Ben McLemore

Kings Notes: McLemore, Mason, Giles, Bagley

Shooting guard Ben McLemore has been among the pleasant surprises in Kings‘ training camp, relays Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. The Kings made McLemore the seventh pick in the 2013 draft and he spent the first four years of his NBA career in Sacramento before signing with the Grizzlies last year. The Kings brought him back in a trade this summer.

“My confidence is on high and I want to continue to get better each and every day, help my teammates … and do whatever they want me to do,” McLemore said. “That’s defensive, offensive, whatever the case might be. I’ve prepared myself all summer for this moment, so I’m ready.”

A knee injury to Bogdan Bogdanovic that required arthroscopic surgery could provide an early-season opportunity for McLemore. Bogdanovic is projected to miss four to six weeks, opening up some minutes in the backcourt. McLemore believes he can claim them and likes the up-tempo approach the Kings have adopted.

“The style of play they want to play, it fits me perfect, the way I play, the things I do,” he said. “I shoot the ball well, I run the floor, play defense, all those kinds of things.”

There’s more today from Sacramento:

  • Frank Mason is counting on better judgment to help him win an expanded role this season, Anderson adds in the same story. A backup point guard, Mason excels at getting to the basket but his drives often resulted in turnovers or forced shots. “[Last] year, I got in there and made a couple of wrong decisions, and some games I made the right decisions,” Mason said. “It’s just watching film and making the right reads and the right plays.”
  • Harry Giles is happy that his long wait to play in an NBA game is almost over, Anderson relays in a separate story. The 20th player drafted in 2017, Giles sat out all of last season as the Kings tried to protect his knees after a series of surgical procedures. He showed promise during summer league play and will make his debut in a Kings’ uniform tomorrow night in the preseason opener. “I love Harry’s game,” said teammate Willie Cauley-Stein. “He’s going to be a beast. Like most of us, coming into the league, you’ve got to find that pace, and once you find that pace it’s going to be scary.”
  • Kings fans probably won’t see Giles and this year’s top pick, Marvin Bagley, in the lineup together for a while, Anderson writes in another piece.

Ben McLemore Clarifies National Anthem Comments

A report from TMZ over the weekend made it seem as though Kings guard Ben McLemore was unsupportive of NFL players kneeling for the national anthem. However, according to James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area, McLemore says his words were taken out of context.

McLemore was asked how he felt about ESPN not airing the national anthem on Monday Night Football this year. He responded that it’s important to represent the United States and that the NFL players’ message may be getting lost.

This morning, McLemore released a statement clarifying that although he believes in standing for the anthem, he does not believe that players who take a knee are disrespecting the United States.

McLemore, 25, was acquiring by the Kings this summer in a trade that saw Garrett Temple sent to the Grizzlies. Looking to turn his career around after being drafted No. 7 overall in 2013, it’s unlikely that he was too excited about such negative media attention this offseason.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Giles, Ferrell, McMillan

Lakers president Magic Johnson is getting rave reviews from owner Jeanie Buss on the job he has done in remaking the team, relays Dan Feldman of NBC Sports. Johnson’s standout move was luring free agent LeBron James to L.A., but he also cleared away a lot of cap space and convinced a series of veterans to accept one-year deals so the Lakers can take another big swing in free agency next summer.

“I have complete faith in Magic Johnson in terms of his ability to be a leader, to know how to put together a winner,” Buss said this week in an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show. “And I have patience. And I think what he’s done has exceeded my expectations, how quickly they’ve kind of turned around the roster.”

There’s more today from the Pacific Division:

  • Harry Giles still hasn’t seen any NBA action, but he has been the most intriguing Kings story of the summer, notes Noel Harris of The Sacramento Bee. The Kings were extremely cautious with Giles after making him the 20th pick in the 2017 draft, sitting him out the entire season to make sure his knees were fully recovered from a series of surgeries that date back to high school. Giles was impressive in Summer League action and was picked as the Rookie of the Year favorite by ESPN’s Kevin Pelton.
  • Yogi Ferrell may have a prominent role off the bench in the Kings‘ backcourt, writes James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area in an examination of the team’s potential guard rotation. Sacramento was able to land Farrell in free agency after he pulled out of an agreement with the Mavericks in search of more guaranteed money. Ham expects newly acquired Ben McLemore to be bought out or traded and notes that the team would like to move Iman Shumpert, but is having trouble finding a taker for his $11.4MM salary.
  • Jamelle McMillan is enjoying a homecoming after being added to the Suns‘ coaching staff, writes Cody Cunningham of NBA.com. The son of Pacers head coach Nate McMillan, Jamelle played four seasons at Arizona State before starting his coaching career. At age 29, he is one of the NBA’s youngest assistants.

Grizzlies In Limbo Between Contention And Rebuild

The Grizzlies are an interesting franchise to keep an eye on moving forward this season and beyond, as they are somewhat in a state of limbo – not quite rebuilding but not close to being a serious contender either – writes Mark Giannotto of The Commercial Appeal.

To be sure, Memphis had a relatively nice offseason. They drafted a potential future franchise cornerstone in Jaren Jackson, they signed Kyle Anderson to the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception, and traded for veteran guard Garrett Temple. By midseason, all three could possibly join Mike Conley and Marc Gasol in the Grizzlies’ starting lineup.

Yet, as Conley says, because of the new pieces learning to fit in and difficulty of the Western Conference, it may turn out to be an “awkward” year in Memphis.

“This season, expectations are still try to be that playoff team, that team that comes out and really makes it tough on everybody. But it is an awkward year with so many teams getting so much better [with] different acquisitions they made in the offseason.”

In addition to adding Jackson, Anderson, and Temple, the Grizzlies also traded away relative disappointments Ben McLemore, Deyonta Davis and Jarell Martin, while adding rookie Jevon Carter, a potential throwback-type player to the Grit ‘N’ Grind era.

Ultimately, it’s probably still going to be difficult for Memphis to make the playoffs in the West, even assuming a 22-win improvement from last year that would see Memphis literally double the amount of victories from a season ago. As such, a rebuild is probably closer to fruition than title contention.

As Giannotto notes, only seven players (not including Gasol’s player option) are signed beyond this season, and only rookie Dillon Brooks had a meaningful role on last year’s team. Accordingly, one would think that most teams would begin rebuilding this season. Only time will tell if the Grizzlies choosing to do otherwise was the right call.

Pacific Notes: McLemore, Davis, Curry, Durant, Knight

Shooting guard Ben McLemore and power forward Deyonta Davis probably won’t stick around with the Kings, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area speculates. That duo was acquired, along with a future second-rounder, from the Grizzlies on Tuesday for veteran guard Garrett Temple. Adding a draft pick and clearing a little more cap space attracted Sacramento to the deal, Ham continues. McLemore joins a crowded backcourt and he could be waived or his $5.4MM contract could be bought out. Davis has a team-friendly $1.5MM salary but also doesn’t have an obvious role with the current roster.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Temple trade gives the Kings more than $20MM of cap room, making it a smarter move for them than the Grizzlies, in the eyes of Kevin Pelton of ESPN. Sacramento can use that additional wiggle room take on bad contracts or chase a restricted free agent, Pelton continues. The 2021 pick it acquired could very well wind up being at or near the top of the second round if Memphis goes into rebuild mode, Pelton adds.
  • Warriors guard Stephen Curry has decided to skip next week’s USA Basketball mini-camp, Chris Haynes of ESPN reports. Curry wants to spend more time with his family. Golden State forward Kevin Durant will take part in the mini-camp, David Aldridge of NBA.com tweets.
  • The Suns will head into the season with Brandon Knight as the starting point guard unless they make a trade, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic declares in his latest mailbag. If Phoenix strikes a deal, the Clippers’ Patrick Beverley would be an obvious target because of Los Angeles’ backcourt logjam, Bordow adds.
  • The Clippers will promote their G League coach, Casey Hill, to Doc Rivers’ staff with coaching associate Brian Adams replacing Hill at Agua Caliente, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links). Natalie Nakase will be promoted to Clippers player development staff, Wojnarowski adds.

