Domantas Sabonis

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 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 “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.”

Kings Notes: Sabonis, Vogel, Catanella, Ranadive, Clarkson, Bagley, McNair

Domantas Sabonis said he’d like to give his input during the Kings’ coaching search, according to Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. Sacramento opted not to retain Alvin Gentry as the team’s head coach.

“I would like to be part of it and talk to everyone,” Sabonis said. “Give them my input, what I think, what I’ve seen, what could work, what could help.”

Sabonis did not play after March 20 due to a knee injury he termed “a severe bone bruise,” James Ham of ESPN 1320 tweets. Sabonis says he has fully recovered from the injury.

We have more on the Kings:

  • Mike D’Antoni, Terry StottsMike Brown, Steve CliffordKenny AtkinsonMark Jackson and Bucks assistants Charles Lee and Darvin Ham have been mentioned as possible replacements for Gentry. Anderson tosses another name into the ring: now-former Lakers head coach Frank Vogel.
  • Kings assistant GM Ken Catanella will not have his contract renewed, Sean Cunningham of KXTV tweets. He had been with the organization for six seasons.
  • An anonymous former member of the team’s basketball operations staff told Anderson that Kings owner and chairman Vivek Ranadive has wielded his influence in roster moves, which has damaged the franchise. “It’s one thing to be a fan and want to be involved from afar, but I think when you are meddling in decisions, I think the problem is you have an owner who’s too involved,” the source said. That source said the constant shuffling of players, coaches and executives created a culture of chaos, which left the franchise direction-less. The power within the front office often shifted, depending upon who shared Ranadive’s views regarding personnel decisions.
  • In the same piece, Anderson’s source indicated that Ranadive and former executive Brandon Williams were “driving forces” behind the decision to draft Marvin Bagley III with the No. 2 pick in 2018 over Luka Doncic, though there was a consensus within the organization because Bagley was a “modern-day big who could run the floor with De’Aaron Fox.”
  • Jordan Clarkson was nearly acquired in 2019/20 from the Cavaliers in a trade involving Yogi Ferrell, but the Kings procrastinated due to Ranadive’s involvement. Clarkson wound up getting dealt to Utah.
  • Current GM Monte McNair has wielded more authority than previous execs, with another source telling Anderson, “I don’t believe Vivek is micromanaging Monte.”

Injury Notes: Allen, Mobley, McDaniels, Powell, Fox, Sabonis

Discussions about Jarrett Allen‘s potential return for the Cavaliers have gravitated toward “if” rather than “when,” according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The team has said Allen is making progress in his recovery from a broken finger and hasn’t ruled out the possibility of him returning before the regular season ends on Sunday, but his finger was still in a splint this weekend, says Vardon.

Even if Allen is able to play soon, it’s “highly unlikely” that he’ll be 100% effective, says Chris Fedor of (Twitter link). In Fedor’s view, Evan Mobley – who has missed four games with a sprained ankle and wasn’t walking with a limp after Sunday’s game – is a better bet to be fully effective, or at least close to it, when he returns.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels, who has been out since March 14 due to a high left ankle sprain, “looks really good” in his scrimmages, head coach Chris Finch said on Sunday (link via Chris Hine of The Star Tribune). The Wolves will formally reevaluate McDaniels on Monday. Finch expects him to be on a minutes limit when he returns, per Hine.
  • Clippers forwards Paul George and Marcus Morris hinted after Sunday’s game that Norman Powell could be close to returning from his left foot injury, according to Mirjam Swanson of The Southern California News Group, who notes that the injured swingman took part in an on-court pregame workout. “It’ll be great for Norm if he could get back out there in the next game or two, just to get a good feel back,” Morris said.
  • With the Kings officially eliminated from playoff contention, head coach Alvin Gentry acknowledged that shutting down De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis will likely be “something we’ll talk about” (Twitter link via Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee). Fox has missed Sacramento’s last eight games due to a hand injury, while Sabonis has been out for six games due to a knee issue.

