Buddy Hield

Pacific Notes: Ayton, Clippers Arena, Hield, Kuzma

Suns center Deandre Ayton finds himself in a reserve role for the time being and he admits it’s an adjustment, as he told Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Ayton is working his way back into top shape after a 25-game league-imposed suspension. “I’ve never been through this, but it’s new,” the top overall pick of the 2018 draft said. “I’m just holding my head high and just working.” Ayton had 18 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes against Charlotte on Sunday.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Madison Square Garden Co., which owns The Forum, has sued California Governor Gavin Newsom and the state’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee over legislation that facilitates the construction of a new Clippers arena, Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times reports.  The lawsuit alleges that a bill which shields the billion-dollar development from extended environmental litigation if it met several requirements violates the state constitution, Fenno continues. MSG has two additional lawsuits pending in relation to the proposed arena, which is scheduled to open in 2024.
  • Kings guard Buddy Hield signed a four-year, $86MM extension prior to the season and the franchise is holding him to a higher standard, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee relays. Head coach Luke Walton and assistant Jesse Mermuys had a candid conversation with Hield after he recently complained about his playing time. “I talked to Luke and coach Jesse, and we just sat down and they gave me a reality check,” Hield said. “There’s stuff they need me to do and stuff I need to get better at — just challenging me — and Luke is a guy who always challenges me. Him and Jesse just bring the challenge and I accept it.”
  • Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma is aware his name has been bandied about in trade rumors but he’s trying to block it out, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. Kuzma averaged 31 points in two games this weekend with Anthony Davis sidelined. “Nah, that’s for y’all to talk about,” Kuzma said. “I’ve been through it multiple times and obviously I see it. But it don’t even matter at this point.”

Pacific Notes: Kings Tempo, Kerr, PG-13, Walton

Kings backcourt mates De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield are looking to accelerate the team’s offensive tempo as the calendar shifts to 2020, according to the Sacramento Bee’s Jason Anderson. After losing their eighth straight game on Tuesday, Hield noted that the change needs to happen soon.

“It’s a new year,” Hield said. “We’re (34) games in so we have about (48) left. It’s go time. We can’t wait anymore.” The Kings are 12-22 overall, and have a 1-7 record when held under 100 points.

Anderson notes that, under coach Dave Joerger in the 2018/19 season, the Kings’ pace ranked third in the NBA, notching 103.9 possessions per 48 minutes. Thus far under Luke Walton in 2019/20, the Kings rank last with just 97.5 possessions per 48 minutes.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr told Logan Murdoch of NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday that he is frustrated by the frequency of foul calls in today’s NBA. “I think we’ve gone overboard in rewarding offensive players,” Kerr said. “And what I mean by that is we’ve rewarded offensive players for fooling the officials and attempting to fool the officials.” 
  • The Los Angeles Times’ Andrew Greif reports that Clippers forward Paul George believes he has pinpointed the cause of his recent shooting slump, after analyzing hours of game film. “A lot of the plays I had last year before the [shoulder] injury started, was through contact and finishing through defenders,” George said George. “This year I’ve been shying away from the contact. So it’s just getting it through my head that I’m fine with the physicality.”
  • Since being called up from the Clippers’ Ontario G League affiliate, the Agua Caliente Clippers, on December 1, point guard Derrick Walton Jr. has been trying to maximize his opportunity on one of the NBA’s best teams, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register reports. The 24-year-old Walton scored a career-high 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field in a 105-87 Clippers win over Sacramento Tuesday.

Buddy Hield: Kings Have “Trust Issues”

Buddy Hield complained to reporters about “trust issues” in Sacramento after being benched for much of the fourth quarter in last night’s loss to the Timberwolves, writes Jason Jones of The Athletic.

New Kings head coach Luke Walton has been keeping Hield off the court late in close games ever since a defensive lapse cost the team a victory against San Antonio on December 6, Jones adds. Hield didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter Monday and saw just 4:06 of action in the final frame of Thursday’s double overtime loss.

“Seems like we’re all over the place,” Hield said. “… Trust issues going on, I guess. They stop believing in players. It is what it is.”

