Kent Bazemore

Pacific Notes: Bazemore, Kings, Booker, Rivers

Kent Bazemore gave the Kings an unexpected boost after they acquired him from the Trail Blazers, as Zach Lowe of ESPN details. Bazemore made 39% of his 3-point attempts and averaged 16 points per 36 minutes while providing energy and rebounding, Lowe continues. Bazemore, an unrestricted free agent this offseason, also had success on post-ups against smaller guards, Lowe adds.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Re-signing restricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic will be the top priority for the Kings this offseason, according to Jason Jones of The Athletic. The Kings intend to match any offer sheet, says Jones. Sacramento will look to upgrade its defense, particular on the wing, but it’s unlikely that big man Harry Giles will return after the team declined to pick up his option for next season, Jones notes.
  • Suns guard Devin Booker has been named a global ambassador for the Special Olympics, ESPN’s Malika Andrews reports. As an ambassador, Booker will continue to work with Special Olympics Arizona, communicate with young Special Olympics athletes on social media and participate in international Special Olympic events, Andrews adds.
  • Clippers coach Doc Rivers has been hammering home the message to his players to remain focused on winning a championship, Jovan Buha of The Athletic reports. “I’m trying to get my guys to understand two things: that our goals haven’t changed and the second thing is we cannot use whatever happens when we come out of this as the reason we don’t win,” Rivers said. “So we have to be mentally prepared for something different, something strange, (like) an NCAA tournament-style (or) a three-game series —  Those are just dangerous, anybody can win those things – (or) a five-game series. You just got to be prepared for it and you’re in the same boat. We use this phrase: ‘Win the wait.’”

Pacific Notes: Bender, Kings, Lakers, Ayton

After failing to become long-term building blocks in Phoenix, former Suns lottery picks Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender have reunited in Golden State. Bender is only on a 10-day contract for now, but Chriss thinks his former and current frontcourt mate is fitting in nicely with the Warriors, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic details.

“I think it’s a good fit for him, especially being around people who believe in you and help you grow,” Chriss said. “I think that’s all he needs.”

Bender’s 10-day contract with the Warriors will expire on Tuesday night, at which time Golden State will have the option of signing him to a second 10-day deal before having to make a decision on a rest-of-season commitment. Bender, who is simply looking to prove he still belongs in the NBA, hopes he’s making a good impression.

“I take it day-by-day,” Bender recently said, per Rankin. “I think there’s always options, but with this team, take it day-by-day and see what happens. Obviously, a great place to be, like I said. Great organization. I’m looking forward to the opportunity, but like I said, take it day-by-day and see what happens.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Although the Kings have missed Richaun Holmes over the last two months, they could actually have a logjam at center soon, writes James Ham of NBC Sports California. Holmes is reportedly nearing a return, but Harry Giles and Alex Len have played well up front for Sacramento as of late, so it’ll be interesting to see how the team divvies up playing time down the stretch.
  • Despite the fact that Anthony Tolliver was waived by the Kings over the weekend, he and Kent Bazemore helped get the team out of its lowest point of the season in January, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. The two recently-acquired veterans told their new teammates in a team meeting that they were better than their record showed. “We were very vocal about the potential here,” Tolliver said. “Coming from Portland and seeing how we played there, and seeing how these guys played here, even though they were losing a lot of games at that point, we were like, ‘You guys are not that far away from winning.'” Sacramento is 11-5 since that motivational pep talk.
  • With a comfortable hold on the top seed in the West, the Lakers are using the final stretch of the season to experiment a little with lineups, says Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. That included starting Alex Caruso when Danny Green missed Saturday’s game with a minor hip injury.
  • Even though he’s not the All-Star and borderline MVP candidate that Luka Doncic is, Deandre Ayton is on an impressive run for the Suns, averaging 20.9 PPG and 12.4 RPG in his last 19 games. Greg Moore of The Arizona Republic makes the case that it wasn’t a mistake for Phoenix to select Ayton first overall in 2018, two spots ahead of Doncic.

Pacific Notes: Giles, Len, Lakers, Clippers, Bazemore

Kings big man Harry Giles III recorded his first double-double on Saturday, helping his team pull off an improbable 112-103 victory over the Clippers at Staples Center.

