Arron Afflalo

Kings Target More Young Players, Picks At Deadline

1:50pm: A source has told Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that the Kings don’t have plans to trade Collison. Of course, Sacramento also insisted for most of the season that it had no plans to trade Cousins, so it’s fair to be wary, particularly since there doesn’t seem to be much reason for the club to hang onto the veteran point guard.

7:37am: Having agreed to trade DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans, the Kings likely aren’t done dealing, reports Chris Mannix of The Vertical. According to Mannix, Sacramento will be targeting additional draft picks and players on rookie contracts before Thursday’s trade deadline, with players like Darren Collison, Ben McLemore, and Arron Afflalo available.

The Cousins trade agreement signaled that a full-fledged rebuild is underway in Sacramento, so it makes sense that players like Collison, McLemore, and Afflalo would be expendable — all three could become free agents this summer. Collison, in particular, is ticketed for unrestricted free agency and should draw some interest from teams in need of point guard help. His salary ($5.229MM) is modest, and his numbers this season (13.7 PPG, 4.2 APG, .421 3PT%) have been solid. Per Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (via Twitter), executives around the league believe Collison will “definitely” be traded.

Afflalo and McLemore were said to be available a month ago, so little has changed on that front. Reports last fall suggested that Sacramento’s new coaching staff had connected with McLemore and were excited to see how he performed this season, but his playing time has been inconsistent and he hasn’t taken a real step forward in 2016/17. The former seventh overall pick, who is averaging a career-low 18.1 MPG, is eligible for restricted free agency in July.

As for Afflalo, he hasn’t exactly thrived in Sacramento this season, averaging just 7.8 PPG and shooting 42.9% in part-time action for the Kings. While those marks are well below his career averages, Afflalo has been as effective as ever from three-point range (39.0%), and his contract is manageable — he’s making $12.5MM annually this year and next year, but next season’s salary is only guaranteed for $1.5MM, so his deal could be viewed as an expiring contract of sorts.

If Sacramento goes into fire sale mode, other vets like Kosta Koufos, Anthony Tolliver, Matt Barnes, and Tyreke Evans could also be available, though that’s just my speculation.

Western Notes: Williams, LaVine, Plumlee, Afflalo

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle did not hesitate to insert veteran point guard Deron Williams into the starting lineup despite the emergence of rookie  Yogi Ferrell, Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com reports. Carlisle called Williams “a better player” than Ferrell, adding that Williams was “playing at close to All-Star caliber” before a toe injury sidelined him for eight games, MacMahon adds. Williams played 16 minutes in a blowout victory over the Magic on Saturday night, contributed seven points, four assists and three steals. Ferrell, who earned a two-year contract while filling in for Williams, played 32 minutes off the bench with Williams on a minutes restriction.

In other news around the Western Conference:

  • Timberwolves shooting guard Zach LaVine will undergo surgery to reconstruct the torn ACL in his left knee on Tuesday, according to a league press release. Lavine, who suffered the season-ending injury driving to the basket against the Pistons on Friday, February 3rd, was averaging 18.9 PPG and 3.0 APG. Brandon Rush and Shabazz Muhammad have shared the shooting guard spot since LaVine was sidelined.
  • The Nuggets got the better of the pending trade with the Blazers, Ben Golliver of SI.com opines. While it’s unlikely that the pairing of Nikola Jokic and Mason Plumlee would work defensively, it gives Denver coach Michael Malone the ability to establish a clear offensive identity across his rotations if Plumlee is used in a backup role, Golliver continues. The Blazers were smart to get something now for Plumlee, who will become a restricted free agent, before he became too expensive to keep but the return of Jusuf Nurkic and a first-rounder the Grizzlies owed the Nuggets was modest, Golliver adds.
  • Kings guard Arron Afflalo is getting some minutes at point guard due to injuries, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. Afflalo has not played the point since high school but is unfazed by the situation, Jones adds. “It’s not really that much different; it’s just making sure the team gets into a play, into a set,” Afflalo told Jones. “I’m pretty familiar with the sets, and a lot of our spots are interchangeable.”

Stein’s Latest: Nurkic, Millsap, Gay, Tucker

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.

Pacific News: Clippers, Afflalo, Pachulia

The Clippers may be turning the corner, at least as far as their health is concerned. Superstar point guard Chris Paul has missed seven of the last contests but is expected to be back in the lineup uninhibited on Friday, says Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Daily News.

A return from Paul, coupled with news that rookie Brice Johnson has been cleared for contact, will give Clippers head coach Doc Rivers that much more confidence heading into the middle portion of the season. Johnson is a power forward out of North Carolina that Los Angeles drafted with the 25th overall pick last summer.

Additionally, Woike writes that Blake Griffin is expected to make his own return to the Clippers later this month.

Also out of the Pacific Division:

  • It wasn’t long ago when Arron Afflalo‘s future with the Kings looked to be in doubt. Now the veteran has upped his standing in the team’s rotation. “I’ve evolved into getting over myself,” Afflalo told the Sacramento Bee’s Jason Jones. “We have a great opportunity as a team – playoff position. There will be nights where I can perform at a level I was expected to perform at, and there will be nights where other guys take the lead.”
  • Things haven’t always gone well for Shaun Livingston since he was drafted in 2004, but he’s settled into a great role with a dominant Warriors team. The veteran point guard spoke with Basketball Insiders’ Michael Scotto about his career thus far and his future. “I’d love to stay [with Golden State].” he said, “It’s been home for me, the Bay has welcomed me with open arms. I love it out there. But, we’ll see what happens. Obviously, decisions have to be made and you just roll with the punches.”
  • The NBA recently changed how All-Stars are to be selected and it’s already foiled Warriors big man Zaza Pachulia‘s second consecutive campaign as a dark horse possibility, tweets Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post.

 

Kings Notes: Cousins, Joerger, Barnes, Afflalo

Kings coach Dave Joerger is defending DeMarcus Cousins after his latest controversy, which involved two technicals, one of which was rescinded, and a brief ejection in Tuesday’s game, relays the Associated Press. Cousins, who leads the NBA with eight technicals and is third in fouls committed with 102, has complained that officials treat him differently than other players. “I wish they’d just call it like a high school game,” Joerger said. “Set the tone in the first 5 minutes how you want to officiate and go from there. He’s not easy to officiate. He creates a lot of contact and people bump him, just like they do with all the bigs.”

There’s more tonight out of Sacramento:

  • The Kings took the easy way out with a $50K fine for Cousins’ latest run-in with a journalist, charges Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Considering that Cousins makes about $15.7MM this season and $16.7MM next season, the fine won’t impact him, she writes, making it the latest in a series of incidents in which the franchise has enabled his bad behavior.
  • A woman who was allegedly involved in the December 5th nightclub brawl involving Cousins and Matt Barnes in New York City has been arrested, according to Ryan Lillis of The Sacramento Bee. Police took Laura Closure into custody on suspicion of assault and attempted assault for allegedly throwing a bottle at a woman’s face inside the club. The New York Post has reported that Closure was with Barnes and Cousins at the time of the incident. Neither player has been charged, but they were named in a civil suit earlier this month filed by Jasmine Besiso and Myrone Powell.
  • Arron Afflalo is denying a report that he refused to enter a game in Houston last week. In a video posted on the ABC 10 website, Afflalo says he has been “active and available” for every game this season. Joerger refused to discuss the incident, according to station reporter Sean Cunningham (Twitter link).

Kyler’s Latest: Noel, Allen, Gay, Afflalo, Dragic

Earlier today, we passed along an update from Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders on the Nerlens Noel situation, with Kyler reporting that the Sixers and Noel’s new representatives were working together to try to reach a resolution. Kyler’s full NBA AM piece at Basketball Insiders is chock full of other news and rumors, so we’ll round up a few more highlights below. Let’s dive in…

  • Following up on Noel, Kyler suggests the Raptors are a team to watch, though Toronto wouldn’t want to risk affecting its team chemistry by moving a core piece. If the Sixers are interested in one or two of the Raptors’ young players or non-core pieces, a deal could be possible, sources tell Kyler. The Trail Blazers may also be eyeing Noel.
  • Although the Grizzlies are listening to inquiries on Tony Allen, they don’t necessarily want to move him, sources tell Kyler. Still, the team recognizes that his modest salary, expiring contract, and on-court play could make him a valuable trade chip.
  • The Thunder and Magic are both believed to be keeping an eye on the market for a scoring threat, per Kyler. Kings forward Rudy Gay is a player to watch, as many league insiders still believe he’s the most likely player to be dealt by the deadline, even if it doesn’t happen until February.
  • Another Kings scorer, Arron Afflalo, isn’t thrilled with his current role, and may be angling for a trade, Kyler reports. A Sunday report suggested that Afflalo had refused to enter a recent game against Houston, and Kyler says there’s a “growing rift” between the veteran guard and the Sacramento coaching staff.
  • According to Kyler, the prevailing belief around the NBA is that the Heat will explore moving Goran Dragic before the trade deadline. However, Heat sources say they’re not ready to blow up the roster at this point, and insist keeping the point guard as a veteran leader is a viable option

Kings Notes: Afflalo, Cousins, Temple

Arron Afflalo reportedly refused to enter a game between the Kings and Rockets last week, Sacramento radio personality Carmichael Dave tweeted earlier this evening. The KHTK radio host also noted that “league sources” said the 31-year-old journeyman was slow to enter the contest against the Jazz last weekend as well.

If Afflalo is in fact refusing to play, that would be one more source of drama in a Kings locker room already dealing with a recently published video of DeMarcus Cousins berating members of the media and with the charges Matt Barnes faces after an altercation at a New York night club.

Just this summer, Afflalo opted out of the final year of a deal with the Knicks in order to pursue free agency and ultimately the two-year, $25MM contract he signed with the Kings.

Last April, ESPN reported that a desire to be a starter was a motivating factor in Afflalo’s then-pending decision. This month, however, Afflalo has seen his play time drop precipitously and has been in and out of the starting lineup since late November. In five December games, the shooting guard has failed to clear more than 16 minutes and his production has dropped dramatically.

Worth noting, as trade speculation begins to swirl around the league and particularly with the Kings, is that the veteran’s contract is worth $12.5 annually but remains only partially guaranteed for $1.5MM in the second year.

That’s not all coming out of Sacramento…

  • Kings head coach Dave Joerger has called the aforementioned video published by the Sacramento Bee late last week “ridiculous” and went on to defend his franchise star. In the short clip, Cousins is seen involved in several hostile incidents with various members of the media. This isn’t the first time Joerger has been unhappy with the newspaper’s coverage, writes the Sacramento Bee’s own Jason Jones.
  • The Kings found a gem in free agent acquisition Garrett Temple, Jones writes in a separate article. The utility veteran, signed for three years and $24MM, has stepped up as a multipurpose perimeter threat averaging 10.4 points per game in December.
  • For all the latest Kings-related headlines, be sure to check out our Sacramento team page.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Afflalo, Nets, Celtics

DeMar DeRozan didn’t take meetings with any teams besides the Raptors in free agency this summer, and has spoken since then about wanting to spend his entire career in Toronto. As Masai Ujiri tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, that sort of commitment from an All-Star like DeRozan is a big step for a franchise that historically hasn’t been a go-to destination for top free agents.

“It means a lot coming from a player like him,” the Raptors president said. “When DeMar came here, he dedicated himself to Toronto. He’s giving it his all. Everyone was saying, ‘Oh, when DeMar makes all that money,’ and blah, blah, blah. It’s not like it’s going to change that guy. All that guy knows is basketball. DeMar got his contract in the summer and he is performing and playing even better than before. But that is who DeMar is. We all know he is a phenomenal person and basketball player.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic division:

  • Kings guard Arron Afflalo played his old team in New York on Sunday, and said that even though his brief stint with the Knicks didn’t result in much success, he still valued the experience, per Newsday’s Barbara Barker. “Playing for the Knicks is one of those things that whether it was good, bad or indifferent, it’s something to be proud of. It’s really a historic franchise,” Afflalo said. “Had some good times, had some bad times. Quick one-year run, but it’s something I’ll always remember.”
  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post spoke to NBA scouts about the Nets‘ offer sheet for Donatas Motiejunas, and the general consensus was that it makes sense for Brooklyn to try to land a player like Motiejunas. “What’s to lose? It’s a good move. I don’t see a negative,” said veteran scout Scott McGuire. “They have to shake the bushes.”
  • While Caris LeVert has been cleared to make his debut for the Nets, it’s not clear how much playing time the 2016 first-rounder will actually receive right away, Lewis writes in a separate piece for The Post.
  • With their schedule “about to crank into overdrive,” the Celtics continue to be a bit of a mystery, writes Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com.

Atlantic Notes: Afflalo, Noah, Stauskas, Whitehead

Arron Afflalo knew it was time to leave New York after being benched by interim coach Kurt Rambis and learning that the team was pursuing Courtney Lee, relays Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. Afflalo spent just one year with the Knicks, opting out of an $8MM deal for this season and reaching a two-year, $25MM agreement with the Kings. His season in New York was marked by a coaching change, the demotion and other turmoil. “It’s hard to get a genuine experience with anything when you haven’t had longevity or there are a lot of changes taking place, whether it’s changes with my individual role or with the coaching staff or the environment as a whole,” Afflalo said. “Six months is a short season when you’re not a playoff team and you’re going through a lot of changes, but they seem to be doing better now. I think as the core group, with Melo [Carmelo Anthony] and KP [Kristaps Porzingis], and the guys that they bring in continuing to get better, New York will be okay.”

There’s more news from the Atlantic Division:

  • Thunder coach Billy Donovan is still a believer in Joakim Noah despite a difficult first month with the Knicks, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Donovan, who coached Noah on two national championship teams at the University of Florida, says the center’s competitive spirit will help him overcome a slow start. Noah is averaging 4.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game after signing a four-year, $72MM contract this summer. “He’s going to continue to improve and get better as a player, he’s going to put his work in,” Donovan said. “But he’s one of the guys in my opinion that’s truly all about sacrifice, team and winning. I think he’ll bring that to the Knicks throughout the entire season.”
  • Nik Stauskas looks like a long-term fit with the Sixers after a rocky start to his NBA career, according to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun. After being picked eighth in the 2014 NBA draft, Stauskas had an unproductive rookie season in Sacramento before being traded to Philadelphia. It took Stauskas time to find his way with the Sixers, but he has developed into a valuable bench player, averaging 10.2 points per game and shooting 44.6% from 3-point range. “I’m just having fun out there again, enjoying myself and kind of figured that when I’m having fun, that’s when I’m playing my best basketball and just been trying to tune out any negativity or any self doubt or anything like that,” Stauskas said.
  • Rookie point guard Isaiah Whitehead is becoming more of a vocal leader for the Nets, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Brooklyn has needed Whitehead to develop quickly after an injury to Jeremy Lin, and coach Kenny Atkinson is encouraged by how he has responded. “There’s on-court technical development and physical development,” Atkinson said. “But leadership development, all the players are commenting, he’s changing, he’s talking to us, he’s opening up, he’s asking us questions. It’s big.”

Pacific Notes: Cousins, Afflalo, Lakers, Chriss

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins frequently talks to his former Kentucky teammates about reuniting in the NBA, tweets Ben Standig of Locked on Wizards. Speaking to reporters before tonight’s game at Washington, Cousins addressed the possibility of someday joining forces with Wizards point guard John Wall“He wants me here,” Cousins said. Eric [Bledsoe] wants us in Phoenix.” Cousins will be a free agent after the 2017/18 season, and although he has been the subject of trade rumors, his public stance is that he wants to remain with the Kings. Wall won’t be a free agent until 2019. “Do we ever talk about playing with one another? Is that your question? It’s come up,” said Cousins. “They’re going to all come to Sac. Come to Sac.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Arron Afflalo is willing to be flexible as Kings coach Dave Joerger searches for the best lineup, relays Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Afflalo, who signed with Sacramento in July for $25MM over two years, was used as both a starter and a reserve last week. “You can’t fault a coach for trying to win and trying to find guys that work together,” he said. “But for me personally, I take pride in being a versatile basketball player, so sometimes coaches can see the benefit of me coming off the bench, and sometimes I’m a necessary stability piece in the starting lineup. It just depends.” Joerger has used a different starting lineup in each of the team’s last five games.
  • Offseason additions have made the Lakers better able to handle injuries than they have been in recent years, writes Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. Veteran point guard Jose Calderon, who was picked up in a July trade with the Bulls, has stepped into the starting lineup with D’Angelo Russell sidelined, and well-traveled power forward Thomas Robinson, who signed a non-guaranteed deal in September, started a game in place of Julius Randle. That has enabled coach Luke Walton to keep his bench rotation intact.
  • The Suns are willing to be patient through rookie power forward Marquese Chriss‘ growing pains, including Sunday’s bench technical, according to Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Chriss had one of his worst game as a pro with just two points and five fouls in 10 minutes. “Bench Ts put you on the bench in the second half,” said coach Earl Watson. “So it’s an accountable moment. But he’ll learn. He knows I love him. He’ll learn. He’ll move forward.”
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