Hield’s comments capped an overall miserable night for the Kings, who fell to 12-19 with their fifth straight loss. Not only did they allow Minnesota to snap an 11-game slide, but De’Aaron Fox left the game after two minutes with back spasms and Marvin Bagley III exited in the third quarter with an injured left foot.

But the bigger issue might be Hield, who is lashing out at the organization two months after signing a four-year rookie-scale extension worth $86MM. Hield also clashed with former coach Dave Joerger after repeatedly abandoning set plays to get his own shot, and Jones notes that their uneasy relationship was part of the reason for Joerger’s dismissal.

That’s not going to happen with Walton, who has a four-year contract and the full support of management, Jones adds. He was given the freedom to remove Dewayne Dedmon from the rotation after the team signed the free agent center to a three-year, $40MM contract this summer, and he will be allowed to handle Hield as he sees fit.

Hield didn’t directly attack Walton last night and made it clear to reporters that he doesn’t feel like he’s being singled out by the coaching staff.

“I never said that,” Hield said. “I just feel like I’m one of the better players on the team, I should be in there in the fourth quarter, trying to help my team win, regardless. That’s why I’m here, right?”

Hield hit a key shot in the first overtime and played the entirety of the second one. However, he showed questionable judgment at the end as the Kings had the ball and a chance to win with 11.6 seconds remaining. Hield ran off nearly the entire clock before misfiring on a 3-pointer.

“I don’t coach the team, it is what it is,” he said. “I’m an emotional player. I express my feelings on the bench and they know how competitive I am and they hear me. I don’t say nothing quietly. They know I’m all about winning, I’m a team-first guy and nobody says I’m being selfish so that’s not the case, I’m not a selfish guy.

“I’m all about winning. When I’m not out there, it hurt my gut not to be out there. For the past two games when I feel I can make a difference. … I know they’re trying to prove a point, of course. But the point didn’t get proved; that’s a game we could have won.”

Pacific Notes: Hield, Shamet, Ayton, Green

Kings guard Buddy Hield, who signed a four-year extension worth up to $106MM last month, had been in somewhat of a shooting slump prior to his 41-point eruption on Monday, Jason Jones of The Athletic notes. Hield was averaging 19.0 PPG on 40.9 percent shooting overall and 37.7 percent from deep before he drained 11 3-pointers against the Celtics. Last season, Hield averaged 20.7 PPG on 45.8 percent shooting and 42.7 percent from 3. Hield wasn’t worried about the dip in numbers and with good reason.

“I’m getting the shots; I just need to put them down,” Hield said over the weekend. “I’m shooting the ball confidently — every shot I think I’m going to make. Yeah, the numbers, the shooting percentages don’t look right, but shooting 38 percent from 3 is not bad. But it’s bad for me because people have high expectations for me, and I have really high expectations for myself.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers guard Landry Shamet is unlikely to return during the team’s upcoming three-game road trip but he’s showing progress, coach Doc Rivers told Jovan Buha of The Athletic (Twitter link). Shamet suffered a left ankle sprain two weeks ago. The second-year guard was averaging 9.1 PPG in 29.4 MPG over 10 appearances this season prior to the injury.
  • Suns center Deandre Ayton is making good use of his time while serving out his 25-game suspension, Gina Mizell of The Athletic reports. He has been working out with the team and participating in meetings and film sessions. Coach Monty Williams has noticed Ayton’s added muscle through weight-room sessions with the strength and conditioning staff, Mizell adds. “It’s a really good time for him to grow,” Williams said. “Not just as a basketball player, but to reflect on a number of things. And it’s a great time for us to put our arms around him and show him that we are a family.”
  • Forward Draymond Green is trying his best to display leadership during the Warriors’ injury-related struggles, Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes. “For me, it can go one of two ways,” Green said. “You can either not have perspective and lose the trust of all these young guys and fail them as a veteran leader. Or you can still try to get everything out of them while teaching them, while trying to win games, but understanding it’s much bigger than that.”

Kings Notes: Bagley, Holmes, Hield

Kings big man Marvin Bagley III is ramping up his individual workouts and is close to returning from the broken thumb that has sidelined him since opening night, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Bagley, who will be re-evaluated on Wednesday, will join the club on its four-game East Coast road trip that begins Friday, but head coach Luke Walton still has to figure out how he’ll use the former No. 2 overall pick once he’s back.

