Sacramento Kings Rumors

Western Notes: Bryant, Cousins, Cuban

November 22 at 12:43pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Kobe Bryant has been criticized for the Lakers‘ current woes because of his two-year, $48.5MM contract extension, which, despite Bryant granting the team a small discount, is looked at as a huge reason that Los Angeles is likely headed for the draft lottery for a second straight year, Baxter Holmes of writes. Speaking about his contract, Bryant said, “Did I take a discount? Yeah. Did I take as big a discount as some of you fans would want me to? No. Is it a big enough discount to help us be a contender? Yeah.”

Here’s more from out west:

  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said the discount his star Dirk Nowitzki accepted when re-signing with the team made a huge impact in helping shape their roster, and Cuban took a not so subtle poke at Bryant, Holmes adds. “To me, it’s not about money, it’s about winning,” Cuban said. “Different players have different attitudes. Could a player make $24 million in the NBA’s current punitive financial climate [as Bryant does this season] and legitimately say they’re interested in winning? Yeah, of course, as long as you can convince everybody else that you need to come play for the minimum.”
  • Bryant also weighed in on the fans who think players should take less so franchises can build winning teams, Dwain Price of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes. “It’s the popular thing to do — the player takes less, blah blah, blah, blah,” Bryant said. “I think it’s a big coup for the owners to put players in situations where public perception puts pressure on them to take less money, because if you don’t, then you get criticized for it. It’s absolutely brilliant. But I’m not going for it. I know that the new head of the players association [Michele Roberts] ain’t going for it either.
  • DeMarcus Cousins credits his increased maturity this season to his time spent with Team USA this past summer, Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders writes. The Kings‘ center said, “It [playing in the FIBA tournament] helped out a lot. I’d say the biggest thing is learning how to sacrifice for your team.  Doing the small things to help the team.  That’s probably the biggest thing I’ve taken away.  I mean, I played with an incredible group of guys, a very talented group of guys.  So, me playing the way I usually play, it wasn’t really needed for the team.”

And-Ones: Smith, Moreland, Sampson

November 21 at 10:26pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Minnesota is the latest team to be besieged by injuries, with Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin out indefinitely and Ronny Turiaf also expected to miss time. Also among the Timberwolves to sit on the sidelines in street clothes tonight is Nikola Pekovic, who has a sprained wrist. With the league-maximum 15 players on their roster, the Wolves would not be able to sign another player without being forced to release someone. But if at least three of the players miss three consecutive games and an independent physician declares that they and a fourth player are likely to continue to miss time, Minnesota could apply to the league for a hardship provision that would grant them the ability to temporarily carry a 16th player. Still, “they don’t hand those things out like candy,” as Flip Saunders noted of the league’s willingness to grant 16th roster spots, in spite of recent allowances for the Thunder, Pacers and Grizzlies, tweets Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Kings have sent Eric Moreland to the Reno Bighorns, the team announced. This will be Moreland’s second assignment to the D-League this season. The 22-year-old power forward has yet to make a regular season appearance for Sacramento
  • The Sixers have assigned JaKarr Sampson to the Delaware 87ers, their D-League affiliate, the team announced. This will be Sampson’s first trip to the D-League this season, and the rookie is averaging 2.0 points and 1.7 rebounds per game in nine NBA appearances.
  • Former Blazers first round pick Nolan Smith is headed back to the NBA D-League, Gino Pilato of D-League Digest reports. Smith had cut ties with Turkey’s Galatasaray back in October and intends to use the D-League to showcase his talents for NBA teams, Pilato notes. The D-League will assign Smith to one of its teams through its waiver system. The 26-year-old point guard spent 2011/12 and 2012/13 with Portland, averaging 3.3 PPG and 1.2 APG in 9.9 minutes per contest. Smith had received partially guaranteed offers from the Bulls and the Thunder this summer but instead chose to try his luck in Turkey.

