Buddy Hield

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.”

More DeMarcus Cousins Trade Fallout, Reactions

A player of DeMarcus Cousins‘ caliber doesn’t get moved often, so it’s no surprise that there are plenty of notes, reactions, and details to round up after the deal got done. On Monday, we published a pair of posts that covered some of the fallout from the deal. We’ve got more to cover today, so let’s dive in…

  • In a piece for The Ringer, Kevin O’Connor examines the ripple effect of the Cousins trade and explains why Vivek Ranadive‘s fondness for Buddy Hield resulted in a deal with the Pelicans. A source tells O’Connor that the Suns were willing to offer multiple first-round picks – including one or both of their selections from the Heat – and that the Nuggets were believed to be willing to part with anyone except Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray for Cousins.
  • Pursuing Cousins was a last-ditch attempt by Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak to save their jobs with the Lakers, according to Sam Amick of USA Today (via Twitter). Amick adds that Buss “really wanted” Cousins, though Kupchak handled the talks with Sacramento. Those discussions came to an end when L.A. was unwilling to include Brandon Ingram.
  • Cousins got emotional last night as he tried to say goodbye to Sacramento (Twitter video link via Carmichael Dave of KHTK Sports 1140). Cousins told Sean Cunningham of ABC10 (Twitter link) today that he’ll always love the city, and plans to remain a presence in the community. According to Cunningham (via Twitter), Cousins also said today that he still hasn’t talked to Kings GM Vlade Divac — it sounds like that may not happen.
  • The Pelicans have now paired two Kentucky stars in their frontcourt, but don’t expect John Calipari to make the move to the NBA to coach Cousins and Anthony Davis. Appearing on The Dan Patrick Show this week, Calipari was asked in jest if he might end up in New Orleans, and the Kentucky head coach shot down the idea, saying that’s it’s “not happening” (link via The Detroit News).

Kings Trade DeMarcus Cousins To Pelicans

FEBRUARY 20: The trade is official, according to press release issued by the Kings and Pelicans. Sacramento has waived Matt Barnes to clear room for the extra incoming player.DeMarcusCousins vertical

“It was time for a change and I decided this was the best direction for the organization,” Kings GM Vlade Divac said in a statement. “Winning begins with culture and character matters. With the upcoming draft class set to be one of the strongest in a decade, this trade will allow us to build the depth needed for a talented and developing roster moving forward. We thank DeMarcus for his contributions and wish him all the best in New Orleans. The fans in Sacramento are the best in the world and we are all committed to building a team that will continue to make Sacramento proud.”

For more notes, reactions, and details on the deal, check out our posts from earlier today, plus our initial Sunday report below.

FEBRUARY 19: After publicly vowing earlier this season that he wouldn’t be moved, the Kings have agreed to trade DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders tweets that the deal consists of Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, New Orleans’ 2017 first-round pick (top-three protected), and Philadelphia’s 2017 second-round pick going to Sacramento, with Cousins and Omri Casspi heading to New Orleans. David Aldridge of TNT (Twitter link) initially reported that the Kings would also get a 2019 first-rounder, but he has since issued a correction, tweeting that New Orleans balked at the Kings’ request to include that pick.

Earlier this evening, news broke that the Kings and Pelicans had engaged in discussions about a possible Cousins deal. At the time, it was reported by Scotto that the standout center could potentially be shipped to New Orleans in exchange for a package involving Hield, a 2017 first-round pick and an additional first-round pick. Later, in an article published at The Vertical, Wojnarowski suggested that expiring contracts could also be involved.

Following the first report, Wojnarowski tweeted that Kings general manager Vlade Divac had formally presented what the front office believed to be the two best trade proposals to team owner Vivek Ranadive. Previously, despite concerns throughout the organization about Cousins’ temperament, Ranadive was intent on holding onto the franchise pillar, and Divac had publicly reiterated that stance.

For the Kings, it’s an abrupt about-face, and it’s fair to wonder if Divac’s public and private declarations that Cousins wouldn’t be moved will hurt his credibility with agents and players in the future, as Wojnarowski tweets.

Over the last several hours, other teams, including the Suns and Lakers, were linked to the Kings’ Cousins talks, though the discussions with New Orleans were viewed as the most serious. According to Wojnarowski (Twitter links), the Lakers balked at Sacramento’s asking price and opted against including Brandon Ingram in a package.

Ultimately, the Kings aren’t getting a massive haul in return for their All-NBA big man, though it’s worth noting that several pre-draft reports back in June indicated that the team was very high on Hield. Still, it’s surprising that the former Oklahoma sharpshooter and a draft pick that may not even end up in the lottery are the centerpieces of a Cousins deal. Howard Beck of Bleacher Report tweets there wasn’t much of a market for the All-Star big man, according to several executives.

The deal also isn’t necessarily great news for Cousins, who will now be ineligible to receive a Designated Veteran Extension this summer. The 26-year-old would have met the criteria for a new deal worth 35% of the cap if he remained in Sacramento, and there were indications in recent weeks that both sides were on board with the idea of getting something done. Now that he’s changing teams, Cousins will be eligible for a far more modest extension.

Cousins’ agent Jarinn Akana suggested earlier today that his client wasn’t likely to sign an extension this summer with any team that traded for him, as ESPN’s Marc Stein reported (Twitter links). However, that could have been a negotiating tactic — if teams were worried about their ability to re-sign Cousins, they may have been reluctant to trade for him, in which case he would’ve remained with the Kings and been eligible for a super-max deal. For what it’s worth, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN tweets that the Pelicans are confident that they can ultimately lock up Cousins to a new contract. If New Orleans can’t extend Cousins prior to free agency, he’ll hit the open market in 2018.

In recent weeks, the Pelicans had been linked to centers such as Jahlil Okafor and Brook Lopez as they dangled a first-round pick in an effort to find a frontcourt partner for Anthony Davis. The team had reportedly been offering its 2018 pick, having been reluctant to move its first-rounder in 2017, given this year’s strong draft class. However, it makes sense that New Orleans was willing to change course for a player of Cousins’ caliber.

With Cousins and Davis in the frontcourt, the Pelicans will feature two of the league’s very best big men. Cousins, who was named to the All-NBA second team last year, has arguably been even better in 2016/17, averaging a career-high 27.8 PPG to go along with 10.7 RPG and 4.9 APG. His presence on the Pelicans’ roster may have an impact on Jrue Holiday‘s decision in free agency this summer. Holiday is on an expiring deal, but Davis has been lobbying the veteran point guard to re-sign with New Orleans.

This move will also have draft-related ramifications for the Sixers and Bulls. Chicago had been in line to receive Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2017 if it fell outside of the top 10. With Cousins no longer on their roster though, the Kings seem likely to slip in the standings, which is bad news for the Bulls. Chicago will receive a 2017 second-rounder from the Kings if Sacramento’s first-rounder falls in the top 10.

As for the Sixers, they’ll have the option to swap first-round picks with Sacramento if the Kings retain their selection. As our 2016/17 Reverse Standings show, Philadelphia currently has the league’s fifth-worst record, while the Kings rank 11th, but things are tight enough that those spots could flip quickly.

For the deal to become official, the Kings will have to remove at least one more player from their roster, via release or trade. The team is also considered likely to waive Galloway after acquiring him, per Wojnarowski (via Twitter). The third-year guard needed to be included in the swap for salary-matching purposes.

In other cap-related housekeeping notes, Evans’ deal includes a 15% trade kicker, which will add an extra $458K to his salary. The Pelicans will pay that trade bonus, though it will be charged to Sacramento’s cap. Each team will create a modest trade exception in the deal as well — the Kings’ TPE should be worth Casspi’s salary ($2.963MM), while the Pelicans’ TPE should be worth Hield’s salary ($3.517MM)

Luke Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

More Notes, Reactions, Updates On Cousins Trade

In the wake of Sunday night’s DeMarcus Cousins trade agreement between the Pelicans and Kings, we rounded up several notes, reactions, and details on the deal earlier today. Updates and reactions continue to trickle in, however, so let’s round up the latest…

News/rumors:

  • A source familiar with the Kings‘ thinking tells Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that Kings owner Vivek Ranadive believes Buddy Hield has “Steph Curry potential,” which was a key motivator for Sacramento. Given Hield’s struggles so far to adjust to the NBA, that seems like an awfully optimistic projection.
  • The Celtics never had any real interest in Cousins, league sources tell Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. According to Himmelsbach, Boston “could not overlook all the warning signs” associated with the star center. “It’s just really hard when you can’t find one basketball person [to vouch for him],” one source said.
  • Although an earlier report from Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical suggested that the Kings would probably waive Langston Galloway after acquiring him, Bobby Marks of The Vertical now writes that the team is planning to hang onto Galloway, who has a $5.434MM player option for 2017/18.
  • The Pelicans likely aren’t done after striking a deal for Cousins, according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate, who tweets that he expects the team to try to claim, sign, or trade for a backcourt player.
  • An earlier report suggested that the Pelicans offered Tyreke Evans to the Sixers in a package for Jahlil Okafor, but Bob Cooney of The Philadelphia Daily News (Twitter link) hears from a source that Evans wasn’t a part of that trade scenario.

Reactions/analysis:

  • The acquisition of Cousins is a franchise-altering move that will return the Pelicans to relevancy in the NBA landscape, writes Justin Verrier of ESPN.com.
  • Michael Lee of The Vertical makes the case that the Kings‘ timing in trading Cousins – interrupting the standout center’s enjoyment of All-Star weekend – was a microcosm of how they handled his entire stint in Sacramento. Sunday represented one last night of Kings chaos for Cousins, as Ben Golliver of SI.com details.
  • While the Cousins trade should mark rock bottom for the Kings, things could get even worse for the franchise before they get better, says Tom Ziller of SBNation.com.
  • The Kings‘ decision to trade Cousins is the “sanest move they’ve made in years,” argues Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. “This was a definite culture move,” a source with insight into the deal told Beck. “Enough was enough.”
  • Bobby Marks of The Vertical provides a full breakdown of the swap from both the Pelicans‘ and Kings‘ perspectives, with a focus on the salary cap details.
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