Kings Trade Garrett Temple To Grizzlies

3:03pm: The trade is now official, the Grizzlies and Kings announced in a pair of press releases.

10:44am: The Kings and Grizzlies are in the process of finalizing a trade that will send Garrett Temple to Memphis, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, Sacramento will receive Ben McLemore, Deyonta Davis, and cash in the deal. The Kings will also get a 2021 second-round pick from the Grizzlies, tweets Chris Herrington.

The move will add a established, versatile contributor to Memphis’ rotation. Temple, who is a strong defender and can play multiple backcourt and wing positions, averaged a career-best 8.4 PPG last year for the Kings, chipping in 2.3 RPG and 1.9 APG with a .392 3PT%.

While Temple has seen most of his minutes on the wing in recent years, Grizzlies starting point guard Mike Conley is coming off an injury-plagued 2017/18 season and Memphis doesn’t have a reliable veteran behind Conley on the depth chart, with Andrew Harrison, Jevon Carter, and Kobi Simmons in the backup mix. Temple could provide the club with another ball-handler when Conley is on or off the court.

The Grizzlies will add a little money to their payroll as a result of the deal, but the salary difference is minimal, and won’t have an impact beyond 2018/19. Temple is earning $8MM in the final year of his contract and McLemore is on an expiring deal worth $5.46MM. Temple and McLemore will be unrestricted free agents next summer, while Davis – who is earning about $1.54MM this year – will be eligible for restricted free agency.

Memphis is now less than $1MM away from the luxury-tax line, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, who notes that recently-signed second-rounder Carter received a guaranteed two-year minimum-salary deal from the club.

For the Kings, the move represents a reunion with former seventh overall pick McLemore, who spent the first four years of his NBA career in Sacramento. He battled health issues and struggled last season for Memphis, averaging a career-worst 7.5 PPG on 4.21/.346/.828 shooting.

As for Davis, he showed some promise in a part-time role for the Grizzlies last season, posting 5.8 PPG and 4.0 RPG in 62 games (15.2 MPG). I wouldn’t expect either McLemore or Davis to take on a major role for the Kings, but they could earn spots in the rotation with strong showings in training camp.

The trade will open up a little extra cap room for the Kings, who now have about $20.5MM in space, easily the most in the league. Sacramento has 14 players under contract, so it will be interesting to see what the club has in mind for its remaining cap room and its final open roster spot.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Avery Bradley Among Grizzlies’ Free Agent Targets

Clippers shooting guard Avery Bradley is high on the Grizzlies‘ list of free agent targets, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

Memphis is expected to lose Tyreke Evans in free agency, and Bradley would be an upgrade over the team’s remaining collection of shooting guards. That list includes Wayne Selden, Ben McLemore and MarShon Brooks, though Selden’s contract for next season is not guaranteed.

The Grizzlies are over the cap, so they’d have to hope their mid-level exception with a starting salary of $8,567,770 would be enough to snag Bradley’s services.

Bradley had an injury-filled 2017/18 season after being dealt from the Celtics to the Pistons last offseason. He missed playing time with a groin injury after a strong first month, then was included in the Blake Griffin blockbuster in late January. He underwent season-ending sports hernia surgery in mid-March.

Bradley only appeared in six games with the Clippers after playing 40 games with Detroit. He averaged 14.3 PPG in 46 games last season.

He enjoyed a career year in Boston the previous season, his seventh and final with that organization. The 6’2” Bradley, 27, averaged a career-best 16.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG and 2.2 APG in 55 games.

Bradley has long been considered a superior perimeter defender and solid 3-point shooter (36.6% career average).

Southwest Notes: Forcier, Capela, Rondo

The Grizzlies are finalizing a deal to bring Chad Forcier aboard as the lead assistant to recently appointed head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports writes.

Forcier most recently spent two years with the Magic but bounced around between some formidable Pistons, Pacers and Spurs teams from 2001 to 2016. In 2014, he won a title with San Antonio.

The Grizzlies formally announced their decision to give former interim head coach Bickerstaff the permanent head coaching gig earlier this week.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • For the fourth consecutive season, Clint Capela has rounded out his game. Now the 23-year-old plays a pivotal role for the contending Rockets and has established a foundation of trust with teammate James Harden, Tim MacMahon of ESPN documents the big man’s rise ahead of his pending free agency.
  • Veteran point guard Rajon Rondo sounds open to the idea of returning to the Pelicans, Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated writes. Rondo has played for four teams since 2014 but has performed particularly well, especially in the postseason, with New Orleans. Still, it may be tricky for the team to bring him back if he requires a sizable raise, since the Pelicans only hold his Non-Bird rights.
  • There’s no denying that Ben McLemore‘s first season with the Grizzlies was somewhat underwhelming but the 25-year-old remains convinced that his best basketball is ahead of him. Michael Wallace of Grind City Media writes that, in his defense, the swingman has had six head coaches in six seasons but notes that the Grizz may be wise to move on from the $5.5MM they owe him next season if possible.

 

 

Sixers, Others Express Interest In Tyreke Evans

11:08am: While the Sixers have expressed interest in Evans, they’re hardly alone. The Celtics, Cavaliers, Pelicans, Thunder, Heat, and Rockets have all inquired on the veteran guard too, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who tweets that it will come down to which team is willing to meet the Grizzlies’ asking price.

10:48am: The Sixers have expressed trade interest in Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans, league sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link), However, according to Stein, Memphis continues to seek a first-round pick in exchange for Evans, and Philadelphia is reluctant to surrender one.

Evans, 28, has been enjoying one of the best years of his NBA career in Memphis this season, averaging 19.5 PPG, 5.0 APG, and 5.0 RPG with a .458/.392/.799 shooting line so far. Based on his terrific production, the Grizzlies are said to be looking for a first-rounder in any deal.

However, while Evans’ expiring contract and modest salary ($3.29MM) make him an intriguing trade piece, they also reduce his value to some extent — he would likely be a rental for any team acquiring him, since he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Evans is on track to get much more expensive, and whichever team has him at season’s end won’t have his Bird rights, limiting that club’s ability to re-sign him.

Still, the Sixers represent an interesting potential trade partner for the Grizzlies, particularly since they could end up with multiple first-round picks this spring. Chris Herrington of The Commercial Appeal speculates (via Twitter) that perhaps Memphis could pry the 76ers’ own first-round pick away from Philadelphia if the Grizzlies are willing to take on Jerryd Bayless‘ contract, which has a guaranteed $8.58MM cap hit for 2018/19.

Although salary-matching rules would prevent Memphis from trading Evans straight up for Bayless, attaching a player like Ben McLemore or Brandan Wright to Evans would make it cap-legal, Herrington notes (via Twitter). James Ennis‘ contract would also work, but Ennis is a more valuable trade chip than McLemore or Wright, so the Grizzlies likely wouldn’t want to just throw him in for salary purposes.

Southwest Notes: McLemore, Ennis, Randle

The Grizzlies are gauging trade interest in swingmen Ben McLemore and James Ennis, Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders writes.

The Grizzlies signed McLemore over the offseason to a two-year, $10.7MM deal, presumably hoping that they would be able to tap into something in the former Kansas product that the Kings hoped to find when they drafted him seventh overall in 2013.

McLemore has played just 17.2 points per game this season, adding just 6.5 points per contest in what’s been his least effective NBA campaign since his rookie year.

Scotto adds that the Grizzlies are also dangling Ennis and his expiring $3MM deal, hoping to yield at least one second-round pick.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans are said to be interested in upgrades on the wing, but finding a logical trade scenario is easier said than done. William Guillory of the Times-Picayune writes that it may prove difficult to make the salaries match in a deal for supposedly available perimeter players like Kent Bazemore or Evan Fournier.
  • Rumors that the Mavs could be in pursuit of Texas native Julius Randle were shot down by Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News. His reason? Acquiring a good player ahead of the trade deadline this season is the last thing the presumably lottery-bound club should be doing.
  • Offseason Grizzlies addition Tyreke Evans has thrived this season, proving that, for now at least, he’s healthy and capable of being a prominent producer. As a result, his name has been floated as a possible trade piece, including in a recent media scrum with Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal.