Frank Kaminsky

Pacific Notes: Kaminsky, Green, Clippers, Holmes

While it’s common for NBA players who changed teams in the offseason to talk in the fall about how much they’re enjoying their new homes, Suns power forward Frank Kaminsky is particularly enthusiastic about his assessment of Phoenix so far, as Bob Young of The Athletic relays. The former No. 9 overall pick signed a two-year contract with the Suns in July after falling out of the rotation in Charlotte for much of the 2018/19 season.

“I can’t tell you how much different I feel just being here,” Kaminsky said. “I’m just so happy. It’s been a great transition, something I was kind of prepared for, something I really wanted to do, just to get a new opportunity, get a fresh start.”

While other newly-added veterans like Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes figure to play important roles for the Suns in 2019/20, Kaminsky could be the team’s X-factor, according to Young, who points to the big man’s lottery pedigree as a reason for optimism. For his part, Kaminsky isn’t expecting a starring role, but believes he’s improving on defense and can be a reliable contributor.

“I just want to come in and have a role with this team. I’m not demanding anything,” Kaminsky said. “I know things go up and things go down, and it’s not always going to be perfect. But I will try to make the right plays.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • In a Q&A with Wosny Lambre of The Athletic, Danny Green discussed the Lakers‘ chemistry, his potential role this season, and why he decided to sign with the club as a free agent. “It’s the best city to thrive in career-wise. Continue to still win, have fun, and live your best type of lifestyle,” Green said. “And also was able to maximize on the contract. Signing with the Los Angeles Lakers covered all the bases for me.”
  • ESPN’s Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks (Insider link) unveiled their annual “future power rankings” for NBA teams today, and the Clippers earned the No. 1 spot on that list after placing 21st a year ago. It’s the largest single-year jump in the decade-long history of the rankings, Pelton writes.
  • Richaun Holmes is the sort of role player the Kings needed to add to complement their up-and-coming young stars, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Jones suggests that Holmes could be one of the team’s most important acquisitions of the summer since the big man knows his job is to be a “rim-runner, rim protector and energy man,” and won’t try to do more than that.

Suns Sign Frank Kaminsky To Two-Year Deal

JULY 17: The signing is official, the Suns announced on Twitter.

JULY 1: The Suns and free agent big man Frank Kaminsky have reached an agreement on a two-year deal worth approximately $10MM, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Phoenix is expected to complete the signing using the team’s $4.8MM room exception after using up all of its cap space to sign Ricky Rubio to a three-year, $51MM contract.

Kaminsky, the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft, was the subject of trade and buyout speculation earlier this year as he fell out of the Hornets’ rotation for several weeks. The 26-year-old ultimately earned a more regular role in the second half, but had a down year in Charlotte, averaging 8.6 PPG and 3.5 RPG in 47 games (16.1 MPG).

Kaminsky didn’t receive a qualifying offer from the Hornets, so he entered the market as an unrestricted free agent. Despite a somewhat disappointing stint in Charlotte, he still has some upside as a stretch big man.

The Suns, whose Ryan Anderson experiment failed last season, have now lined up deals for two bigs who can knock down three-pointers. In addition to agreeing to sign Kaminsky, they’ll also acquire Dario Saric in a trade with the Timberwolves once the July moratorium ends.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Frank Kaminsky, Tyler Dorsey To Become UFAs

The Hornets don’t plan to tender a qualifying offer to Frank Kaminsky, according to Rod Boone of The Athletic (Twitter link), and the Grizzlies won’t give a QO to Tyler Dorsey, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The decisions put Kaminsky and Dorsey on track to become unrestricted free agents on Sunday.

Kaminsky, the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft, was the subject of trade and buyout speculation earlier this year as he fell out of the Hornets’ rotation for several weeks. The 26-year-old ultimately earned a more regular role in the second half, but had a down year in Charlotte, averaging 8.6 PPG and 3.5 RPG in 47 games (16.1 MPG).

The Hornets are wary of the cost of their roster if they re-sign Kemba Walker, and may not want to retain a veteran role player like Kaminsky if Walker leaves, so it makes some sense that they’d pass on a qualifying offer. Meanwhile, given his inconsistent role with the Hornets, Kaminsky will likely be seeking a new home as an unrestricted free agent. He should draw interest from teams seeking a big man who can shoot from outside and won’t break the bank.

As for Dorsey, the 23-year-old was sent from Atlanta to Memphis in a deadline deal and averaged 9.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 1.9 APG on .429/.366/.629 shooting for the Grizzlies in 21 games (21.3 MPG) down the stretch.

The Grizzlies are open to the idea of revisiting a new deal with Dorsey as a UFA, per Wojnarowski. However, as Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian notes (via Twitter), not making him a restricted free agent gives the team a little more roster flexibility in free agency.

