Buddy Hield

Pacific Notes: Kings Lineup, DeRozan, Jackson, Bledsoe, Payton II

Kings coach Luke Walton is still tinkering with his starting lineup, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. The forward spots are up for grabs, with Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes and Marvin Bagley III as the top contenders, depending on whether Walton opts to go small or with a more conventional lineup. “I have not come to (a decision regarding Barnes) and there are still open spots,” Walton said. It could all be a moot point if the Kings renew efforts to acquire Ben Simmons.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • DeMar DeRozan had discussions with LeBron James about joining the Lakers in free agency, he confirmed to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). DeRozan wound up joining the Bulls in a sign-and-trade after Los Angeles opted to deal for Russell Westbrook. “It just didn’t work. You know how the business goes. … That was a hell of an opportunity that we tried to make happen,” said DeRozan, a Los Angeles native.
  • Clippers coach Tyronn Lue wants one of his veteran point guards to be on the floor at all times, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Lue will stagger the minutes of Reggie Jackson and Eric Bledsoe to make that happen.
  • The Warriors are hopeful Gary Payton II can play in a preseason game next week, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. Payton is working his way back from a hernia issue. Payton remains a contender for the team’s final roster spot. Payton will need to make the opening-night roster to receive a $659K partial guarantee on his $1.98MM contract.

Pacific Notes: Hield, Holmes, Shamet, Bradley, Iguodala

Few players who returned to their teams for the 2021/22 season came closer to being traded over the summer than Kings sharpshooter Buddy Hield. However, speaking to reporters at the start of training camp this week, Hield sounded happy to still be in Sacramento and unbothered by seeing his name pop up in offseason trade rumors, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee relays.

“Yeah, I saw (the trade rumors), but I can’t control none of that and this is the business we live in,” Hield said. “My job is to come in and work my butt off every day and produce, and try to produce wins, and I can’t get mad at that. I get paid lots and lots of money to do this, so I’m blessed each and every day to come in here and compete. I love being around my guys. I love the team camaraderie we share and all that. The coaching staff has been great. It’s been fun, so I love it. Whatever happens, happens.”

Kings forward/center Marvin Bagley III, who was also the subject of trade speculation during the offseason, downplayed those rumors too, telling reporters that he’s “right where God wants me to be,” per Anderson. Head coach Luke Walton expressed enthusiasm about getting both players back, suggesting that Bagley was having a career year last season before breaking his hand and calling Hield “one of the most elite shooters” in the NBA.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Veteran center Richaun Holmes told reporters on Tuesday that he never got the feeling during free agency that he wouldn’t be back with the Kings, who “came out of the gate and showed (him) love from the beginning” (Twitter link via Sean Cunningham of ABC10). Holmes also lauded the team’s offseason additions of Davion Mitchell and Tristan Thompson. You add guys like Davion and Tristan Thompson, and a certain attitude comes,” Holmes said of his new teammates (Twitter link via James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area). “They bring a certain attitude, a certain swagger and that’s something we’re going to need.”
  • Suns head coach Monty Williams said on Tuesday that Phoenix had been trying to acquire Landry Shamet for two years (Twitter link via Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic). Shamet was traded during the 2020 offseason from the Clippers to the Nets, who flipped him to Phoenix last month.
  • Warriors camp invitee Avery Bradley, who said on Tuesday that he believes he “might be the best on-ball defender in the NBA,” has a viable case for a regular season roster spot, according to Kendra Andrews of NBC Bay Area, who writes that Golden State could use Bradley’s presence on defense — even if he may be overstating his own talents.
  • The Warriors are already feeling the effects of Andre Iguodala‘s leadership, says Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody both spoke this week about looking forward to learning from the veteran swingman. “He’s a guy that’s been through it all in the NBA,” Moody said. “So, especially a guy if a guy of his stature is in the perfect position to teach me as a young guy whatever I need, whatever I need to know.”