Pacific Notes: Gay, Clippers, Kerr

November 20 at 11:59am CST By Chuck Myron

The Kings were in a position of power when DeMarcus Cousins signed his rookie scale extension last year, but Rudy Gay‘s decision to sign a veteran extension with the team this week is demonstrative of the strides the franchise has taken, as Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee examines.

“Obviously, when my contract was ending, I thought about going into free agency and maybe seeing what happens, but why search it when you have what you want right here?” Gay said.

Owner Vivek Ranadive and GM Pete D’Alessandro convinced the forward that the Kings were no longer the disorganized club that he’d heard stories about, Gay said, adding that having spent the offseason with Cousins helped influence his decision, too, Jones tweets. A bond with new point guard Darren Collison and comfort with the Sacramento community were also factors, Gay acknowledged, as fellow Bee scribe Ailene Voisin notes (Twitter link). There’s more on the Gay extension amid the latest from the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers planned to re-sign Willie Green after waiving him this summer, but the Magic stymied that when they claimed him off waivers, writes Dan Woike of the Orange County Register. “We were not very happy with the Magic on that one,” Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers said.. “We just assumed that no one would pick him up. Willie’s one of those guys you just want around.” Rivers also said that Green can serve as an assistant coach for him after he retires, Woike notes.
  • Turning down Knicks president Phil Jackson to take the Warriors job instead was “probably the hardest thing that I had to do professionally,” Steve Kerr tells Michael Lee of The Washington Post. “He basically made my career. From my experience in Chicago, that allowed me to have the success to sign as a free agent in San Antonio, where I had another incredible experience. My career path, started with Lute Olson [at Arizona] … but Phil’s the guy who got me rolling and gave me all the opportunities that I have in front of me right now.”
  • The Gay extension was a positive step for the Kings, and one the team had to make to move toward playoff contention, Voisin opines.

Western Notes: Nash, Len, Gay, Shaw

November 19 at 10:26pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Steve Nash has finally touched base with Lakers coach Byron Scott, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News writes. Last week it was reported that Nash wasn’t returning his coach’s phone calls while he was away from the team nursing his injured back. Nash is expected to have a presence around the team and hopefully serve as a mentor for some of the franchise’s younger players, notes Medina.

Nash didn’t speak with Scott, but instead left a voicemail, Medina adds. “He [Nash] did say on his message that he’s definitely going to come back and see everybody,” Scott said. “He just needed some time, which we all understood. But he didn’t give me a set time. It was a very simple message: ‘I heard that you called me. I don’t check my voicemail, but I’m calling you back. Hope everything is well. Hang in there. See you guys soon.’ 

Here’s more from the west:

  • With the Nuggets off to a 3-7 start to begin the season there has been some speculation about head coach Brian Shaws job being in jeopardy. In his weekly mailbag Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post asserted that Shaw is unlikely to be fired during the season, though he also believes that Shaw needs to settle on a regular rotation as soon as possible.
  • Rudy Gay‘s contract extension with the Kings will pay him $12,403,101 for the 2015/16 season, $13,333,333 for 2016/17, and it includes a player option for 2017/18 worth $14,263,566, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link).
  • Alex Len‘s improved play this season could serve as redemption for Suns GM Ryan McDonough‘s decision to draft Len over Nerlens Noel and Ben McLemore in 2013, Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic writes. “I really felt bad for Alex a year ago,” McDonough said. “As people tend to do in our society, there was a rush to judgment way too quickly on who he was as a player and what he could become. He’s very mobile for his size, and now that he’s healthy, he has his agility back. And he’s gotten a lot stronger.”
  • Nuggets GM Tim Connelly is shouldering a healthy share of the blame for the team’s woes, but it is former GM Masai Ujiri who is actually responsible for most of Denver’s problematic contracts, Tom Ziller of SB Nation writes. Ziller cites the deals given to JaVale McGee, Wilson Chandler, and Danilo Gallinari as examples of burdensome holdovers from Ujiri’s tenure.

