Domantas Sabonis

Pacific Notes: Johnson, Brown, Kings, Green

Suns forward Cameron Johnson hoped to sign a rookie scale extension before the deadline passed on Monday, but the two sides were unable to reach an agreement. He says he’s still focused on the task at hand.

I would’ve loved to have come to a conclusion,” Johnson said, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I love it here, but the fact of the matter is that I’m here for this year and that is what I’m focused on. I’m excited. We’ve got a good group. We’ve had a good group and we want to win a championship.”

The 26-year-old, who will be a restricted free agent next summer, suggested that the tenuous ownership situation played a factor in negotiations

Negotiations are interesting, especially when ownership is unclear,” said Johnson, a reference to majority owner Robert Sarver announcing his intention to sell the team after backlash from an NBA investigation into his behavior within the organization.

Extremely interesting,” Johnson continued. “Once you see that the situation is what it is, you can get over it relatively quickly and just be excited for the opportunity that’s been put in front of you.”

Johnson exited the team’s 107-105 comeback victory over Dallas early in the fourth quarter with right quad cramps, but he said he should be good to go for Friday’s contest at Portland, Rankin relays in another story for The Arizona Republic.

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • Not reaching an extension with Johnson feels like a missed opportunity for the Suns to put “some of the negativity and uncertainty of the offseason” in the rear-view mirror, according to Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports, who notes that Johnson could raise his stock significantly as a full-time starter in 2022/23. As Bourguet writes, failing to secure Johnson as a long-term fixture of the team’s core after Deandre Ayton‘s messy restricted free agency over the summer makes it seem like the Suns didn’t learn how protracted contract negotiations can negatively impact players.
  • Kings head coach Mike Brown says he’s focused on ending the team’s 16-year playoff drought, which is an NBA record. “We love the fans. We do. And they’re great fans, but even if the fans didn’t feel like we needed to make the playoffs, I’m not here to coach regular-season games. It’s just as simple as that,” he said (Twitter link via Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee).
  • Brown and center Domantas Sabonis have helped improve the Kings‘ vibes and culture, writes Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee. Brown has brought consistent energy and a “serious-yet-playful” personality to the team, while Sabonis hosted several teammates at his new offseason home in Napa, California to watch last season’s Finals and play pickup games. “The vibes were great,” Sabonis told The Bee. “If you’re an average team and if your off-court (dynamic) is amazing, you’re not an average team any more, you’re definitely better. I’m a firm believer in that.” As Biderman notes, it was the first offseason as a King for Sabonis, who only appeared in 15 games with Sacramento in ’21/22 after he was acquired from Indiana in a February trade.
  • Don’t expect the Warriors to consider an in-season trade for Draymond Green this season despite the uncomfortable situation he caused by punching Jordan Poole, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his Lowe Post podcast (hat tip to RealGM). “If anything, I think that may be underplaying the level of iciness and tension that they’re navigating right now,” Lowe said. “And that’s not to say ‘Are they going to trade Draymond?’ Everything I’ve heard is they are not trading Draymond. They’re just not going to happen. They’re trying to win the championship and will try to ride it out unless something drastic happens. Draymond is going to be on the team all season.”

Kings Notes: Starting Lineup, Barnes, Sabonis

While De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and Harrison Barnes are locked in as starters, two spots in the Kings‘ starting lineup remain up for grabs, head coach Mike Brown said this weekend.

“Obviously, Fox is going to start for us. Domas is going to start for us. HB is going to start for us,” Brown said, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “But we’re kind of up in the air a little bit with the two and the four spot, and there are some guys that we feel have a real good chance to start for us in those spots, but we’re going to keep mixing those two spots around to see what we can get.”

Kevin Huerter started as shooting guard during the Kings’ presseason opener vs. the Lakers on Monday, while KZ Okpala got the nod at power forward. However, neither player had a big night, while Malik Monk and Keegan Murray – two other contenders for those starting spots – combined for 24 points, 12 rebounds, and three steals.

Brown won’t make any decisions based on one night, but with the start of the regular season just two weeks away, every preseason game will be an important one as the Kings consider their options.

Here are a few more notes out of Sacramento:

  • Barnes, who is entering the final season of a four-year deal, isn’t oblivious to the fact that his name has popped up frequently in trade rumors over the last year or two, but he’s preparing to spend his full contract year in Sacramento, Anderson writes for The Sacramento Bee. “You know how the NBA is,” Barnes said. “I check Woj. I check Shams. They’ve still got me here, so as far as I’m concerned, this is where I’m supposed to be and I’m going to give it my best effort.”
  • Speaking to Mark Medina of NBA.com, Sabonis discussed the Kings’ playoff chances, his chemistry with Fox, and how having the defensive-minded Brown on the sidelines will impact the team. “He’s a defensive coach, and he’s definitely trying to make life easy for us in terms of the terminology,” Sabonis said of Brown. “The defensive stuff we’re doing is going to help us out. It’ll depend on us. He’s giving us all the answers and the system of how we want to play as a team. Defense is about effort and competing. If we compete every game, it’s going to be tough.”
  • Making the play-in tournament is a “completely reasonable goal” for the Kings, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who previews Sacramento’s season and projects the team to finish 10th in the Western Conference with a 37-45 record.

Pacific Notes: Crowder, Wall, Lakers, Kings

Suns forward Jae Crowder tweeted and deleted “99 won’t be there!” in reply to a Duane Rankin article about training camp questions, notes Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports (Twitter link). The Suns are rumored to be exploring the trade market for the veteran, with Crowder said to be interested in a return to the Heat, though that would be tricky, at least for now, due to salary-matching rules.

In 67 games (28.1 MPG) with the Suns last season, all starts, the 32-year-old averaged 9.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.9 APG and 1.4 SPG on .399/.348/.789 shooting. While his long-range shooting is inconsistent, Crowder remains a solid defender and smart passer on a reasonable $10.2MM expiring deal.

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • Clippers guard John Wall recently opened up about his personal struggles the past few years in an article for The Players Tribune. Wall contemplated suicide after a series of traumatic events, including tearing his Achilles tendon, an infection from the subsequent surgeries that nearly caused his foot to be amputated, and losing his mother to breast cancer. Wall details how close he was to his mother, whom he calls his “best friend in the whole world.”
  • Every member of the Lakers‘ roster except for Dennis Schröder attended a players-led minicamp in San Diego on Friday, sources tell ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (Twitter links). Schröder was unable to attend due to logistical reasons — he’s still organizing a move back to L.A., per McMenamin. The veteran point guard has been quite busy recently. He signed a one-year deal to return to the Lakers last week and finished competing for Germany at EuroBasket last weekend.
  • James Ham of The Kings Beat breaks down the Kings‘ depth at center entering training camp. Domantas Sabonis and Richaun Holmes figure to see the majority of the minutes at the five, and new head coach Mike Brown might experiment with playing them together at times, Ham writes.

Western Notes: Wall, Lakers, Rockets, Sabonis, Queta, Metu

John Wall, who didn’t play last season for the Rockets, has looked sharp in offseason workouts, according to Marc Stein in a Substack post. Wall reached a buyout agreement this summer and signed with the Clippers after clearing waivers. Wall is expected to have a significant role with the Clippers, either as the starting point guard or as Reggie Jackson‘s backup.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Lakers are about to let a traded player exception lapse. Their TPE of $2,692,991 generated in a deal with the Grizzlies will expire if they don’t make use of it on Monday. In that swap, the Lakers sent Marc Gasol, a 2024 second-round pick, and cash to Memphis in exchange for the draft rights to 2016 second-rounder Wang Zhelin. Memphis soon waived Gasol, who returned to Europe.
  • A fan survey conducted by Kelly Iko of The Athletic shows that Rockets supporters are pleased with the direction of the franchise. Even though fans anticipate Houston having little to no chance of making even the play-in tournament during the upcoming season, 90 percent of them have a positive view of the team’s “process” and a similar amount are “confident” or “very confident” in GM Rafael Stone and the front office.
  • The Kings’ Domantas Sabonis, Neemias Queta and Chimezie Metu had productive outings for their teams in FIBA World Cup qualifiers, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee notes. Sabonis led Lithuania to two victories in Group K, while Queta recorded two double-doubles to help Portugal win a pair of games in Group F. Nigeria went 1-2 in Group E but Metu also contributed two double-doubles.

