Frank Kaminsky

Frank Kaminsky III Out Indefinitely With Patella Stress Fracture

Suns big man Frank Kaminsky III has been sidelined indefinitely with a right patella stress fracture, the team announced via press release on Saturday. There is no timetable for Kaminsky’s return and he will be re-evaluated in four weeks, the release noted.

Kaminsky, 26, had missed Phoenix’s previous three contests due to a right knee injury. Before he went down, the 2015 first-rounder draft pick was enjoying a solid season statistically off the Suns’ bench, averaging 11.0 PPG and 4.9 RPG. However, he had seen his minutes decrease in recent weeks, failing to play 20 or more minutes in a contest since mid-December.

With Kaminsky on the shelf for the foreseeable future, Cameron Johnson and Cheick Diallo are among the players who could see increased playing time, assuming the Suns don’t bring in outside reinforcements.

Hornets Notes: Biyombo, Bacon, Kaminsky

Bismack Biyombo‘s four-year, $68MM contract has been viewed for years as an albatross, but as that deal nears its end, the Hornets aren’t simply waiting for it to expire. In a regular role off the bench this season, the veteran center has played some of the best ball of his career, averaging a career-best 7.8 PPG with 4.0 RPG in just 16.2 MPG.

While Biyombo won’t get another contract like the one he signed in 2016, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer doesn’t believe a new deal with the Hornets is out of the realm of possibility. On a more modest salary, the 27-year-old big man could be a fit as a rim-protecting center off the bench, and it sounds like he’s open to the idea of remaining in Charlotte beyond the 2019/20 season.

“I love it here. This is my home — I started here,” Biymobo said. “Seeing the organization move in the right direction, seeing guys succeed (matters).”

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • Dwayne Bacon has had an up-and-down season so far, having fallen out of the starting lineup – and the rotation – since the Hornets’ first 10 games. However, the young shooting guard, who can be a restricted free agent at season’s end, is staying positive as he looks to earn another opportunity, Bonnell writes for The Charlotte Observer. “I think I have the perfect mindset to play 15 years in the NBA, because I can accept every obstacle and I’m always going to be ready. I don’t come with ego,” Bacon said. “I’m the same guy every day: I smile like I just scored 30 points. When you have an ego in this sport, you won’t get far. If I came in here all mad, thinking ‘Oh, you guys are playing and I’m not,’ that’s just selfish of me. I know this is going to come around.”
  • In another article for The Charlotte Observer, Bonnell explores what we’ve learned about the Hornets based on the first quarter of the club’s season.
  • After spending his first four NBA seasons with the Hornets, Frank Kaminsky is uncertain about how to feel playing against his old team as a member of the Suns tonight, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. The former lottery pick said he would try to treat it like just “another game” but admitted it was a new experience for him.

Pacific Notes: Rondo, Jones, Ayton, Bogdanovic

Rajon Rondo could be available tonight against the Jazz if his sore calf doesn’t flare up again, Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet tweets. The veteran Lakers point guard participated in a scrimmage during Thursday’s practice. Rondo, who missed Tuesday’s opener, will start “a lot” at point guard, according to coach Frank Vogel, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Rondo will play 25-30 minutes on a regular basis whether or not he starts, McMenamin writes in a separate post.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns GM James Jones is “disappointed in the actions” of center Deandre Ayton, who was suspended for 25 games by the league on Thursday for using a banned substance, Gina Mizell of The Athletic tweets. Jones added that the franchise remains “committed to his growth and development on and off the court.” Aron Baynes is expected to move into the starting lineup while Frank Kaminsky could see more action at center, Mizell writes in a separate story. Cheick Diallo, who was not part of Wednesday’s opening-night rotation,  could also be in the mix, Mizell adds.
  • The Suns will likely add a center once they’re able to move Ayton to the suspended list, John Gambadoro of 98.7 FM Phoenix tweets. Phoenix will be permitted to add a 16th player to their roster after their game against Memphis on November 2.
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic isn’t thrilled about the prospect of being a sixth man with the Kings, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and Brian Windhorst (hat tip to NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman). There’s no spot for him in the lineup with Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes at the wings and locked into long-term contracts. Bogdanovic, who scored just two points points in 22 minutes during the Kings’ opener, will be a restricted free agent after the season.

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.