Bucks Notes: Kaminsky, Lopez, Hill, Giannis

In the market for a big man who could stretch the floor at the trade deadline, the Bucks made an effort to acquire Frank Kaminsky from the Hornets, but were turned down, sources tell Sean Deveney of Sporting News. Having missed out on Kaminsky, Milwaukee instead sent a handful of second-round picks to New Orleans to acquire Nikola Mirotic.

With Mirotic and Brook Lopez both headed for unrestricted free agency this summer, however, Deveney expects the Bucks to circle back to Kaminsky, who will be eligible for restricted free agency. Milwaukee’s ability to land him will depend on a number of factors, including how serious the Hornets are about re-signing him and what happens with the Bucks’ own free agent bigs. Still, it’s a potential pairing to watch, particularly if Kaminsky becomes unrestricted and is available at a discount.

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • In a separate article for Sporting News, Deveney previewed the Bucks’ offseason, suggesting that the team will make Khris Middleton its top priority in free agency this summer over Lopez, Malcolm Brogdon, and others.
  • After the Bucks’ season ended last weekend, Lopez said he’d “love to be back,” while George Hill – who is expected to be waived to avoid his full $19MM guarantee – said that money has never been the most important factor for him in free agency, as Malika Andrews of ESPN.com relays.
  • In an interesting piece for The Athletic, Eric Nehm spoke to Giannis Antetokounmpo about what the Bucks star learned during his first extended playoff run, and how he’ll apply those lessons going forward. “There are so many things I thought were tough in the regular season,” Antetokounmpo said after playing three rounds of postseason basketball. “They’re not.”
  • The Bucks recently worked out UNC forward Cameron Johnson, per Gery Woelfel of Woelfel’s Press Box (via Twitter). The 21st player on ESPN’s big board, Johnson may no longer be available by the time Milwaukee picks at No. 30.

Hornets Notes: Batum, Walker, Offseason Plans

Hornets coach James Borrego isn’t sure how Nicolas Batum fits into his plans for next season, Borrego admits to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. Batum was placed in a variety of roles but had another disappointing season and was briefly benched by Borrego. The team’s highest-paid player has two years and $52.5MM remaining on his contract, making him virtually untradeable unless Charlotte sweetens the pot with a first-round pick or young player. Bonnell suggests making Batum a utility player where he sees minutes at shooting guard, small forward and power forward.

We have more on the Hornets:

  • Unrestricted free agent Kemba Walker was unhappy that an attempt to acquire veteran center Marc Gasol from Memphis before the February trade deadline fell through, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (hat tip to NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman). The outline of the proposed deal would have sent out center Bismack Biyombo, forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and a protected first-round pick for Gasol. Memphis instead chose to make a deal with playoff-bound Toronto.
  • If Walker re-signs with the club, Jeremy Lamb will likely be a cap casualty, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks points out in his offseason preview. Getting a commitment from Walker would push Charlotte past the luxury tax threshold. Re-signing Lamb for a conservative estimate of $11MM in the first year would trigger an approximate $27.5MM in additional luxury tax penalties. The team also has to make some hard decisions on non-guaranteed contracts, including Tony Parker‘s deal. The Hornets are unlikely to give forward Frank Kaminsky a $4.5MM qualifying offer before the June 30 deadline, Marks adds.
  • Walker’s chances of returning are pegged at 30% by Bonnell in his player-by-player breakdown of the roster. Those odds will rise only if GM Mitch Kupchak can pull off a blockbuster deal before free agency to entice Walker to stay.

Potential 2019 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria

The NBA’s rookie scale, which determines how much first-round picks earn during their first four NBA seasons, also dictates how much the qualifying offers will be worth for those players when they reach restricted free agency after year four. However, the value of those qualifying offers can fluctuate depending on whether or not a player has met the “starter criteria.”

Here’s how the starter criteria works:

A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency.

A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games in 2016/17 and 32 in 2017/18, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons is 41.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
  • For all other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

Extending a qualifying offer to a player eligible for restricted free agency officially makes that player an RFA, ensuring that his team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet with another club. It also gives the player the option of signing that one-year QO.

Generally, the value of a restricted free agent’s qualifying offer isn’t hugely important, since very few RFAs accept those offers outright. There are exceptions though.

Two years ago, for instance, both players who signed their one-year QOs – Suns center Alex Len and Mavericks center Nerlens Noel – failed to meet the starter criteria heading into restricted free agency, reducing the value of their QOs to approximately $4.2MM (from $6.4MM and $5.85MM, respectively). Had Len and Noel met the starter criteria and been eligible for those larger QOs, their free agencies could have played out differently.

