Buddy Hield

Pacific Notes: CP3, Lakers Cap, Hield, THT

Suns All-Star point guard Chris Paul has a $44MM player option for the 2021/22 season, but John Hollinger of The Athletic wonders if the 35-year-old may consider an extension before the year ends or possibly a Gordon Hayward-esque move during the offseason.

Hollinger suggests that, just as the Hornets forward did during the 2020 offseason, Paul could opt out of the final year of his extant deal this summer for longer-term money, at a slightly lower yearly number.

Hollinger expects ambitious clubs like the Mavericks, Heat, Knicks and even Pelicans to be interested in Paul, who is still seeking a title in his 16th NBA season out of Wake Forest.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Should the Lakers want to retain new center Andre Drummond, reserve big man Montrezl Harrell (likely to opt out of the $9.7MM second year of his current deal in the offseason), point guard Dennis Schröder, and guards Talen Horton-Tucker and Alex Caruso, they could face significant cap challenges, as Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report outlines. Pincus notes that the best route to retaining all three would be if the Lakers could get Drummond, currently grappling with a toe injury, to agree to a team-friendly deal worth the taxpayer mid-level exception (worth a projected $5.9MM).
  • The NBA announced on Monday (Twitter link) that it has fined Kings swingman Buddy Hield $20K after an exchange of words with referees during a 129-128 defeat to the Bucks on April 3.
  • Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma is looking for more court awareness out of shooting guard Talen Horton-Tucker, writes Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. “He’s been blessed with a gift to be able to get into the paint anytime he wants,” Kuzma raved. “With that being said, getting into the paint means reaching opportunities to find other guys shots.”

Pacific Notes: Oubre, Ranadive, Craig, Hill

In previewing trade possibilities facing the Warriors during the final week before the March 25 deadline, Anthony Slater of The Athletic explains the appeal wing Kelly Oubre Jr. could hold for other teams around the league.

Slater notes that Oubre, a young, athletic wing with upside left at age 25, is currently earning $14MM in the last year of his contract, and could be used in a trade to acquire an interesting player along the lines of shooting guards Victor Oladipo and Evan Fournier (both also on expiring deals), small forward Aaron Gordon, or restricted free agent point guard Lonzo Ball.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive apparently is averse to surrendering to a full-on tank this season, and hopes to remain semi-competitive by retaining two of the team’s most trade-friendly players, Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield, Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated asserted on the podcast Locked On Kings. Dan Feldman of NBC Sports Bay Area contends that “staying competitive” is not really much of an option as, with a 16-24 record, Sacramento is currently well below the threshold to compete for even a top-10 record in the Western Conference, and thus an appearance in a play-in game.
  • Suns head coach Monty Williams expressed his excitement about the potential on-court fit of new reserve guard Torrey Craig, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. “He’s a big, strong wing defender who can guard ones and twos and power forwards and can switch onto a bigger guy,” Williams raved. “We liked him when he was in Denver. Hated competing against him because he was such a good defender and a tough guy for sure.”
  • The Clippers appear in need of a point guard upgrade. Brian Windhorst of ESPN (video link) thinks that Thunder veteran George Hill could be a fit, but that a player at the level of Lou Williams may need to be sent back in a deal. “He’s a guy who played for [LA head coach Tyronn] Lue in Cleveland and could fit there, but it would probably take a trade of Lou Williams to get that to happen,” Windhorst said.

Kings Rumors: Barnes, Bjelica, Hield, Whiteside, Haliburton

Harrison Barnes‘ professionalism, his declining contract structure, and his strong play this season are all factors that make him an appealing trade candidate, but they’re also reasons why the Kings will be reluctant to part with him, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic.

A source with knowledge of Sacramento’s plans tells Amick that the club won’t be motivated to move Barnes without a “significant” offer. The Celtics have been frequently linked to the veteran forward, but Amick isn’t sure that a package made up of late first-round picks and young bench players would be enough to get it done.

The Kings also haven’t yet conceded that they will be sellers, Amick continues. If they do go that route, De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton would likely be the only truly unavailable players on the roster, but the Kings are still just 3.5 games back of a play-in spot, reducing the likelihood of a fire sale.

Here’s more out of Sacramento:

  • Amick believes Nemanja Bjelica is perhaps the likeliest King to be traded, and hears from sources that the Pacers are among the teams to show interest in the stretch four. Amick also mentions Golden State, Boston, and Milwaukee, who have all been previously cited as potential suitors for Bjelica.
  • According to Amick, the size of Buddy Hield‘s contract probably makes him even more likely to stay put than Barnes, for now at least. Amick also wonders any teams will make a “spirited push” for center Richaun Holmes, especially if the Kings are unsure about whether they’ll be able to re-sign him this summer.
  • The Lakers continue to monitor Kings center Hassan Whiteside, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Whiteside has been previously identified as a possible Lakers target via trade or buyout.
  • Kings coach Luke Walton said over the weekend that rookie guard Tyrese Haliburton will remain on a minutes limit for the next few games, as James Ham of NBC Sports California tweets. Coming off a calf injury, Haliburton logged 18 minutes on Thursday and 24 on Saturday — he had been averaging over 30 minutes per game prior to the injury.

Kings’ Luke Walton Believes Job Is Safe

Two NBA head coaches – Ryan Saunders and Lloyd Pierce – have been let go since the 2020/21 season began, and there has been speculation that Kings head coach Luke Walton could be next, given his team’s recent struggles. After getting off to a 12-11 start, Sacramento has lost 10 of 12 and has slipped into a tie for 12th in the West.

Despite rumors that he might be on the hot seat, Walton believes his job is safe for the time being, sources with knowledge of the situation tell Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee.

Following a win over the LeBron James-less Lakers on Wednesday night, Walton spoke positively about his vision for the Kings’ future, telling reporters that “it’s exciting to see where this thing can go” if the team keeps building its culture and developing its young players. And while he didn’t say whether or not he has received any assurances from general manager Monte McNair, Walton feels he has the support of management, as Anderson relays.

“As far as pressure from the front office, no,” Walton said, when asked if he’s feeling mounting pressure to win games. “I feel very connected with them and very locked in as far as where we’re at and where we’re trying to go as a group, and they’ve been very supportive.”

As Anderson points out, firing Walton would be a costly move for a franchise that has felt the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The Kings’ head coach still has two guaranteed years on his contract beyond 2020/21, so a change would mean paying two coaches for multiple seasons.

Additionally, while the recent slump has hurt Sacramento’s playoff chances, it’s worth noting that expectations for the team entering the season weren’t exactly sky-high — oddsmakers projected an over/under of 29.5 wins, and the Kings aren’t far off that pace, so it’s hard to argue the club is significantly underachieving.

While he claims he’s not feeling any additional pressure from the front office, Walton did say he feels pressure to win for his players, according to Anderson. And comments from certain Kings players suggest they’re also feeling some urgency to get back into the playoff hunt, recognizing that changes could be coming in the event of another finish near the bottom of the standings.

“Our backs are against the wall,” Buddy Hield said after Wednesday’s win. “At some point, you have to take this thing seriously. You know that people’s jobs are on the line. Everybody’s fighting for something.”

Amick’s Latest: J. Collins, OKC, Pistons, Cavs, Kings, Nuggets

It will be worth keeping an eye on John Collins‘ situation with the Hawks as next month’s trade deadline approaches, says Sam Amick of The Athletic. The two sides were unable to reach a contract extension agreement prior to the season, with Atlanta reportedly offering $90MM+ while Collins viewed himself as a max player.

Given the gap in negotiations and Collins’ upcoming restricted free agency, a deal could make sense — sources tell Amick that the Hawks have shown a willingness to listen to offers for the big man. However, the 23-year-old, who is averaging 18.5 PPG and 7.8 RPG on .559/.407/.841 shooting in 24 games (31.9 MPG), has been a major part of Atlanta’s success so far this season. The club has a +6.0 net rating when he’s on the court, compared to -11.0 when he’s not, per NBA.com.

Since the Hawks badly want to make the playoffs this season and Collins has been so crucial to keeping them in the hunt, an in-season trade may be unlikely, according to Amick, who notes that Atlanta may end up having to decide what to do with the young power forward in the offseason, when his contract expires.

Here’s more from Amick:

  • The Thunder, Pistons, and Cavaliers are among the teams expected to be “open for business” as potential trade deadline sellers, though their most promising young players will be off limits, sources tell Amick. A 5-10 start to the season had the Kings looking like probable sellers too, but they’ve bounced back and are very much in the playoff hunt. A source with knowledge of the team’s thinking tells The Athletic that Sacramento hasn’t ruled out being a deadline buyer.
  • If the Kings do sell, Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield, and Nemanja Bjelica will be among the players to monitor. Barnes is known to be on the Celtics‘ radar, while the Sixers – who have long been tied to Hield – are also considering Bjelica, says Amick.
  • After bowing out of the James Harden sweepstakes last month, the Nuggets are focused on in-house improvements. Michael Porter Jr.‘s development will be crucial to that process, per Amick, who notes that the temptation to move Porter for a more proven veteran will always be there until he takes another leap. Amick identifies Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, and Aaron Gordon as some impact players who could pique Denver’s interest, though he cautions that rival executives don’t expect them to be available at this season’s deadline.

Western Notes: Clarkson, Green, Kings, McLaughlin

Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson has been fined $25K by the league for making contact with a game official, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. The incident occurred during the second quarter of Utah’s loss to the Suns on Thursday. Clarkson, one of the top reserves in the league, re-signed with the Jazz on a four-year deal in November.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Draymond Green‘s season debut with the Warriors didn’t go smoothly, Nick Friedell of ESPN notes. Green didn’t make a basket in 18 minutes and failed to have a significant impact on the defensive end. He missed most of training camp, all three preseason games and the first four regular-season games due to COVID-19 protocols and a foot injury. “Draymond just looks like he’s getting his wind,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He looked like a guy who missed training camp and has been working his way to get onto the floor. It looked like an exhibition-style game for him; and that’s not a criticism, it’s just where he is physically.”
  • Until rookie Tyrese Haliburton suffered a wrist injury, the Kings had seemingly settled on a closing group of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Haliburton, Harrison Barnes and Richaun Holmes, according to Jason Jones of The Athletic“With that group, you know the shot can come from anywhere,” Fox said. “You have multiple guys on the court who can make shots, get in the paint, get to the free throw line and things like that.”
  • Guard Jordan McLaughlin waited until the deadline to sign his qualifying offer from the Timberwolves and he doesn’t regret that decision, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. McLaughlin signed his two-way contract on December 17, which delayed his season debut as he cleared COVID-19 protocols. “It was definitely tough,” McLaughlin said. “I’m a team guy, and I want to be with the team and do everything I can, but me and my agency, we had to figure out what was best for my case and scenario.”

California Notes: Kings, Ty Lue, Wiseman, Wiggins

Ahead of the 2020/21 season, John Hollinger of the Athletic wondered if the Kings will be able to move the contracts of shooting guard Buddy Hield and forward Harrison Barnes, and whether or not Sacramento would be able to surround newly-extended point guard De’Aaron Fox with enough help to reach the playoffs.

New Kings GM Monte McNair has expressed a desire to give Fox similarly-aged teammates. Hield is currently in the first season of his four-year, $94MM extension, which declines over each year, while Barnes has three years and $61MM left on his deal. Moving at least one of those players for assets could help in McNair’s quest to find players who align with Fox’s timeline.

There’s more out of California:

  • The Athletic’s Bill Oram and Joe Vardon explore the process last summer that ultimately led to the Lakers hiring Frank Vogel as their head coach in 2019 and the Clippers promoting Tyronn Lue to their head coaching job this year. Vogel had expected to be a top assistant on Lue’s staff with the latter serving as head coach for the Lakers in May of 2019 when negotiations between the Lakers and Lue fell apart. The Lakers would not budge from a three-year, $18MM offer, while Lue was hoping to receive closer to a five-year, $35MM deal. Lue ultimately pivoted to become the lead assistant on the staff of then-Clippers head coach Doc Rivers. Lue assumed the head job this offseason.
  • Though the Warriors may have gotten soundly defeated by the Nets in their season opener, No. 2 draft pick James Wiseman flashed plenty of potential in his NBA debut, according to Marcus Thompson II of the Athletic. The rookie center scored 19 points and pulled down six rebounds in just 24 minutes. “He’s a presence,” star point guard Stephen Curry said, “and I think he showed exactly how he can open up the floor for me in the middle of those pick-and-rolls and put pressure on the rim.”
  • Warriors small forward Andrew Wiggins is hoping to be more aggressive on offense in Golden State’s Christmas bout against the Bucks, per Anthony Slater of the Athletic“Shoot, I hope I find that flow next game,” Wiggins said. “I’m not trying to wait. I’m trying to get after it and get it as soon as possible.”

Buddy Hield: “No Regrets” About Speaking Out

Kings guard Buddy Hield didn’t have any second thoughts about going public with his displeasure over his situation last year and doesn’t believe his relationship with head coach Luke Walton needs to be fixed, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee.

“I have no regrets,” Hield said today during a Zoom session with the media. “There’s nothing to be worked on. I never had a problem with nobody here, so everything that was being heard, it wasn’t put out by me. I love everybody here in this franchise and this organization, so I don’t regret nothing I said. I’m going to keep it 100.”

Hield’s unhappiness first emerged when Walton began leaving him on the bench in the fourth quarter of some close games, and it got worse when he was removed from the starting lineup in January. Hield contributed as Sacramento won 13 out of 20 games prior to the shutdown, but he remained upset about how Walton was using him.

The departure of Bogdan Bogdanovic, who signed an offer sheet with Atlanta that the Kings didn’t match, may open the door for Hield to become a starter again. However, Walton wasn’t ready to commit to that as training camp began.

“Even last season, Buddy started more than half of the season, and when he didn’t start, he played a huge role for us coming off the bench and being a dynamic 20-point-a-night scorer,” Walton said. “Every decision is always based on what I feel is best for the group and best for the team, and with this training camp, this is part of what we have to see. What do we have? What groups are playing well together? Who complements who? And at the end of the day, every decision that gets made will come down to what I feel as the head coach is best for this team and giving us the best chance of winning.”

Hield responded to Walton’s statement by saying he’s ready to earn a starting role and will do anything the coaching staff asks of him.

“I always love competing and it doesn’t matter,” Hield said. “That’s not my job. I don’t control that. The head coach controls that. They brought me here to play basketball and win basketball games, so whatever they need me for, I’m going to do it and try to compete at the highest (level) I can.”

Kings Notes: Bogdanovic, Hield, GRIII, Kaminsky, Whiteside

After reporting earlier today that the Kings passed on a Hawks sign-and-trade offer for Bogdan Bogdanovic that would have allowed Sacramento to acquire either a lottery-protected 2022 first-round pick or two future second-rounders in exchange for the restricted free agent, Sam Amick of The Athletic has updated his story with some new intel.

As Amick explains, that Hawks offer came with caveats. Atlanta wanted Sacramento to accept Tony Snell‘s expiring $12MM+ salary and asked for an answer within an hour. Additionally, the Kings didn’t know at that point what sort of contract the Hawks were offering Bogdanovic, so they were reluctant to agree to a sign-and-trade if Atlanta’s offer was one they were comfortable matching.

The Kings asked for some of the Hawks’ young talent in a deal, but didn’t have any luck, and Atlanta ultimately took its chances by signing Bogdanovic to an offer sheet. Sacramento didn’t match it.

While The Athletic’s new information lets the Kings off the hook to some extent, Amick says there’s “strong reason” to believe that Atlanta would have done a sign-and-trade for Bogdanovic that included a draft pick even if the Kings hadn’t been willing to take on Snell’s contract. However, sources tell Amick that scenario wasn’t discussed.

Here’s more out of Sacramento:

  • In talks with teams about a possible Buddy Hield trade this offseason, the Kings were asking for draft compensation, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. There’s nothing imminent on the Hield front though, Begley adds. At this point, it would be a surprise if Sacramento doesn’t open the season with Hield on its roster.
  • Glenn Robinson III and Frank Kaminsky each received modest guarantees on their new one-year contracts with the Kings. Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets that Robinson got a $100K partial guarantee, while James Ham of NBC Sports California tweets that Kaminsky’s partial guarantee is worth $50K.
  • Hassan Whiteside‘s first stint with the Kings a decade ago saw him play just 19 games in two seasons for the team before he spent two years out of the NBA. He’s counting on having more success this time around, as Ham writes for NBC Sports California. “My first (time) around, I had a couple of injuries that kept me from being the player that I wanted to be,” Whiteside said. “But I think this is a great opportunity to come back and revamp that.”
  • The Kings confirmed today that they won’t have any fans in attendance at Golden 1 Center to start the 2020/21 season (Twitter link via Ham). Given the COVID-19 restrictions in place in California, that was a given.

Pacific Notes: Clippers, Batum, Hield, Suns, Warriors

In a fascinating, in-depth article for The Athletic, Jovan Buha takes a deep dive into the chemistry issues that plagued the Clippers during the 2019/20 season, exploring the club’s leadership void and various players’ grievances with the preferential treatment that star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George received.

While Buha and others have reported about the Clippers’ locker room issues throughout the year, the latest Athletic story includes more specific details, including many of the perks provided to Leonard and George that irked teammates and compromised the positive culture that players bought into during the previous two seasons.

According to Buha, the two stars had power over the Clippers’ practice and travel schedule. Additionally, teammates believed Leonard and George were allowed to pick and choose when they played (not just sitting out games, but manipulating their playing time within games).

There are too many specific stories and details in Buha’s report to pass along all of them, but the upshot is that the Clippers are hoping new head coach Tyronn Lue – with the help of new roster additions like Serge Ibaka – will be able to address many of those issues, putting a greater emphasis on accountability. Sources tell The Athletic that players are excited to play for Lue and that Leonard and George are aware they must “establish a healthier locker room dynamic” in 2020/21.

Here’s more from around the Pacific: