Buddy Hield

Kings Rumors: Fox, Haliburton, Simmons, Harris, Hield, Barnes

De’Aaron Fox‘s name has surfaced more frequently in trade rumors as of late, after Sam Amick of The Athletic reported earlier in the month that the Kings don’t consider the point guard untouchable. Like other reporters, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports has heard Sacramento’s internal plan is to continue building around Fox and Tyrese Haliburton, but Haynes also says the team has received an “abundance of interest” in its top two guards and doesn’t consider them entirely off-limits.

For his part, Fox is aware of the trade rumors and isn’t ruling out the possibility of being on the move by the February 10 trade deadline.

“You try not to think about it, but you know it’s a business and anything can happen,” Fox told Haynes. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Obviously, you see reports on Twitter. Am I worried about it? No. Can it happen? Yeah, it can definitely happen.”

The Kings haven’t come particularly close to ending their lengthy postseason drought since Fox joined the team in 2017. Still, the 24-year-old says he has “built a life” in Sacramento and wouldn’t be eager to join a new team, even if he recognizes it’s a possibility.

“I’m not going to sit here and say I want to get traded, but anything can happen in this business,” he said to Haynes. “You’ve seen the best players in the league get traded. You can’t think you’re safe. But I love being here because for years, the Kings were the only professional team in the city. Kings fans love the Kings. That’s what I’ve always loved about it. And me coming from Kentucky, that’s how it was. Even when we were good at football, no one cared. It was a basketball school. This is a basketball city and these fans have a genuine love for the Kings and the players, and it’s something that I love.”

Here’s more on the Kings:

  • In his discussion with Haynes, Fox also shared some thoughts on his offensive role: “I think I’m a scorer. Just with the work that I continue to put in and knowing what I do when the cameras are off. Just being one of the best scorers in the league, truthfully. I think I’ve proven that I can facilitate at times when need be. I was top five in assists before, but my game is more of being a scorer. Just being able to put all of that together and being one of the best scorers.”
  • According to Haynes, the Sixers “canvassed the prospect” of a Ben Simmons trade involving Fox in recent days, but those discussions were just exploratory. For what it’s worth, Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com (Twitter link) continues to report that Philadelphia likely wouldn’t be interested in Fox as the centerpiece of a Simmons deal.
  • In his latest Substack column, Marc Stein says he has heard more than one rival executive classify the Kings as the closest thing to “favorites” in the Simmons sweepstakes, in part because there’s a sense they could be convinced to take on Tobias Harris‘ oversized contract.
  • Stein notes that the Kings are engaged with multiple teams on multiple scenarios, so their deadline could go in a number of different directions. According to Stein, there’s an expectation that Sacramento will trade Buddy Hield and there’s a “rising belief” that the team could also move Harrison Barnes. Marvin Bagley III remains a prime trade candidate too.
  • Sources tell Haynes that the Kings are expected to be “aggressively active” at the trade deadline.

Stein’s Latest: Simmons, Hawks, Ingles, Cavs, Blazers

Although it’s possible the Sixers will trade Ben Simmons before the February 10 deadline, their preferred scenario would be to convince him to rejoin the team and play as much of the rest of the season as possible, a source familiar with Philadelphia’s thinking tells veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein.

Trading Simmons in the next month for the best available package would improve the Sixers’ chances of competing in the short term, but the team fears that taking that route may mean squandering an opportunity to land a true complementary star for Joel Embiid, says Stein. Convincing Simmons to play the rest of this season would improve the club’s short-term outlook while also leaving the door open for Philadelphia to make an offseason play for a star, should someone like Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal become available.

One league source who spoke to Stein suggested keeping an eye on the Hawks as a potential suitor for Simmons. Atlanta badly needs to upgrade its defense and president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk said this week that he plans to be active at the trade deadline in an effort to improve his struggling squad (Twitter link via Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

The Hawks don’t have the sort of trade candidate who would appeal to the 76ers as the centerpiece of a Simmons trade, but have several young players and draft picks they could put on the table, as Stein observes.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • The Jazz considered the idea of trading Joe Ingles during the offseason, but decided against it due to concerns about how it would affect the team’s culture, says Stein. However, Danny Ainge has been hired by Utah since then and may be less reluctant to move Ingles if his expiring contract is necessary to land a defensive-minded wing.
  • The Cavaliers continue to seek more play-making after acquiring Rajon Rondo from the Lakers, per Stein. Cleveland has lost two key guards – Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio – to season-ending injuries.
  • According to Stein, teams are keeping a close eye on how the Trail Blazers handle Damian Lillard‘s abdominal injury, since an extended absence for the star point guard would likely impact Portland’s approach at the trade deadline.
  • There has been an “undeniable uptick” in trade discussions around the NBA since the holidays, according to Stein, who identifies Myles Turner, Jerami Grant, Dennis Schröder, Eric Gordon, Terrence Ross, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley III, Robert Covington, and Jusuf Nurkic as some of the players considered league-wide to be this year’s most likely trade candidates.

Pacific Notes: Fox, Haliburton, Hield, Biyombo, Clippers

It hasn’t been a good season so far for Sacramento, the only team to have fired a head coach since opening night. But with so many other Western Conference teams struggling, the 16-23 Kings currently occupy a play-in spot, with a half-game lead over San Antonio for the No. 10 seed.

The Kings are extremely motivated to make the postseason this year and would be interested in making trades that both improve their playoff chances and give them “a runway for sustained success in the future,” says Sam Amick of The Athletic. According to Amick, team owner Vivek Ranadive has given general manager Monte McNair the green light to make any roster moves necessary to meet those goals.

It has frequently been reported that Sacramento’s most likely trade candidates are Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley III. Amick confirms that the team’s preference would be to retain – and build around – guards De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. However, Fox and Haliburton aren’t viewed as untouchable, according to Amick, who says no Kings player is considered entirely off the table in trade discussions.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Speaking to Mark Medina of NBA.com, Kings wing Buddy Hield acknowledged that he thought he would be traded to the Lakers during the offseason. However, it doesn’t sound like Hield is dwelling on what could have been — or worried about the possibility of being on the move before the trade deadline. “If it happened, it happened. If it didn’t, it didn’t,” Hield told Medina. “But it’s basketball, and you have to live with it. It’s the business side of it. At the end of the day, I still have a job. I can go to all 30 teams in the league. As long as I have a job, I’m happy.”
  • The Suns‘ addition of Bismack Biyombo on a 10-day contract has been a major success so far, according to Jeremy Cluff of The Arizona Republic. Biyombo has made a case for a rest-of-season deal by averaging 13.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 2.0 BPG on 11-of-13 shooting off the bench in his first two games with the team.
  • The Clippers‘ depth has been tested recently both on and off the court, writes Mirjam Swanson of the Southern California News Group. Besides missing several players due to injuries and COVID-19, the coaching staff has also been depleted, with assistant Dan Craig recovering from knee surgery and several other coaches testing positive for COVID-19. Fortunately, head coach Tyronn Lue exited the protocols today and is prepared to return to the Clippers’ bench, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link).

Kings Shopping Hield, Bagley But Not Pursuing Sabonis, Turner

The Kings are still shopping a package including Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley III in hopes of getting a quality player but are not actively pursuing Pacers’ big men Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee reports.

The Kings have not engaged the Pacers in talks for Sabonis or Turner since last week, when a report surfaced that Indiana was open to dealing its top big men, as well as guard Caris LeVert. Sacramento had displayed interest in Sabonis in the past.

It’s somewhat curious that Sacramento wouldn’t target those big men for its guard-heavy roster. Sabonis is a two-time All-Star and the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, though, as Anderson notes, he’s a 31% 3-point shooter and is not considered a strong defender. Turner is the league’s top shot-blocker and would help space the floor with his 3-point shooting.

Kings GM Monte McNair is looking to make a big move and the Sixers’ Ben Simmons could still be a target. The Kings were one of several teams named as having continued interest in the disgruntled Philadelphia star, who has not played this season.

Hield is averaging 15.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG and 2.1 APG. Bagley, who will be a free agent (restricted or unrestricted) next summer, was benched earlier in the season but was moved into the rotation last month. The No. 2 pick of the 2018 draft is averaging 7.8 PPG and 6.3 RPG.

Pacific Notes: Clippers, Hield, Wainright, Davis, Bagley III

Following a strong start to the season, the Clippers have lost seven of their last 10 games and currently own a 12-12 record. Los Angeles has seen good and bad moments this year, but head coach Tyronn Lue believes the team can still improve its play-making, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register writes.

“We had the plays that were there to be made,” Lue said after the team lost 104-99 to Sacramento on Saturday. “We just didn’t make them.”

Los Angeles, playing without Kawhi Leonard (torn ACL rehab), hoped to address its play-making issues by re-signing Reggie Jackson and acquiring Eric Bledsoe this past summer. Nevertheless, the franchise clearly has some work to do if it hopes to make the playoffs for a fourth straight season.

There’s more from the Pacific Division tonight:

  • James Ham of The Kings Beat examines whether the Kings can survive the Buddy Hield experience. Hield, who’s averaging 15.9 points on 39% shooting this season, has played noticeably better during the team’s wins and worse during its losses.
  • The Suns‘ packed early-season schedule and injuries prompted head coach Monty Williams to give Ishmail Wainright a little playing time, notes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic (video link). Williams hadn’t planned on giving players on two-way contracts minutes entering the season.
  • The Kings defeated the Clippers in its most recent game behind strong performances from Terence Davis and Marvin Bagley III, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee writes. Davis finished with 28 points and four rebounds (6-of-11 from deep), while Bagley recorded 12 points and 11 rebounds in just under 20 minutes off the bench.

Buddy Hield Signs With New Agent

Kings swingman Buddy Hield has changed his representation, signing with Icona Agency’s Diana Day, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Hield had previously been represented by Brandon Rosenthal of Landmark Sports Agency.

During the 2019 offseason, Hield inked a four-year, $86MM rookie contract extension with Sacramento. The deal also included $20MM in certain contract incentives, tied in to All-Star and NBA Finals appearances. He’s in the second year of that contract, which will expire in 2024.

Hield is enjoying a strong individual season with the Kings as a reserve shooting guard. He is averaging 17.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.1 SPG and 0.9 SPG. Through 14 contests for the 2021/22 season, Hield is shooting .421/.408/.833.

The 6’4″ wing was selected with the sixth pick in the 2016 draft out of Oklahoma by the Pelicans, and was a key part of the trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans.

As of this writing, the 6-8 Kings remain squarely in the hunt for a Western Conference play-in spot. Sacramento is currently the 10th seed in the West.

Western Notes: Bledsoe, Kuminga, Kings Guards, Porter Jr.

Clippers offseason acquisition Eric Bledsoe has heated up over the past three games, averaging 18.7 points and 5.0 assists on 52.4% shooting. The veteran point guard is feeling more at ease with his new teammates, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register writes.

They just told me to just play my game, go out there and play my game. Don’t worry about the mistakes, that comes with it,” he said. “They welcomed me with open arms and so it’s been pretty fun through the struggles, just got to keep it going.”

Bledsoe’s $19.375MM salary for next season is not guaranteed and it’s likely he’ll be a free agent.

We have more on the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors view Jonathan Kuminga, the No. 7 overall pick, as a defensive weapon in the short run and a potential two-way centerpiece in the future, according to Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. Kuminga has played a total of 26 minutes off the bench the last two games. “I have no doubt in my mind that he can check just about anybody,” Draymond Green said.
  • Even with De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton in their backcourt, the Kings need to find another play-maker, James Ham of The Kings Beat opines. Rookie Davion Mitchell, Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes are not suited for that role when both Fox and Haliburton are off the court, in Ham’s viewpoint, so Sacramento must go out and acquire another play-maker.
  • Michael Porter Jr. remains sidelined on Monday due to lower back pain and there’s uncertainty about the Nuggets’ forward’s status in the near future, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets“It’s an ongoing thing, trying to figure out what’s going on…I’d still say that Michael’s out for the foreseeable future,” coach Michael Malone said. “We’re trying to take it one day at a time with him and see what the best way to approach getting him back healthy is.”

Monte McNair: Playoffs Are “Singular Focus” For Kings

The Kings hired Monte McNair as general manager 14 months ago with a mission to end their long postseason drought, and he believes the best approach is patience rather than splashy moves, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. In a lengthy interview, McNair explains his philosophy on team building and delves into several other topics.

McNair didn’t arrive in Sacramento with a desire to put his “stamp” on the organization, Amick notes. That’s why he has chosen to build through the draft and minor deals, rather than taking a big swing on a risky talent like Ben Simmons.

“One thing that’s really helped us is (that) we have a very, very clear goal,” McNair said. “We want to get this organization back to the playoffs. We want to get back there (and) that helps (that) we have a singular focus.”

The Kings are off to a 5-6 start that has put them in the middle of the Western Conference playoff race. McNair has drafted well, landing Tyrese Haliburton and Davion Mitchell in the last two lotteries, and was able to keep Richaun Holmes in free agency, re-signing him to a four-year deal over the summer.

While Sacramento’s management team has sometimes been chaotic over the past decade and a half, McNair believes the current group works well together and will ultimately be successful.

“The thing we are definitely all doing is rowing the boat in the same direction,” he said. “Now we want to row as fast as we can and as straight as we can. … But we are for sure rowing in the same direction, and that makes it a lot easier. We’ve got a great group. And so now, it’s just, ‘Can we do it?’”

McNair covers several other issues in the interview, including:

The decision to draft Mitchell when the Kings already had plenty of guards:

“Certainly, when you just look at the team we had and who we had drafted the year before and Tyrese and who we already had on the team with  De’Aaron (Fox), and you say, ‘Why would you draft another point guard?’ (But) this is where we talk about being a best player available in the draft. And it’s a hard thing to do sometimes, but we truthfully sit here and try to (draft) best player available. And when Davion is sitting at the top of our board, we do not hesitate to draft him.”

The relationship with Buddy Hield after he was nearly traded to the Lakers over the summer:

“Yeah, we had some (trade) conversations over the offseason. I don’t want to go into too much detail there, but (the approach was to) treat Buddy like the adult that he is and I think he appreciated that. He does the same with me. And I said, ‘Look, you know, obviously your name has been out there. But if it doesn’t work out, if nothing happens, you come back, you’re expected to let it fly.’ And he’s been doing that.”

The status of Marvin Bagley III, who has complained about how the franchise has handled him after drafting him second overall in 2018. Bagley has only appeared in one game this season and is on track for restricted free agency after not receiving an extension offer:

“Marvin has been putting in the work and staying ready. And just like we tell all our guys, when your number’s called, you go in, and you help us win. It’s a long season. We’re gonna need — we’ve (got) 17 guys now on the roster and we’re gonna need all of them at some point. And you know, Marvin as well as everybody else is going to be ready when they’re called.”

Western Notes: Howard, Davis, Mitchell, Doncic, Dragic, Beverley

Dwight Howard tried to downplay his altercation with Anthony Davis during the Lakers’ loss to Phoenix on Friday night, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. The two big man had a verbal exchange on the bench during the second quarter.

“We squashed it right then and there,” Howard said. “We just had a disagreement about something that was on the floor. We’re both very passionate about winning.”

Davis said of the spat, “it’s over with.” Howard is one of many Lakers bench players signed to a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Kings surprised a lot of people when they drafted a guard, Davion Mitchell, in the lottery for the second straight year, but Mitchell is already making an impression with his ball-hawking defense, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee tweets. Swingman Buddy Hield has high praise for the rookie. “I think he’s the best on-ball defender in the league,” he said. “The way he hawks the ball is different. His lateral movement. The way he closes out is different. It’s just a special gift he has.”
  • The Mavericks will play Toronto on Saturday in a matchup of Luka Doncic and Goran Dragic at the point. The Slovenian national team members could soon join forces in the NBA, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News notes. There were rumors swirling during the offseason after Dragic was traded to the Raptors that he could eventually wind up in Dallas. That could happen closer to the trade deadline or perhaps next summer, when Dragic becomes a free agent.
  • Patrick Beverley will make his Timberwolves debut on Saturday after serving a one-game league suspension. He’s says his impact on the young Minnesota roster will go beyond the stat sheet, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. “Born leader, came natural for me since I was a kid, very outspoken,” Beverley said. “Even some of my ex-Clippers guards, teammates [Thursday] night after their loss to Golden State, they called me and we chopped it up a little bit. I always have a good positive spirit, positive energy. That just kind of rubs off on people every night.”

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.