When the Kings decided to remove Marvin Bagley III from their rotation to open the season, agent Jeff Schwartz took the unusual step of issuing a statement to call out the team for its handling of his client. However, head coach Luke Walton doesn’t expect the public nature of the dispute between the team and agent to be a distraction for his players.
“Nope, not with our group,” Walton said, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “We’ve got a tight group. We’ve talked about it, whether it’s trades from last year or anything else, we don’t concern ourselves with outside issues. We’re a tight group. You can ask any of the players. They believe in what we’re doing and they’re working hard and we’re in a good place.”
The Kings used just nine players in their opening-night win over Portland on Wednesday, with Richaun Holmes and Tristan Thompson sharing the minutes at center, while Harrison Barnes and Maurice Harkless handled power forward duties.
Here’s more from around the Pacific:
- Fourth-year center Deandre Ayton admitted he was “obviously” disappointed not to reach a rookie scale extension agreement with the Suns by Monday’s deadline, but said on Wednesday that playing on an expiring contract won’t bother him, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic relays. “I’m still trying to get us back to the Finals. I’ve still got to represent the team and myself as well. I’m just a competitor, man,” Ayton said. “Just like to compete to the best and every time I’m in between those lines, that’s what you’re going to see out of me. Nothing else.”
- Sam Vecenie of The Athletic loved the Suns‘ four-year, $90MM deal with Mikal Bridges, but was baffled by the decision not to extend Ayton. While general manager James Jones said Phoenix would have done a three- or four-year max, three high-ranking executives in other organizations told Vecenie they would’ve been willing to offer the big man a fifth year.
- Gary Payton II‘s new minimum-salary contract with the Warriors includes a $350K partial guarantee, according to Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). Payton, who was waived and re-signed within the last week, would have received a $659K partial guarantee if he had made the opening-night roster on his previous deal. By cutting him and then bringing him back, Golden State saved some money while still rewarding Payton for making the team.
- Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle explores how the Warriors are adjusting their approach to James Wiseman‘s development in the center’s second NBA season.