Domantas Sabonis

Pacific Notes: Thompson, Bradley, Leonard, Collins, Sabonis

Centers Tristan Thompson and Tony Bradley worked out for the Lakers on Monday, Darvin Ham confirmed, but the head coach said there’s no “imminent” plan to sign either to the team’s final roster spot, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register tweets.

The Lakers wanted to make sure that if they feel the need to sign another player, they’ve already worked him out, Ham explained. Los Angeles could have a need for another big since Mohamed Bamba may miss the rest of the regular season with a high left ankle sprain.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers have won five of their last six games, moving up to fifth place in the Western Conference. Kawhi Leonard believes the club could have a special playoff run, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes. “It’s a feeling when you know you have a great team,” he said. “It’s not always [leading] to a championship, it’s just about you knowing that everybody’s on the same page. It’s just a continuous motion. It’s hard to explain. Yeah, there’s something special. You got to feel it, and then you’ll know.”
  • The Kings added Kevin Huerter last summer as a shooter to play off of De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis but the team pursued another Hawks player before they acquired Sabonis from Indiana, Zach Lowe of ESPN reports. They were interested in power forward John Collins and nearly closed a deal with the Hawks that would have sent Harrison Barnes and a protected 2022 first-round pick to Atlanta for Collins. That deal fell apart as the Sabonis one emerged.
  • Speaking of the Sabonis deal with the Pacers, Fox told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype that the versatile big man was just what the team needed to take the next step, even though they had gave up Tyrese Haliburton. “It shocked everybody,” Fox said. “Not only fans and media. It shocked the team as well. Seeing the player we were getting back is obviously big. Someone who’s that big, skilled – a very unique skillset – I felt like he was going to make us better.”

Pacific Notes: KD, Klay, Brooks, Fox, Sabonis, AD

Suns forward Kevin Durant has been able to do more on-court work lately, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium said on FanDuel TV’s Run It Back show, adding that he believes there could be an update on the star’s status later this week (Twitter video link).

According to Charania, the Suns are “hopeful” that Durant will return to action before the end of month, or possibly in early April, though he does say the team will be cautious.

Durant has been out since March 8 after sustaining a left ankle sprain during a pregame workout routine. Charania reported the next day that he’d be reevaluated in two weeks, but the Suns said three. Either way, it’s a positive sign that the 34-year-old has been making progress in his recovery.

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks continues to rankle members of the Warriors. He repeatedly shouted “you suck” at the defending champions from the bench in the closing minutes of Saturday’s victory over Golden State, with Klay Thompson responding by counting off four on his fingers, representing his championship rings (Twitter video link via NBC Sports Bay Area). “I don’t care about Dillon Brooks,” Thompson told Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “When he retires, I don’t think anyone will ever talk about Dillon Brooks ever again. I promise you. It’s sweet right now, but wait 10 years.” According to Barnes, Brooks commended the Warriors’ accomplishments, but slipped in a dig as well. “He’s got four rings. That’s all he was saying. It’s motivation to us,” Brooks said. “We want a ring as well. Being able to go through the process of steps that we did last year, we keep going and learning from it all. It’s friendly trash talk, but I just hold a lot of real estate over there in San Francisco.”
  • Charania recently interviewed Kings All-Stars De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis (Twitter video link). They covered a number of topics, including head coach Mike Brown, last year’s trade that brought Sabonis to Sacramento, Sabonis’ thumb injury, and their respective All-NBA cases, among others.
  • Lakers star Anthony Davis is expected to play in both games of the team’s final back-to-back set in early April, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report said on his #thisleague UNCUT podcast with Marc Stein (Twitter link via Fox Sports Radio). According to Haynes, Davis was given the option of either playing last week’s back-to-back at New Orleans (a win with Davis) and at Houston (a loss without him), or the back-to-back set on April 4th and 5th at Utah and at the Clippers. He obviously chose the latter.

Joel Embiid, Domantas Sabonis Named Players Of The Week

For a second consecutive week, Sixers center Joel Embiid and Kings center Domantas Sabonis have been named the NBA’s players of the week for the Eastern and Western Conference, respectively, the league announced today (via Twitter).

Embiid continued to make a strong case for Most Valuable Player consideration in the last seven days, averaging 35.0 points, 12.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 3.3 blocks in three road games (32.3 MPG). The Sixers won all three contests by an average margin of 22.7 points.

Sabonis, meanwhile, led the Kings to a 3-1 week that included road victories in Chicago, Brooklyn, and Washington. He averaged a triple-double (22.8 PPG, 16.0 RPG, and 10.0 APG) and shot 59.3% from the field in those four games (37.8 MPG).