As Anderson details, the Kings have won six of their last eight games with Nemanja Bjelica and Richaun Holmes in the starting lineup. The duo has been effective over the last couple weeks, so Walton will have to decide whether to reinsert Bagley into the starting five or to roll with what his been working, perhaps bringing the second-year big man off the bench.

“We’re going to get him back into practice and see how things are going, try groupings and all the things you mentioned,” Walton said. “But there’s no answer to any of that right now.”

Here’s more on the Kings:

  • After the Kings splurged in free agency over the summer on Harrison Barnes, Cory Joseph, Dewayne Dedmon, and Trevor Ariza, their modest two-year, $9.8MM deal with Richaun Holmes was almost an afterthought. But Holmes has been a key part of the club’s early-season success, as Sean Deveney of Forbes.com outlines. “Every time I coached against him, he’s killed us,” Walton said of the journeyman center. “But he’s never really played major minutes, at least from what I’ve seen. So we were excited to get him. … He has been as solid and steady as anyone we’ve had on our team.”
  • Kings shooting guard Buddy Hield was fined $25K by the NBA this week for kicking the game ball into the stands at the end of the team’s win over Boston, as Sean Cunningham of ABC10 Sacramento tweets (video link). Hield later joked on Twitter that he should’ve kicked it harder to get his money’s worth.
  • In case you missed it earlier today, Kings assistant Igor Kokoskov was named the new head coach of the Serbian National Team. He’ll likely coach Bogdan Bogdanovic, Nemanja Bjelica, and a handful of other NBA players as Serbia looks to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.

Pacific Notes: Rondo, Jones, Ayton, Bogdanovic

Rajon Rondo could be available tonight against the Jazz if his sore calf doesn’t flare up again, Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet tweets. The veteran Lakers point guard participated in a scrimmage during Thursday’s practice. Rondo, who missed Tuesday’s opener, will start “a lot” at point guard, according to coach Frank Vogel, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Rondo will play 25-30 minutes on a regular basis whether or not he starts, McMenamin writes in a separate post.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns GM James Jones is “disappointed in the actions” of center Deandre Ayton, who was suspended for 25 games by the league on Thursday for using a banned substance, Gina Mizell of The Athletic tweets. Jones added that the franchise remains “committed to his growth and development on and off the court.” Aron Baynes is expected to move into the starting lineup while Frank Kaminsky could see more action at center, Mizell writes in a separate story. Cheick Diallo, who was not part of Wednesday’s opening-night rotation,  could also be in the mix, Mizell adds.
  • The Suns will likely add a center once they’re able to move Ayton to the suspended list, John Gambadoro of 98.7 FM Phoenix tweets. Phoenix will be permitted to add a 16th player to their roster after their game against Memphis on November 2.
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic isn’t thrilled about the prospect of being a sixth man with the Kings, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and Brian Windhorst (hat tip to NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman). There’s no spot for him in the lineup with Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes at the wings and locked into long-term contracts. Bogdanovic, who scored just two points points in 22 minutes during the Kings’ opener, will be a restricted free agent after the season.

Kings Notes: Hield, Giles, Gabriel, Outlook

No player who signed a rookie scale extension this week has more potential variance from year to year than Kings shooting guard Buddy Hield. While his new deal has a base value of $86MM over four seasons, Hield can reportedly earn an extra $5MM in annual incentives, increasing the total value of the extension to $106MM.

However, maxing out on all those incentives won’t be easy, as Jason Jones and Sam Amick of The Athletic detail. For instance, more than half of Hield’s annual bonuses are tied to the following achievements:

  • Being named an All-Star ($1MM)
  • Kings make the playoffs ($500K)
  • Kings make it to Western Semifinals ($250K)
  • Kings make it to Western Finals ($500K)
  • Kings make it to NBA Finals ($1MM)

Another $2MM in annual incentives are more reachable, but are hardly locks. According to Jones and Amick, Hield could earn up to $2MM if he appears in at least 70 games and achieves the following benchmarks:

  • Makes at least 85.0% of his free throws ($500K)
  • Averages fewer than two turnovers per game ($500K)
  • Leads the NBA in made three-pointers ($500K)
  • Has a defensive rating below 110.5 ($500K)

Hield wasn’t an All-Star in 2018/19 and the Kings didn’t make the playoffs. However, he appeared in all 82 games and made 88.6% of his free throw attempts, averaged 1.8 turnovers per game, and had a defensive rating of 110.0. So if he were to repeat those numbers, he’d earn $1.5MM in bonus money.

Here are a couple more notes on the Kings:

  • Big man Harry Giles won’t be ready to start the regular season, head coach Luke Walton confirmed earlier this week (link via Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee). Giles, who is dealing with left knee soreness, isn’t yet participating in the contact portion of Kings’ practices.
  • Wenyen Gabriel‘s new contract with the Kings is a non-guaranteed one-year deal worth the minimum, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports. Gabriel, who was moved to the 15-man roster on Monday, would be a restricted free agent at season’s end if he finishes the contract.
  • James Patrick of The Sacramento Bee explores the best- and worst-case scenarios for the Kings in 2019/20.

Kings Sign Buddy Hield To Four-Year Extension

5:03pm: Hield’s extension is now official, according to a press release issued by the Kings.

“Buddy has made tremendous growth each season since joining the team and we are thrilled that he will remain a King as we continue to build an exciting future here in Sacramento,” general manager Vlade Divac said in a statement. “He has quickly established himself as an elite shooter in the league and is an important part of our young, dynamic core.”

11:24am: The Kings and shooting guard Buddy Hield have reached an agreement on a four-year rookie scale extension worth $86MM in guaranteed money, reports Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Amick, the deal will feature another $20MM in incentives. Carmichael Dave of KHTK Sports 1140 (Twitter link) first reported that the two sides were expected to finalize an agreement in advance of today’s deadline.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets that the four-year deal is worth $94MM and can reach up to $106MM, which suggests that perhaps $8MM of that $20MM in bonus money is tied to “likely” incentives rather than “unlikely” incentives, though we’ll have to wait for the full details.

A source tells Amick (Twitter link) that Hield’s incentives will be both team- and player-based, with All-Star berths and NBA Finals appearances among the ways the sharpshooter can maximize his earnings. Woj adds (via Twitter) that there will be “reachable” incentives related to three-point shooting.

Hield’s salaries will also descend annually, per Amick. Like Harrison Barnes‘ new four-year, $85MM contract with the Kings, Hield’s deal will start in the $24MM range and decline to $18MM+ by year four. That will allow the franchise to maximize its cap flexibility in later years, when pricey new deals for De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley could go into effect.

Hield’s four-year extension won’t feature any team or player options, notes Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Hield 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.

His 278 three-pointers in ’18/19 placed 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 ever made more outside shots in a season.

Despite Hield’s impressive ascent, he and the Kings had a gap to bridge in contract negotiations this fall as they attempted to get something done before the season and avoid having the former first-round pick become a restricted free agent next summer. Hield used increasingly escalating rhetoric in conversations with reporters, even hinting at a trade demand if he and the Kings couldn’t work out a new long-term deal.

A recent report indicated that Hield was seeking $110MM over four years, while Sacramento was offering $90MM. While we don’t know for sure that those numbers were accurate, the terms of his new deal suggest a compromise — at worst, he’ll earn $86MM over four seasons, but that number could be significantly higher if he hits several of his bonus benchmarks.

If Hield had reached the open market in 2020, he would’ve been eligible for a four-year, maximum-salary offer sheet worth up to an estimated $124.7MM, based on the league’s latest cap projections. However, he always seemed willing to accept less than the max from the Kings in order to avoid a year of uncertainty. Amick notes (via Twitter) that players and agents are also a little worried about the China situation negatively impacting the cap next year and beyond.

With another $24MM+ in guaranteed salary on their books for 2020/21, the Kings are extremely unlikely to be a major player in free agency next summer. And with Hield off the market, an already weak ’20 free agent class looks even less intriguing.

Jaylen Brown (Celtics), Domantas Sabonis (Pacers), and Malik Beasley (Nuggets) are among the top extension-eligible players who still have until 6:00pm eastern time to sign new deals to avoid restricted free agency next year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Charania’s Latest: Kings, J. Brown, Rockets, China, More

One complicating factor in the Kings‘ contract extension negotiations with Buddy Hield is the four-year, $85MM deal the team did with Harrison Barnes earlier this offseason, writes Shams Charania of The Athletic. According to Charania, Sacramento has already expressed some remorse over that deal, since it has set a precedent in talks for Hield and may impact the Kings’ ability to complete extensions for other key players.

Meanwhile, in other rookie scale extension news, Charania says several teams around the NBA are monitoring the negotiations between the Celtics and Jaylen Brown. Sources tell Charania that those teams are waiting to see if they’ll get a chance to “make Boston and GM Danny Ainge pay” with a big offer sheet for Brown next summer.

Here’s more from Charania:

  • The NBA/China controversy appears to be at an impasse for now, with teams around the league waiting to see how Chinese TV networks handle opening night on Tuesday. It’s not clear if China will lift its suspension of NBA broadcasts at that point or if it will continue to blackball telecasts, according to Charania.
  • With Gerald Green potentially out for the season due to a foot injury, the Rockets are “scouring the market” for help on the wing, says Charania. Houston discussed some Andre Iguodala trade scenarios with the Grizzlies, but is reluctant to go way into luxury-tax territory by trading for Iguodala, Charania adds.
  • Charania provides updates on a pair of roster battles, writing that Javonte Green is the favorite to become the Celtics‘ 15th man over Max Strus, while Marquese Chriss is “moving closer” to claiming a regular season roster spot with the Warriors.
  • Free agent swingman Iman Shumpert has spoken to a few teams, including the Bulls and Grizzlies, Charania reports.
  • Charania suggests that Bulls forward Chandler Hutchison has suffered a hamstring strain in “recent days.” His wording makes it sound like it’s either a different injury than the strain Hutchison suffered in early September or a re-aggravation of that injury. The second-year Bull is expected to miss more time, league sources tell Charania.

Buddy Hield Hints At Trade Demand

Buddy Hield says he’ll “probably look for another home” if he can’t work out an extension with the Kings in the next four days, writes Jason Jones of The Athletic. Hield’s comments after Wednesday’s preseason game indicate that the stakes are extremely high for the team as Monday’s rookie scale extension deadline approaches.

Hield is reportedly seeking $110MM over four years, which is about $20MM below the maximum four-year deal he’s eligible to receive. Sacramento’s best offer so far has been about $90MM, which Hield has been unwilling to accept. That gap raises the prospect of an unhappy season for one of the team’s key pieces, who will become a restricted free agent next summer if no deal is reached.

“I don’t know if things are going to get done,” Hield told reporters last night. “If it don’t get done, me and my team will look somewhere else, probably look for another home. Until then, we’ll see what happens here. That’s the goal, to be here, and I love Sacramento. But if they don’t want me here, they don’t feel like I’m part of the core — I like respect and loyalty and I feel like I’m part of the group that’s been getting the team back where it needs to be. So like I said I want to be here, but if they don’t want me here I’ll find somewhere else to be.”

Hield played all 82 games last season and led the team in scoring at 20.7 PPG. He was the centerpiece of the trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans in 2017 and launched the Kings’ latest rebuilding effort.

Negotiations with Hield are especially significant, Jones notes, because they may affect the way that other young players view the organization when it’s time for their extensions. GM Vlade Divac reportedly promised a super-max deal to Cousins before the trade, and the decision to change course has created a sense of distrust toward the front office among some players and their agents.

Coming off a 39-win season and with a wealth of young talent on their roster, the Kings have started to shed their reputation as a poorly-run franchise. But letting a player like Hield get away would be a major setback. Of course, if Hield reaches restricted free agency, Sacramento would be able to match any offer sheet he signs, but the club may want to risk the situation getting more contentious.

The fourth-year shooting guard believes he deserves to be rewarded for his role in putting the franchise on the right track.

“My job is to go out there and hoop and play for the max,” Hield said. “If every player is not playing for the max, I don’t know why you’re in the NBA. And some people will get the max, some people won’t, that’s how it works. But my job is to go out there and kill every night so I can be that max player. And I feel like, especially a market like this, Sacramento, you guys have been covering basketball all your life. Name one big free agent that came to Sacramento.”