Justin Jackson

Kings’ Frontcourt Logjam Worth Monitoring

The Kings are projected by most oddsmakers and NBA analysts to be the Western Conference’s worst team in 2018/19, but there are several young players on the roster who should be fun to watch. Marvin Bagley III, 2018’s second overall pick, is one of those players, while 2017 first-rounder Harry Giles, who generated buzz with his play this summer after missing his entire rookie season, is another.

However, Bagley only played 12 minutes in Sacramento’s opening-night game on Thursday, while Giles saw just 10 minutes of action. It’s certainly not unusual for rookies to have modest roles to start the season, but the Kings’ frontcourt rotation in their first game highlighted the logjam that exists at the four and five, as Jason Jones of The Athletic details.

With Willie Cauley-Stein and Nemanja Bjelica starting at center and power forward, respectively, and Justin Jackson also playing at the four in some lineups, head coach Dave Joerger suggests it may be “tough” to find minutes for Bagley, especially since the club is thinking long-term with its top pick, Jones writes. For his part, the No. 2 overall pick said he’s “trying to stay patient” when it comes to his playing time.

“I can only control what I can control,” Bagley said after Thursday’s loss. “And whenever my number is called, I’ve just got to go hard, go 100%, and try to do whatever I can to try to help us win. I think I did all right for what I did tonight, how much time I played tonight.”

Besides Cauley-Stein, Bjelica, Jackson, Bagley, and Giles, there are a few more big men on the Kings’ roster who would like to earn some minutes up front. Skal Labissiere didn’t play in the club’s opener, and neither did veteran Zach Randolph, who wasn’t even active for the game. Throw in Kosta Koufos, who should be healthy soon after battling a hamstring injury, and you have seven or eight players vying for playing time at two positions.

In other words, there will likely be “unhappy bigs every night” in Sacramento this season, as Jones tweets.

The Kings, who don’t have serious playoff aspirations, are unlikely to address their frontcourt logjam right away, but this is a situation worth monitoring over the course of the season. At least one trade before the deadline seems likely, and vets like Randolph and Koufos could ultimately be strong buyout candidates if they’re not moved by February. Stay tuned.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/8/18

Here are Monday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

3:50pm:

  • The Celtics have recalled Abdel Nader and Guerschon Yabusele from the G League, according to the team (Twitter link). Nader and Yabusele played for the Maine Red Claws during Sunday’s loss to the Raptors 905.
  • The Hornets have assigned Dwayne Bacon to the G League for the third time this season, the team announced today in a press release. Bacon has played two games for the Greensboro Swarm so far this season, averaging an eye-popping 38.5 PPG.

3:12pm:

  • The Nets have assigned injured guard D’Angelo Russell to the G League, the club announced today in a press release. As first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), Russell is practicing with Brooklyn’s affiliate today as he rehabs the knee issue that his kept him out of action for several weeks. He’ll be recalled to the NBA after that practice.
  • Rookie guard Davon Reed has been re-assigned to the G League by the Suns, according to an announcement from the team. Reed, who recently made his G League debut after recovering from a torn meniscus, has yet to appear in an NBA game.
  • The Kings have recalled Justin Jackson and Georgios Papagiannis from the Reno Bighorns, tweets James Ham of NBC Sports California. The two youngsters have yo-yo’d back and forth between Sacramento and Reno over the last few days, appearing in a pair of games for the Bighorns since Friday.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/7/2018

Here are Sunday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Lakers recalled rookie center Thomas Bryant from their G League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers so he could play in tonight’s game, per a press release. Bryant has appeared in two NBA games this season. Bryant has appeared in two games for the Lakers this season. With South Bay, Bryant has averaged  21.3 PPG and 7.5 RPG  in 29.7 minutes per game.
  • The Bucks have recalled D.J. Wilson from their G League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, the team announced in a press release. Wilson has appeared in 12 games with Milwaukee this season.
  • After recalling the duo on Saturday, the Kings re-assigned Justin Jackson and Georgios Papagiannis to the G League on Sunday, per RealGM’s transactions log. The duo helped lead the Reno Bighorns to a victory, combining for 43 points and 20 rebounds.
  • A pair of Celtics, Abdel Nader and Guerschon Yabusele, headed to the G League on Sunday, according to RealGM’s transactions log. The two youngsters suited up for the Maine Red Claws in Sunday’s loss to the Raptors 905.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/6/2018