Embiid has now matched Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo with four Eastern Conference player of the week nods this season. Sabonis and Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard lead the West with three player of the week awards apiece.

Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan, and Evan Mobley were this week’s other Eastern Conference nominees, per the NBA (Twitter link). Sabonis’ teammate De’Aaron Fox was a nominee in the West, along with Jalen Green, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Austin Reaves.

Domantas Sabonis, Joel Embiid Named Players Of The Week

Kings center Domantas Sabonis and Sixers center Joel Embiid have been named the NBA’s players of the week, the league announced (via Twitter).

Sabonis averaged 20 points, 10.7 rebounds, 8.3 assists and 1 steal in leading Sacramento to a 3-0 record last week. He shot 57.9% from the field and and 71.4% in the three games for the Kings, who are tied with Memphis for the second-best record in the West at 40-26.

Embiid had an outstanding week, averaging 38.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.8 blocks on .620/.500/.879 shooting in four games, all victories. Philadelphia has won five straight and are currently 45-22, the East’s No. 3 seed.

Sabonis has now won the West’s player of the week award twice this season, while Embiid has won three times in the East.

According to the NBA (Twitter link), the other nominees in the West were Devin Booker, Anthony Davis, Talen Horton-Tucker and Kawhi Leonard, while Mikal Bridges, Spencer Dinwiddie, Zach LaVine and Donovan Mitchell were nominated in the East.

Kings Notes: Fox, Sabonis, Brown, Playoffs

The Kings won for the seventh time in their last eight games on Thursday vs. New York, picking up a five-point home victory in a nationally televised game and maintaining control of the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. However, head coach Mike Brown wasn’t thrilled that his team let the Knicks grab 23 offensive rebounds and nearly blew a 21-point third quarter lead, as Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee relays.

“You can tell I’m a little frustrated,” Brown said during his post-game press conference. “It’s a great win. You take wins at this time of the year. But that’s not how we should be playing basketball, what you guys saw tonight. I’m not happy with our performance at all except for the fact that we got the win. Somehow, some way, we have to be better throughout the course of the ball game.

“I’m going to put pressure on Domas (Domantas Sabonis) and Foxy (De’Aaron Fox). They have to hold themselves to an elite level on every possession. But just as importantly, they’ve got to open their mouths and hold their teammates to a high standard. Because that ain’t going to fly.”

Brown has been highly supportive of his star players all season, campaigning for them to receive All-Star and All-NBA consideration. His critical tone after a victory perhaps indicates that the expectations are starting to rise in Sacramento, with Brown taking steps to ensure that his team won’t be happy to simply break its 16-year playoff drought and lose to a lower seed in the first round.

Later in his presser, Brown said he believes Fox can be even better than he has been so far this season, suggesting that his point guard has a “switch” that he sometimes doesn’t flip on until the fourth quarter.

“Somehow, some way, I got to get him to turn it on for a little closer to the 33 or 34 minutes he’s playing, instead of just waiting for the fourth quarter,” Brown said. “Because he’s more than capable. I’ve been around a lot of great slash elite players — I’m a little hesitant to say this, because I haven’t been with him long enough and I haven’t seen him do it in the playoffs yet — but he may capable of being on that level. But the great ones, the elite ones, they do it all the time.”

Here’s more on the Beam Team:

  • The Kings haven’t clinched a playoff berth yet, but Fox and others have begun talking about the postseason with some certainty, as Anthony Slater of The Athletic details.
  • Fox, who admitted he wasn’t sure if he’d still be in Sacramento through the 2021 and 2022 trade deadlines, told Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report that he had confidence in this year’s roster even after the Kings got off to an 0-4 start in the fall. “I knew this was a different team,” Fox said. “There was a foundation that was built with this group that no one else could see. I know what losing feels like, and even though we got off to a rough start, I felt like we all were on the same page, and that’s the difference.”
  • In the same Bleacher Report story, Haynes writes that one of the changes Mike Brown implemented in his first year in Sacramento was to encourage each player and coach – along with team owner Vivek Ranadive – to sign contracts prior to the season fully committing to their assigned roles. “We had a team dinner at the start of training camp and everyone’s specific role was explained,” Brown said. “Some guys were not happy with their roles, but if you agreed to honor your role, you signed the contract. No one was forced to do so, but if you signed it, your teammates saw that you made a commitment to fulfill your obligation. So if s–t hits the fan, there is no way to run. You will be held accountable if you stray away from your commitment to the team. When you truly value s–t, you protect it and embrace it. That’s what I wanted out of our team. All the players signed it.”
  • Count LeBron James among those who believe Brown should earn Coach of the Year honors this season. Responding to a tweet that called Brown the frontrunner, James said of his former Cavaliers coach, HANDS DOWN!!!!!! Mike Brown got them boys hoopin hoopin!!

Doncic, Irving To Start For Team LeBron

Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving are not only Mavericks teammates, they’re also starting together for Team LeBron at the All-Star Game Sunday in Salt Lake City.

LeBron James selected his former Cleveland teammate Irving and Doncic, the league’s leading scorer, during the first captain’s draft conducted on the same night as the All-Star Game. Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid will start up front for Team LeBron. The reserves for LeBron’s team include Anthony Edwards, Jaylen Brown, Paul George, Tyrese Haliburton, Julius Randle, De’Aaron Fox and Jaren Jackson Jr.

Donovan Mitchell and one of the players he was traded for, Lauri Markkanen, will start for Team Giannis. Ja Morant and Jayson Tatum round out the starting lineup. Damian Lillard, Jrue Holiday, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, DeMar DeRozan, Pascal Siakam, Bam Adebayo and Domantas Sabonis will be the reserves for Team Giannis.

Pacific Notes: Wainright, Ross, Warriors, Sabonis, Vezenkov

Suns forward Ish Wainright was active for a 50th game on Thursday and has now maxed out the games-played limit on his two-way contract, confirms Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Wainright can remain on his two-way deal for the rest of the season, but he’ll be ineligible to be activated for another regular season or playoff game unless he’s promoted to the 15-man roster.

As Rankin notes, the Suns do have an open spot on their 15-man squad, so promoting Wainright is one option the club should seriously consider. But Phoenix could also decide to use that final roster spot on a veteran on the buyout market — the team was linked on Thursday to Kevin Love, for instance. If the Suns sign a vet like Love, that wouldn’t leave room for Wainright unless another player is waived.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • The Suns have already added one veteran who reached free agency after negotiating a buyout. Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports takes a closer look at that newest Sun, exploring what Terrence Ross can bring to the team.
  • Tim Kawakami of The Athletic examines where things stand for the Warriors entering the All-Star break and considers whether this season represents a last stand for Golden State’s dynasty. As Kawakami writes, last week’s trade of James Wiseman for a win-now role player (Gary Payton II) signals that the team’s much-discussed “two-timeline plan” has essentially fallen by the wayside.
  • In a Q&A with Sam Amick of The Athletic, veteran center Domantas Sabonis spoke about the Kings‘ resurgence, playing through a thumb fracture, and why this year’s All-Star nod means more to him than his previous two. “A lot of stuff was said when the trade happened,” Sabonis said. “(Kings executives) Monty (McNair) and Wes (Wilcox) trusted me to come here and start changing the franchise around. And it’s not just me — there’s obviously a lot of pieces. … But I was kind of that first piece, and there was a lot of responsibility. As a player, as a competitor, being named an All-Star on the West Coast, having been on the East Coast, I feel like it just means more because of everything that came with it, you know?”
  • Kings assistant coach Jay Triano headed to Europe this week to scout draft-and-stash prospect Sasha Vezenkov, according to Stavros Barbarousis and John Rammas of Eurohoops. Sacramento holds the NBA rights to Vezenkov, who is having a terrific season in Greece for Olympiacos.

2023 NBA All-Star Reserves Announced

The league has announced its 2023 All-Star reserves during a pregame broadcast on TNT, as voted on by NBA head coaches. As usual, the list of 14 selections featured some interesting surprises.

For the Eastern Conference, coaches voted in Sixers center Joel Embiid (the reigning Player of the Month in the East), Heat center Bam Adebayo, Bulls wing DeMar DeRozan, Celtics wing Jaylen Brown, Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton, and Knicks forward Julius Randle.

Holiday, who is making his second overall All-star appearance this year, last earned an All-Star nod a decade ago while playing for Philadelphia.

Randle will receive a $1.2MM salary bonus as a result of being named an All-Star this season, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). Marks adds (via Twitter) that Holiday will get a $324K bonus. And as long as he appears in at least 65 contests this year, Brown will earn a $1.55MM bonus after having qualified for the All-Star game, Marks tweets.

Among the most notable omissions in the East were a handful of point guards: the Knicks’ Jalen Brunson, the Hawks’ Trae Young, the Cavaliers’ Darius Garland, and the Sixers’ James Harden. Miami swingman Jimmy Butler also missed out. Young, Harden and Butler all made the cut last season.

