Sacramento Kings

Western Notes: Kings, Clippers, Rockets, Warriors

The Kings will try to make defensive improvements at the trade deadline, GM Vlade Divac said on “The Grant Napear Show” on CBS Sports 1140 in Sacramento, tweets James Ham of CSN California. The Rockets would prefer to add a shooter via trade, Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com hears (Twitter link). The Clippers are expected to assess their need for a backup point guard with Austin Rivers injured, according to Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter). The Warriors, meanwhile, aren’t looking to fix what isn’t broken, as GM Bob Myers said in a radio appearance on 95.7 The Game, as Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group relays (Twitter link).

“It’d have to be something unbelievable to really mess with the chem & the personnel on the team,” Myers said.

See more from the Western Conference:

  • Divac acknowledged that he was thinking about making a coaching change and had full authority to do so, but simply decided against it, as he said in an appearance on “The Grant Napear Show” on CBSports 1140 in Sacramento, notes Sean Cunningham of KXTV-TV in Sacramento (Twitter link). However, the resistance that Kings minority-share owners put up against eating the rest of George Karl‘s salary also played into the decision to keep the coach, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com said today in an appearance on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike” show (audio link), and as RealGM transcribes. That jibes with an earlier suggestion from Sam Amick of USA Today. Vivek Ranadive owns a controlling share of the team, but it doesn’t constitute a majority of the franchise, Windhorst points out.
  • Communication with management didn’t go smoothly for former Kings coach Tyrone Corbin last season, as he said this week on SiriusXM NBA Radio’s “NBA Today” show (Twitter link; audio link). “It was a mess. The organization was kind of playing it both ways,” Corbin said.
  • Bryce Dejean-Jones and the Pelicans have only slightly different figures in mind, Scott Kushner of The New Orleans Advocate hears, advancing his earlier report that the rookie shooting guard is in talks with the Pels and other teams (Twitter links). The shooting guard is seeking a two- or three-year deal following the expiration of his second 10-day contract with New Orleans on Wednesday, Kushner adds. The Pelicans are ineligible to sign him to any more 10-day deals.
  • The Rockets offered Josh Smith more money in free agency last summer than the minimum-salary deal he signed with the Clippers, Rockets GM Daryl Morey said on the “Chad, Joe & Lo” show on 95.7 The Game in the Bay Area (audio link; transcription via HoopsHype). Smith wound up with the Rockets anyway via trade.

Cavs Interested In McLemore, Ariza, Joe Johnson

The Cavaliers are one of multiple Eastern Conference teams with strong interest in Ben McLemore, league sources tell Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Cleveland would quickly snap up Joe Johnson if he works a buyout with the Nets, Haynes also hears from league sources, though it doesn’t look like he’s one of the Cavs’ trade targets. Trevor Ariza is also on Cleveland’s radar, Haynes adds, as are Kyle Korver and Jared Dudley, as previous reports indicated, but it’s highly unlikely Cleveland ends up with one of those three, according to Haynes, who paints McLemore as the more obtainable target.

The Kings have so far resisted offers for the shooting guard, Haynes writes, but it’s widely known around the league that agents are pushing to get their players out of Sacramento amid organizational turmoil there, Haynes also reports. Trade candidate Rudy Gay wouldn’t mind a deal that ships him out of town, but the Kings haven’t found any offers for him that pass muster, Haynes hears.

Cleveland isn’t connected to Gay, but it’s a matter of when, not if, the Cavs will make a move of some sort, according to Haynes. The Cavs have been seeking a three-and-D wing player and have been linked to multiple names, including Omer Asik, who’s a center, and Tyreke Evans, who has an injury that threatens to wipe out the rest of his season. They’ve reportedly explored trading Timofey Mozgov, having met with rejection on that front from the Kings and also engaging in talks with the Pelicans that didn’t bear fruit.

Johnson said recently that he wouldn’t dismiss the idea of a buyout from his contract with the Nets, which expires at season’s end, and the Heat, like the Cavs, reportedly want to make a run at him if he shakes free from Brooklyn. One source close to Johnson told Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders that Johnson is “miserable” with the Nets and would welcome a change. His nearly $24.895MM would make a trade difficult, so a buyout appears a more feasible route.