Top-14 picks who failed to meet starter criteria:

With that in mind, let’s check in on how this year’s RFAs-to-be will be impacted by the starter criteria. Listed below are the former top-14 picks on track for restricted free agency who have not met the starter criteria. These players will be eligible for qualifying offers worth $4,485,665.

No player was hit harder by missing out on the starter criteria than Porzingis, who had no chance at meeting the playing-time requirements due to his torn ACL. If he’d stayed healthy, the former No. 4 overall pick would’ve been in line for a qualifying offer worth just over $7.5MM. Of course, it may not matter much, since Porzingis is expected to sign a long-term deal with the Mavericks anyway.

For Johnson, Kaminsky, and Lyles, falling short of the starter criteria was more about their roles than health issues.

First-round picks between 10-30 who met starter criteria:

Only one player falls into this group this season.

Because Oubre was selected between No. 10 and No. 30 in the 2015 draft and met the starter criteria, he’s eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,915,726 instead of $4,485,665. No other players fit the bill this year, as many of the players drafted between Nos. 10 and 30 in 2015 have either already been extended or are no longer on their rookie contracts.

Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the 23rd overall pick in 2015, was the strongest candidate to join Oubre in this group, but fell just short of meeting the criteria, having started 80 games over the last two seasons — he needed to get to 82. Wizards forward Bobby Portis, the 22nd overall pick, also would have had a shot if he stayed healthy, but injuries limited his minutes over the last two seasons.

Second-round picks and UDFAs who met starter criteria:

The players listed below signed as second-round picks or undrafted free agents, but have met the starter criteria and are now eligible for a qualifying offer worth $3,021,354.

Tomas Satoransky (Wizards) was another player who qualified for this group, but because his initial NBA contract was more lucrative than most, his qualifying offer will already be worth $3,911,484 based on other criteria.

There were a few second-round picks and UDFAs who just missed out on meeting the starter criteria, including Dorian Finney-Smith of the Mavericks (1,985 minutes played), Bulls guard Ryan Arcidiacono (1,961 minutes), and Clippers center Ivica Zubac (37 starts).

Those players, and the rest of this year’s restricted free agents, won’t have their projected qualifying offers impacted by the starter criteria.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Kaminsky, Magic, Waiters

Even after changing their coach and GM during the offseason, the Hornets haven’t solved the problem with roster depth that has plagued them for years, writes Brendan Marks of The Charlotte Observer. The team is struggling to find points off its bench, especially during a three-game losing streak that has dropped the Hornets to ninth in the playoff race.

“You look at our stat line — our starters vs. their starters — we won that game,” coach Jim Borrego said after Wednesday’s loss to Houston. “Our starters won the game tonight, gave us a chance, and I’ve just got to figure out what to do with the second unit.”

Borrego recently moved rookie Miles Bridges into the starting lineup in place of Jeremy Lamb, who is second on the team in scoring at 15.1 PPG. However, when Lamb is in the game, defenses are focusing on him and backup point guard Tony Parker because the rest of the reserve unit doesn’t have a dependable scorer. Malik Monk has made just one of 12 shots in the past four games and has fallen out of the rotation.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Frank Kaminsky accompanied the Hornets on their trip to Brooklyn for tonight’s game as a buyout looks increasingly unlikely, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Today marks the deadline for players to be waived and still have postseason eligibility with another team.
  • The Magic have learned how to handle adversity and the players are crediting new coach Steve Clifford for bringing toughness to the team, relays Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Orlando overcame a late deficit to surprise the Warriors last night, moving into the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. “I think it starts at the top, with the toughness of Coach Cliff,” Jonathan Isaac said. “It definitely has trickled down. We definitely feel ourselves as a more resilient, more mentally tough team, because we work for it. We work hard. We come in every day, and we work towards being mentally tough, and it shows out there.”
  • Dion Waiters‘ return from injury hasn’t produced the spark the Heat were hoping for, notes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. He hasn’t bonded with Dwyane Wade, Winderman adds, and still hasn’t gotten his conditioning level where it needs to be.

Hornets Still Resisting Buyout For Frank Kaminsky

With a Friday deadline looming, the Hornets remain uninterested in accommodating a buyout for big man Frank Kaminsky, sources tell Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link).

Spears reiterates what we heard a week ago: Kaminsky would welcome a buyout and an opportunity to play a greater role elsewhere, since he has been out of the rotation in Charlotte for much of the season. The Hornets reportedly want to keep him around for depth purposes in their frontcourt as they make a push for a spot in the postseason.

March 1 is the last day that a player can be waived by one team and retain his playoff eligibility for a new club. If Kaminsky were released by the Hornets this Saturday (March 2), he’d be able to sign with a new team after clearing waivers, but wouldn’t be permitted to play for that new team in the postseason.

The ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft, Kaminsky played a regular role in Charlotte’s rotation over the last two seasons, averaging 11.3 PPG and 4.1 RPG on .413/.350/.780 shooting during that two-year stretch. In 2018/19, however, he has been limited to 26 games and a career-low 10.8 MPG, and hasn’t played more than 10 minutes in a game since January 2. He hasn’t seen the court at all for the Hornets since the All-Star break.

Kaminsky is in the final year of his four-year rookie contract, so even if he sticks with the Hornets for the rest of the season, he should get an opportunity to find a new team when his contract expires this summer. Although he’s eligible for restricted free agency, the 25-year-old seems unlikely to receive a $4.5MM qualifying offer from Charlotte. If the club passes on that QO, Kaminsky would become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Frank Kaminsky Seeking Buyout From Hornets

A trade candidate at this month’s deadline, Frank Kaminsky stayed put in Charlotte. Now, he’s hoping that he and the Hornets can work out an agreement on a buyout, but those efforts have stalled, according to Sean Deveney of Sporting News. According to Deveney, a source described Kaminsky as “very frustrated” with the situation.

[RELATED: 2019 NBA Buyout Market Watch]

The ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft, Kaminsky played a regular role in Charlotte’s rotation over the last two seasons, averaging 11.3 PPG and 4.1 RPG on .413/.350/.780 shooting during that two-year stretch. In 2018/19, however, he has been limited to 26 games and a career-low 10.8 MPG, and hasn’t played more than 10 minutes in a game since January 2.

According to Deveney, Kaminsky generated some interest at the trade deadline, but the Hornets passed on all offers. The 25-year-old was under the impression that Charlotte would be willing to negotiate a buyout and give him a chance to play more regularly somewhere else, but the team is somewhat nervous about its frontcourt depth, Deveney writes.

With Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo, and Willy Hernangomez up front, the Hornets seem to be well stocked at center, but Hernangomez has also fallen out of the rotation lately and there are some concerns about Biyombo’s knee holding up for the rest of the season, sources tell Deveney. Having Kaminsky on the roster gives the Hornets a strong insurance policy in case he’s needed.

While Kaminsky may be frustrated by his current role – or lack thereof – in Charlotte, he should soon have the opportunity to seek out a new NBA home even if he’s not bought out this season. He’s eligible for restricted free agency this summer, but the Hornets currently seem unlikely to tender him the $4.5MM qualifying offer necessary to make him an RFA. If the club passes on that QO, Kaminsky would become an unrestricted free agent.

Eastern Notes: Kaminsky, Maker, Giannis, Cavs

Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak said Thursday that no decisions have been made about pursuing a contract buyout with young forward Frank Kaminsky, with the 25-year-old still on the Hornets’ roster after the trade deadline.

“He wants to play,” Kupchak said of Kaminsky, as relayed by Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. “He’s under contract. Short of that, no decisions have been made addressing that situation.”

Bonnell also relayed that Kupchak, hired by the Hornets last April, is sympathetic to a remedy if Kaminsky is looking to play elsewhere.

The Hornets explored moving Kaminsky in the hours leading up to the trade deadline Thursday, but failed to find a suitable deal for the fourth-year player. Sean Deveney of Sporting News reported (via Twitter) that Kaminsky would likely become a buyout candidate in the near future, but it’s unclear where the possibility stands right now.

Charlotte also held strong trade discussions with the Grizzlies on a deal centered around Marc Gasol, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), but talks eventually broke off. The Hornets ended up not making a single trade on deadline day.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference today:

  • The Bucks traded Thon Maker to the Pistons for Stanley Johnson this week, sending away one of Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s closest teammates in an effort to upgrade the roster. “Thon is like my little brother, this one hurts more than any trade that happened that I’ve been a part of but this is the business we work in,” Antetokounmpo said, according to Cassidy Hubbarth of ESPN (Twitter link). The Bucks eventually flipped Johnson, Jason Smith and two second-round picks to acquire sharpshooting forward Nikola Mirotic.
  • For Milwaukee, Antetokounmpo could be the next star involved in rumors as the 2019/20 season draws closer, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports notes. Antetokounmpo is eligible to receive a super-max extension in the summer of 2020, but could become a free agent in 2021 if he chooses not to sign the extension. Antetokounmpo has cemented himself as one of the league’s top stars, leading the Bucks to a 40-13 record through 53 games this season. “He has been incredibly loyal,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I think that’s something that’s important to him. So, he’s a gift, for sure.”
  • The Cavaliers renounced the free agent rights to Deron Williams and Dahntay Jones today, Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets. Cleveland made multiple trades in the past week, acquiring Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss and a 2019 first-round pick in a multi-team deal on Wednesday.