Davion Mitchell

Kings Notes: Gentry, Jones, Metu, Mitchell

Alvin Gentry will likely coach his final game with the Kings today, but he didn’t want to talk about his future Saturday night, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. In a pre-game meeting with reporters, Gentry brushed aside the topic when asked if he wants to remain with the organization beyond this season.

“I’ve not talked to anybody about that and I’m sure that’s going to come quickly after the season is over, so I’ll leave it at that,” Gentry said. “I’m sure that’s something that’s going to happen pretty quickly after the season.”

Gentry, who started the season as the team’s associate head coach, was promoted to interim coach in November when Sacramento decided to fire Luke Walton 17 games into the season. Gentry was previously able to remain as head coach of the Pistons and Suns after taking over those teams on an interim basis, but it doesn’t appear that will happen with the Kings, who are reportedly looking at established names such as Mike D’Antoni and Terry Stotts, among others.

There’s more from Sacramento:

  • More changes are expected after another losing season, and they could include Damian Jones, who is headed for free agency after spending his first full season with the Kings. The 26-year-old center played 55 games this year, starting 14, and averaged a career-high 7.9 points per night. “We’ll see what happens in the summer,” he said Saturday when asked about his free agent plans. “… I’ve gained more chemistry with the guys and we see eye-to-eye on some things, so we’ll see what happens when that time comes.” (Twitter link from Anderson)
  • Chimezie Metu is also uncertain about his future, tweets James Ham of ESPN 1320. Metu became a regular part of a rotation this season for the first time in his four-year NBA career, playing 59 games and averaging 8.9 points and 5.6 rebounds in 21.2 minutes per night. However, his $1.91MM contract for next season is non-guaranteed. “The one thing I learned about this league really fast is that situations can change really fast,” Metu said. “You can’t fall in love with your situation, whether it’s good or bad. Wherever I end up, whether it’s here, another team, it is what it is.”
  • Losing has been an adjustment for Davion Mitchell, who won an NCAA title last season at Baylor, but he believes things are going to improve, Anderson adds in a separate story. Before setting the franchise mark for assists by a rookie in a single game earlier this week, Mitchell addressed Sacramento fans and promised, “This offseason we’re going to get better and make you guys proud.”

Western Notes: Hyland, Mitchell, Schröder, McCollum, Lue

Nuggets rookie Bones Hyland will replace Kings rookie Davion Mitchell in the 2022 Rising Stars game Friday night in Cleveland, the NBA announced in a press release. Mitchell is currently suffering from a right hand injury.

Hyland, 21, was the No. 26 overall pick by Denver after two collegiate seasons with VCU. Through 46 games this season (18 MPG), he’s averaging 8.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG, and 2.0 APG on .369/.346/.881 shooting.

Mitchell, 23, was the No. 9 overall pick by Sacramento after three collegiate seasons, the latter two with Baylor. He won a national championship with the Bears last season. Through 53 games this season (26 MPG), Mitchell is averaging 10.4 PPG, 2.4 RPG, and 3.5 APG on .406/.326/.558 shooting.

Mitchell was also going to be part of the Clorox Clutch Challenge, a shooting competition where he was to team up with Scottie Barnes. The event will take place between the second and third Rising Stars games. A replacement will be announced soon, the league says.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Dennis Schröder has already shown how he can help the Rockets after just two games with his new club, writes Rahat Huq of The Houston Chronicle. Schröder started in place of the sick Kevin Porter Jr. Wednesday night and put up 23 points, six rebounds, and nine assists in 38 minutes in Houston’s 124-121 loss to Phoenix. Huq believes that Schröder’s addition will be beneficial for rookies Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun, who had nice games of their own with the German point guard running the show. However, he’s concerned that Schröder might hurt the development of Josh Christopher, who has been a regular member of the team’s rotation over the past few months and played just nine and 11 minutes the past two games. Huq also thinks if Schröder plays too much he could help add a few wins, which would be detrimental to the team’s lottery odds.
  • CJ McCollum has been showcasing his stellar ability to create shots in his brief time with the Pelicans, according to Christian Clark of NOLA.com. “It’s a process, man,” McCollum said. “I’m getting there. I like this type of challenge. It challenges you mentally. It challenges you physically. You have to study the game more and puts you in an uncomfortable environment. I’ve been in a comfortable environment my entire career. This is a great change for me and a great challenge.”
  • Clippers coach Tyronn Lue says that missing stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for much of the season has made him a better coach, per Mirjam Swanson of the Southern California News Group. “It has definitely made me a better coach this year, just trying to scratch and claw and win a game every single night,” Lue said. “Usually, you are in the playoffs and you try to win one game (at a time). It’s like that every single night.” The resilient Clippers are currently 29-31, eighth in the West.

2021/22 Rising Stars Team Rosters

As we previously relayed, the NBA announced a new format for its Rising Stars event at All-Star weekend, which will take place on Friday, February 18. The event will feature four seven-player teams competing in a three-game tournament (two semifinals and a final).

The player pool is comprised of 12 NBA rookies, 12 sophomores, and four players from the G League Ignite, while the games will be played to a target score: 50 points in the semifinals and 25 points in the final, in honor of the league’s 75th anniversary season.

The rosters were announced on February 1, but now the four honorary coaches (75th anniversary team members Rick Barry, Isiah Thomas, Gary Payton and James Worthy) have selected their seven-man teams, per our JD Shaw (Twitter link). Here are the rosters:

Team Barry:

Team Isiah:

Team Payton:

Team Worthy:

James Ham of ESPN 1320 and The Kings Beat provides (via Twitter) the full draft results.

The top 10, in order, were: Edwards, Mobley, Ball, Anthony, Giddey, Barnes, Cunningham, Bey, Bane, and Wagner. It’s worth noting that Worthy and Anthony both went to the University of North Carolina, so Anthony’s selection at No. 4 is less surprising given that context.

What do you think of the teams? Who do you think will come out on top? Head to the comments section and let us know your thoughts!

NBA Announces 2021/22 Rising Stars Rosters

The NBA has revealed the 28 players (12 rookies, 12 sophomores, and four G League Ignite players) who will suit up for the 2022 Clorox Rising Stars Game in Cleveland this year, per its official PR account (Twitter links). There are a few intriguing surprises among the first-year NBA players.

Here are the players who made the cut:

Rookies:

Sophomores:

Additionally, four players from the G League Ignite will participate in the Rising Stars Game based on voting from NBA G League head coaches. The NBAGL has announced (Twitter link) that MarJon Beauchamp, Dyson Daniels, Jaden Hardy and Scoot Henderson will partake in the action. Players will be separated into four teams, and each G League player will be drafted to join one of the teams later this week.

Among the rookie NBA players, the additions who would be most surprising ahead of the 2021/22 season would be Dosunmu and Jones, both of whom were second-round draft selections. 2021 lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga, Ziaire Williams, James Bouknight, Joshua Primo and Moses Moody were all omitted from inclusion this year.

Among the second-year players, Ball could be appearing on multiple nights during All-Star Weekend this season, as he appears to be a very possible first-time All-Star this year thanks to his outstanding work with the upstart Hornets.

The lottery-bound Magic, Pistons, and Rockets can boast having the most inclusions here, with three players apiece.

As we detailed last week, this year’s Rising Stars event will look a little different, with the four teams taking part in a mini-tournament and playing to a target score in each game: 50 points in the semifinals and 25 points in the final, in honor of the league’s 75th anniversary season.

Sixers’ Drummond, Clippers’ Jackson, Others Exit Protocols

Sixers center Andre Drummond has exited the NBA’s health and safety protocols and was in attendance at the team’s practice on Wednesday, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).

Drummond had been one of three Sixers players in the protocols, along with Shake Milton and Danny Green. While Green is still listed as out for Thursday’s game in Brooklyn, the team is hopeful that Milton will be able to clear the protocols and play in that game, tweets Pompey. Milton is currently considered questionable.

Here are a few more COVID-related updates:

  • Clippers guard Reggie Jackson has exited the COVID-19 protocols and rejoined the team, but won’t play on Wednesday in Boston, sources tell Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Jackson will need a little reconditioning work before being activated.
  • Kings rookie Davion Mitchell has cleared the health and safety protocols, tweets Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Another rookie, center Neemias Queta, is currently the only Sacramento player in the protocols.
  • Thunder center Derrick Favors is no longer listed on the team’s injury report, which is a sign that he has cleared the protocols, notes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link). Favors was just placed in the protocols on Tuesday, so he may have registered a false positive.

Kings Place Davion Mitchell In Protocols, Sign Justin Robinson

8:45 PM: The Kings have signed Robinson to a 10-day deal using the hardship exception and he will be available to play Friday night, according to Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee (Twitter links).


4:01 PM: The Kings have placed guard Davion Mitchell in the health and safety protocols, according to Sean Cunningham of ABC 10 Sacramento (Twitter link). Mitchell was initially listed as questionable for Friday’s game vs. Memphis – perhaps in the hopes that his COVID-19 test was a false positive – but he has now been ruled out, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Even if a player registers a false positive, he needs to return consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart in order to exit the protocols, so a negative result today wouldn’t have cleared Mitchell, assuming he tested positive earlier in the day.

Sacramento also has five other players in the health and safety protocols and is missing Richaun Holmes due to a right eye injury. On top of that, Tyrese Haliburton (back) and Chimezie Metu (knee) are listed as questionable for Friday’s game. If Haliburton and Metu are ruled out, the club would be down to eight available players, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee notes (via Twitter).

According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), the Kings may sign free agent guard Justin Robinson before tonight’s contest to provide further reinforcements, assuming the game takes place as scheduled. Robinson would receive a 10-day contract via a hardship exception in that scenario.

Robinson began the season on a two-way contract with Milwaukee and appeared in 17 games for the team, averaging 2.8 PPG and 1.2 APG on .316/.270/1.000 shooting in 11.6 minutes per contest. However, he was waived at the end of November when the Bucks opted to replace him on the roster with Javonte Smart.

California Notes: Thompson, Payton II, Lue, Kings Guards

Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson, who has not suited up for Golden State since the 2019 NBA Finals due to an ACL tear and an Achilles tear incurred in two separate seasons, provided new insight into his expected return timeline this season. Per Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area (via Twitter), Thompson revealed on a recent Instagram Live stream that he’s looking to return to action from anywhere between a few weeks to a month.

The Warriors have been doing just fine without Thompson, a five-time All-Star, thus far this season, sporting a 19-4 record, tops in the Western Conference. The 6’6″ Thompson, who will be turning 32 this season, holds career averages of 19.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 2.3 APG, with a sparkling shooting line of .459/.419/.848.

There’s more out of California:

  • 6’2″ Warriors guard Gary Payton II appears to have finally found a permanent NBA role as a do-everything perimeter defender for Golden State this season, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. “He’s so dynamic defensively,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “And when he’s scoring as well – he made a few 3s tonight but also scored around the basket as he does – it’s hard to take him off the floor because of what he does for us… He’s really earned all these minutes.” The 29-year-old out of Oregon State is averaging 14.6 MPG across 22 games with Golden State this year.
  • Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue has explained that whether or not he opts to start two traditional big men – 7’1″ center Ivica Zubac and 6’10” power forward Serge Ibaka – will be contingent on matchups, per Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register“I think it helps us with our rebounding,” Lue said. “It’ll be different on a night to night basis; if teams start a small four then it’d be tough to put Serge out there at the four. With this team starting the way they’re starting tonight then we can try to do it again tonight and get away with it.”
  • A four-guard crunch-time Kings lineup of De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Terence Davis and Davion Mitchell, playing alongside traditional center Richaun Holmes, has proven to be effective for Sacramento, observes Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee. This rotation was trotted out against a small-ball Clippers lineup in an eventual 104-99 Sacramento victory this weekend. “It was just about pushing the pace, making them play at our pace and running,” Haliburton said. “So I thought we did a really good job of that.”

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.”