Buddy Hield

Pacific Notes: Durant, Thompson, Lakers’ DPE, Kings

Kevin Durant left the Warriors because he wasn’t able to find the family atmosphere he wanted, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Durant got the championships and individual awards he was seeking when he signed with Golden State three years ago, but as he indicated in a Wall Street Journal interview this week, he couldn’t be part of the organization in the same way that Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala were.

Poole notes that Durant was impressed by the closeness those four players displayed when they came to the Hamptons to recruit him in 2016. That influenced his decision, but he still felt like an outsider. He wasn’t drafted to the organization like Curry, Thompson and Green, and he wasn’t instrumental in the Warriors’ first title in 40 years the way that Iguodala was.

Poole adds that the family dynamic faded over Durant’s three years with Golden State as players spent more time with their actual families. The Currys had two more children, Iguodala got married and Green became more devoted to fatherhood. Green was a close friend for Durant in his first season with the team, but he hung out with DeMarcus Cousins more often last year.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Steve Kerr tells Joe Vardon of The Athletic that it’s going to be like “Year 1” as he guides a much different Warriors roster. While many key pieces are gone from the championship years, Kerr said surviving while Thompson heals from a torn ACL will be the biggest challenge. “Losing Kevin, Andre, Shaun (Livingston) obviously, those are huge losses,” he said. “Losing Klay on top of all that really changes the way we’re going to have to play at both ends. Klay was always an integral part of everything. Movement on offense, but also the guarding of the ballhandler on defense, switching onto bigs. So until he gets back, we’ve got to re-imagine everything and adapt accordingly.”
  • The Lakers are seeking a disabled player exception after Cousins’ injury, but it’s likely just a tool that may be used later in the season, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. There are few options who could make a difference at a $1.75MM salary, which is half of what Cousins is owed. However, minimum contracts decrease through the year, and the DPE will be more valuable once buyout season arrives.
  • Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic will be competing not just for minutes in the Kings‘ backcourt, but for contract extensions as well, notes James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Kings Hoping To Sign Buddy Hield To Extension

The Kings view shooting guard Buddy Hield as a part of their long-term future and would like to lock him up to a contract extension before the season begins, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Speaking to Anderson, GM Vlade Divac said that the two sides are trying to work toward a new deal for Hield.

“We are … every day is working and Buddy’s a big part of this team, and we’ll figure something out down the road,” Divac said. “We’re working on it and we’ll figure out something. Buddy is (a) very important piece to this franchise.”

Hield is one of 17 players who remains eligible for a rookie scale extension before this year’s October 21 deadline. Ben Simmons, Jamal Murray, and Caris LeVert have already signed extensions, which will go into effect for the 2020/21 season. If Hield doesn’t ink a new contract of his own, he’d be on track for restricted free agency in the summer of 2020.

Based on the NBA’s latest salary cap projection for ’20/21, Hield would be eligible for up to nearly $170MM on a five-year contract, though if the Kings intended to put a five-year, maximum-salary offer on the table, a deal would likely already be done.

Still, few players have a better case for a rookie scale extension this fall than Hield, who enjoyed an underrated breakout season in 2018/19, establishing new career highs in PPG (20.7), RPG (5.0), APG (2.5), and several other categories. He increased his productivity while maintaining his impressive efficiency, converting 42.7% of 7.9 three-point attempts per game.

Hield’s 278 three-pointers in 2018/19 place him seventh on the NBA’s all-time list for threes in a single season. Only Stephen Curry (four times), James Harden (2018/19), and Paul George (2018/19) have made more outside shots in a season.

Hield will be the first of several young Kings players who require long-term investments — Bogdan Bogdanovic will be a restricted free agent next summer at the same time De’Aaron Fox and Harry Giles become extension-eligible, while Marvin Bagley III could sign a new long-term deal as early as 2021.

And-Ones: Wiseman, Barrett, Dedmon, Barbosa, DeMarco

The latest 2020 mock draft has Memphis freshman center James Wiseman going to the Knicks with the No. 1 pick. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has Georgia guard Anthony Edwards going to the Cavaliers at No. 2 and North Carolina guard Cole Anthony heading to the Suns at No. 3.

