- Used sparingly through the first few months of his rookie season, Malachi Richardson didn’t expect to get the taste of first-quarter action he did on Saturday. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee suggests that it might be Dave Joerger‘s December decision to give the Kings shooting guard extra opportunities finally coming to fruition. Already well-equipped to handle himself on offense, the Syracuse product will need to improve upon his defense, suggests teammate Garrett Temple.
Rudy Gay will have surgery Monday to fix a torn Achilles tendon, the Kings announced on their website. The procedure will be performed at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, and Gay will be out for the remainder of the season. The injury may affect the free agent market, as Gay had planned to opt out of his $14,263,566 deal for next season.
- Garrett Temple has taken Gay’s spot in the starting lineup for now, but long-term decisions may not be made until next month, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. If the Kings continue losing and slip out of the playoff race, coach Dave Joerger may elect to give more minutes to younger players. Rookie guard Malachi Richardson was used in the first half Saturday for the first time all season. “Just be a buncha different dudes running in and out of there,” Joerger said. “Trying to find something that fits as you go through it.”
- The Achilles injury suffered by Rudy Gay will impact more than just the Kings. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders explores all of the ripple effects that the Gay news could have on the trade market throughout the league as teams that considered making bids for the forward will have to look elsewhere.
If the Kings weren’t considered to be a playoff contender at full strength, they certainly aren’t without Rudy Gay. After averaging 18.7 points on 45.5% shooting in 30 games, Gay tore his left Achilles’ tendon against the Pacers on Wednesday; a season-ending injury.
Gay has vowed on Twitter to come back “stronger than ever,” but the Kings will still face a myriad of issues in 2016/17. Now 11th place in the Western Conference, the Kings sit at 16-26 following a lopsided loss to the Grizzlies. What’s more, the Kings’ roster is full of veterans preventing rookies Malachi Richardson, Georgios Papagiannis, and Skal Labissiere from receiving court time. Willie Cauley-Stein recently voiced grievances on the lack of opportunity in his sophomore season.
“I feel I was showing stuff at the end of last season that would make people say, ‘Oh, damn, they got a steal in the draft,'” Cauley-Stein told Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee. “Now it’s like I took 25 steps forward and 30 steps back. It’s like my whole rookie season didn’t matter and I’m back at square one. Nothing I did last year is having an effect on my career. It’s been very frustrating.”
The team appears unlikely to trade DeMarcus Cousins, but they have several assets who could help another team’s playoff run. With a lack of direction for the 2016/17 season, several on-and-off the court controversies, and no clear path to minutes for younger players, we want to know…
Should the Kings trade off assets and start a complete rebuild? Is there any hope in salvaging the season to grab a No. 7 or 8 seed? Will Gay – who has a player option for the 2017/18 season – opt to remain in Sacramento, or is he a lock to test the market even after his injury?
The latest column from ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is filled with fresh rumors as next month’s trade deadline approaches. We’ve already shared the Bulls’ interest in Chris Bosh and the Magic’s offer for Goran Dragic. Here are some more intriguing trade tidbits:
- Nuggets big man Jusuf Nurkic is almost certain to be traded before the February 23rd deadline. Denver officials admitted that pairing Nurkic with Nikola Jokic didn’t work, and they want to ship him to a team where he has a chance to be a starting center.
- Teams are very skeptical about the Hawks‘ assertion that All-Star forward Paul Millsap has been pulled from trade consideration. The 31-year-old has a player option worth nearly $21.5MM for next season and is expected to test the free agent market.
- The Kings had numerous offers for Rudy Gay, mostly during the offseason but also more recently, but elected to keep him in hopes of earning a playoff spot. The Thunder, Heat and Blazers were the most interested teams last summer. Gay is out for the season after tearing an Achilles tendon Wednesday night.
- The Kings would like to find teams willing to take Ben McLemore and Arron Afflalo.
- The Clippers offered the Suns a future second-round pick for P.J. Tucker, but Phoenix is holding out for a first-rounder. The Clippers owe their first-round pick this year to Toronto and in 2019 to Boston, so the next first-rounder they could offer would be in 2021.
- Tucker and Brandon Knight are considered the most available Suns. Coach Earl Watson said this week that the team will not trade veteran center Tyson Chandler.
- The Nuggets would like to sign Alonzo Gee to another 10-day contract once Mo Williams clears waivers. Gee’s first 10-day contract expired Wednesday, the same day Williams was waived after being acquired in a trade with the Hawks.
JANUARY 19th, 4:24 PM: Gay’s MRI confirmed full tear of his left Achilles, Kings radio reporter Sean Cunningham tweets. He’ll have surgery in the coming days, Cunningham adds.
That was the preliminary diagnosis from the Kings’ medical staff. An MRI will be conducted Thursday to confirm the injury.
Gay had to be carried off the court after being hurt on a non-contact play late in the third quarter.
If the diagnosis is correct, it would mean the end of Gay’s season and possibly his time in Sacramento. He had proclaimed before training camp that he planned to opt out of his $14,263,566 deal for next year and test the free agent market. However, that could change now depending on the severity of the injury.
It would also remove a big name from the trade market barely a month before the Feb. 23rd deadline. The Kings were widely expected to find a taker for Gay rather than lose him for nothing once the season ended.
Sacramento will not be able to file for a Disabled Player Exception to replace Gay, tweets Bobby Marks of the Vertical, who notes that the deadline passed on Sunday.
This is Gay’s fourth year with the Kings after being acquired in a trade with Toronto midway through the 2013/14 season. He is averaging 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds in 29 games.
Said to have strained the plantaris tendon in his right calf, Casspi will look to get back to action as soon as possible in an effort to reclaim his spot in the team’s rotation. Casspi has seen his role fluctuate over the course of the season and has appeared in just six of the Kings’ last 15 games.
In 22 games for the Kings this year, Casspi has averaged 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per.
The Timberwolves are “actively shopping” point guard Ricky Rubio in trade discussions, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. According to Wojnarowski, Minnesota has attached Rubio to Shabazz Muhammad in trade offers to several NBA teams.
Rubio, who is under contract through 2018/19 and will earn $14MM+ in each of the next two years, has been viewed as a potential trade candidate since the Wolves selected Kris Dunn with the fifth overall pick last June. According to Wojnarowski, the Wolves have been seeking a sort of “bridge” guard in their trade discussions — such a player would be capable of starting in the short term before eventually giving way to Dunn.
[RELATED: Trade Candidate: Ricky Rubio]
The Kings have “a strong interest” in landing Rubio, but there’s currently no movement toward a deal between those teams, league sources tell Wojnarowski. According to The Vertical’s report, the Wolves are making an effort to exhaust the market in search of an offer stronger than what Sacramento could put on the table.
Minnesota is currently well below the salary cap, as our 2016/17 Salary Cap Snapshot shows, and moving Rubio could free up even more future cap room. However, the Wolves value him and won’t give him away unless they’re getting solid value in return, as Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press and Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News observe (Twitter links).
Rubio, 26, got off to a poor start this season, slowed by an elbow injury, but he has been thriving for the Wolves over the last couple weeks. In his last five games, the Spaniard has averaged 11.4 PPG, 12.6 APG, and 2.6 SPG, improving his full-season averages to 7.6 PPG, 7.9 APG, and 1.9 SPG.
Here are the D-League transactions for the day so far:
- The Nets have recalled Chris McCullough from Long Island, according to a team-issued press release. McCullough was assigned to the D-League earlier in the day.
- The Kings have recalled rookies Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere from Reno, the team announced over Twitter.
- After a good showing Saturday night, the Cavs recalled guard Kay Felder from their D-League affiliate, the Canton Charge, Cleveland announced via its team website. Felder scored a team-high 27 points while grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out five assists Saturday. He has played in 22 games for the Cavs this season, averaging 5.1 points in 10.6 minutes per game.
- The Nets assigned Chris McCullough to their D-League affiliate, the team announced via Twitter.
- The Celtics recalled Demetrius Jackson from the Maine Red Claws, the team announced via Twitter.
- A decision will be made after the Mavs‘ game on whether or not Nicolas Brussino sent back to the D-League after he was activated, Earl K. Sneed of NBA.com relays on Twitter.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin is showing signs that he is getting closer to a return, tweets Dan Woike of The Orange County Register. Griffin went through a “pretty extensive” pregame workout today without a brace or sleeve on his injured right knee. Griffin had minor surgery on the knee in December, and a report on Friday said he could be back in action by the end of the month.
There’s more news from the Pacific Division:
- The Clippers may soon have rookie power forward Brice Johnson back on the court as well, according to Woike (Twitter link). The 25th pick in the 2016 draft has been playing one-on-one games and is close to being ready for “true on-court activity,” says coach Doc Rivers. Johnson suffered a herniated disc in his lower back in October and hasn’t played yet this season.
- One positive in the Lakers‘ blowout loss to the Spurs on Thursday was the performance of rookie center Ivica Zubac, writes Mark Medina of The Orange County Register. Zubac, who was taken with the second pick of the second round in 2016, had a season-high eight points to go with four rebounds in nearly 15 minutes. Zubac has seen most of his action in the D-League this year, and the Lakers want him to drop weight to become more mobile. “When you can run more, you can do everything better on the court,” Zubac said. “It definitely helps to stay in shape. I’m not playing a lot with the Lakers. It’s easy to get out of shape. Playing in the D-League really helps.”
- Andy Furillo of the Sacramento Bee looks at the downside of possibly investing more than $209MM to keep DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento. In addition to being the top player on a losing team for 6 1/2 seasons, Cousins checks in as the slowest player in the league, has had his shot blocked more times than anyone, is tied for first in technical fouls and is second in personal fouls, ranks sixth in turnovers and is only tied for 33rd in offensive rebounds.