California Notes: Fox, Sabonis, Clippers, Wiggins, Gasol

With a 27-49 record, the Kings are on track to miss any kind of NBA postseason for the 16th straight year. Sacramento currently sits at the No. 13 seed in the Western Conference, 4.5 games behind the tenth-seeded Spurs for a chance at a play-in tournament appearance. As the team’s opportunity to qualify for the play-in slips away, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee wonders if top scorers De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis will return to the hardwood this year.

The Kings have just six games left on their schedule for the 2021/22 NBA season. Fox has missed the club’s last five games with right hand soreness, while Sabonis has sat for the last three due to a left knee bone bruise.

“Well, we’ll see,” interim head coach Alvin Gentry commented on the two Kings veterans’ availability this year. “They’re working out every day and they’re trying to get to the point where they can come back and play, so we won’t know that. It’s a day-by-day thing. I don’t know any other way to answer it but that. … Fox is on the [team’s current road] trip with us. He’s spending a lot of time working out and trying to see where it takes him.” 

There’s more out of California:

  • Prior to Paul George‘s return to the floor tonight against the Jazz, the Clippers have had to handle the majority of their NBA season without George or his fellow All-Star Kawhi Leonard, writes Mark Medina of Including tonight, George will have missed 49 of L.A.’s 76 games thus far this season, while Kawhi hasn’t played at all. The team has held steady without George and Leonard, and seems to have a firm grip on the eighth seed in the Western Conference with a 36-39 record as of this writing. “We’re building that foundation and culture that we can win, no matter who’s on the floor,” head coach Tyronn Lue said. “I think we’ve taken on that mentality.” A midseason team meeting helped steady the Clippers’ resolve. Veterans Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson were particularly vocal during the team discussion, Medina reveals. Lue has been open to experimenting with his players this season, opting to employ 24 unique starting lineups so far.
  • After making the first All-Star team — and first All-Star start — of his NBA career, Warriors swingman Andrew Wiggins has failed to step up as a scorer with his starrier veteran teammates sidelined or playing hurt, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Instead, Wiggins has regressed. During a recent five-game road trip, the Warriors went 1-4, and Wiggins failed to take on more of the scoring load. He averaged 16.6 PPG on 41.1% field goal shooting, and coughed up the ball 2.4 times a night. “We expected more out of everybody,” starting center Kevon Looney said of the team’s performance. “I wouldn’t just put it all on him… We all had some plays and some things we would want to do better in that game, so I wouldn’t just put it on [Wiggins].”
  • During a conversation on The Old Man And The Three with J.J. Redick and Tommy Alter podcast, retired six-time All-Star big man Pau Gasol said that he is weighing the possibility of an off-court position with the Warriors“I’m exploring a potential role with a team,” Gasol said. “I’ve been going a little bit under the radar with the Warriors, and they’ve kind of opened their doors for me to come in and be part of meetings, see the guys a little bit, and talk to some of the guys.” In a legendary 18-year NBA career, the seven-footer suited up for the Grizzlies, Lakers, Bulls, Spurs and Bucks. Gasol appeared in three NBA Finals and won two titles with the Lakers.

Pacific Notes: Fox, Paul, Warriors, Lue, Westbrook

Kings guard De’Aaron Fox admits that it was “definitely hard” to see second-year guard Tyrese Haliburton depart at last month’s trade deadline, according to Logan Murdock of The Ringer, who says Fox had been planning to mentor his young backcourt partner for years to come.

However, Fox – who is now the Kings’ longest-tenured player – has gotten accustomed to a certain level of turnover since arriving in Sacramento. While his coaches and teammates continue to change around him, Fox himself at least appears to be part of the franchise’s long-term plans.

“The Kings always told us, ‘He’s our guy. He’s our franchise guy. He’s our max player, and we’ll build it around him, man,'” agent Chris Gaston tells Murdock. “That’s what they told everybody else around the NBA is that, ‘Hey, look, you can inquire about De’Aaron all you want, but we’re building around De’Aaron. This is our guy. He’s our main centerpiece.’ And they are true to their word.”

Fox, currently sidelined due to a right hand injury, has shown improvement in his recovery from that injury but hasn’t yet resumed basketball activities, tweets James Ham of ESPN 1320. While Fox is with the Kings on their current road trip, his return isn’t considered imminent, prompting Ham to speculate (via Twitter) that we may have seen the last of Fox and Domantas Sabonis (knee) this season.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Suns point guard Chris Paul has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game, but is doing “more and more” in recent days and is getting closer to returning from his thumb injury, says Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.
  • Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area makes the case that the Warriors should consider replacing Kevon Looney with Otto Porter Jr. in their starting lineup to help jump-start their offense.
  • Since joining the Clippers, head coach Tyronn Lue has emerged from LeBron James‘ shadow and is developing into a star in his own right, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes, examining how Lue has kept his team competitive while missing stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. “When you build a system around your best two players, a lot of stuff we can’t run anymore,” Lue said. “I had to look at the mirror myself and just figure out what’s best for this team. I had to go back to the drawing board.”
  • Criticized for his inability to score efficiently for much of the season, Russell Westbrook has made nearly 50% of his field goal attempts and 40% of his three-point tries in his last six games. Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group wonders if the Lakers are finally getting the version of Westbrook they envisioned when they traded for him last summer.

Domantas Sabonis Has Bruised Left Knee, No Structural Damage

6:57pm: Sabonis has a bruised left knee and will be reevaluated when the Kings return from their upcoming five-game trip, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. Imaging shows no structural damage but the Kings will only have four games left after the re-evaluation on April 2.

12:53pm: The Kings are awaiting the results of an MRI on Domantas Sabonis‘ knee after the big man left Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter due to an injury, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee.

Sabonis hit the floor following a collision with Suns forward Mikal Bridges, clutching his left knee in “obvious pain,” writes Anderson (video link). Sabonis was able to walk to the bench under his own power and stayed in the game for another 28 seconds, but headed to the locker room at the next stoppage and didn’t return.

Head coach Alvin Gentry, who confirmed that Sabonis would undergo an MRI, told reporters there would be an update on Monday or Tuesday, adding that the Kings would have to “wait and see” whether the injury is anything serious.

“We don’t know anything other than that,” Gentry said. “But, obviously, he’s a key to what we’re doing, and, if nothing else, we’re trying to have growth with the chemistry and everything on this team and learning to play with each other, so obviously when he goes down like that, there’s always concern.”

Even if the injury turns out to be a minor one, the Kings likely won’t be in a rush to get Sabonis back on the court. The team is six games out of a play-in spot with just nine games remaining on its schedule, so a lottery finish is a near certainty. The priority would be making sure Sabonis – Sacramento’s big in-season acquisition – is 100% healthy for next season.

The Kings announced last week that Richaun Holmes will be out for the rest of the season for personal reasons, so if Sabonis has to miss time too, the club will be without its top two centers. That would result in more playing time for Chimezie Metu, Damian Jones, and possibly Alex Len down the stretch.

Pacific Notes: Wiseman, Mann, Coffey, Sabonis, Davis

James Wiseman‘s third and perhaps final G League game with the Santa Cruz Warriors should temper expectations regarding his impact, according to Taylor Wirth of NBC Sports Bay Area. Wiseman ran the floor well but even though he contributed 15 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in 21 minutes, he also committed six turnovers on Tuesday. The Warriors’ big man has a long way to go to regain his offensive rhythm but he’s only expected to play 12-18 minutes per game during the team’s stretch run.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers decided not to add a point guard at the trade deadline or through the buyout market. That looks like a wise move in the aftermath of their overtime loss to Cleveland on Monday, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes. With Reggie Jackson getting a rest, the Clippers had 29 assists and just 11 turnovers with Terance Mann and Amir Coffey among the ball-handlers initiating the attack.
  • Kings forward Domantas Sabonis said this week that he intends to play for Lithuania in the EuroBasket tournament this summer, James Ham of ESPN 1320 tweets. He was a member of the Lithuanian National Team during the 2016 Summer Olympics.
  • Even if Anthony Davis returns soon from his foot ailment, it won’t fix the Lakers, Bill Oram of The Athletic opines. LeBron James has acknowledged that it may be too late to develop chemistry and maximize the team’s potential. “It puts a Band-Aid on some things,” he said of Davis’ potential return. “But I mean, we just haven’t had enough chemistry, enough time with our group to be able to know exactly who we are and who we can become.”