We have more from around the basketball world:

Pacific Notes: Looney, Lakers, Suns, Kings

When it comes to Warriors players facing free agency this summer, the focus has rightly been on Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, but those aren’t the only players on the roster with expiring contracts.

One key role player up for a new deal this offseason is Kevon Looney, who played regular minutes at center this season as DeMarcus Cousins and Damian Jones dealt with injuries. Now, his role has increased once again with Cousins expected to miss the rest of the playoffs, perhaps putting him in a position to boost his value as he nears free agency.

The Warriors hold Looney’s Bird rights, allowing the team to go over the cap to re-sign him. But if Thompson and Durant return, it’s not clear how high Golden State would be willing to go to retain a role player. Asked about Looney’s upcoming free agency, teammate Andre Iguodala acknowledged that a more lucrative payday may await the youngster elsewhere.

“I hope he gets paid,” Iguodala said, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic (video link). “So I hope he doesn’t come back because I hope he gets all the money.”

Here’s more out of the Pacific:

  • Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka met with Sixers assistant Monty Williams earlier this week to discuss the club’s head coaching vacancy, and there’s an expectation on both sides that a second visit will occur at some point, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Williams is one of three known candidates for the Lakers’ job, along with Tyronn Lue and Juwan Howard.
  • The Suns‘ approach to the offseason will hinge largely on where the team’s first-round pick lands in the lottery, as Gina Mizell of The Athletic explains. Mizell sketches out multiple potential paths for Phoenix’s offseason — one that involves Zion Williamson, one featuring Ja Morant, and one in which the Suns land outside the top two in the draft.
  • In a story published shortly after Dave Joerger was let go by the Kings, Jason Jones of The Athletic passes along some fascinating tidbits on Joerger’s tenure in Sacramento. According to Jones, Joerger never really seemed to connect with youngsters Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles, favorites of the front office. Sources also told Jones that Joerger favored drafting Luka Doncic over Bagley, and would have been on board with trading Buddy Hield before the 2018/19 season.

Kings In Position To Be Active At Trade Deadline

Sacramento remains the only team in the NBA to have any cap space on its 2018/19 payroll, and as the February 7 trade deadline fast approaches, this means that the Kings are positioned to be a major player in the trade market, if they so choose, writes James Ham of NBC Sports California.

That being said, the Kings aren’t interested in taking on any long-term deals with their cap space unless a player on a long-term deal can help the team win now and in the future. Additionally, the team is reportedly not interested in taking on any expiring contracts to help another club save money unless assets are attached to said contract.

So, what do the Kings want? Per Ham, the Kings are motivated to add more length and size at the small forward position, while also interested in adding a veteran point guard to bring off the bench in a back-up/potential mentorship role for budding star De’Aaron Fox.

[RELATED: Kings Among Teams Interested in Jeremy Lin]

In addition to their $11MM in cap space, the Kings have the expiring contracts of Zach Randolph, Kosta Koufos, and Ben McLemore to worth with. Swingman Iman Shumpert is also in the final year of his contract, but has provided a veteran spark to a young team still competing for a playoff spot. Then again, Shumpert is only 6’5″ and plays small forward. As mentioned above, the team is interested in adding length to that position, so Shumpert could also be expendable if an attractive enough deal comes along.

As for the Kings’ current assets, Sacramento has no interest in moving any of its young talent (e.g. Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Marvin Bagley, or Buddy Hield) unless it means the team is making a massive long-term investment in a star-level player. And even then, the aforementioned core group of youngsters is close to untouchable.

In Ham’s view, general manager Vlade Divac should look to be active, as Sacramento has worked hard to be a player in the trade market and is the only team with cap space to use. However, the Kings should also be wary of using that cap space to take on future money that could eat into future cap room. Ultimately, Ham would be surprised to see no moves made before the deadline.

Pacific Notes: Cousins, Jerebko, Hield, Rondo

A blue curtain made sure the event was private, but behind that barrier Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins participated in a scrimmage this afternoon, the latest sign of progress toward his season debut, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Poole states that there probably won’t be much notice before Cousins is activated, but today’s scrimmage is another reason to hope it will happen soon. He notes that the team doesn’t normally use the curtain that divides its practice facility unless a rehabbing player is close to returning.

Searching for a solution at center, the Warriors will treat any progress from the former All-Star as welcome news. After rupturing his Achilles last season, Cousins joined the Warriors on a one-year deal with the understanding that he might not be able to play until January or February. Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and Jonas Jerebko are holding down the position in the meantime, but the defending champs frequently find themselves at a size disadvantage.

“Loon is playing his tail off as an undersized center against bigs that are a couple inches taller than him and probably just as strong, or stronger,” Kevin Durant said. “He’s got his work cut out for him, as well as Draymond (Green). It’s on us to help out a little more on the rebounding, but teams are spreading us out with the 3-point line around just one big. So we’ve got to pick and choose our spots when we want to go in there and help in the paint and when we could contest 3s, because both of those things are beating us right now.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Jerebko has been a better fit with the Warriors than some other free agents the team has signed, notes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. “He doesn’t lack confidence, and that’s the biggest thing for us,” Stephen Curry said. “Night to night, not really knowing how many shots you are going to get – he’s ready to play. We knew he could shoot and he will continue to have open looks and he just has to have the confidence to knock them down.”
  • Many Kings players have improved this year, but no one more than Buddy Hield, who is bidding for an All-Star appearance, writes Hector Amezcua of The Sacramento Bee. Hield wasn’t certain to be a starter when the season began, but is averaging 20.4 PPG and shooting 44% from 3-point range.
  • Rajon Rondo‘s clutch performance in the Christmas Day win over the Warriors gives the Lakers hope of staying competitive while LeBron James is sidelined with a groin injury, according to Joey Ramirez of NBA.com.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Durant, Zubac

The Kings haven’t necessarily solidified a spot in the deep Western Conference playoff picture but there’s still reason to celebrate given their 18-15 record at this point in the season. Jason Jones of The Athletic examines how the team has drastically improved in 2018/19.

The Kings have benefited from the monstrous strides De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield have taken this season. That backcourt, Jones writes, is emerging as one of the most fun to watch in the NBA.

Of course contributions from other young veterans like Willie Cauley-Stein and Bogdan Bogdanovic have helped the Kings at least appear to turn a corner early on.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division today:

  • Potential free agent Kevin Durant hasn’t exactly tipped his hand as to what he plans to do this summer but he did tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he wants to make sure he can get “as much money as [he] can on his next deal.” The Warriors are the only team eligible to offer him a five-year max contract, worth around $221MM. That’s one year and nearly $60MM more than any other team.
  • Although he can’t vote for his own player, Suns coach Igor Kokoskov told Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic and the rest of the media that he thinks more people should consider Deandre Ayton when discussing potential Rookie of the Year winners. In his last five games, Ayton has averaged 22.8 points and 15.6 rebounds per game.
  • While it’s not always easy to find three pure centers minutes in a regulation basketball match, that’s one problem Lakers coach Luke Walton will be happy to welcome after two solid spot starts from third-stringer Ivica Zubac this week. The third-year center dropped 16 and 11 on the Pelicans on last Friday and followed that up with 19 points and four blocks against the Grizzlies on Saturday. “Luke’s always been saying to me that he trusts me,” the 21-year-old big man told Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. “If there’s a chance to put me on the floor, he’s gonna put me there and he’s gonna always trust me like every other player on the team. I’ve been doing the same stuff every day”.

Pacific Notes: Green, Ingram, LeBron, Hield

Draymond Green set the record straight on his relationship with Kevin Durant after the Warriors‘ game on Sunday, telling reporters that he and Durant won’t be broken apart because of a previous locker room incident between the All-Star duo.

Green was suspended in November following a heated verbal exchange with Durant, an altercation that included several profanities and Green telling Durant, “We don’t need you,” according to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes. Green’s anger stemmed from a disagreement in the final seconds of a Nov. 15 game, with the Warriors labeling his conduct as “detrimental to the team”.

“I know the hope is that [incident] will make us fall off, but it ain’t,” Green said, according to ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “It’ll never happen like that. We good.”

Green had a major voice in recruiting Durant back in 2016, with both stars playing key roles in helping the Warriors win titles in 2017 and 2018. Golden State has vastly improved since placing the locker room incident behind them, winning eight of their last 10 games and sporting a 23-11 record entering the final week of 2018.

