Buddy Hield

Pacific Notes: Johnson, Sarver, Lopez

The Clippers opted for flexibility by turning down the third-year option on Brice Johnson‘s rookie contract, Elliott Teaford of the Orange County Register writes.

Team president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank says that the decision was made because the Clippers didn’t have a full body of work on which to base Johnson’s value. The 23-year-old North Carolina standout has played in just six games over the course of his NBA career, two of them this past week.

We still think Brice is a talented player,” Frank said. “There wasn’t a great body of work due to some difficult circumstances, obviously, with the back injury. This year, we have great depth at his position.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Contrary to a Washington Post report that suggested Suns owner Robert Sarver was looking to sell the franchise, the executive has “zero interest” in cashing out, Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic writes. Sarver bought the team for $401MM in 2004 and it’s now, per Forbes, valued north of $1B.
  • A move to the second-unit may have helped Buddy Hield find his rhythm with the Kings. Kyle Ramos of the team’s official site discussed the sophomore’s solid showing off the bench on Wednesday.
  • Often the subject of trade rumors, Brook Lopez wasn’t particularly surprised to find out that the Nets had traded him to the Lakers last June, Greg Logan of Newsday writes. He was, however, excited. “I’m a huge Magic Johnson fan, so having him around — to be a little fan boy — it’s awesome for the little kid Brook inside,” Lopez said.

Kings Exercise 2018/19 Options On Five Players

The Kings have picked up 2018/19 rookie scale options on five players, the team announced today in a press release. The moves will add about $14MM in guaranteed salary to Sacramento’s books for the ’18/19 season. Here are the options exercised by the club in advance of today’s deadline:

None of these decisions comes as a real surprise. With the exception of Hield – who was the centerpiece in the trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans – all of these players were drafted by Vlade Divac and the current Kings management group.

Cauley-Stein, the only player of the bunch whose 2018/19 option is on the fourth year of his rookie contract, will be eligible for a contract extension during the ’18 offseason, and will reach restricted free agency in the summer of ’19 if he’s not extended next year. The other four players are on track to be RFAs in 2020 if their fourth-year options are picked up next offseason.

All of this year’s rookie scale team option decisions can be tracked right here.

Kings Notes: Hield, Bogdanovic, Labissiere

Shooting guard Buddy Hield isn’t afraid of putting up shots, even the occasional ones that leave Kings fans scratching their heads. That’s just something head coach Dave Joerger will have to work with if it means keeping the prolific deep threat in a rhythm, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes.

I’m a shooting guard, so I’m trying to get as many shots as I can get,” Hield, who joined the Kings in the midseason trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans last year, said. “They call me thirsty on the team. They say I’m thirsty because I’m always trying to get a shot up.”

Jones notes that Hield’s teammates don’t consider him selfish so they aren’t afraid to keep feeding him the ball if it means that he might get hot from the perimeter and change the outlook of a game.

I’ve been reining him in, making him play the way we want to play,” said Joerger in his second year at the helm of the Kings. “[…] But then for certain guys at any moment you give them a little more latitude, and I think he’s one of those guys.

There’s more news from Sacramento:

  • After sitting out the first three games of the season, Bogdan Bogdanovic‘s status for Monday’s game against the Suns has been upgraded to probable, the team announced on its website. If he plays, it’ll be the 25-year-old draft-and-stash rookie’s NBA debut after signing the largest rookie contract in league history.
  • It won’t be long before the Kings turn to Skal Labissiere as more of an offensive weapon, James Ham of NBC Sports writes. The 21-year-old sophomore has already made substantial improvements over the course of his young career.
  • Despite how impressive De’Aaron Fox looks in his rookie season, it’s unlikely that the Lakers regret drafting Lonzo Ball, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes in a question-and-answer with readers. Los Angeles knew exactly what they were getting in Ball and there’s a good choice that both end up becoming All-Stars.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Ball, Warriors, Jordan

The decision to remove DeMarcus Cousins from the equation has brought a sense of happiness and hope around the moribund Kings franchise, Nick Zappulla of RealGM opines. The pieces are now in place for a quick turnaround via the acquisition of Buddy Hield in the trade with the Pelicans along with four promising rookies taken in the draft, particularly floor leader De’Aaron Fox and forward Harry Giles, Zappulla continues. Big men Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein showed progress once Cousins was removed from the picture and the club also brought in three veteran free agents to facilitate the development of the young players, Zappulla adds.

In other items regarding the Pacific Division:

  • The league’s television partners certainly have Lonzo Ball fever, as evidenced by the Lakers’ 35 nationally-televised games next season, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register notes. That’s the fifth-most national broadcasts among all teams despite the franchise coming off a 26-win season. Much of it can be attributed to lottery pick Ball, both for his passing skills and the hype-man routine of his father LaVar, Oram adds.
  • The Warriors’ center rotation is unlikely to change next season despite the presence of some promising young players at the back end, Anthony Slater of The Athletic opines. Zaza Pachulia will continue to start with JaVale McGee backing him up and David West getting minutes there at the start of second quarters, according to Slater. Damian Jones, who was inconsistent in summer-league play, or rookie Jordan Bell could force their way into the rotation at some point, Slater adds.
  • Center DeAndre Jordan realizes the Clippers won’t be the same team without Chris Paul, but expects point guard additions Patrick Beverley and Milos Teodosic to keep the franchise among the best in the West, Jovan Buha of ESPN.com reports. “Those guys are going to come in and play their style of basketball, and it’s going to be fun,” Jordan told Buha.