Russell Westbrook Helped Engineer His Trade To Lakers

Russell Westbrook “took control of his situation” when he saw a chance to join the Lakers, according to Bill Oram, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic in a thorough look at how the team remade its roster over the offseason.

A Southern California native, Westbrook had dreamed of returning home to play and thought he might be headed to the Clippers along with Kawhi Leonard two years ago. When a second chance emerged with the Lakers in August, Westbrook was determined to make it happen.

He was among several potential additions discussed in a “war room” setting of players that was led by LeBron James and included Anthony Davis and Jared Dudley. They saw Westbrook as an asset because he’s a perennial All-Star who can share playmaking duties with LeBron. However, he still had two years remaining on his contract and the Wizards weren’t looking to move him.

Although The Athletic’s sources say Westbrook would have been willing to stay in Washington if a trade didn’t happen, he decided to act on the morning of the draft when he heard that the Lakers were near a deal with the Kings to acquire Buddy Hield. Westbrook approached Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and asked him to work out a trade with L.A.

Leonsis agreed and Washington general manager Tommy Sheppard called Lakers GM Rob Pelinka to start trade talks. Within a few hours, a deal was in place to give up Westbrook and a pair of second-round picks in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and the No. 22 selection in this year’s draft.

There’s much more information packed in The Athletic report, which is worth checking out in full. Here are a few highlights:

  • Another player who received serious consideration from the Lakers was DeMar DeRozan, who also hails from Southern California and eventually signed with the Bulls. He met twice with James and had several other phone calls. DeRozan’s representatives had concerns over whether the Lakers’ front office was on board with the players’ plans, but sources tell The Athletic that Pelinka “strongly considered” a sign-and-trade offer that would have sent Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope to the Spurs. L.A. couldn’t come to an agreement with San Antonio or on a new contract for DeRozan, and the proposed sign-and-trade never advanced to the stage where it was presented to owner Jeanie Buss.
  • The Kings’ front office was left “steaming” over the Lakers’ decision to pull out of the Hield deal. It would have come at a lower cost — only Kuzma and Harrell were needed to match salaries — so the Lakers could have kept Caldwell-Pope and their first-round pick. As an elite three-point shooter, Hield might seem like a more natural fit alongside James and Davis, but the Lakers believe Westbrook will make them a better team in the playoffs.
  • With limited resources to fill out their roster after the trade, both James and Westbrook contacted Carmelo Anthony before the official start of free agency. Anthony was still hoping to hear from the Trail Blazers and ultimately received interest from the Knicks and Sixers, but he opted to join James, who was a longtime friend. The chance to win a title attracted other low-cost veterans such as Trevor ArizaWayne Ellington and Kent Bazemore to what became the league’s oldest team with an average age of 30.9 years.
  • James has always enjoyed close relationships with the veterans on his team and was particularly upset when Dudley wasn’t re-signed. Dudley was 36 and coming off an MCL tear, and the Lakers felt it was important to maximize every roster spot. He was offered other positions with the organization, but opted to become an assistant to Jason Kidd in Dallas.
  • James, Davis and Dudley also talked about Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal, but the Lakers didn’t have the assets to land either of them. Sources tell The Athletic that Westbrook tried to convince Beal that they should both ask to be traded out of Washington. Although Beal didn’t agree, he supported Westbrook’s desire to get to L.A. The Lakers’ group also targeted free agent guard Kyle Lowry, who eventually signed with the Heat.
  • The Lakers announced an extension this summer with Frank Vogel to avoid having him enter the season as a lame-duck coach. However, multiple sources told The Athletic that the extension only covers one year, which takes Vogel through the end of the 2022/23 season.
  • Many people in the Lakers’ organization were frustrated by the decision not to compete with the four-year, $37MM offer that Alex Caruso received from the Bulls, per The Athletic. He has become of the NBA’s best role players after starting in the G League, and many believed he was worth what it would have cost to keep him.

Kings Aren’t Active In Ben Simmons Trade Talks

The Kings haven’t talked to the Sixers about a possible deal for Ben Simmons for several weeks, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic.