Lakers, Suns, Rockets, Kings Eye Luke Walton

The Lakers, Suns, Rockets and Kings are likely to express interest in Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton for their head coaching jobs in the offseason, sources tell Marc Berman of The New York Post. Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post reported earlier this week that the Lakers and Suns would target him (Twitter link). They join the Knicks, who reportedly view Walton as a top candidate, even though New York appears a long shot for him, and the Nets, who apparently have the 35-year-old on their radar, at least, as they seek to fill their GM vacancy first.

Remaining with the Warriors for next season is not out of the realm of possibility for Walton, barring the emergence of an enticing offer, a source close to the coach suggested to Berman. That jibes with Walton’s recent remark that he’s in no rush to make a change and would “love to be back again next season” with Golden State. Walton is apparently set on remaining with the team at least through this season, which is liable to stretch well into June for the 48-4 Warriors.

Walton had talks with the Knicks about becoming an assistant coach in 2014, but the team wasn’t ready to make an offer when Warriors coach Steve Kerr pursued him for his staff at Golden State, as Berman details. Walton joined the Warriors that summer for his first job on an NBA bench and only his second season as a coach on any level following a 10-year NBA playing career. He ascended to interim head coach before this season when Kerr took a leave of absence to recover from two back surgeries, and Walton led the team to a sterling 39-4 record before Kerr returned last month.

The Suns, Rockets and Knicks all have interim head coaches, while Byron Scott and George Karl remain in their formal capacities as head coaches of the Lakers and Kings, respectively. However, Scott isn’t assured of lasting past the season and the Kings nearly fired Karl this week.

Which job makes the most sense for Walton? Leave a comment to tell us.

Kings Notes: Karl, Jackson, Divac, Ranadive

George Karl‘s agent, Warren LeGarie, is upset with Kings television analyst Bobby Jackson for some negative comments he made on air regarding the embattled coach, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register relays. Jackson pointedly suggested that it was time for the organization to fire Karl, something LeGarie is worried will influence the team’s volatile front office, Oram adds. “It’s my opinion that he [Jackson] should be fired or suspended,” LeGarie, told Oram. “[There’s] no place for that in a legitimate organization.”

LeGarie noted that Jackson is close to Sacramento executives Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic, Oram notes. “It’s way more transparent when you know the cast of characters involved and way more obvious then,” LeGarie said. “Except to the fans who take what they say as gospel.” The agent also noted in regards to broadcasters that,”They condition their audience, which ultimately influences the management.”

Here’s more from Sacramento:

  • Karl noted that his recent talk with Divac, which he initially believed would result in him being fired, was similar to their usual conversations, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes. “I don’t think it’s anything different,” Karl said. “Just the situation, frustration – everybody’s frustrated when you lose. I’m not going to go into the private conversations that we had. Talked about the team, talked about the trade deadline situation. We talked about going forward in a positive way, in a committed, connected way.
  • The franchise needs Divac to be a stabilizing influence amid all the current turmoil, something he has yet to effectively accomplish as an executive, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com opines.
  • If the Kings decide to deal swingman Rudy Gay prior to the trade deadline, the team needs to receive players signed beyond this season and not short-term rentals in return, Bobby Marks of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports writes in his deadline primer for the franchise. With Sacramento not known as a destination for free agents, it would be difficult for the team to replace Gay’s production, making it paramount that the Kings receive players they can utilize beyond the current campaign, Marks notes.
  • The Kings’ troubles start at the top with majority owner Vivek Ranadive and the muddled messages he sends to the team and its fans with his often flighty nature, Marcos Breton of The Sacramento Bee writes. The scribe also notes that Ranadive has been the one constant throughout all the coaching changes and failed personnel moves, which have the organization looked upon as a laughingstock around the league.