In the Western Conference, Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant, Kings center Domantas Sabonis, Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Clippers forward Paul George, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, and Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. were selected as reserves.

Being named to the All-Star team again this year will earn Sabonis a $1.3MM bonus, per Marks (Twitter link).

Lakers center Anthony Davis, Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox, Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, Suns guard Devin Booker, and Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon were among the Western Conference snubs.

Gilgeous-Alexander, Markkanen and Jackson are the lone first-time All-Stars among these 14 picks.

All-Star weekend tips off on February 17 in Salt Lake City. Los Angeles power forward LeBron James and Milwaukee power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, the captains of their respective conferences, will draft their teams ahead of the 2023 All-Star Game on Sunday, February 19.

And-Ones: Napier, All-Star Bonuses, Trade Proposals, Biggest Needs

Former NBA guard Shabazz Napier has signed with Olimpia Milano for the remainder of the season, according to a team press release. Coach Ettore Messina said Napier will be thrown into the fray immediately against Baskonia, Allesandro Maggi of Sportando relays.

“Shabazz Napier had just one team practice, but we will use him, hoping for some minutes in a position where we need them badly,” he said.

Napier last appeared in the NBA during the 2019/20 season, when he played a combined 56 games for Minnesota and Washington.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Several NBA players could cash in if they’re selected as All-Star reserves, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes. Among that group, the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown will earn a $1.5MM bonus if he’s chosen and also appears in 65 regular season games (he has missed six games so far). The Bucks’ Jrue Holiday will collect $324K if he’s chosen, while the Kings’ Domantas Sabonis will receive $1.3MM if he’s selected. The Knicks’ Julius Randle will get an additional $1.2MM if he gets the nod.
  • What are some of the bold moves that playoff contenders could make to improve their chances of success? The Ringer’s Michael Pina explores potential trades that could make the Suns, Clippers, Thunder, Lakers and Pelicans better.
  • The Bulls and Hawks need 3-point shooting.  The Nuggets need defensive help and the Warriors require a stretch wing. The Athletic’s staff runs down the biggest need for every team as the trade deadline approaches.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Curry, Holmes, C. Johnson

The Warriors tried out a new starting and closing lineup on Thursday in a Finals rematch again Boston, subbing in Jordan Poole for Kevon Looney. The five-man unit of Poole, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins was less stout defensively, but was more dynamic on offense — it’s a look head coach Steve Kerr suggested he plans to stick with for now, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

“Just wanted to open up the floor,” Kerr said. “Give us a little different look. Maybe get a spark. We’re past the halfway point and we’re .500. Like, let’s try something different. … It’s a lineup we know can be explosive. Against Boston, in particular, you have to open up the floor. I think I’ll keep doing it.”

Following Thursday’s loss, the defending champions are now 22-23, a game below .500. It makes sense that Kerr would be looking to generate a spark with a lineup shake-up, and his players are on board with giving the new starting group a shot.

“There’s strength and weaknesses to it,” Curry said after Thursday’s game. “But we got great shots with it tonight. Came out with a lot of juice. We gotta be better at rebounding. If we give up size, we gotta be more physical, prepared to rebound. But it gives us great space and gets us great shots, and you gotta like the way we can play fast and put pressure on defenses.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • In a Substack conversation with Marc Stein, Curry expressed interest in joining Kerr and Team USA in Paris for the 2024 Olympics and discussed how much longer he might want to play in the NBA. As the Warriors star explained, his hope when he entered the league was to match the 16 seasons his father Dell Curry played, but once he gets beyond that figure, he has no specific target in mind. “I don’t have any (longevity) goals other than maintaining the feeling that I have right now in my body and the night-in, night-out expectation of how I play and having that energy and joy and being able to recover from game to game,” Stephen Curry said.
  • With Domantas Sabonis out on Wednesday due to a non-COVID illness, Kings center Richaun Holmes got his first start since last February and played a season-high 31 minutes, registering 16 points (on 7-of-7 shooting) and 11 rebounds. As Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee outlines, it was a major achievement for a player who has gone through both professional and personal hardships in the last year. “It’s a testament to his character, his professionalism and his ability to play the game at a high level,” head coach Mike Brown said of Holmes. Sabonis is listed as questionable to play on Friday vs. Oklahoma City.
  • Cameron Johnson‘s return to action on Thursday – which saw him score 19 points in 22 minutes – provided a huge lift for a Suns team that has been mired in a lengthy slump, perhaps giving them a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel, writes Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic. Head coach Monty Williams said Johnson “brought a level of juice to the arena that we haven’t felt in a while,” while Deandre Ayton said his teammate “definitely gave us a breath of fresh air.”