Justin James

Kings Notes: James, Giles, Playoff Changes, Doncic

Second-round pick Justin James made an impression Friday with 14 points, three rebounds and three assists in his first significant playing time of the season. Before that, the Kings guard was mostly known for his non-stop chatter, writes Jason Jones of The Athletic.

James is talkative and opinionated, something that has been evident since the start of training camp. It’s his way of showing that he belongs in the league, and his teammates have noticed.

“He has that ‘it’ factor — he’s not shy,” Buddy Hield said. “From Day 1 when he first came in, he was not too shy to talk back, shy to voice his opinion … but he means well, and that comes from being confident.”

Sacramento took James with the 40th pick in June, and some draft experts were surprised he was selected at all. However, a series of injuries has provided him with an opportunity, and he played 33 minutes against Brooklyn after getting just 15 total minutes before that game.

“Every practice, he never shuts up, really,” coach Luke Walton said. “I think because of that, he knows the offense, he knows the play calls. There was one play out there he was directing veterans out there where to go. I think he knows what an amazing opportunity this is for him, and he’s doing everything in his power to make it work. He made a nice case for himself.”

There’s more from Sacramento:

  • The Kings haven’t given up on Harry Giles, even though they decided not to pick up the fourth year of his rookie scale contract last month, according to James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. Giles, who has been plagued by injuries since high school, provides another dimension with his ability to run the offense through the high post. Knee soreness caused him to miss all of training camp and the first eight games of the season.
  • Proposed changes to the NBA’s playoff format could have helped the Kings reach the postseason last year, Ham notes in a separate story. The play-in system that the league is considering would have matched the Kings and Lakers in a one-game format to take on the loser between the Spurs and Clippers for the eighth seed.
  • The Kings passed on Luka Doncic in last year’s draft in part because general manager Vlade Divac doesn’t like Doncic’s father, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon claimed on a podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski (hat tip to Jesse Reed of Sportsnaut). “My understanding is that him (Divac) being so close to Luka and knowing his dad so well factored into their decision,” MacMahon said. “Basically he didn’t think a whole lot of Luka’s dad, and the whole like father like son … well … no, this is a different dude. You messed that one up, Vlade.”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/14/19

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

  • One day after assigning the pair, the Bucks have recalled Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Dragan Bender from the team’s G League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, according to a tweet from the team’s official account (link). Bender scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the Herd’s win over the Capital City Go-Go on Wednesday, while Antetokounmpo finished with 14 points.
  • Like Milwaukee, the Kings recalled rookies Wenyen Gabriel and Justin James just one day after sending them both down to the team’s G League affiliate for a game (Twitter link). The Stockton Kings beat the Sioux Falls Skyforce yesterday, with Gabriel scoring 20 points and James adding 17.
  • Per a team press release, the Timberwolves have recalled forward Keita Bates-Diop from the Iowa Wolves, the team’s G League affiliate. Bates-Diop is averaging 22.5 points and 4.5 rebounds over two games in the G League this season.
  • The Clippers have recalled both center Mfiondu Kabengele and guard Derrick Walton Jr. from their G League affiliate, the Agua Caliente Clippers, the team’s official PR account tweeted out this afternoon. The pair was assigned on Tuesday.
  • With no practice on the schedule for today, the Grizzlies assigned guards Grayson Allen and De’Anthony Melton to the Memphis Hustle for their practice, according to a tweet from Memphis’ PR account (link). Allen’s assignment is in connection with rehab of his sore left ankle, while Melton’s is tied to a long-term conditioning and performance plan.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/13/19

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

  • The Bucks assigned Thanasis Antetokounmpo and former lottery draft pick Dragan Bender to their G League affiliate in Oshkosh, the Wisconsin Herd, according to a press release. The 6’6″ Antetokounmpo, older brother to reigning MVP Giannis, has played exactly once, for six minutes during Milwaukee’s 123-91 November 1st defeat of the Magic. He is on a two-year, minimum-salary deal. Bender has not seen NBA court action at all this season.
  • The Thunder have recalled Justin Patton from the Oklahoma City Blue, according to a team press release. The injury-plagued third year center out of Creighton has also played just six minutes in one game this season, a 120-92 October 27th rout of the Warriors.
  • The Kings initially assigned third-year power forward Caleb Swanigan and rookies Wenyen Gabriel, Justin James and to the team’s NBA G League affiliate, the Stockton Kings, according to a team press release. ABC10 Sacramento reporter Sean Cunningham tweets that Swanigan was initially going to suit up for Stockton tonight, but due to an injured ankle was recalled back to Sacramento instead (Twitter link). Gabriel and James aren’t in Sacramento’s rotation but will get a chance to play in Stockton tonight.
  • The Sixers assigned second-year power forward Jonah Bolden to their G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats, tweets Rich Hofmann of The Athletic. The UCLA vet has averaged one point a game in two appearances this season.