Brogdon, Saric Headline 2016/17 NBA All-Rookie Teams

The NBA has announced its All-Rookie teams for the 2016/17 season, with Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon and Sixers forward Dario Saric headlining the First Team. Brogdon and Saric were the only two players who were unanimously named to the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team.

Here’s the full breakdown of this year’s All-Rookie squads:

First Team:

Second Team:

Brogdon, Saric, and Embiid are the finalists for the 2016/17 NBA Rookie of the Year award, which will be announced later tonight during the league’s TV broadcast on TNT.

Pacific Notes: Redick, Hield, Lakers, Clippers

J.J. Redick has been a prolific scorer during his four-year stint with the Clippers, being a key cog in the team’s journey to four straight playoff appearances. However, with the sharpshooter set to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason, it may be time to move on,

Redick enjoyed another strong season in Los Angeles, averaging 15.0 PPG while still shooting an astounding .429 percent from beyond the arc. But there have noticeable differences in Redick’s output, especially during the postseason. As Blancarte points out, issues creating space have caused Redick to take lower percentage shots — his three-point shooting percentage has fallen each postseason since 2013 and this year, he attempted just 3.7 treys during the Clippers’ seven-game series against the Jazz.

Also, despite being an above average defender, Blancarte writes that “Joe Johnson, Rodney Hood and Gordon Hayward were simply too big and too skilled for Redick to handle defensively.” Redick will be 33 when he inks a new deal and there has been speculation of him joining the Knicks, potentially in a sign-and-trade scenario involving Carmelo Anthony, Marc Berman of the New York Post previously detailed. With four years and four early exits in the playoffs with the Clippers current core, it could be time for all parties to move on.

Here is some more news coming out of the Atlantic division:

  • The Hawks recently readjusted Mike Budenholzer’s role, taking him out of the team president position so he can focus solely on coaching. SB Nation’s Tom Ziller believes the Clippers should do the same with Doc Rivers. While Rivers is a well-regarded coach, the Clippers are at a crossroads following another early playoff exit and Ziller believes GM Rivers is not as effective as coach Rivers — especially given the team’s aforementioned core not yielding championship results.
  • Buddy Hield experienced a rejuvenation after he was sent from the Pelicans to the Kings in the DeMarcus Cousins trade several months ago. As Benedict Tagle of NBA.com writes, Hield increased his production from 8.6 PPG and 2.9 RPG to 15.1 PPG and 4.1 RPG per game in Sacramento. The sixth overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft now understands how he can make additional strides.“I need a lot of things, this summer is great for me because next year it will show how big of a jump I can make,” Hield told NBC Sports California. “After that, we build off of that. Just keep building. I’m never going to take a step back.”
  • In a lengthy piece, Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus examines how a Lakers team that has completely restructured its front office plans to tackle this offseason and beyond. The team will divide its focus into four tiers of scouting: College, international, NBA and the NBA Development League.“We don’t have to really change the way we have done the draft,” an anonymous source said to Pincus in regards to the team’s strategy. “In terms of everything else, I feel we have areas to improve, especially in free-agent acquisitions…we just have to be precise and efficient in every area.”

 

Pacific Notes: Kings’ Rookies, Booker, Nwaba, Ulis

While the Kings have dropped out of playoff contention, Dave Joerger will still seek to build the talent and IQ of his younger players. As Joerger acknowledged in a recent post-game press conference, ensuring proper player development is a large part of his job.

“Having been there with those guys (in Memphis) I felt a great deal of responsibility to maximize every win that we could get,” Joerger told reporters, including Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. “That’s where are these gray hairs popped out. Now the gray hairs are (from) are you playing the right guys with the right group, developing guys, giving them the right experiences?”

Joerger has given valuable playing opportunities to rookies down the stretch; providing Skal Labissiere, Buddy Hield, and Georgios Papagiannis with multiple 20+ minute games over the past week.

More from the Pacific…

  • The Suns are tanking “with spirit,” Dan Bickley of AZCentral.com writes. What’s more, Bickley points out Devin Booker‘s 70-point game as proof that he’s Phoenix’s next franchise player. “The Suns should feel blessed,” Bickley wrote. “They’ve lost 60 or more games only once in their storied history, and that was their expansion season in 1968-69. The organization’s commitment to losing is so sturdy and hardcore that they could conceivably end the current season with 60 losses and a 16-game losing streak, and somehow, the season will be perceived as a smashing success.”
  • Lakers rookie David Nwaba will be assigned to the L.A. D-Fenders to boost their D-League playoff run (source: Mark Medina, L.A. Daily News). Nwaba has been a pleasant surprise in Luke Walton‘s rotation, averaging 7.8 points with 5.5 rebounds over his last four games. Nwaba, who appeared in 40 games for the D-Fenders this season, figures to receive a considerable workload during the D-League postseason.
  • The Suns want Tyler Ulis to shoot more, Doug Haller of AZCentral.com writes. Haller relays an amusing anecdote, in which coach Earl Watson shouted “Shoot it!” at Ulis during Tuesday’s match-up with the Hawks. “He’s very talented,” veteran guard Ronnie Price said of Ulis. “He has a chance to have a long career in the league. He has a lot to his game that people are starting to see, so for him, it’s just getting comfortable and keeping him confident. As a team we all trust him. We all know what he’s capable of doing, but we can’t have him second-guessing himself with shots.”

Kings Notes: Evans, Temple, Lawson, Rookies

Swingman Tyreke Evans is trying to make a good impression for potential suitors as he enters unrestricted free agency, Matt Kawahara of the Sacramento Bee reports. Evans, who is in the final year of his four-year, $44MM contract, is trying to show teams that he’s still effective despite undergoing three knee surgeries, Kawahara continues. “A lot of teams know I had tough injuries so they want to see how I’m moving, how I’m playing every night,” Evans told Kawahara. “There’s teams watching. I know the Kings are watching, too. So I’m playing for my teammates still at the end of the day, but I’m going out there and being myself.” Evans is averaging 14 PPG on 47.4% shooting since being included in the DeMarcus Cousins trade with the Pelicans, though he hasn’t played in six of the last 11 games.

In other news regarding the Kings:

  • Shooting guard Garrett Temple has emerged as a locker-room leader, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. Temple has taken the younger players under his wing and maintained an active role in their development, as he told Jones. “The players that are playing have gotten a lot younger so it’s more of a teaching, mentoring role,” Temple said. “Whereas when [Cousins] was here, if I’m talking to him it’s more of a keeping him calm, talking more nuances of the game, things that we can do better as a team. But with the young guys it’s a lot of specifics about how to get open, how to defend, ways to teach them the veteran tricks we all have learned in our years in the league.”
  • Point guard Ty Lawson denies that he has violated his probation, according to an Associated Press report. Probation officials allege Lawson, who was given probation in a Colorado drunken driving case, has tested positive for alcohol three times in the past six months and has failed to complete his community service duties, the report continues. A judicial hearing will be held in May before a decision is made on whether Lawson will receive a more severe punishment, the report adds.
  • Rookies Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis and Buddy Hield and second-year man Willie Cauley-Stein showed growth during a recent three-game road trip, as Shahbaz Khan of the team’s website details.

Kings Notes: Hield, Evans, Richardson

When the Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans, the majority of discussion surrounding the deal focused on the superstar heading to New Orleans.

As the dust continues to settle, it’s become increasingly clear that Tyreke Evans and Buddy Hield can have substantial impacts of their own. Benedict Tagle of Kings.com recently wrote about what the pair have been accomplishing since arriving in Northern California.

Though just seven games into his second stint with the team that drafted him, Evans has improved upon the numbers he posted with the Pelicans at the start of the year. Evans began the 2016/17 campaign on the shelf and had to slowly play himself back into game shape. Since rejoining Sacramento, however, he’s posted career highs in points, rebounds and blocks per 100 possessions.

Hield, too, has seen his production rise since the trade. Hield’s 14.2 points per game since the trade are 5.6 higher than what he posted in New Orleans and his effective field-goal percentage has ballooned to .636.

There’s more from the Kings today:

Northwest Notes: Hill, Jazz, Faried, Turner

George Hill and the Jazz reportedly won’t reach an agreement on a contract extension on Tuesday, which is the last day this season that teams can renegotiate contracts. However, both sides remain interested in getting something done eventually, and agreed to resume discussions in the summer, per Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune.

According to Jones, the Jazz are “prepared to do whatever it takes” to retain Hill beyond this season. However, they’ll have plenty of competition for the veteran point guard in the offseason. Sources tell Jones that Hill is expected to have as many as 12 teams looking to sign him in free agency, and Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com tweets that Hill has been advised he can get a better deal this summer than what Utah can offer now. In the offseason, rival teams could offer a four-year contract, while the Jazz could make a five-year offer. Today, Utah only could have offered a three-year extension.

Here’s more from around the Northwest division:

  • As the Nuggets traveled to Chicago, power forward Kenneth Faried stayed behind in Denver to receive treatment on his back, tweets Nick Kosmider of The Denver Post. Head coach Mike Malone expects Faried to miss at least a week to 10 days.
  • Trail Blazers wing Evan Turner, who is trying to make his way back from a hand fracture, said today that he’s getting his cast removed on Friday and hopes to return to the court for Portland in a week or so, per Mike Richman of The Oregonian (Twitter link). The original recovery timetable for Turner, which was announced about three weeks ago, called for him to miss five or six weeks.
  • The Timberwolves passed on Buddy Hield to select Kris Dunn with the fifth overall pick last June, but Minnesota head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau says he’s a “big fan” of the new Kings sharpshooter, as Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune details. According to Thibodeau, he and the Wolves considered Hield and Jamal Murray before selecting Dunn —  Thibodeau believes “all three guys will have terrific careers.”
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