Buddy Hield

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Knight, Kings

There’s pressure on the Lakers to get a second star, but it’s far from urgent, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report writes. So long as the franchise continues to practice patience, they’ll remain flexible enough to have options.

As things stand, the club has $5.7MM in cap space. That figure could grow to as much as $15.5MM if the club waives and stretches Luol Deng‘s contract over three seasons. They can get as high as $22.8MM if they can unload the deal altogether with “at least a first-rounder attached,” Pincus says. That flexibility would make a Brandon Ingram-for-Kawhi Leonard swap financially feasible.

Of course the Lakers could wait to see if a different trade for a star beckons, as reports suggest with Jimmy Butler and as is at least borderline conceivable with Damian Lillard.

An alternative to making a move this season would be giving center Brook Lopez the Lakers’ remaining $5.7MM of cap space on a one-year deal, retaining all of their young players in an audition to see who best fits with LeBron James, then going out shopping for a star next summer.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division tonight:

Pacific Notes: Jordan, LeBron, Harris, Cauley-Stein

The lack of teams with ample salary-cap space this summer will present a tough choice for Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, as Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer explains. Jordan has a player option of $24.1MM this summer and multiple league executives told O’Connor he probably wouldn’t receive an annual salary approaching that on the open market. Some of the teams that will have cap room, such as the Nets, Hawks and Sixers, aren’t looking to add a veteran center at a high salary, O’Connor continues. It’s plausible that Jordan will opt in and take his chances on the open market in 2019, O’Connor adds.

Also around the Pacific Division:

  • The lack of elite, established players on their current rosters will make it tough sell for the Lakers and Clippers to land LeBron James this summer, Marc Spears of The Undefeated opines. The Lakers could sign two major free agents this summer, but the Clippers don’t have that much cap room, Spears notes. The Clippers may have hurt their cause to sign a top free agent by trading away Blake Griffin in the first year of his long-term contract, Spears adds.
  • Forward Tobias Harris has been traded three times during his career and he’s taken the latest one in stride, as he told Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders. Harris was the top player acquired by the Clippers in the Griffin blockbuster. “My first trade from Milwaukee to Orlando was a situation where I just wanted to prove myself to the league,” Harris said. “When I was traded from Orlando to Detroit, it was a situation where I wanted to help the team get to the playoffs, and that’s similar to this one here, too.” 
  • Willie Cauley-Stein establishing his market value is among the storylines surrounding the Kings the remainder of the season, according to James Ham of NBCSports.com. Cauley-Stein has to emerge as the defensive stopper he was in college and improve his rebounding to earn an extension this offseason, Ham continues. The development of the De’Aaron FoxBogdan Bogdanovic backcourt and the need for Buddy Hield to become a playmaker are some of the other things to watch, Ham adds.

Kings Notes: Inferiority, Fox, Caboclo, Hield

The Kings are about the most consistent franchise in the NBA over the last decade. However, for the unfortunate fans in Sacramento, the Kings have been consistently inferior, writes Phillip Reese of The Sacramento Bee.

On pace to win about 25 games this season, the Kings are right on target to finish in a familiar position in the standings. Sacramento has won between 22 and 33 games for the last eight seasons, and no other team has a lower standard deviation in wins or end-of-season rankings so far this decade.

Practically speaking, the Kings have finished no better than 21st and no worse than 28th, while teams like the Cavaliers (first – 29th), Magic (second – 30th), and Lakers (third – 29th) have finished both worse and far better. The next most-consistent team? The Spurs, whose superior consistency has seen then finish as high as first and no worse than ninth since the 2009/10 season.

There’s more out of Sacramento:

  • Known for being super quick, rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox is using that speed to catch up with his contemporaries after a slow start to his rookie season, writes Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Often cited as a poor shooter, Fox’s shooting percentage (41.0) is now actually higher than fellow lottery picks/point guards Dennis Smith Jr. (39.4), Lonzo Ball (35.6), and Frank Ntilikina (35.0).
  • In another article for The Sacramento Bee, Voisin writes about how newly-acquired forward Bruno Caboclo, 22, received a strong endorsement from former NBA player and fellow Brazilian, Tiago Splitter“Bruno is a great player,” said Splitter. “He needs a team that gives him confidence, that lets him play and has some good leaders. He’s a good shooter, has long arms, and has a feel for the game. He’s an NBA player for sure. I wish him the best.”
  • For the second year in a row, Buddy Hield (Bahamas) represented Team World in the Rising Stars Challenge last night, and his team-high 29-point performance was capable in part because of a confidence surge after being moved to the bench, reports Erik Horne of The Oklahoman“I think coach making the decision to bring me off the bench was probably the best decision,” Hield said. “I think it’s good for me, to help me, slow down a little bit and let the game come to me.”

Pacific Notes: Johnson, Sarver, Lopez

The Clippers opted for flexibility by turning down the third-year option on Brice Johnson‘s rookie contract, Elliott Teaford of the Orange County Register writes.

Team president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank says that the decision was made because the Clippers didn’t have a full body of work on which to base Johnson’s value. The 23-year-old North Carolina standout has played in just six games over the course of his NBA career, two of them this past week.

We still think Brice is a talented player,” Frank said. “There wasn’t a great body of work due to some difficult circumstances, obviously, with the back injury. This year, we have great depth at his position.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Contrary to a Washington Post report that suggested Suns owner Robert Sarver was looking to sell the franchise, the executive has “zero interest” in cashing out, Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic writes. Sarver bought the team for $401MM in 2004 and it’s now, per Forbes, valued north of $1B.
  • A move to the second-unit may have helped Buddy Hield find his rhythm with the Kings. Kyle Ramos of the team’s official site discussed the sophomore’s solid showing off the bench on Wednesday.
  • Often the subject of trade rumors, Brook Lopez wasn’t particularly surprised to find out that the Nets had traded him to the Lakers last June, Greg Logan of Newsday writes. He was, however, excited. “I’m a huge Magic Johnson fan, so having him around — to be a little fan boy — it’s awesome for the little kid Brook inside,” Lopez said.

Kings Exercise 2018/19 Options On Five Players

The Kings have picked up 2018/19 rookie scale options on five players, the team announced today in a press release. The moves will add about $14MM in guaranteed salary to Sacramento’s books for the ’18/19 season. Here are the options exercised by the club in advance of today’s deadline:

None of these decisions comes as a real surprise. With the exception of Hield – who was the centerpiece in the trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans – all of these players were drafted by Vlade Divac and the current Kings management group.

Cauley-Stein, the only player of the bunch whose 2018/19 option is on the fourth year of his rookie contract, will be eligible for a contract extension during the ’18 offseason, and will reach restricted free agency in the summer of ’19 if he’s not extended next year. The other four players are on track to be RFAs in 2020 if their fourth-year options are picked up next offseason.

All of this year’s rookie scale team option decisions can be tracked right here.

Kings Notes: Hield, Bogdanovic, Labissiere

Shooting guard Buddy Hield isn’t afraid of putting up shots, even the occasional ones that leave Kings fans scratching their heads. That’s just something head coach Dave Joerger will have to work with if it means keeping the prolific deep threat in a rhythm, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes.

I’m a shooting guard, so I’m trying to get as many shots as I can get,” Hield, who joined the Kings in the midseason trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans last year, said. “They call me thirsty on the team. They say I’m thirsty because I’m always trying to get a shot up.”

Jones notes that Hield’s teammates don’t consider him selfish so they aren’t afraid to keep feeding him the ball if it means that he might get hot from the perimeter and change the outlook of a game.

I’ve been reining him in, making him play the way we want to play,” said Joerger in his second year at the helm of the Kings. “[…] But then for certain guys at any moment you give them a little more latitude, and I think he’s one of those guys.

There’s more news from Sacramento:

  • After sitting out the first three games of the season, Bogdan Bogdanovic‘s status for Monday’s game against the Suns has been upgraded to probable, the team announced on its website. If he plays, it’ll be the 25-year-old draft-and-stash rookie’s NBA debut after signing the largest rookie contract in league history.
  • It won’t be long before the Kings turn to Skal Labissiere as more of an offensive weapon, James Ham of NBC Sports writes. The 21-year-old sophomore has already made substantial improvements over the course of his young career.
  • Despite how impressive De’Aaron Fox looks in his rookie season, it’s unlikely that the Lakers regret drafting Lonzo Ball, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes in a question-and-answer with readers. Los Angeles knew exactly what they were getting in Ball and there’s a good choice that both end up becoming All-Stars.

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.”