Alex Len

Kings Notes: Parker, Hield, Len, Schedule

The Kings have little to say about a TMZ report that Jabari Parker was playing tennis without a mask Saturday at a park in Chicago, writes Ali Thanawalla of NBC Sports. Parker revealed Wednesday that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information,” the team said in a prepared statement. “We have no further comment at this time.”

Parker told Ben Stinar of The Big Lead that he has completed his in-house quarantine and was social distancing during the tennis game (Twitter link). Many Kings players have returned to Sacramento to train, but Parker has stayed in his hometown of Chicago, and there’s no official word on when he will join the team, according to Thanawalla. He has appeared in just one game since being acquired from the Hawks at the trade deadline.

There’s more Kings news to pass along:

  • Buddy Hield expects to “be fine by Monday” after testing positive this week, but he’ll have to wait before resuming basketball activities, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Under NBA guidelines, any player with COVID-19 must stop training for two weeks from the date of the first positive test or the resolution of viral symptoms. Hield said his positive test was last week, while teammate Alex Len tested positive on Tuesday.
  • The Kings got a bad break in their Orlando schedule, Thanawalla observes in a separate story. Seven of the eight games were on their original slate, but a contest against the Pacers has been replaced by another showdown with the Lakers, who have the West’s best record and have already beaten Sacramento twice. However, that game is the season finale, so L.A. may have already wrapped up the No. 1 seed.
  • Jason Jones of the Athletic offers a game-by-game analysis of Sacramento’s schedule as the franchise tries to secure a playoff berth for the first time since 2006. The Kings are three and a half games behind Memphis for the eighth spot and will need to finish ninth – and within four games of the eighth spot – to qualify for a play-in tournament.

Alex Len Tests Positive For COVID-19

A third Kings player has tested positive for COVID-19, with Shams Charania of The Athletic reporting (via Twitter) that center Alex Len has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Word broke earlier tonight that Jabari Parker and Buddy Hield have also tested positive.

“I underwent testing yesterday in Sacramento and was found to be positive for COVID-19,” Len said in a statement. “I want to think the Sacramento Kings for their great care and the NBA for putting the protocols in place to allow me to catch this early. I have immediately entered isolation and look forward to being cleared and rejoining my teammates for our playoff push.”

Len, who turned 27 last Tuesday, appeared in nine games for the Kings this season after being traded from Atlanta to Sacramento along with Parker. He averaged 6.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 1.4 BPG in 16.7 minutes per contest for the Kings.

Teams playing in Orlando this summer can opt to replace a player who contracts COVID-19 with a substitute player. However, with the start of the seeding games still more than five weeks away, there’s no indication at this point that Len, Parker, or Hield won’t be recovered and ready to go when the season resumes.

Alex Len Talks Hawks Experience, Confusion Over Being Traded

Alex Len, who inked a two-year deal with Hawks back in 2018, was traded to the Kings at this year’s deadline. Prior to getting dealt, Len expressed his interest in re-signing with Atlanta, telling Chris Kirschner of The Athletic this week that he cherished his time with the club.

“One-hundred percent — I wanted to stay,” Len told Kirschner. “I like the coaching staff. I liked my teammates. Everyone was cool. It really had a family feel to it. Last year, you could see the trajectory was going up…This season didn’t work out as planned, so they had to make changes. It’s a business, so I understood they had to do it.”

In the trade with the Kings, which also sent Jabari Parker to Sacramento, the Hawks received a pair of second-round picks and Dewayne Dedmon, who had left the team in free agency prior to the season. That, coupled with the team bringing in Clint Capela, left Len puzzled as to why Atlanta would trade him for another center.

“They didn’t want to pay [Dedmon] in the first place, so it didn’t make sense to me,” Len said. “If they wanted him, they could have just paid him. So they get him as a backup now and end up paying him anyway.”

Len admitted that he didn’t know what to expect when he was on his way to Sacramento. He called the experience of playing with the Kings this season a “pleasant surprise,” while adding that dynamics of the two franchises were different.

“There was a whole different mood and vibe around the team because we were going for the eighth spot,” Len said. “When I was (in Atlanta), it’s tough to play knowing you’re not making the playoffs. You go into the game, and guys are thinking about their points and themselves. (In Sacramento), it’s all about team and winning. Guys don’t care how many points they score; it’s all about winning. Everybody was playing a lot harder. We were playing all five guys on a string. It makes your job easier because everybody else is a lot better.”

Pacific Notes: James, Holmes, Mulder, Davis

Kings rookie guard Justin James received a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection on Tuesday to treat patellar tendinitis in his right knee, according to a team press release. An update regarding his status will be provided in 1-2 weeks. A second-round pick out of Wyoming, James has appeared in 34 NBA games, averaging 2.5 PPG in 6.4 MPG. His most recent appearance was a two-minute stint on Saturday.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • With the return of Richaun Holmes from a shoulder injury, the Kings now have three viable options to center, Akis Yerocostas of the Sacramento Bee points out. Harry Giles and Alex Len performed well in his absence and have also earned playing time. It’s likely Holmes will see the majority of the minutes barring injury or foul trouble, Yerocostas continues, with Len and Giles splitting the bench minutes depending upon whether the Kings need more size and defense (Len) or more offense (Giles).
  • The Warriors used a remaining portion of their mid-level exception to sign shooting guard Mychal Mulder to a three-year contract, John Hollinger of The Athletic tweets. The last two years of the contract are not fully guaranteed. Mulder will receive a partial guarantee of $200K if he’s on the opening-night roster next season, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. His contract for the 2021/22 campaign has no guarantees. Golden State is now $310K below the luxury-tax line, Marks adds.
  • Lakers star forward Anthony Davis has struck a balance between basketball and new business ventures, as Mark Medina of USA Today details. Thus far, his off-court ventures haven’t been a distraction. “For the most part,” Davis said, “I’m focusing on playing and doing great things.”

Free Agent Stock Watch 2020: Pacific Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Pacific Division:

Marquese Chriss, Warriors, 22, C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $2.48MM deal in 2019
The eighth overall pick of the 2016 draft flamed out in Phoenix, Houston and Cleveland, but he’s taken advantage of his opportunity in Golden State. His playing time has gradually increased and so has his production. He averaged 13.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.0 APG and 1.8 BPG last month; In his first four games this month, he’s posted a stat line of 14.5/10.0/3.8/1.5 in those categories. Golden State has until mid-July to guarantee his $1.824MM salary for next season. That’s a dirt-cheap price for a young rotation big man.

Marcus Morris, Clippers, 30, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $15MM deal in 2019
Morris has jumped right into the Clippers’ rotation since the Knicks traded him. He’s started all 11 games since the deal became official, averaging 28.9 MPG. Unfortunately, Morris seemingly left his jump shot in the Big Apple. He’s made just 37.3% of his field-goal attempts and 26.3% of his 3-point tries with his new team. In the big showdown with the Lakers on Sunday, Morris clanked all nine of his shots. His defensive versatility will keep him in the rotation, but he needs to regain his perimeter touch to stay on the court in crunch time. Otherwise, he may have to drop his price tag this summer.

Quinn Cook, Lakers, 26, PG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $6MM deal in 2019
Cook was a steady presence with Golden State last season, as he appeared in 74 regular-season games and 17 more in the postseason. He’s gotten lost in the shuffle with the Lakers. He’s the de facto No. 4 point guard behind Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo and Alex Caruso, and has only played 22 minutes since the All-Star break. Cook is a solid 3-point shooter — 41.2% for his career — which would make him a valuable reserve on many rosters. The Lakers have until June 29 to guarantee Cook’s $3MM salary for next season. It seems likely he’ll become an unrestricted free agent, despite a $1MM partial guarantee.

Frank Kaminsky, Suns, 26, PF (Down) – Signed to two-year, $9.77MM deal in 2019
Kaminsky was in and out of Charlotte’s rotation last season, but he got a chance to reboot his career in Phoenix. The early returns were promising — he had four 20-point games in December. Shortly after Christmas, Kaminsky suffered a stress fracture in his right knee and he hasn’t seen the court again. The team holds a $5MM option on his contract next season. With Dario Saric and Aron Baynes headed to the open market, the Suns will have tough decision to make regarding Kaminsky, since that option must be exercised before free agency begins.