Kings Sign Rudy Gay To Extension

November 19 at 3:55pm CST By Zach Links

Rudy Gay has signed a three-year, $40MM contract extension with the Kings, the team announced. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports first reported the deal on Sunday.  The extension begins with the 2015/16 campaign and includes a player option on the third year (2017/18).

Rudy Gay (vertical)

I am very excited to announce that Rudy Gay will be a part of the Kings for the long term,” owner Vivek Ranadivé said. “He is an immensely talented player who is critical to our team on and off the court, and he is a significant reason why things are changing in Sacramento. Players as talented as Rudy have their choice on where to play. He is committed to making the Kings great again and we are committed to his success. I am looking forward to seeing a sea of No. 8 jerseys filling the seats of the new arena.”

As Wojnarowski rightly notes, the ability to get out of the deal after 2016/17 gives Gay a chance to hit the open market in the summer of 2017, when there should be an opportunity to cash in thanks to the league’s new $24 billion television deal.  The forward will only be 31 years old at that point, so he should be able to secure another multiyear deal if he continues to play at his current level.

It was only in recent days that Gay decided to really work toward an agreement with Sacramento rather than letting the open market dictate his value next summer, and re-energized talks led to the two sides shaking hands on a deal Saturday night, Wojnarowski writes. In late September, Gay said that he briefly began extension talks with the Kings over the summer but put them on hold when he joined Team USA.  Since then, we hadn’t heard a ton of buzz regarding an extension prior to Wojnarowski’s report.

Gay is just the sixth player to sign a veteran extension since the current collective bargaining agreement took hold for the 2011/12 season, joining Andrew Bogut, Kobe Bryant, Tony Parker, Zach Randolph and Anderson Varejao. Randolph, Parker and Varejao all signed their extensions within the past five months.

I feel blessed to be in this situation,” Gay said in the team’s statement. I’m grateful for the confidence the Kings have shown in my abilities and appreciate the way Sacramento and its passionate fans have embraced me and my family from day one. The future is bright for this franchise, and I’m thrilled to play a role in helping the organization succeed on the court and in the community.”

The client of Octagon Sports agents Alex Saratsis and Jeff Austin will make more than $19.3MM this season in what was to have been the final year of his contract. The Kings are barred from trading Gay for the next six months because he signed an extension that tacks three additional seasons onto his deal.

For his career, Gay has averaged 18.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game across eight NBA seasons with the Grizzlies, Raptors, and Kings.  So far in 2014/15, the 28-year-old is averaging 21.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 3.6 APG for Sacramento.  Prior to the start of the season, our own Chuck Myron looked at Gay as an extension candidate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacific Notes: Bledsoe, Draymond Green, Gay

November 18 at 1:07pm CST By Chuck Myron

Eric Bledsoe went as far as to put pen to paper on his qualifying offer from the Suns over the offseason, as he tells A. Sherrod Blakely of, but he never submitted it to the team, leaving open the possibility of the five-year $70MM deal that came to fruition in late September. That’s was a game-changer for the Suns, who still have room to grow with a pair of traded first-round picks coming their way and a handful of recent first-rounders in their nascent stages of development, as SB Nation’s Paul Flannery points out. Phoenix isn’t panicking after a mediocre 6-5 start, Flannery notes, and there’s more on Bledsoe amid the latest from the Pacific Division:

  • The negotiations between Bledsoe and the Suns appeared contentious, but GM Ryan McDonough insisted to Blakely, who writes in the same piece, that he had “constant communication” with the Rich Paul client’s camp throughout the process. That’s in spite of owner Robert Sarver having said over the summer that the team had gone months without speaking to Bledsoe directly.
  • Draymond Green understands that the prospect of a significant raise looms in restricted free agency this coming summer, as he tells Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher. Still, he’s confident that the Warriors, already with about $77.5MM in commitments for 2015/16, can keep him. “It’d be a lie to say I don’t think about it,” he said. “But I don’t try to do anything different. If I did, everything is going to go wrong because I would be focusing on the wrong thing. I’d be stressed all year. Stress equals bad performances, which then would equal no contract. I really love it here. It’s all I know about this league. As far as the money working out, if they want me to stay here, I know there’s a way to keep me here.”
  • Hoops Rumors readers overwhelmingly gave the Kings a thumbs-up for agreeing to the Rudy Gay extension, and Darren Collison echoes that sentiment, notes James Ham of Cowbell Kingdom“I’m extremely excited,” Collison said. “This is a good step in the right direction. You think about how far this organization has come and to have players of Rudy’s caliber and his talent, DeMarcus [Cousins] is stepping up and becoming a household name [and] myself included, wanting to sign here, it just speaks a lot about this organization and what they’re trying to do. And it speaks about our future.”

Western Notes: Brewer, Jackson, Gay

November 17 at 8:22pm CST By Alex Lee

Tonight’s matchup between Memphis and Houston is a good one, but it’d be hard to fault fans looking forward to Wednesday night’s clash between the defending champion Spurs and the LeBron James-led Cavaliers. Sam Amick of USA Today writes that the Cleveland faithful should thank the Spurs for their part in sending James back to his hometown club, as few dispute that a Miami victory last June would have prevented the offseason’s biggest shakeup.

We’ll have to wait until Wednesday to see if the Spurs get their due from the Quicken Loans Arena crowd. Until then, let’s see what else is going on out West:

  • While Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders tried to downplay the Corey Brewer rumors earlier today, it sure appears that interest in the veteran swingman is legitimate. However, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities isn’t getting the sense that a trade is imminent (via Twitter). Meanwhile, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle questions whether the Rockets would use their traded player exception this early in the season (via Twitter). As our Outstanding Trade Exceptions guide shows, Houston obtained a trade exception of nearly $8.4MM when they sent Jeremy Lin to the Lakers.
  • With superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the shelf, Thunder guard Reggie Jackson has had the spotlight to himself in Oklahoma City recently, averaging 21.5 points in the team’s first 11 games. Jackson and the Thunder broke off extension talks in October and the fourth-year guard is set for restricted free agency this summer. One guy who knows what it’s like to be the third fiddle in OKC is James Harden, who told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman that Jackson should take advantage of this opportunity. “I fell into the same situation, and that could have been my only contract. And I’m sure Reggie feels the same way. He has to get the money that he’s earned and that he’s worked his whole life for. It’s the nature of the business. It’s going to happen every single year and it’s going to continue to happen.”
  • Rudy Gay and the Kings are perfect for each other, writes Tom Ziller of SB Nation. Ziller considers the extension agreed upon yesterday to be mutually beneficial, with Sacramento keeping a good player at a reasonable price while Gay pockets a nice chunk of change in the short term without totally sacrificing his ability to take advantage of the league’s new TV money. Assuming his success continues in Sacramento, Gay can decline his player option for 2017/18 and cash in one year after the cap explodes skyward in 2016.

And-Ones: Nene, Green, Cap, Johnson

November 17 at 6:56pm CST By Alex Lee

We have nine games on the NBA slate for tonight, the best of which is undoubtedly the Southwest division showdown in Memphis between the 9-1 Rockets and the 9-1 Grizzlies. Some might say the Grizzlies’ impressive record should include an asterisk, as the Kings continue insist that last week’s game-winner by Courtney Lee be overturned. However, Memphis GM Chris Wallace is confident the league will uphold his team’s victory, he tells Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

With that settled, let’s take a look at what else is going on around the Association on Monday night:

  • Nene and Gerald Green have joined the BDA Sports agency, as Liz Mullen of the SportsBusiness Journal reports in a subscription-only piece. Nene had been with Dan Fegan of Relativity Sports, while agent Kenton Edelin was Green’s representative. Green’s contract with the Suns is up after this season, while Nene’s deal with the Wizards runs through 2015/16.
  • Almost all team executives believe the salary cap for 2015/16 will fall somewhere between $66MM and $68MM, according to Grantland’s Zach Lowe. Lowe includes this nugget in a longer analysis of yesterday’s Rudy Gay extension, which the Grantland scribe describes as “fair-ish” next season and as a potential steal come 2016/17. Lowe also believes that the Kings would like to add another piece after this season if they can free up some salary. He speculates that Jason Thompson and his $6.43MM 2015/16 salary could be a trade candidate.
  • Now in his 14th season at age 33, Joe Johnson tells David Aldridge of that he can’t imagine playing too much longer after his deal is up with the Nets. Johnson, who recently got into some hot water after saying his team was playing selfishly, is under contract through next season with Brooklyn and will hit free agency at age 35 in the summer of 2016.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Kerr, Nuggets, Kings, Pondexter

November 17 at 12:55pm CST By Chuck Myron

Stephen Curry was one of the most vocal supporters of former Warriors coach Mark Jackson, but new coach Steve Kerr impressed the All-Star guard with the way he made a special effort to win the team’s trust. Curry shared his thoughts with TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip.

“It’s always that kind of uncertainty, what it’s going to be like,” Curry said. “He did a great job over the summer of reaching out to every single player, getting to know us, talking about what his expectations were, which made us a little more comfortable, for sure. But we’re all grownups. We all can kind of compartmentalize your relationships, knowing that in situations Coach Kerr’s coming in prepared for the job and trying to take us to the next level, and our job is to go out and play. He did a great job during training camp of keeping it light, keeping it fun, doing some things that are different.” 

Jackson won plenty in Golden State, but Kerr is keeping it up, with the Warriors at 8-2 to start the season. Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • The Nuggets are off to a sluggish 2-7 start, but GM Tim Connelly isn’t about to resort to drastic measures, observes Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post. “Certainly we’ve struggled,” Connelly said. “But it’s early.” Nonetheless, ex-Nuggets coach George Karl has an interest in returning to coaching and has been keeping an eye on the team, as one of his former assistants tells Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
  • The Kings have recalled Eric Moreland from the D-League, the team announced. The power forward averaged 15.0 points and 13.0 rebounds over a pair of weekend games.
  • The four-year extension that Quincy Pondexter signed last year with the Grizzlies just kicked in for this season, and he’s fallen out of the rotation, as Chris Herrington of The Commercial Appeal notes in his subscription-only Pick-and-Pop column. The length of his deal dictates that Memphis look to trade him if he can’t find his way back onto the floor, Herrington opines.

Pacific Notes: Gay, Clarkson, Barnes

November 17 at 9:02am CST By Chuck Myron

The Warriors, Clippers and even the Kings would make the playoffs out of the Pacific Division if the postseason began today. Sacramento’s hot start may have played a role in Rudy Gay‘s decision to agree to a contract extension this weekend, as we detail amid the latest from the Pacific:

  • Extension talks between Gay and the Kings had seemingly been dormant for months before the sides picked up the conversation just days before their agreement this weekend. Still, he had always been open to staying in Sacramento if he saw indications that the team was improving, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee.
  • Kobe Bryant is gunning away at a phenomenal rate, topping the NBA with 24.4 shot attempts per game, but it’s not as if he isn’t helping his Lakers teammates. Rookie Jordan Clarkson says Bryant has given him information aplenty to absorb, notes Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. “I couldn’t even repeat everything he says,” Clarkson said. “I wish I had one of those tape recorders some days. I’ll keep it in my pocket when he talks to me. He’s so useful.”
  • Matt Barnes has started the final fully guaranteed season of his contract in a slump on the court as he deals with turmoil in his family life off of it, but the Clippers remain in his corner, as Arash Markazi of examines.