Pacific Notes: Booker, Bridges, Sabonis, Vogel, Kidd

Suns guard Devin Booker didn’t experience any symptoms after testing positive for COVID-19, he told Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. The Suns star was frustrated he had to sit out four games despite not feeling sick.

“That’s the tough part about it,” he said. “Not feeling anything and not being able to play. I don’t even know why people are getting tested that much anymore.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Mikal Bridges believes this Suns team is superior to the one that made the Finals last season, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic“I felt like that early in the season, like I was looking around and this team I feel like is better, and then (we kept) adding guys,” he said. “It made me realize like, yeah, this is team is better than last year.”
  • Domantas Sabonis has two years left on his contract and he’s hoping he can help the Kings end their playoff drought during the next two seasons, he told Sam Amick of The Athletic in a wide-ranging interview. “It sucks that we have that drought, but the fact that we can be part of something that can turn it around, you know, that’s the goal. Come in and change the perspective of this organization and what people think,” he said. “We’re excited that we can be part of that and build it, you know? So I want to stay as long as I can. Everything has to go well, (but) I’m happy here.”
  • The Lakers likely would have fired Frank Vogel by now if Jason Kidd was still on the staff to take over in the interim, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin said on The Woj Pod (hat tip to NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman). “I think we both agree, if Jason Kidd, was still on this staff, they would’ve made a coaching change,” Wojnarowski said.

Pacific Notes: Westbrook, Kings, Ranadive, Wiseman

Having faced criticism for his underwhelming play with the Lakers throughout the 2021/22 season, former MVP Russell Westbrook told reporters this week that he believes some of the disrespect he has received from fans this season has crossed a line.

“When it comes to basketball, I don’t mind the criticism of missing and making shots. But the moment it becomes where my name is getting shamed, it becomes an issue,” Westbrook said, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “… ‘Westbrick,’ for example, to me, is now shaming. It’s shaming my name, my legacy for my kids. It’s a name that means, not just to me, but to my wife, to my mom, my dad, the ones that kind of paved the way for me.”

Westbrook said he no longer feels comfortable bringing his children to games because he doesn’t want them to hear the comments he gets from fans — or to face any harassment themselves. His wife, Nina Westbrook, stated on social media this week that she has had “obscenities and death wishes” sent her way.

Addressing his point guard’s comments, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel indicated on Wednesday that he and the team are throwing their support behind Westbrook and his family, according to Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group.

“He’s an important player for us, he’s a part of our family,” Vogel said. “And anytime a player is feeling that type of impact at home with his family, that is a big concern and should be handled with care. And I hope people can respect what he had to say postgame the other night, because it should never come to that.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report considers how the Westbrook situation might play out this summer, suggesting that it wouldn’t be out of the question for the Lakers to waive or buy out the 33-year-old, stretching his $47MM salary for 2022/23 across three seasons to gain more short-term financial flexibility. One source told Pincus the Rockets hope to revisit a potential Westbrook/John Wall swap, but other sources were skeptical the Lakers would have any more interest in that scenario this summer than they did during the season.
  • The Kings were the latest team to take part in what has become a trend this season, issuing a statement on Wednesday to say they disagreed with the NBA’s decision to suspend Domantas Sabonis. Previously, the Heat stated that they disagreed with the league’s decision to take away a second-round pick for their early pursuit of Kyle Lowry in free agency, while the Bucks publicly took exception to Grayson Allen‘s one-game suspension.
  • According to Scott Soshnick and Brendan Coffey of Sportico, Kings owner Vivek Ranadive is preparing a bid for English soccer club Chelsea FC, which is currently up for sale. Sportico recently projected Chelsea’s value to be $3.35 billion.
  • With James Wiseman nearing a return, Anthony Slater of The Athletic explores how the Warriors might use him down the stretch, especially when they’re trying to build momentum for the postseason and also reintegrate Draymond Green. In Slater’s view, dedicating a few minutes per half to a second unit led by a Jordan Poole/Wiseman pick-and-roll game could make sense for Golden State.