During their initial conversation, Sacramento made it clear that De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton wouldn’t be made available, which has also been reported by other outlets. A source tells Amick that the Kings will stick to that position and consider their roster virtually set heading into training camp.

There are no ongoing trade talks involving the two teams, Amick adds, and Sacramento shouldn’t be considered a realistic possibility for Simmons unless Philadelphia president of basketball operations Daryl Morey lowers his asking price.

If a deal is eventually reached with the Kings, it’s more likely to involve Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley, according to Amick.

Trade rumors involving Simmons have heated up again after a report on Tuesday that he plans to hold out of training camp if the Sixers don’t ship him elsewhere. The Kings, Timberwolves, Clippers and Warriors have been the most frequently-mentioned possibilities.

Fischer’s Latest: Markkanen, DeRozan, Hield, Hart, Suns, More

The Pelicans, Mavericks, Celtics, and Timberwolves are among the teams that have shown interest in Bulls restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who hears from sources that the price tag on the power forward would be about $15MM per year.

Landing Markkanen would be a challenge for any of those teams, however, as they’re all over the cap and would have to acquire the RFA forward via sign-and-trade. New Orleans has a traded player exception big enough to fit Markkanen, but the other teams would likely to have rely on salary-matching or offer him a lower salary (Dallas has a TPE worth $10.872MM, while Boston has one worth $9.72MM). Acquiring a player via sign-and-trade also results in a hard cap, which the Celtics are reportedly resisting.

On top of all that, Fischer confirms a previous report that the Bulls are seeking a first-round pick to accommodate a Markkanen sign-and-trade and don’t want to take on any salary, preferring any contracts to be rerouted to a third team. If they maintain that stance, the Bulls would make it very difficult for Markkanen to do anything but accept his $9MM qualifying offer.

“Chicago is playing this masterfully from no other perspective than a contract management standpoint,” a team capologist told Fischer. “It won’t do any favors relationship-wise, but they’re bleeding his market based on their tax situation, and nobody else can offer him any kind of money without them.”

As we wait to see what happens with Markkanen, it’s worth noting that the Hornets – previously rumored to be eyeing the forward – weren’t listed by Fischer as one of the teams in the hunt, and president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak told reporters today that the team is likely done with its “heavy lifting” this offseason (Twitter link via Rod Boone of SI.com).

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • The Sixers, Suns, Trail Blazers, Warriors, Celtics, and Knicks were among the teams that expressed interest in DeMar DeRozan before he reached a deal with the Bulls, per Fischer. However, New York agreed to sign Evan Fournier and most of the other teams would’ve had to figure out complicated sign-and-trade arrangements to accommodate DeRozan, who never really entertained the idea of signing for the mid-level exception, sources tell Fischer.
  • The Pelicans and Kings discussed the possibility of swapping Buddy Hield and Josh Hart (via sign-and-trade) as part of New Orleans’ trade with Memphis, Fischer writes. It’s unclear if anything along those lines is still being considered now that the Pelicans’ deal with the Grizzlies has been completed — base year compensation rules would complicate a one-for-one swap.
  • The Suns are weighing their options for their final open roster spot and have gauged the trade value of 2020 lottery pick Jalen Smith, sources tell Fischer.
  • The Raptors will meet with Goran Dragic‘s camp at Summer League in Las Vegas to further discuss the point guard’s situation, according to Fischer.
  • Zach LaVine has told Bulls staffers he’s committed to improving defensively next season, Fischer says.

Kings, Warriors, Clippers Eyeing Pascal Siakam

The Kings, Warriors, and Clippers are among the teams believed to be especially “enamored” with forward Pascal Siakam, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee.

A source with knowledge of the situation tells Anderson that Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri has received numerous trade inquiries on Siakam and is “listening like a good negotiator.” However, while a deal is possible, Anderson’s source doesn’t believe it’s likely, noting that Siakam has no desire to be moved.

Siakam’s name has popped up in trade rumors throughout the offeason. John Hollinger of The Athletic first suggested in June that the former All-Star was on Golden State’s radar, and multiple subsequent reports referenced a leaguewide belief that Siakam could be had, particularly in the wake of Toronto using the No. 4 pick to draft Scottie Barnes.

Sam Amick of The Athletic said last week that Sacramento “definitely” has interest in Siakam, and Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report stated that the Trail Blazers engaged in some preliminary discussions involving the veteran forward.

If the Kings were to make an offer for Siakam, it would likely include Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley III, and at least one future first-round pick, per Anderson. While that would be a perfect salary match, it’s not clear if such a package would be enough to seriously entice Toronto, Anderson acknowledges.

Siakam is currently recovering from shoulder surgery and will likely miss a little time at the start of the 2021/22 season.

The Kings have also displayed interest in Sixers star Ben Simmons, Anderson confirms, adding that GM Monte McNair seems motivated to make a major roster move as the pressure to win begins to build. Outside Sacramento, there’s a sense that McNair and his front office – installed just a year ago – are already “feeling the heat” from Kings owner Vivek Ranadive to take a significant step forward, says Anderson.

Trade Rumors: Simmons, Baynes, Lakers, Cash

David Aldridge of The Athletic is the latest reporter to confirm that the Sixers‘ asking price for Ben Simmons remains “sky high.” According to Aldridge, the 76ers are seeking a minimum of two future first-round picks, two first-round pick swaps, and an All-Star level player in most of their discussions about Simmons. A handful of other reports within the last week have passed along details on what kind of packages Philadelphia sought from Toronto, San Antonio, and Golden State for Simmons.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA, with free agency about to begin:

  • The Raptors are exploring the trade market for center Aron Baynes, reports Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Baynes has a non-guaranteed $7.35MM salary for 2021/22 and seems unlikely to return to Toronto. If the team doesn’t find a taker on the trade market, he’s a candidate to be released.
  • In an in-depth look at how the Lakers‘ acquisition of Russell Westbrook came about, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne shares several fascinating tidbits, including the fact that Westbrook called Kawhi Leonard in 2019 to talk about playing together in Los Angeles. According to Shelburne, the Lakers had been prepared to move forward on a Buddy Hield acquisition before the opportunity to land Westbrook arose.
  • Within his recap of last week’s draft activity, John Hollinger of The Athletic provides a housekeeping notes on trades, writing that the Trail Blazers sent $2MM in cash to the Pelicans as part of their trade for the No. 43 pick, while the Thunder sent $2MM in cash to the Jazz in the Derrick Favors trade.

Fischer’s Latest: Bulls, Ball, Pelicans, Hornets, Lakers, Schröder, Knicks, More

While it’s possible the Bulls will sign restricted free agent point guard Lonzo Ball to an offer sheet in the four-year, $80MM range, doing so would be a risk, since the Pelicans could match that offer and leave Chicago empty-handed. According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, a possible three-team deal involving the Bulls, Pelicans, and Hornets could eliminate that risk and ensure Ball lands in Chicago.

The structure – which John Hollinger of The Athletic alluded to earlier today and which has seemingly gained traction, per Fischer – would see Ball going to the Bulls, Devonte’ Graham to the Pelicans, and Tomas Satoransky, Josh Hart, and draft assets to the Hornets.

Fischer cautions that this is only one idea in play and that things should become clearer once free agency opens. A sign-and-trade that only involves the Bulls and Pelicans – with Satoransky going to New Orleans – is also a possibility, he adds.

Here’s more from Fischer’s latest rumor roundup:

  • The Lakers haven’t given up on the possibility of acquiring Buddy Hield from the Kings, but they don’t appear to be working closely with Dennis Schröder‘s camp on a possible sign-and-trade arrangement, per Fischer.
  • The Knicks and Wizards are still considered possibilities for Schröder, according to Fischer. The veteran point guard is also believed to be one of the Bulls‘ targets if they can’t land Ball, Fischer notes, writing that Chicago has done its homework on DeMar DeRozan and Richaun Holmes as well.
  • The Knicks are widely believed to be a frontrunner to sign Evan Fournier, perhaps for a three-year deal worth about $18MM annually, Fischer reports. Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel are also strong candidates to re-sign with New York for deals worth about $10MM per year, Fischer adds.
  • Will Barton appears likely to return to the Nuggets, according to Fischer, who says a two-year, $32MM+ contract is a real possibility.
  • Cameron Payne is considered a good bet to re-sign with the Suns for a deal in the $6MM-per-year range, says Fischer.