Heat Interested In Casspi, Kings Like Tyler Johnson

The Heat have explored trading for Omri Casspi as they seek to upgrade their 3-point shooting, while the Kings are interested in Tyler Johnson, even though he’s out for at least two months and perhaps the rest of the season with a torn left rotator cuff, reports Ethan Skolnick of the Miami Herald. Miami has been aggressive in seeking to trade a player at the end of its bench, particularly Chris Andersen and Jarnell Stokes, in an effort to avoid tax penalties, fellow Herald scribe Barry Jackson hears, though the team acknowledges that offloading Stokes, who makes the minimum, is more likely than with Anderson and his $5MM salary, Jackson adds.

It’s unclear if the Heat and Kings have discussed proposals, though a Casspi-Johnson exchange would have to include more salary going from Miami to Sacramento, since Casspi’s salary of more than $2.836MM exceeds the minimum salary that Johnson has. Even the addition of Stokes’ minimum salary wouldn’t quite be enough to make a legal deal. Conversely, a trade that sends Andersen to the Kings for Casspi wouldn’t work because it would represent too much salary headed to Sacramento.

Regardless, Casspi is knocking down a career-high 42.2% of his 3-point looks this season, the first on his two-year, $5.8MM contract, so he’d no doubt help a Miami team that’s 26th in 3-pointers made. Johnson was one of the Heat’s most accurate long-range shooters before going out with injury, nailing 38.6% of his attempts. He’s a native of Mountain View, California, and he went to Fresno State, both of which are close to Sacramento. Johnson, who turns 24 in May, is set to become a restricted free agent at season’s end, but he’s subject to the Gilbert Arenas Provision, which would make it more difficult for a team to poach him in free agency.

The Heat have reportedly been trying to trade Andersen off and on for months but evidently haven’t found a trading partner. Stokes has only totaled 14 minutes at the NBA level compared to nearly 500 in the D-League since coming over from the Grizzlies in the Mario Chalmers trade. Miami is approximately $5.5MM above the $84.74MM luxury tax threshold and faces repeat-offender tax penalties if it can’t duck under the line by the last day of the regular season, though next week’s trade deadline represents the team’s last realistic opportunity to do so.

Pacific Notes: Karl, Griffin, Cousins, Watson

The fast pace of the Kings under George Karl has perturbed players and management, and concerns exist over the effect of the two-time cancer survivor’s health on his ability to coach, according to Sam Amick of USA Today. It’s hard for players to hear Karl, who endured neck and throat cancer while with the Nuggets, over the din of NBA arenas, Amick writes. Owner Vivek Ranadive reportedly hired Karl in part to run an up-tempo offense, so it’s odd to see pace become an issue. Still, the Kings have apparently committed to keeping Karl, in spite of reports that they planned to fire him.

“If they let George do his job and coach this team like he’s done in the past, they will get what they are both always seeking, respectability as a team and organization,” Karl’s agent, Warren Legarie, said in a statement to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

See more on the always-entertaining Kings amid the latest from the Pacific Division:

  • Blake Griffin has been suspended for four games without pay and fined him the equivalent of a fifth game check for reportedly hitting assistant equipment manager Mathias Testi, an incident that left Griffin with a broken right hand, as Dan Woike of the Orange County Register reported and the Clippers shortly thereafter confirmed (Twitter links). It’s officially a team suspension, Amick reports (Twitter link), so the Clippers won’t reap any tax savings as they would have if it were an NBA suspension. The team suspension also allows the Clippers some leeway in determining whether it’ll start before or after Griffin is fully recovered from his hand injury, as Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times points out (on Twitter), though the team has no plan to do so, Woike relays (via Twitter).
  • The Kings still aren’t seriously considering any DeMarcus Cousins trade before the deadline, but they’re expected to decide soon whether to use the months after the deadline to “lay the groundwork” for a later trade of the star big man, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. That process could take a while, Deveney writes, pointing to Minnesota’s months-long effort to find a suitable Kevin Love deal in 2014.
  • Interim Suns coach Earl Watson spent only one season with the Spurs organization, as a D-League coach last year, but San Antonio’s philosophy has a clear influence on the style he’s bringing to Phoenix, notes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.

Kings Reverse Course, Decide To Keep George Karl

2:26pm: Karl thought Divac was about to fire him when the GM called the coach at lunch today, but instead the two engaged in a conversation that lasted about five minutes and left Karl still in his job as head coach, Spears writes. It appears that brief dialogue constitutes the meeting between Divac and Karl that previous reports alluded to.

12:37pm: The Kings have scrapped plans to fire George Karl before the All-Star break and will keep the coach instead, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The about-face came after Karl met with GM Vlade Divac today, Stein adds (on Twitter).

“George is our coach and we’re collectively working through our issues,” Divac said in a statement to ESPN, according to Stein, who initially reported the team’s plan to fire the coach.

It’s highly unlikely that the team will fire Karl during the All-Star break, at least, as he agreed during his meeting with Divac to make a renewed effort, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. Improving the team’s defense was a key topic the two discussed, according to Marc J. Spears of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), with transition defense, guarding 3-pointers and a lack of energy among specific topics, reports Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee (on Twitter).

The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski hears that the Kings had never made the decision to fire Karl, and that owner Vivek Ranadive had leaned toward canning him but Divac talked him out of it (Twitter link). That runs counter to Stein’s report that Divac was the one who was behind Karl’s impending dismissal. It’s Divac’s preference that Karl coach through the remainder of the season, Amick tweets. Divac said in November that Karl would remain coach for the rest of 2015/16, though former Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro said the same of interim coach Tyrone Corbin last season before the team replaced in with Karl in February 2015.

Today’s news represents the latest turn of events in a back-and-forth saga involving Karl’s job security, which first came into question in June. The Vertical’s Chris Mannix reported Monday that the front office had lost nearly all confidence in the coach and that multiple players were upset with him. An “obvious disconnect” exists between the players and Karl, with many in the locker room not on board with the coach, Jones tweets.

Cavs Eye Korver, Evans, Asik; Kings Reject Mozgov

The Cavaliers are interested in Kyle Korver and also have Tyreke Evans and Omer Asik on their radar, while recent talks with the Kings about Timofey Mozgov have met with rejection from Sacramento, Brian Windhorst of ESPN said in a radio appearance today on ESPN Cleveland’s “The Really Big Show,” according to a series of tweets from ESPN Cleveland. The Cavs have also been showcasing Anderson Varejao for a trade, Windhorst said, nonetheless adding that it doesn’t seem he’s drawing much interest. It’s unlikely that Cleveland lands Korver, Windhorst also said, though the relatively likelihood of Evans, Asik and Mozgov changing teams is unclear. The Cavs and Pelicans had talks earlier that involved Mozgov and Asik, but the Cavs were reluctant to deal, as Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports reported last month.

Atlanta has reportedly solicited offers for Jeff Teague and Dennis Schröder of late and isn’t entirely certain that Al Horford will re-sign in free agency this summer, and Windhorst speculates that the Hawks could be sellers. They’re in fifth place in the Eastern Conference at 30-24, having already lost more games than they did during the entire regular season last year. Korver is under contract through next season, at more than $5.746MM this year and more than $5.239MM for 2016/17. His normally elite 3-point shooting is down to 38.3% this season, but that’s still better than most, and the Cavs have reportedly sought to add long distance shooting and defense to the wing.

New Orleans has reportedly sized up the market for Tyreke Evans and had discussions about trading him, though it’s unknown whether those talks were internal or external. The former Rookie of the Year is out until at least the All-Star break with tendinitis in his right knee. He’s once more been seeing time at point guard, where he’s matching his career high with 6.6 assists per game, though it would seem more logical that Cleveland would have interest in him as a wing player. His salary of nearly $10.734MM is just barely outside the bounds of the $10,522,500 trade exception Cleveland has as a vestige of Brendan Haywood. That’s true even though Evans’ salary for next season, the last year on his contract, is only about $10.204MM.

Asik’s numbers are off significantly this year, having suffered a right calf strain in the preseason that continued to bother him well into the regular season. The five-year, nearly $53MM contract he signed this past offseason looks player-friendly so far, though his more than $9.213MM salary for this year would fit within Cleveland’s exception.

He’d ostensibly offset the lack of production the Cavs have seen from Mozgov, who has also been slow to recover from injury, having undergone offseason surgery on his right knee. I examined Mozgov’s trade candidacy shortly after Wojnarowski reported that the Cavs had begun to explore the trade market for him. Sacramento would be an odd fit for him, given the presence of big men DeMarcus Cousins, Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein, though it’s unclear what the Kings would have relinquished in Cleveland’s proposals. Mozgov is making $4.95MM this season on an expiring contract.

Varejao saw 27 minutes of action against the Pelicans on Saturday, but his minutes have otherwise been spotty. The longtime confidant of LeBron James is making $9.638MM this season in the first year of a three-year extension.

Do you see a deal involving any of these names that the Cavs should make? Leave a comment to tell us.

Kings To Fire George Karl

The Kings plan to fire coach George Karl, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. After months of rumors, Stein said sources told him the team has made a decision and the move will be made in the “coming days,” most likely after the team’s final game before the All-Star break, which will be Wednesday in Philadelphia.

Feb 5, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Sacramento Kings head coach George Karl watches play between the Brooklyn Nets and the Kings during the second half at Barclays Center. The Nets defeated the Kings 128-119. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Noah K. Murray / USA Today Sports Images

The move verifies a report earlier today by Chris Mannix of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports that the front office has lost faith in Karl and the players have tuned him out. The Kings fell to 21-31 with tonight’s 20-point loss in Cleveland and are currently five games behind the Jazz for the final Western Conference playoff spot.

Stein writes that the decision to replace Karl is being made by GM Vlade Divac, and that former Kings player and current assistant Corliss Williamson is the “overwhelming favorite” to take over as interim coach. Sources tell Stein that Divac only wants an interim coach right now and wants to take his time with the coaching search.

Karl had been under fire even before he was formally hired to coach the Kings a little less than a year ago. Sources told Stein that discontent has been growing lately over Karl’s defensive schemes, his philosophy on practice and his overall leadership.

Point guard Rajon Rondo, who came to Sacramento as a free agent last summer and has been among Karl’s biggest supporters, appeared to jump ship earlier today, complaining about the coach’s decision to make this morning’s shootaround optional, tweets Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. “With optional shootarounds, it’s tough … When three or four guys show up for shootaround this morning, how can you expect to win?” Rondo said.

Karl has $6.5MM guaranteed cash left on the four-year, $15MM deal he agreed to last year, not counting this season’s $3.25MM salary. The Kings will be seeking their ninth coach since 2006/07, the most in the league since that time. When the firing becomes official, Karl will be the sixth coach to be let go this season.

Was it time for a change in Sacramento? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Pacific Notes: Walton, Nash, Hill, Divac

Warriors assistant Luke Walton has hired the Wasserman Media Group to represent him in negotiations, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Walton is reportedly a top candidate for the newly created Knicks vacancy, but the prospect of Walton ending up in New York is a long shot, tweets Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com. See more from the defending champs amid the latest from around the Pacific Division:

  • Warriors part-time player development consultant Steve Nash said he wouldn’t be closed to the possibility of working for the Suns in the future, but he’s not willing to become the team’s coach for now, calling the notion of the team’s apparent interest in him for its head coaching vacancy “a moot point at this point.” The two-time MVP made his comments on J.J. Redick‘s podcast for The Vertical on Yahoo Sports (audio link, scroll to 7:45 mark).
  • Interim Suns coach Earl Watson told new assistant Bob Hill when Hill was Watson’s coach on the SuperSonics from 2006 to 2007 that he’d like to coach with him someday, and that longstanding desire brought Hill back into NBA coaching after a nine-year absence, as Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic details. Hill still has some bitterness toward Spurs coach/president Gregg Popovich about Popovich’s decision to remove him as head coach of the Spurs nearly 20 years ago, Coro also relays. “I guess I didn’t do good enough. I don’t know. He wanted to be the coach,” Hill said of Popovich. “And as soon as he had an opportunity to get rid of me, he did it. It’s too bad. The league’s like that sometimes. You’re going to run into people like that sometimes and that’s part of life. It was a great experience. I’m happy I had that. It hasn’t affected my coaching. I continued to coach and always will.”
  • Kings GM Vlade Divac is only willing to make a trade if it’s a significant upgrade for the team, in spite of a report indicating that Sacramento is actively shopping many of its players, as Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee wrote today in a chat with readers.

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