Kings Sign Second-Rounder Justin James

JULY 10, 6:05pm: According to James Ham of NBC Sports California, James’ new contract with the Kings is a three-year, minimum-salary deal with the first two seasons guaranteed. The total value of James’s contract is $4,198,912.

JULY 10, 1:30pm: The Kings have officially signed another one of their second-round picks, announcing today in a press release that No. 40 overall selection Justin James is now under contract.

Terms of James’ first NBA deal aren’t yet known, but players selected in that range often sign contracts at or near the minimum that include at least a couple guaranteed seasons. Sacramento still had a little cap room left over after signing a handful of veteran free agents, so the team could go up to three or four years for James.

A 22-year-old guard out of Wyoming, James filled up the stat sheet during his senior season with the Cowboys, averaging 22.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, and 4.4 APG in 32 games. However, he struggled with his efficiency, making just 40.9% of his attempts from the floor, including 29.6% from beyond the three-point line.

The Kings didn’t have a first-round pick in this year’s draft, but selected three players in the second round. The team has signed No. 55 pick Kyle Guy to a two-way contract and appears likely to stash No. 60 pick Vanja Marinkovic overseas.

Western Notes: Cousins, Cook, Valanciunas, OKC

While Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson have been the most-discussed free-agents-to-be on the Warriors‘ roster all season long, a handful of the club’s other players who are headed for the open market are seeing their stocks impacted by what they’re showing in the postseason.

As Marc Berman of The New York Post writes, DeMarcus Cousins is one of those players. When he tore his quad in the first round of the playoffs, he seemed unlikely to return into the fall, raising uncertainty about what sort of offers he could expect in free agency. However, Cousins helped key the Warriors’ Game 2 win on Sunday, and is now in position to take on an even more crucial role with Kevon Looney sidelined for the rest of the NBA Finals. Cousins could be earning himself some extra money with each game he plays this series.

Meanwhile, one of the Warriors’ most reliable contributors off the bench in Game 2 was Quinn Cook, who played 21 minutes and knocked down three big 3-pointers to help hold off the Raptors. After the game, Draymond Green referred to Cook as “our Patty Mills,” adding that the young guard “should be here for a long time” (Twitter link via Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated).

The Warriors will have to decide in a few weeks how strongly they agree with Green, as Cook will be up for restricted free agency. Even if Golden State issues a qualifying offer to gain the right of first refusal on Cook, a rival suitor could swoop in with an offer sheet that the Warriors may be reluctant to match, given the luxury-tax implications.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Jonas Valanciunas once again stated this week that the Grizzlies‘ head coaching decision will play a part in his decision on his $17.6MM player option for 2019/20, as Lithuanian reporter Donatas Urbonas relays (via Twitter). “Deeper into the summer, we’ll have a better picture [of] who’s staying and what are the team’s plans,” Valanciunas said. “First, I want to see who’s the head coach. It’s gonna be a huge factor.”
  • With Darko Rajakovic prepared to head to Phoenix, the Thunder will have three openings to fill on Billy Donovan‘s staff, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. Mark Bryant and Bob Beyer also accepted jobs with new teams.
  • Brett Dawson of The Athletic explores Patrick Patterson‘s outlook as the Thunder forward prepares to enter a contract year. Despite two up-and-down years in Oklahoma City and the possibility that he’ll be on the trade block, Patterson could be a rotation player if he returns, Dawson writes.
  • The Nuggets worked out six prospects at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday, bringing in Javon Bess (Saint Louis), Kavell Bigby-Williams (LSU), Jordan Davis (Northern Colorado), Justin James (Wyoming), Tanor Ngom (Ryerson), and Josh Reaves (Penn State), per a team release.

Draft Notes: Vick, Caroline, Kings

The NBA Draft is less than one month away. As we await the big night, let’s take a look at some workout notes: