said the team is "on alert" in case World Peace clears amnesty waivers.
"There’s a number of definitely positive things about New York," Davis said. "Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to assess them [Sunday] after he clears waivers. It’s a very tense time, this 48-hour period. We want him to be in control of his own destiny."
Here's what else is happening around the Pacific Division on this Saturday in the midst of amnesty week:
- The Clippers continue to eye free agent big men Lamar Odom and Antawn Jamison, but sources tell Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports that the team is taking it slow as it determines the best fit (Twitter link).
- Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times examines whether the Lakers should attempt to avoid paying the luxury tax this season.
- The Kings have renounced their rights to Toney Douglas, who already has an agreement in place with the Warriors, according to the RealGM transactions log. The Kings also renounced their rights to Cole Aldrich.
- And the Kings officially announced in a press release that rookie Ben McLemore had been signed: "The Sacramento Kings today signed first-round draft pick Ben McLemore to a contract, according to Kings General Manager Pete D’Alessandro. Sacramento selected McLemore with the seventh-overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Per team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed."
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The Kings have signed Ben McLemore, having tweeted a picture of the No. 7 pick putting pen to paper on his rookie-scale contract. He's in line for a first-year salary close to $2.9MM, as our salary chart for first-round picks shows. That would be the standard 120% of his rookie-scale amount.
McLemore was a strong candidate to go as high as No. 2 much of this spring, and seemed to be in the mix for the No. 1 pick within 10 days of the draft. He slipped to Sacramento at No. 7, and it appears the Kings have big plans for him, having parted ways with Tyreke Evans, the incumbent starter at his position.
The shooting guard from Kansas selected Rodney Blackstock as an agent, and controversy surrounded McLemore's camp as the draft approached. McLemore has also shown inconsistency on the court, as Alex Lee of Hoops Rumors pointed out when he examined the two-guard's prospect profile. Still, as a shooter who draws comparisons to Ray Allen and Bradley Beal, there's plenty of upside.
Here's the latest news as we get set for the Draft to get underway from the Barclays Center..
- The Cavs haven't found a taker for the No. 1 pick yet, but it's not for a lack of trying. One source tells Ric Bucher of 95.7 The Game (via Twitter) that they still haven't given up on finding a trade.
- The Kings have been aggressive in trying to move up from No. 7 in the draft, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Their likely target is Kansas guard Ben McLemore.
- The Kings could find a partner in the Suns who pick at No. 5 and are looking to drop back, tweets Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.
- Sergey Karasev left private interviews in Russia confident that he'll be in the top 15 and hope that he'll be a top ten pick, a league source told Shams Charania of RealGM. Discussions with several teams continued even after the interviews and the Bucks’ apparent interest has fueled belief that the 19-year-old won’t last beyond No. 15.
- The Knicks remain enamored with German guard Dennis Schroeder at No. 24 but they understand that he's unlikely to slip to them, Wojnarowski tweets. The Jazz like Schroeder (14, 21) and there's little chance that the Nets (22) and Pacers (23) let him reach the Knicks (link).
- Teams are getting a clear message from the Wizards: they do not want to part with their No. 3 pick, tweets Berger.
- More from Berger (link), who tweets that Miami guard Shane Larkin has attracted the interest of the Jazz at No. 14 and Milwaukee at No. 15.
- After two workouts, N.C. State forward C.J. Leslie shut it down with teams and he's expected to be selected in the 30s, tweets Wojnarowski.
Here's the latest draft buzz from Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld (all links go to Twitter)..
- It sounds like the Magic are really high on Nerlens Noel, Kennedy tweets. If the Cavaliers select Alex Len at No. 1, Orlando may go with Noel.
- If Noel is gone, the Magic will likely select Ben McLemore or Victor Oladipo. Many people are assuming Oladipo will be the pick in that case, but Kennedy is not so sure.
- Some sources tell Kennedy that Shabazz Muhammad will slip out of the lottery, which lines up with him not being invited to green room.
- There are still questions about Oladipo and teams are intrigued by McLemore's upside. Kennedy has been told that the Indiana product could slip all the way to the Suns at No. 5.
- The Mavs continue to shop the No. 13 pick. The Wolves and Thunder want to move up while the Grizzlies, Rockies, Warriors, and 76ers want to add a first-rounder.
Chad Ford of ESPN.com has posted his latest draft day rumblings and we have the highlights..
- The excitement over Giannis Antetokounmpo might be fading a bit as teams want the raw prospect to stay in Greece for a couple of years while he wants to come to the NBA now. For GMs who don't think he's ready, that means that he will make for a very expensive D-League player.
- If the Cavs can't trade the No. 1 overall pick for a veteran plus a 2014 lottery pick, they'll keep attempting to move whomever they draft until all their options have been exercised. That could be a tall order since the hardest asset for a team to get right now is a 2014 lottery pick. Ford puts the odds at 95 percent that no potential 2014 lottery pick is moved tonight.
- The teams working hardest to move up higher in the lottery are the Jazz, Wolves and Thunder. The Jazz appear to be targeting Lehigh's C.J. McCollum and are offering picks No. 14 and 21, but they might have to give up Alec Burks as well to get high enough.
- The Wolves are also trying to get up very high in an attempt to land Victor Oladipo or Ben McLemore. As we've heard, they're dangling the No. 9 pick, No. 26 pick, and Derrick Williams.
- The Thunder want a big man – they like Nerlens Noel and Alex Len – but they don't have a ton to offer. Movable assets like Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones, and possibly Reggie Jackson don't have enormous trade value. Their own pick next year won't be high and the Mavs pick that they own is top-20 protected next year.
- The Bobcats (No. 4) and Kings (No. 7) look like the two teams most willing to move down.
- A ton of teams want the Mavs' No. 13 pick. The Cavs have been the most proactive but the Bucks, Hawks, and Nets are also in the mix. In virtually every case, the target is Sergey Karasev. Trouble is, the Sixers or Thunder could grab him before 13.
- The Celtics are trying to pick up a late-first or early-second-round pick and sources say their target is Missouri's Phil Pressey if they decide to go big with their first pick.
A few random notes from around the league.
ESPN.com's Chad Ford has published version 6.0 of his 2013 mock draft, with just over 48 hours remaining until draft night. As he has been for all six of Ford's mocks, Nerlens Noel remains in the No. 1 spot. The ESPN.com scribe wrote a lengthy piece last night on why he thinks the Cavaliers are still likely to select Noel, and provides details on plenty of other first-round teams in his new mock, so let's check out the highlights….
- The Magic are prepared to leap on Noel if he's there at No. 2, but if the Cavs take him, Orlando's choice becomes trickier. Ford continues to hear that the Magic are leaning toward Victor Oladipo over Ben McLemore and others., though Cody Zeller could be a dark horse.
- Otto Porter appears to be ahead of Anthony Bennett for the Wizards at No. 3.
- Although Ford has the Suns selecting McLemore at No. 5, he says Phoenix prefers Oladipo and also likes Zeller and Michael Carter-Williams.
- If Porter or Alex Len are still on the board at No. 6, the Pelicans will probably draft one of the two, but if not, the team may target a point guard like Carter-Williams or Trey Burke, says Ford.
- C.J. McCollum has emerged as a potential selection for the Kings at No. 7.
- The Trail Blazers wouldn't be opposed to drafting Carter-Williams if he slides to No. 10, since he has the necessary to play alongside Damian Lillard, according to Ford.
- If the Cavs end up acquiring the Mavericks' 13th overall pick, Cleveland would probably use it to draft Sergey Karasev.
- Ford has Shabazz Muhammad slipping all the way to No. 18 (Hawks) in this version of his mock.