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.
There are three teams still alive in the NBA playoffs, but draft season is already upon us, with news of potential trades, players jockeying for the top pick, and fringe prospects simply hoping to hear their name called on June 27th. Here's the latest:
- Bob Finnan of The News-Herald hears the Kings have offered Isaiah Thomas to the Cavs in exchange for the No. 19 pick, though he hasn't confirmed that rumor. Thomas, a starter in Sacramento, would back up Kyrie Irving in Cleveland.
- Finnan unveils the latest version of his mock draft, writing that the Wizards hope the Cavs pass on Otto Porter.
- John Wall tells Eric Detweiler of the Washington Post that he thinks the team should use the No. 3 pick on "a four man that can pick and pop," leading Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com to point to Anthony Bennett as Wall's likely favorite (Twitter link).
- The Timberwolves will work out several big men later this month, including Steven Adams and Mike Muscala, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune (Twitter link).
- The Wizards are giving second-round hopeful Travon Woodall his first pre-draft workout, reports Josh Newman of SNY.tv.
- Zeke Marshall, another second-round prospect, has worked out for the Mavs and will also do so for the Pistons, Rockets, Suns, Lakers, Bulls and Pacers, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. Agent Dino Pergola said other teams could be in the mix, too.
- Brandon Triche will work out with nine teams, including the Lakers, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Mike Waters of The Post-Standard identifies the Blazers, Kings and Knicks as three of those clubs.
- The Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto makes the case that the Cavs should take Ben McLemore first overall.
When the Kings signed Isaiah Thomas after selecting him with the 60th and final pick in the 2011 draft, the team inked the point guard to a unique three-year contract. Per Mark Deeks of Sham Sports, the second and third years of the deal were fully unguaranteed, but could become guaranteed if Thomas met certain criteria.
Thomas' 2012/13 contract became guaranteed when, in his rookie season, he appeared in at least 50 games, averaging 15+ minutes in the 50 contests in which he played the most. Thomas needed to meet those same criteria this season in order to guaranteed his 2013/14 salary, and did so earlier this month. Thomas has now appeared in 56 games in '12/13, averaging 25.5 minutes per contest.
The 24-year-old isn't exactly set for a big payday next season, as he's in line to earn the minimum $884,293. But that's one more guaranteed contract to add to the Kings' books as the team approaches an uncertain offseason, with the franchise expected to change hands. Sacramento now has nine players on guaranteed deals for 2013/14, with Aaron Brooks potentially becoming the tenth if he exercises his $3.4MM player option.
The latest news and notes from around the NBA on Saturday evening:
With offseason signee Aaron Brooks firmly entrenched as the starting point guard for the Kings, coach Keith Smart has been going back and forth between second-year men Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas as the backup at that position. The time share has frustrated Thomas, who finished his surprising rookie campaign as the starter and started the first eight games of this season as well, and he's expressed a desire for a better idea of when he'll be playing, as Matt Kawahara of the Sacramento Bee details.
"Wouldn't you?" Thomas replied when asked whether he'd like more clarity on his role. "I would. But I mean, that's coach's decision, and I'm a team guy, so I just go with whatever he chooses. I mean, I'll always know I'm going to stay ready, no matter what."
Thomas said he doesn't understand why Smart decided to split his minutes with Fredette, but Smart said he's doing so in part because he feels both players need to play in order to improve. While Thomas, the last pick in the 2011 draft, assumed a prominent role last year, 10th overall pick Fredette saw fewer than 20 minutes a game as a reserve.
Appearances and minutes are especially important to Thomas, given the stipulations in his contract. His minimum-salary deal for next year will be non-guaranteed if he doesn't average 15 or more minutes per game in the 50 contests in which he plays the most minutes this season, according to ShamSports. Failure to appear in at least 50 games is another trigger that would make the contract non-guaranteed next season.
Thomas might actually want to root for less playing time to make his deal non-guaranteed and prompt the Kings to waive him in the offseason, when he could bank on his performance from 2011/12 to find a deal for better than the minimum. That would be shortsighted, though, since he'd be in line for a much more lucrative contract in the summer of 2014 if he can improve upon last year's performance.
The Bulls are doing battle with the Thunder today in another possible Finals match-up. Chicago is once again without their best player, Derrick Rose. In an Insider piece on ESPN.com, Basketball-Reference's Neil Paine explains that despite the team experiencing recent success without Rose, they have no chance at winning a title if he doesn't play.