More Than 30 NBA Players On Track To Suit Up For EuroBasket

The first EuroBasket tournament in five years will tip off in two weeks and there are currently 34 NBA players on track to participate in the event, representing 17 different countries, according to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.net.

EuroBasket is a 24-team international basketball competition also known as the European Basketball Championship. It historically took place every two years, but that gap was recently adjusted to four years, emulating the FIBA World Cup schedule.

The last EuroBasket tournament was played in 2017 — the next one had been scheduled for 2021, but was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics. As a result, after being played every two years since 1947, it has now been five years since the last EuroBasket tournament, easily the longest layoff since World War II.

It’s possible that some NBA players will be cut from their teams’ rosters or will have to drop out due to injuries or personal reasons before the event begins on September 1, but in general enthusiasm to participate in the long-awaited event appears high.

Here’s the list of NBAers currently set to play in EuroBasket, per Eurohoops:

There are also multiple NBA free agents on EuroBasket rosters, including French swingman Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and German guard Dennis Schröder.

A number of young NBA players, such as 2022 draftees Jeremy Sochan and Nikola Jovic, have dropped out to focus on getting ready for the 2022/23 season, while others, including Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia) and Frank Ntilikina (France), were ruled out due to injuries.

Round robin play will begin on September 1, with each team facing the other five clubs in its group once. The top four teams in each group will advance to a 16-team bracket that begins on September 10. The final will take place on September 18, just over a week before NBA training camps get underway.

And-Ones: Williams, Sabonis, Valanciunas, Greece, 2021 Draft

Former NBA player Alan Williams has decided to sign a one-year deal with the NBL’s South East Melbourne Phoenix, the team announced in a press release. This marks the fourth overseas stint of Williams’ career.

At 6’8″ and 265 pounds, Williams has carved out a role as a bruising big man. He started his career in China after going undrafted in 2015, spent time with the Suns from 2016-18, then played for the Nets in 2018/19. After that, he made a brief return to China and played three seasons in Russia.

Williams played 67 games during his time in the NBA, averaging 6.2 points and 5.5 rebounds in 13.0 minutes per contest. The 29-year-old also shot an efficient 51% from the floor.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Kings big man Domantas Sabonis and Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas are now allowed to join the Lithuanian national team during practices, as relayed by EuroHoops. As the report notes, an agreement exists between the NBA and FIBA that allows players to join their team 28 days before major FIBA tournaments and 14 days ahead of the Olympics.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo discussed the Greek national team, offering an honest assessment of where the club stands. “Judging from yesterday’s practice, we are not yet ready for a medal, but we have our chances,” Antetokoummpo said, according to EuroHoops. “It doesn’t matter what the world expects, it’s what the team expects. In all the competitions I’ve been to with Greece, we didn’t even reach the quarterfinals. We’re not ready for medals or cups. We need to create chemistry and the right atmosphere. Let’s go and do our best. I have realistic goals, I need to get better. We have three weeks to bond. I will adapt to what the national team needs from me and not the opposite. Our coach [Dimitris Itoudis] is doing an amazing job and we have to do the best we can.”
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic re-drafted the 2021 NBA draft class, examining where players like Scottie Barnes should have landed. The top three selections in the real draft, of course, were Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green and Evan Mobley. Barnes was selected fourth, while Jalen Suggs was chosen fifth. In his re-draft, Vecenie swapped Barnes and Green, while moving Franz Wagner up to No. 5.

Pacers Notes: Nesmith, Cap, Brissett, Sabonis, Taylor

Malcolm Brogdon has passed his physical with the Celtics, clearing the way for Aaron Nesmith to officially join the Pacers‘ Summer League team, a league source tells James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. With the Pacers/Celtics trade that sent Nesmith to Indiana officially irreversible, the former lottery pick could make his Summer League debut with the Pacers as soon as Tuesday, Boyd writes.

The completion of the Brogdon deal also clears a few extra million dollars in cap space for the Pacers, who reportedly have their eye on restricted free agent center Deandre Ayton.

Indiana doesn’t have quite enough cap room to make Ayton a maximum-salary offer, but the team is close to getting there. The Pacers also could be attempting to work out a sign-and-trade deal with the Suns so they don’t have to worry about the possibility of Phoenix matching an offer sheet.

As we wait to see what happens on the Ayton front, let’s round up a few more Pacers-related items…

  • The Pacers decided to pick up Oshae Brissett‘s team option in June rather than declining it to negotiate a longer-term contract with the young swingman as a restricted free agent. However, Brissett tells Boyd that he wasn’t bothered by that decision and still hopes to re-sign with the team in unrestricted free agency next summer. “They believed in me when no one else did, so whatever they had on the table I was really ready (to accept) and come back and give it my all for this year,” he said. “I want to be here long term, so I know next year, whatever happens, Indiana’s always gonna be my No. 1 option to be back. The fans and the team have welcomed me with open arms and I’ll never forget that.”
  • Former Pacers center Domantas Sabonis told Boyd that being traded from Indiana to Sacramento was “hard” and that he expects to have “a lot of emotions” when he plays in Indiana for the first time as a King. “I love Indiana,” Sabonis said. “That was basically my first real NBA experience. I spent one year in OKC and then got traded, so that was my home for a long time, you know?”
  • After having his salary guaranteed for 2022/23, Terry Taylor spoke to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files about the role he envisions himself playing for the Pacers next season. “I think I can come in and do the little things to help the team, like play defense, be a versatile defender, crash the offensive glass like I usually do,” Taylor said. “And just be tough-minded and do all the dirty plays that nobody else wants to do.”

Pacific Notes: Moody, Kuminga, Wainright, Sabonis

The departures of Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. open up playing time for Warriors guard Moses Moody. He could have a 20-minute role as the eighth or ninth man in the rotation if all goes well, Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes.

“Try to make myself beneficial,” Moody said of his goals. “Make it to the point where if I’m getting into the game, it’s not because someone likes me. It’s not doing me a favor. I want to be needed. I want you to think ‘I need Moses on the floor.’ That’s on me. I’ve got to make that the scenario.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Moody, James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga are all showing signs of rewarding the Warriors’ patience in them during Summer League play, according to Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. Kuminga, in particular, sparkled at the end of the Warriors’ one-point win over the Spurs on Sunday, with eight points and an assist in the last four minutes as well as making defensive plays.
  • Free agent Ish Wainright is hopeful of re-signing with the Suns, Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports tweets. The undrafted Wainwright appeared in 45 regular season games last season. He had his two-way contract converted into a standard end-of-the-season-deal during the waning days of the season. “Everybody knows I want to be back,” said Wainwright, who is playing Summer League games with the Suns. “It’s out of my hands.”
  • Domantas Sabonis is happy with the Kings’ moves during the offseason, as he told James Boyd of the Indianap0lis Star. “We’re doing the right things,” he said. “We’ve got a coaching staff that is motivated to get us better and put us in the right direction. We made some good add-ons in free agency (signing Malik Monk and trading for Kevin Huerter), and we still have some time left, so I’m just excited.”

Pacific Notes: Curry, Kuminga, Powell, Sabonis

Stephen Curry will return to the starting lineup tonight as the Warriors will open Game 5 with the small-ball unit that has caused match-up problems for the Nuggets throughout their series, tweets Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Kevon Looney will come off the bench as Draymond Green takes over at center.

It will mark Curry’s first start since suffering a sprained left foot and bone bruise in mid-March that forced him to miss the rest of the regular season. He has remained a dangerous weapon as a reserve, averaging 27.5 points per game and shooting 38.9% from three-point range in the first four games of the series.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Jonathan Kuminga might see his role expanded now that Andre Iguodala is out for the rest of the series with a neck injury, writes Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. Kuminga played 11 minutes in Game 4, all in the second quarter, producing nine points and making an impact on defense. Iguodala has been struggling on offense, but has contributed in other ways, including logging a few minutes at center last game. “The neck is bothering him again,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters after today’s shootaround. “He’s disappointed, he can’t play.” 
  • An injury disrupted Norman Powell‘s time with the Clippers shortly after he was acquired at the trade deadline, but he believes he’ll benefit from a fresh start with the team next season, per Law Murray of The Athletic. Powell wants to reach the level of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard to give the team a third All-Star. “I think I’m ready for that, being that role as a primary guy,” he said. “That’s what I go out there and try to prove every single night that I can hold my own against the best in the world, but also, it’s about winning for me. Not only achieving those individual goals but achieving them as a team is what’s most important.”
  • Kings big man Domantas Sabonis is also looking forward to his first full season with his new team, according to Alex Kramers of NBA.com. Sabonis had to adjust quickly to his new surroundings after leaving the Pacers in a deadline deal, and he’s hoping to build chemistry with his teammates this offseason. “We didn’t have much time to practice and get together and know all the sets, defensive schemes and everything,” Sabonis said. “That’s why I’m excited for the summer. We’re going to get together as a group and try to build on things early before training camp even starts.”

Kings Notes: Roster Needs, Coaching Search, Fox, Sabonis

Adding more shooters and players with length will be a primary goal for the Kings this offseason, general manager Monte McNair said this week during his end-of-season press conference, as Taylor Wirth of NBC Sports Bay Area relays.

“I think shooting, we can clearly acknowledge, will be a huge priority,” McNair said. “It’s a priority for every team, but certainly around (De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis). Shooting will be a big one. Length, athleticism, versatility, we’ve talked about all that as well. Obviously, you want the whole package, but shooting will be a big priority for us.”

In his own exit interview, Fox was in lockstep with McNair when he discussed the Kings’ biggest needs and the areas the team should be focused on this summer.

“I think most winning teams are built the same,” Fox said. “You got your two, three, maybe four guys and everything else is kind of length and shooting. Just being built like that, I feel like we have a pretty good foundation where we’re at, but obviously you can never have too much length and too much shooting in the NBA. That’s at a premium.”

Here’s more out of Sacramento:

  • The Kings aren’t zeroing in on one specific kind of coach as they seek a replacement for Alvin Gentry. Speaking to reporters, including Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee – McNair said the team will consider candidates with “different backgrounds,” adding that there’s no set deadline to finalize a hire. “I think, really, what we’re going to do, like every decision we make, we’re going to run a comprehensive and very process-driven coaching search, and we’re going to let that run its course,” McNair said. “We’re going to take as long as we need to find the correct person to lead this organization, the team on the floor, and I’m excited to see the people we talk to and their vision for the team as well.”
  • The Kings set a new NBA record when they missed the playoffs for a 16th straight season this spring, but McNair said the front office won’t let that postseason drought “cloud our judgment” on roster decisions, Wirth writes for NBC Sports Bay Area. “We want to get back there as soon as we can, but we need to do it in a way that we stay there, we continue to grow, this is not a one-year blip that we completely mortgage the future for,” McNair said.
  • Limited down the stretch by injuries, Fox and Sabonis only played together in 13 games after the Kings acquired Sabonis from Indiana at the trade deadline, but they’re looking forward to building more chemistry heading into next season, writes Jonathan Bradley of Kings.com. “I love playing with him. Those (13) games were great,” Sabonis said. “We didn’t get as much as we wanted to play together but we’re going to have a long offseason, see if we can get together and get some workouts in, have training camp. I’m just excited for next year.”