Pacific Notes: K. Murray, Petrusev, Clippers, Payton

Kings forward Keegan Murray has been tasked with a handful of challenging defensive assignments so far this season and has responded well, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Head coach Mike Brown praised Murray for his work against Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell earlier in the week, then named him Sacramento’s defensive player of the game on Wednesday for his play vs. the Lakers (Twitter link via Anderson).

“I love it,” Murray said of being asked to do more defensively. “When I was in college and even last year, I really wasn’t known as a defender and I just tried to figure it out on my own, and obviously ask the coaches and the coaches helped me, too. But it’s just a lot of figuring out what guys do and their tendencies, just trying to be the aggressor on defense because, I mean, I feel like over the offseason, I kind of got more athletic and stronger, and that’s helped a lot.”

Murray’s offensive numbers are down to open this season, as he’s made just 38.7% of his shots from the field, including 29.6% of his three-pointers. However, he showed during an All-Rookie season in 2022/23 that he’s capable of being an offensive weapon — evolving into a legitimate two-way threat would further increase Murray’s value as a cornerstone piece for the Kings.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Greek team Olympiacos is showing interest in Kings big man Filip Petrusev, according to reports from and Sportando. Although Petrusev is on a two-year contract with Sacramento, only about $560K of his 2023/24 salary is fully guaranteed, so his roster spot for the rest of the season isn’t necessarily assured. Stavros Barbarousis of suggests that while it has been a frustrating start to Petrusev’s career – he has already been on three different rosters this season – he’s still focused for now on earning his place in the NBA.
  • While the Clippers have more top-end talent following the James Harden trade, they sent out four wings and forwards in that deal, leaving their roster somewhat thin at other spots, Terance Mann observed this week. “We don’t have much depth, I guess at a certain position,” Mann said, per Janis Carr of The Orange County Register. “It’s just a whole different scheme, you know. Now we have James Harden. So, you know … different.” Mann is expected to move into the starting lineup on Friday after Russell Westbrook volunteered to come off the bench.
  • Warriors guard Gary Payton II was diagnosed with a sprain after turning his left ankle in the second quarter of Thursday’s loss and was wearing a boot on the injured foot after the game, per Kendra Andrews of ESPN (Twitter links). However, head coach Steve Kerr said X-rays on the ankle were negative and wasn’t prepared to rule him out for Saturday’s contest yet, so it remains to be seen how much time – if any – Payton might miss.
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