Alex Len, Kings, 26, C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $8.5MM deal in 2018
Len has generally been productive since being dealt to Sacramento. He had a double-double in 21 minutes against Oklahoma City, an 8-point, 13-rebound, 5-block performance against Detroit and a 15-point, 7-rebound outing in 15 minutes against Toronto. His playing time will continue to fluctuate in the Kings’ crowded frontcourt. Sacramento’s motivation to acquire him was his expiring contract, but he definitely hasn’t hurt his value since the deal. He’ll head into unrestricted free agency this summer and should be able to hook on with a team seeking another big body to fortify its bench.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: NBA Calendar, China, McCollum, Len

Appearing on a panel at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Hawks CEO Steve Koonin suggested that the NBA should be starting and ending its season two months later, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes.

Rather than starting in mid-October, the regular season would begin in mid-December under Koonin’s proposal, resulting in less overlap between the NBA and NFL seasons. The NBA Finals would then take place in August instead of June, increasing the amount of time that MLB regular season games represent the NBA’s only competition among the four major sports.

“A big piece is you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to enhance ratings,” Koonin said in explaining his idea. “Sometimes, moving away from competition is a great way to grow ratings. If King Kong is at your door, you might go out the back door, rather than go out the front and engage in a hand-to-hand fight with King Kong.

“Many times, at the start of the NBA season, we are competing with arguably the best Thursday Night Football game with the NBA on TNT, our marquee broadcast, and we get crushed and we wonder why. It’s because at the beginning of the season, there’s very little relevance for the NBA. The relevance is now. That’s when people are talking about it.”

Although that would be a major change to the NBA calendar, the league isn’t opposed to considering the idea, as NBA senior VP of strategy and analytics Evan Wasch confirmed, per Bontemps: “We certainly have no issue with reconsidering the calendar. … We’re open to that … there’s no magic to [the season going from] October to June.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

Pacific Notes: Oubre, Bender, Durant, Len

The Suns are looking at potential buyout candidates or free-agent additions to replace injured Kelly Oubre, according to an ESPN report. The starting forward has been diagnosed with torn meniscus in his right knee and could miss the remainder of the season. Oubre had been enjoying a breakout year, averaging 18.7 PPG and 6.4 RPG. Phoenix is still on the fringes of the postseason race, trailing the eighth-place Grizzlies by 4 1/2 games for the final playoff spot.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Warriors ought to give Dragan Bender a longer look than 10 days, Anthony Slater of The Athletic opines. Golden State officially signed the power forward to a 10-day contract on Sunday. Golden State doesn’t have any to lose by giving Bender another 10-day and then a rest-of-the-season deal to see if he can fill a second-unit role as a stretch four and rim protector for next season.
  • Warriors owner Joe Lacob remains baffled by Kevin Durant‘s decision to bolt the organization, he recently expressed in a radio interview with 95.7-FM The Game (hat tip to Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area). “I can’t get mad when Kevin Durant — who I felt pretty close with — decides he’s going to leave. Which to me, made no sense,” Lacob said. “You’re (with) the best organization — I hope he thinks — in the world. Winning, other great players, the new arena. To me, there was every reason in the world to stay.”
  • Center Alex Len has been a pleasant surprise for the Kings since he was acquired from the Hawks, Greg Wissinger of the Sacramento Bee writes. Len has been a factor as a rebounder and shot-blocker in his first two games with the club, both victories. Len has an expiring $4.16MM contract.

Pacific Notes: Giles, Len, Lakers, Clippers, Bazemore

Kings big man Harry Giles III recorded his first double-double on Saturday, helping his team pull off an improbable 112-103 victory over the Clippers at Staples Center.

Giles posted 14 points and 12 rebounds in 31 minutes, proving his worth on both ends of the floor as starting center. He started the 2019/20 season with very limited playing time, but his recent surge has caught the attention of Sacramento’s coaches.

“He’s moving much better now,” head coach Luke Walton said, as relayed by Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. “He’s out there calling coverages. He’s out there at the level, backing up, rebounding the ball. He’s doing all the things that we love about Harry. He looks like, physically, he’s in the best place I’ve seen him since I’ve been the coach here, and his skill set, as far as his passing and rebounding and toughness, that’s something we need.”

Giles has an injury-riddled history, particularly with his knees, but it hasn’t stopped the 21-year-old from continuing to persevere and improve. Instead, it’s motivated him to play better.

“I think with time and reps I’m going to get better,” Giles said. “I’m going to keep getting better. You know how the fouls go. It varies depending on how you’re going to play and depending on how the refs are going to let you play, too, so I’m going to keep getting better at that and just playing hard.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Luke Walton also spoke highly of Alex Len, who made his debut with the Kings on Saturday and recorded eight rebounds in 16 minutes. “It was nice to have a big body out there like that,” Walton said, according to Jason Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). “He did a good job of clogging up that paint. We’ve got to get him a little more familiar with what we’re doing so we can open up the playbook, but he knows some of the basic sets and he helped us win.”
  • The Lakers and Clippers are set to play their rescheduled game on April 9 at Staples Center, forcing the Lakers to play three consecutive home games from April 7-9, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. The game was originally scheduled to be played on January 28 but was later postponed due to the tragic death of Kobe Bryant.
  • The union of Kent Bazemore and the Kings has been a perfect fit for both sides, Jason Jones writes in a different story for The Athletic. Sacramento traded for Bazemore last month, acquiring a proven two-way player at the wing position.“Sometimes fresh blood does help,” Bazemore said. “I hadn’t been having the best year, so it was kind of a match made in heaven. A guy coming over desperate and team in a desperate situation. We’re kind of making it work right now.”

Alex Len To Debut For Kings Tonight

Kings coach Luke Walton said today that new center Alex Len, part of the trade that shipped an unhappy Dewayne Dedmon out of town, will suit up for the first time with his new team tonight, per Sean Cunningham of ABC10 Sacramento (Twitter link).

Len, who had been recovering from a hip flexor injury, is expected to play in small 3-4 minute stints at time today, and just 10-12 minutes overall, according to James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter link).

After being taken with the No. 5 overall pick by the Suns in 2013, the Ukranian-born Len has proved to be a solid if underwhelming role player in Phoenix and, since 2018, Atlanta. He has started in just 180 of his 452 NBA games played. He will serve as a big body to shore up the injury-depleted Kings’ frontcourt, providing support for current starting Kings center Harry Giles.

Len will be an unrestricted free agent this summer after signing a two-year, $8.5MM contract with the Hawks in 2018. This season, the 250-pound seven-footer holds averages of 8.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 0.8 BPG in just 18.6 minutes a night.

Kings Notes: Bagley, Dedmon, Parker, Bazemore

Marvin Bagley‘s status for the rest of the season remains uncertain as he recovers from a sprained left foot, writes James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. The second-year forward has barely played since suffering the injury December 26, and the Kings announced last week that he will be re-examined after the All-Star break.

Bagley was wearing a walking boot as he visited the team in the locker room following last night’s game. He talked to the media for the first time since the injury, but wasn’t able to add much clarity to his situation.

“I’m definitely going to try to come back this year, but that’s too far ahead at this point,” Bagley said. “The most important thing for me right now is to make sure I’m healthy. Honestly, who knows, I’m just going one day at a time with this, I’m trying not to think too far ahead. I obviously want to play, I want to be out there. … I’ve only played however many games I’ve played this season over things I can’t control.”

There’s more from Sacramento:

  • General manager Vlade Divac admitted the Kings didn’t get what they hoped for from Dewayne Dedmon when they signed him to a three-year, $40MM contract in free agency, Ham relays in a separate story. Sacramento granted Dedmon’s trade request this week, sending him back to Atlanta. “Definitely disappointed for me, for the organization and I’m sure from Dedmon’s side that things didn’t work,” Divac said. “We had good intentions. He didn’t work out. We’re happy to move on and wish Dedmon all the best. Definitely, he wasn’t what we expected.”
  • The players the Kings received in the deal with the Hawks are both close to returning from injuries, Ham adds. Jabari Parker may play tomorrow after missing most of the past month with a shoulder impingement, while Alex Len is making progress in his recovery from a hip flexor. In a video posted by Sean Cunningham of KXTV, Parker said he wasn’t surprised to be traded. “I’ve always had a perspective I’m not employed by individual teams; I’m employed by the NBA,” he said.
  • The Kings began to turn their season around when they acquired Kent Bazemore from the Trail Blazers, observes Jason Jones of The Athletic. Bazemore has brought energy and attention to detail to the Sacramento defense. “He goes out there and does a lot of the dirty work,” De’Aaron Fox said. “… He does a lot of things for us, and the chemistry we’ve had since he’s been here has been great. It feels like we’ve been playing with him a lot longer than two weeks.”