Here are Saturday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Kings have recalled forward Justin Jackson and center Georgios Papagiannis from their affiliate in Reno, tweets Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee.
  • The Suns have recalled second-round pick Davon Reed from their Northern Arizona affiliate, according to Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link). Reed, who is recovering from meniscus surgery in August, may play in Sunday’s game.
  • The Magic have recalled Wesley Iwundu and Khem Birch from the G League, per RealGM’s transactions log. Birch posted a double-double (10 points, 12 rebounds) for the Lakeland Magic on Friday night, but Iwundu struggled mightily, putting up just two points on 1-of-9 shooting.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/5/2018

Here are Friday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

7:08pm:

12:52pm:

  • Bulls power forward Cristiano Felicio signed a four-year, $32MM deal in July, but he has been seeing more action in the G League than the NBA as of late. The club announced today (via Twitter) that Felicio has been assigned to the Windy City Bulls for the fifth time in the last month. The 25-year-old figures to suit up for Chicago’s affiliate in tonight’s game against Fort Wayne before being recalled to the NBA.
  • The Magic have re-assigned Khem Birch and Wesley Iwundu to the G League, the team announced today (Twitter link). The duo will get a chance to play for the Lakeland Magic tonight as they host Santa Cruz.
  • Justin Jackson and Georgios Papagiannis have been sent to the Reno Bighorns by the Kings, tweets James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. Sacramento’s affiliate hosts Northern Arizona tonight.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/9/17

Here are Saturday’s G League assignments and recalls from across the NBA:

Kings Notes: Hill, Randolph, G League, Draft

George Hill becomes eligible to be traded in six days, and Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee expects rumors involving the Kings point guard to start emerging soon. Like most players who signed contracts over the offseason, Hill can be traded beginning December 15. He probably envisioned a larger role when he inked a three-year, $57MM deal with Sacramento, as he is getting just 25.5 minutes per night, even though he has started all 23 games that he has played.

Hill’s playing time might diminish even further if he stays with the Kings. First-round pick De’Aaron Fox is Sacramento’s point guard of the future and the organization views him as a developing star. Second-round pick and fellow point guard Frank Mason has been a pleasant surprise, leaving Hill to play off the ball more often. His numbers are down across the board after averaging 16.9 points for the Jazz next season, and Jones suggests a trade would be best for both Hill and the Kings.

There’s more out of Sacramento:

  • Zach Randolph, another veteran offseason free agent addition, has developed into the Kings’ most consistent player, Jones writes in the same piece. Coach Dave Joerger doesn’t believe in using young players just for development purposes, so Randolph has pushed rookie forward Justin Jackson and second-year forward Skal Labissiere to the bench. Joerger’s policy is to reward production with playing time, and Randolph has earned his minutes by averaging 15.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per night.
  • The Kings made the right decision to send Jackson, Labissiere and Malachi Richardson to the G League this week, Jones contends in a separate story. Sacramento doesn’t have enough playing time to devote to the nine first- or second-year players on its roster. Fox and Mason are joined by rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic in the rotation, and Joerger is reluctant to use too many young players at the same time. “It’s just generally not great practice for us if we put at least four young guys on the floor together,” he said. “It can get ugly.”
  • The Kings’ focus has changed since adding free agents Hill, Randolph and Vince Carter over the summer, according to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Those signings were made by Scott Perry, who has since left the organization to become GM of the Knicks. The new regime reportedly told its three free agent additions and fellow veteran Garrett Temple that the emphasis is now on acquiring a top five pick in next year’s draft rather than contending for the playoffs.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/29/17

Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Knicks sent Joakim Noah and Damyean Dotson to the G League today, then recalled them after the conclusion of the Westchester Knicks’ day game (Twitter links). Dotson scored 23 points in the loss to Maine, while Noah chipped in with nine points, five boards, and four assists.
  • Troy Williams has been re-assigned to the G League by the Rockets, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Williams figures to suit up tonight for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers against the Texas Legends.
  • The Kings have assigned a trio of players – Georgios Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson, and Justin Jackson – to the G League, the team announced today in a press release. The Reno Bighorns don’t play again until Saturday, so it’s not clear if the three youngsters will stick around that long, or if they’re just on assignment for practice purposes.
  • After helping the Delaware 87ers earn a win on Tuesday, rookie guard Furkan Korkmaz has been recalled to the NBA by the Sixers, per a press release from the team. Korkmaz had just 14 points on 3-of-12 shooting for Delaware last night, but was a team-best +19.
  • The Pacers have sent rookie center Ike Anigbogu to the G League, the club announced today. Anigbogu has played just 17 total minutes for Indiana so far this season, so assignments to the G League give him an opportunity to get more reps.

Kings Notes: Jackson, Kuzma, Papagiannis, Mason

First-round pick Justin Jackson is falling out of the Kings’ rotation with DNPs in two straight games, and Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee explains why in a mailbag column. Sacramento has opted for a smaller starting lineup with two point guards, free agent addition George Hill and rookie De’Aaron FoxGarrett Temple has moved to small forward, where he shares time with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield.

That has cut into the minutes for Jackson, who started five games earlier in the season. Coach Dave Joerger has been using veteran Vince Carter off the bench ahead of Jackson, and the power forward minutes Jackson used to get are now going to Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein. Jackson hasn’t performed terribly, averaging 6.7 points in about 19 minutes per night, but it looks like his playing time is going to be limited as long as Joerger relies on his veterans.
There’s more out of Sacramento:
  • The Kings could have solved their small forward problems by taking rookie sensation Kyle Kuzma in the draft, Jones states in the same piece. Sacramento brought Kuzma in for a pre-draft workout and saw his performance at the combine, but opted for Jackson with the 15th pick and Harry Giles at No. 20. Jones says fans should watch Giles in action before criticizing the pick. Giles is being held out until at least January because of his injury history with both knees.
  • Second-year center Georgios Papagiannis can expect to spend most of this season in the G League, Jones adds. Joerger wants the 20-year-old to get plenty of playing time, which won’t happen with the NBA squad, where he is behind Kosta Koufos and Zach Randolph. Jones thinks Papagiannis will get a chance to show the Kings what he can do once the G League season ends. He was the 13th pick in the 2016 draft, but played just 22 games for Sacramento last season and four so far this year.
  • Before earning his way into the Kings’ rotation four games ago, rookie point guard Frank Mason endured a lot of slights in his basketball career, Jones writes in a separate story. A second-round pick out of Kansas, Mason provides a defensive tenacity the team has lacked. “Even if they didn’t need a tough guy to come off the bench, that’s still who I am,” Mason said. “That’s what I bring to the team and I’ll continue to be that way and play that way forever.”

Pacific Notes: Jackson, Jersey Sponsorship, Clippers

The Kings enter training camp with one of the more interesting rosters in the NBA. Only one of the club’s three first-round picks from the 2017 NBA Draft, however, makes sense as a starter on opening day. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes that Justin Jackson boasts the length and offensive awareness to make an impact out of the gates.

In particular, Jones writes that Jackson impressed the Kings’ coaching staff with how quickly he picked up the team’s offensive and defensive schemes. The fact that he doesn’t need the ball to be effective on offense is another bonus, too.

The fact that Jackson may be the only Kings rookie ready to break the starting lineup right away is merely a product of circumstance. Jones notes that De’Aaron Fox could still be instrumental in his first season with the club, despite the fact that he’ll likely cede starts to veteran George Hill.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Earlier this week, the Lakers announced that they had come to terms on a jersey sponsorship deal with Wish, John Lombardo and Terry Lefton report for the Sports Business Journal. The team specifically sought a sponsor that would appeal to a younger audience and did so with the company behind one of the fastest growing e-commerce apps available.
  • It won’t be easy for the Clippers to maintain their status as a 50-win team in the Western Conference, Elliott Teaford of the Orange County Register rights. This offseason the roster saw a substantial amount of turnover.
  • The Warriors are heavily favored to repeat as NBA champions after maintaining the bulk of their historically successful core, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes. Many other teams, however, made dramatic moves to try to catch them.