Free Agent Rumors: Dinwiddie, Schröder, Oubre, Cauley-Stein

The idea of Nets free agent Spencer Dinwiddie replacing Russell Westbrook as the Wizards‘ point guard seems to be gaining momentum.

After multiple reporters mentioned the Dinwiddie-to-D.C. possibility earlier in the week, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer writes today that with Chris Paul likely to return to the Suns, Dinwiddie is expected to be the next free agent point guard off the board. A sign-and-trade that sends either Kyle Kuzma or Montrezl Harrell to the Nets and Dinwiddie to the Wizards is a real possibility, Fischer suggests.

Fischer adds that the Nets are continuing to look for ways to move off of DeAndre Jordan‘s contract.

We have more free agency rumors:

  • According to Zach Lowe of ESPN neither the Wizards nor the Kings are interested in a sign-and-trade for Dennis Schröder. That means Buddy Hield may be out as an option for the Lakers, and it will be a challenge to expand the Lakers/Wizards blockbuster any further using Schröder. As Lowe notes, a handful of teams in need of a point guard have ample cap space, so there will be few paths for the Lakers to recoup value for losing Schröder.
  • Kelly Oubre has interest in the Spurs and believes his career could flourish under Gregg Popovich and the team’s renowned development staff, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. If the Spurs renounce some of their current free agents, they’d have more than enough space to make a big free agent signing, though it’s unclear whether Oubre would be at the top of their list, especially given his skill-set/positional overlap with Keldon Johnson.
  • The Mavericks are leaning toward picking up the $4.1MM team option on center Willie Cauley-Stein, which would keep him off the free agent market, tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. MacMahon writes that Dallas likes the young rim-running big man, but the decision will ultimately hinge on whether or not an opportunity comes up that requires the team to move on from Cauley-Stein.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Lakers, Davis, Hield, Kings

Draymond Green was on board with the Warriors‘ selections at Nos. 7 and 14, according to president of basketball operations Bob Myers, who said Green texted him with the names “(Jonathan) Kuminga” and “(Moses) Moody” a few spots before Golden State was on the clock for each selection (video link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic).

Myers also said in his post-draft press conference that the Warriors will need to add some veteran players in free agency. After weeks of rumors that Golden State was looking into trading its lottery picks for veteran contributors, the team ended up using those selections to draft an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old, making a massive bet on its player development program, Slater writes for The Athletic.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • An earlier report indicated that when LeBron James and Anthony Davis spoke to Russell Westbrook about teaming up in Los Angeles, the Lakers‘ stars expressed a willingness to play more at positions they’ve resisted in the past (power forward for James, center for Davis). Jovan Buha of The Athletic confirms (via Twitter) that the plan is, in fact, to have Davis play more minutes at center next season.
  • With his deal to land Westbrook, Lakers president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka provided a reminder that he’s one of the NBA’s “most audacious operators,” says Bill Oram of The Athletic.
  • The Kings, who had been in serious discussions with the Lakers about a Buddy Hield trade, will now have to pivot and explore other options for Hield after L.A. chose to use its assets to acquire Westbrook instead, writes Jason Jones of The Athletic.
  • Kings general manager Monte McNair on Thursday when he used the No. 9 pick to add Davion Mitchell to a crowded backcourt headlined by De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. However, McNair isn’t worried about the positional overlap, as James Ham of NBC Sports California relays. “Best player available and Davion just won a national championship in a three-guard lineup,” McNair said, referring to a Baylor team that featured Mitchell, Jared Butler, and MaCio Teague.