Pacific Notes: Kings, Suns, Saric, LeBron

In taking stock of the Kings‘ entire 2022/23 roster, Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee finds some reasons for optimism.

Biderman cites the two-way upside and on-court fit of rookie Keegan Murray, the Summer League MVP and No. 4 overall draft pick this year, as a key part of the sunny outlook for Sacramento this season.

As Biderman notes, star point guard De’Aaron Fox struggled to connect consistently from long range for the bulk of the season, but made 38% of his triples across his final 16 contests, following the team’s trade for center Domantas Sabonis. Biderman considers Murray, Fox, Sabonis and second-year guard Davion Mitchell, the ninth pick in 2021 out of Baylor, to be the club’s core moving forward.

Biderman also expresses enthusiasm for the three-point shooting help that should be provided by new additions Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns may be able to build on their continuity after two relatively successful seasons, but Bobby Marks of ESPN (YouTube video link) wonders how newly re-signed center Deandre Ayton will fit in following a tense postseason and summer. Marks ultimately projects a repeat of the team’s regular-season dominance in 2021/22. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst opines that the Suns could look to move veteran starting power forward Jae Crowder, a free agent in 2023, by the season’s trade deadline.
  • After missing 2021/22 with a torn ACL in his right knee, Suns big man Dario Saric talked about returning to game action for Croatia this summer, writes Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops. “The feeling of being back is fantastic,” Saric said. “After the end of the NBA season, I trained there until mid-July. I was preparing to be as fit as possible. I feel good.”
  • Discussing LeBron James‘ contract situation, Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter video link) opines that it might behoove the Lakers‘ All-Star forward to follow the example set by Sixers guard James Harden. Harden opted out of the final year of his deal this summer before ultimately taking a pay cut so that Philadelphia management could add more quality depth around Harden and Joel Embiid than would have otherwise been possible. If James takes the same route, it could potentially open up a maximum-salary slot for L.A. next summer, Bontemps observes.
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