“We sat down and rapped,” Green said of his discussion with Durant. “And that’s it. It ain’t really about re-creating the wheel. Brothers get into it all the time. Y’all sit down and y’all figure it out, ain’t nobody else going to figure it out for you. Can’t nobody else figure it out for you. We sit down as men, we figure it out and we move forward.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division today:

  • Longtime G League guard Andre Ingram is continuing to strive for an NBA career, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times writes. Ingram had a storybook NBA debut this past spring, getting a call-up with the Lakers after 11 straight seasons in the G League. Ingram currently plays for the team’s minor league affiliate, the South Bay Lakers, in hopes of receiving another shot during the 2018/19 season.
  • LeBron James has apologized for quoting lyrics that included the line, “getting that jewish money” on his Instagram account. “Apologies, for sure, if I offended anyone,” James told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “That’s not why I chose to share that lyric. I always [post lyrics]. That’s what I do. I ride in my car, I listen to great music, and that was the byproduct of it. So I actually thought it was a compliment, and obviously it wasn’t through the lens of a lot of people. My apologies. It definitely was not the intent, obviously, to hurt anybody.”
  • Kings guard Buddy Hield revealed last week that several websites recorded his age wrong, including the NBA’s official publication at NBA.com. Hield turned 26 years old on Dec. 17, despite most outlets listing him as turning 25. “That’s their fault, not my fault,” Hield said, according to Benjamin Hoffman of the New York Times. “The first time I saw it on Wikipedia, my mom said, ‘Why do they have your age wrong?’ I said, ‘I have no idea.’”

Poll: Kings’ Hot Start

The Kings have been one of the season’s biggest surprises so far, as they have jumped out to a 6-4 start. As a result of strong 3-point shooting, the league’s second fastest pace and development from several young players, the Kings have impressed many through their first 10 games.

This is a Kings team that hasn’t won more than 33 games in a season since 2007/08, so a strong start is certainly something that has caught attention. While the team hasn’t been overwhelming on either end of the floor (they are just about league average on both ends), they have gotten strong play from De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein and Nemanja Bjelica.

In his second season in the league, Fox has made major strides. Heading into the Kings’ loss to the Bucks on Sunday, Fox was averaging 19 points, 7.8 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, Hield is providing another capable scoring option, averaging 19.8 points per game while hitting 48.9% of his 3-pointers. Bjelica has been a great addition for the Kings, as his floor-spacing has been much needed in the starting lineup. So far, Bjelica is averaging 15.6 points per game while shooting a staggering 55.3% on 3-pointers. Finally, Cauley-Stein has improved as a rim-running big, averaging 16.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.

However, teams have gotten off to fast starts only to fade throughout the remainder of the season. Most recently it was the Magic, who got off to an 8-4 start last season, only to finish 25-57. While that Magic team surprised many early in the season due to some unsustainable shooting, there are certainly ways for the Kings to fall back down to the bottom of the standings moving forward.

Perhaps the development from their young players, their key free agency additions and their style of play will lead them to more success than anticipated. What do you think? Vote in the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote

Kings Exercise Options On Five Players

The Kings showed their commitment to the youth movement by exercising the rookie scale options on five players — guards De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, small forward Justin Jackson and big men Harry Giles and Skal Labissiere, according to a team press release.

Teams have until the end of the month to make rookie scale option decisions but Sacramento beat the deadline by nearly a week. The biggest salary commitment, due to his status as the fifth overall pick in the 2017 draft, goes to Fox. He’ll have a salary just shy of $6.44MM for the 2019/20 season. Hield’s fourth-year option will result in a $4.86MM cap hit.

Jackson’s third-year option is worth $3.28MM while Giles will make approximately $2.58MM. Labissiere’s fourth-year option will cost nearly $2.34MM.

All of those affirmative option decisions were expected with the possible exception of Labissiere’s contract. However, he’s off to a productive start this season, averaging 8.5 PPG and 4.7 RPG.

Fox is emerging as one of the cornerstones of the franchise, averaging 17.6 PPG, 6.6 APG and 1.4 steals through five games during his sophomore campaign. Hield is scoring at a 14.0 PPG clip thus far while making 43.2% of his 3-point tries. Jackson has posted 9.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 1.6 APG, while Giles is averaging 3.8 PPG and 3.0 RPG while working his way back from major knee issues.

You can find all the rookie scale option decisions around the league here.