Giles posted 14 points and 12 rebounds in 31 minutes, proving his worth on both ends of the floor as starting center. He started the 2019/20 season with very limited playing time, but his recent surge has caught the attention of Sacramento’s coaches.

“He’s moving much better now,” head coach Luke Walton said, as relayed by Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. “He’s out there calling coverages. He’s out there at the level, backing up, rebounding the ball. He’s doing all the things that we love about Harry. He looks like, physically, he’s in the best place I’ve seen him since I’ve been the coach here, and his skill set, as far as his passing and rebounding and toughness, that’s something we need.”

Giles has an injury-riddled history, particularly with his knees, but it hasn’t stopped the 21-year-old from continuing to persevere and improve. Instead, it’s motivated him to play better.

“I think with time and reps I’m going to get better,” Giles said. “I’m going to keep getting better. You know how the fouls go. It varies depending on how you’re going to play and depending on how the refs are going to let you play, too, so I’m going to keep getting better at that and just playing hard.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Luke Walton also spoke highly of Alex Len, who made his debut with the Kings on Saturday and recorded eight rebounds in 16 minutes. “It was nice to have a big body out there like that,” Walton said, according to Jason Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). “He did a good job of clogging up that paint. We’ve got to get him a little more familiar with what we’re doing so we can open up the playbook, but he knows some of the basic sets and he helped us win.”
  • The Lakers and Clippers are set to play their rescheduled game on April 9 at Staples Center, forcing the Lakers to play three consecutive home games from April 7-9, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. The game was originally scheduled to be played on January 28 but was later postponed due to the tragic death of Kobe Bryant.
  • The union of Kent Bazemore and the Kings has been a perfect fit for both sides, Jason Jones writes in a different story for The Athletic. Sacramento traded for Bazemore last month, acquiring a proven two-way player at the wing position.“Sometimes fresh blood does help,” Bazemore said. “I hadn’t been having the best year, so it was kind of a match made in heaven. A guy coming over desperate and team in a desperate situation. We’re kind of making it work right now.”

Blazers Offered Expiring Contracts For Kevin Love

The Trail Blazers were rumored to have kicked tires on Kevin Love earlier this year, and according to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic (via NBC Sports), the team offered Kent Bazemore and Hassan Whiteside for the big man.

Whiteside is making $27.1MM this season. Bazemore is making $19.3MM while Love is taking home $28.9MM. The outlined of the deal suggests that Portland would have received other players as part of the trade in order to meet the league’s salary-matching rules.

It’s not clear when exactly the proposal took place — the Blazers ended up trading Bazemore to the Kings in earlier January, so presumably, it was before that deal. Portland netted Trevor Ariza as part of the five-player trade.

The Cavaliers had Brandon Knight and John Henson on substantial expiring pacts prior to the team trading them to Detroit for Andre Drummond. Perhaps one of those two were in the proposed deal. Tristan Thompson, who is making $18.5M in the final year of his contract, could also have been a possibility, though that is simply speculation.

The Cavs couldn’t find common ground with potential trade partners when it came to Love’s trade value. Cleveland reportedly wanted a first-round pick in exchange for the big man, while it was rumored that some teams wanted a first-rounder just to take Love. The former All-Star has approximately $91MM left on his deal after this season.

Kings Notes: Bagley, Dedmon, Parker, Bazemore

Marvin Bagley‘s status for the rest of the season remains uncertain as he recovers from a sprained left foot, writes James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. The second-year forward has barely played since suffering the injury December 26, and the Kings announced last week that he will be re-examined after the All-Star break.

Bagley was wearing a walking boot as he visited the team in the locker room following last night’s game. He talked to the media for the first time since the injury, but wasn’t able to add much clarity to his situation.

“I’m definitely going to try to come back this year, but that’s too far ahead at this point,” Bagley said. “The most important thing for me right now is to make sure I’m healthy. Honestly, who knows, I’m just going one day at a time with this, I’m trying not to think too far ahead. I obviously want to play, I want to be out there. … I’ve only played however many games I’ve played this season over things I can’t control.”

There’s more from Sacramento:

  • General manager Vlade Divac admitted the Kings didn’t get what they hoped for from Dewayne Dedmon when they signed him to a three-year, $40MM contract in free agency, Ham relays in a separate story. Sacramento granted Dedmon’s trade request this week, sending him back to Atlanta. “Definitely disappointed for me, for the organization and I’m sure from Dedmon’s side that things didn’t work,” Divac said. “We had good intentions. He didn’t work out. We’re happy to move on and wish Dedmon all the best. Definitely, he wasn’t what we expected.”
  • The players the Kings received in the deal with the Hawks are both close to returning from injuries, Ham adds. Jabari Parker may play tomorrow after missing most of the past month with a shoulder impingement, while Alex Len is making progress in his recovery from a hip flexor. In a video posted by Sean Cunningham of KXTV, Parker said he wasn’t surprised to be traded. “I’ve always had a perspective I’m not employed by individual teams; I’m employed by the NBA,” he said.
  • The Kings began to turn their season around when they acquired Kent Bazemore from the Trail Blazers, observes Jason Jones of The Athletic. Bazemore has brought energy and attention to detail to the Sacramento defense. “He goes out there and does a lot of the dirty work,” De’Aaron Fox said. “… He does a lot of things for us, and the chemistry we’ve had since he’s been here has been great. It feels like we’ve been playing with him a lot longer than two weeks.”

Northwest Notes: Whiteside, Nuggets, Towns, Wiggins, Dort

The Trail Blazers will entertain offers for center Hassan Whiteside, a free agent after the season, and The Athletic’s Jason Quick estimates the chances of him being traded at 50/50. Quick also dealt with a few other Blazers-related topics.

Their recent trade with the Kings which involved five players and two second-round picks was a solid one, according to Quick, because the Trail Blazers saved approximately $12MM and upgraded at the wing with Trevor Ariza replacing Kent Bazemore. Portland is unlikely to deal its first-round pick because president of basketball operations Neil Olshey covets draft choices, even if the draft class is considered weak, Quick adds.

We have more from around the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets will continue to be without three rotation players when they face the Grizzlies on Tuesday, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets. Starting point guard Jamal Murray will miss his sixth straight game due to an ankle sprain while power forward Paul Millsap will sit out for the 11th consecutive game due to a knee injury. Backup big man Mason Plumlee will miss his fourth straight game due to a foot ailment.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins get the blame when things aren’t going well with the Timberwolves but the players around them need to do more, Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Guard Shabazz Napier told Youngblood that the role players need to do their jobs better. “This team is so used to KAT and Wigs doing all the work that when it doesn’t happen, we just stand around,’’ Napier said. “That’s how it is. We just gotta find ways to help them guys out. … We all, the role players, have to figure out, how do we help them out better?’’
  • Undrafted rookie guard Luguentz Dort has earned playing time with the Thunder for his defense while showing more of an offensive game, Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman relays. Over the last five games, Dort is averaging 7.2 PPG and 1.8 APG while shooting 5-for-12 on 3-pointers and making seven steals. “You can’t tell me he’s a rookie,” guard Chris Paul said of the two-way player.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Lakers, Saric, Suns

Appearing in their first game as members of the Kings on Wednesday, Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver were part of the team’s sixth consecutive loss and 15th in the last 18 games. While Sacramento’s playoff chances appear to be slipping away, the two newcomers remain optimistic that they can help turn things around.

“Me and Kent both feel exactly the same way — it’s not unfixable,” Tolliver said this week upon joining the Kings, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “It’s not something where we feel, ‘Aw, crap, we’re just gonna have to ride it out.’ We really feel we have an opportunity to do something with the guys we have.”

The Kings are now 5.5 games back of the No. 8 seed in the West, but Bazemore isn’t convinced that deficit is insurmountable, as Anderson relays: “You win two or three games in a row, you finish strong going into the (All-Star) break and you have plenty of time to make up that slack. This league is about getting hot at the right time.”

Despite the disappointing stretch, the Kings have no changes planned for their coaching staff or management group, according to James Ham of NBC Sports California, who tweets that the club will need to work things out with the current group in place.

Let’s round up a few more items from around the Pacific…

  • Asked by ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (Twitter link) if the Lakers need one more piece to cement their place as a championship contender, LeBron James declined to lobby for an upgrade. We have enough right now,” he replied.
  • As a result of starting 41 games this season for the Suns, Dario Saric has met the starter criteria and will be eligible a slightly higher qualifying offer if the team makes him a restricted free agent this summer, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. A former 12th overall pick, Saric would have been in line for a $4.79MM QO, but it’ll now be worth $5.09MM, the equivalent of a QO for the ninth overall pick.
  • Suns head coach Monty Williams and star Devin Booker expressed enthusiasm about NFL receiver Larry Fitzgerald joining the club’s ownership group, as Brendon Kleen of Forbes.com writes. “The level of credibility of our franchise continues to go up,” Williams said. “When someone like Larry partners and pours his money into it, it says a lot about who we are and who we’re trying to be.”

Kings, Trail Blazers Complete Five-Player Trade

JANUARY 21: The trade between the Kings and Trail Blazers is now official, according to press releases issued by both teams.

JANUARY 18: The Kings and Trail Blazers have agreed to a trade that will send Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to Sacramento in exchange for Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel, and Caleb Swanigan, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Shams Charania of The Athletic first reported (via Twitter) that the Blazers are trading Bazemore to Sacramento.

The Kings will also receive Portland’s second-round picks in 2024 and 2025 as part of the deal, a source tells Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link). ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter) that the swap can’t be officially completed until Tuesday, when Gabriel’s trade restriction lifts.

For Portland, the deal represents a cost-cutting move that shouldn’t impact the team’s on-court performance too drastically, if at all. Both Ariza and Bazemore have had down years so far, but Bazemore’s drop-off has been more precipitous —  he has posted a career-worst .347 FG% to go along with a .327 3PT%. Ariza is at least still knocking down his threes (.352 3PT%) at his usual career rate, even as his role was reduced in Sacramento.

Tolliver had been a rotation player for the Blazers, with 16.8 minutes per game in 33 contests, but hasn’t been at his best either — his .368 FG% is his worst mark since he was a rookie in 2008/09.

Bazemore and Tolliver are earning a combined $20.89MM, compared to a total of $15.68MM for Ariza, Swanigan, and Gabriel. Besides trimming more than $5MM off the Blazers’ team salary, the deal will also reduce the organization’s projected tax bill by $12.6MM, according to Marks (via Twitter).

Additionally, the Blazers will create a pair of traded player exceptions, including one worth just over $7MM, since they have a disabled player exception available to acquire Swanigan. The team will have the opportunity to keep Ariza for the 2020/21 season if he finishes the year strong. His $12.8MM salary for ’20/21 is partially guaranteed for $1.8MM, per Basketball Insiders.

It’s not clear if Swanigan and Gabriel fit into Portland’s plans, though it’s worth noting Swanigan was originally drafted by the Blazers before being traded to the Kings a year ago. Both players are on expiring contracts. Portland won’t need to cut anyone to make room to accommodate the three incoming players, since the club already had an open roster spot.

As for the Kings’ side of the deal, Amick observes (via Twitter) that it opens up a roster spot immediately and also creates slightly more flexibility moving forward, since Bazemore and Tolliver are on expiring contracts. The Ariza signing hadn’t worked out like the franchise had hoped, so Sacramento will hope that Bazemore can bounce back and that Tolliver looks more he did when he was a member of the Kings in 2016/17 and shot .442/.391/.744.

There are no plans to buy out Bazemore, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, who tweets that the veteran swingman has a “great relationship” with head coach Luke Walton and the Kings’ front office.

Even if the Kings’ new additions keep slumping, the team will come away with a pair of future assets in the trade by picking up the Blazers’ 2024 and 2025 second-round picks. Sacramento had already acquired multiple extra second-rounders for 2020 and 2021, so the team is building up quite a stash of draft picks, which could be useful in future deals.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reactions To Kings-Trail Blazers Trade

Today’s five-player trade with Portland is the start of an in-season reboot for the Kings, writes Jason Jones of The Athletic. Sacramento was willing to provide financial relief for the Trail Blazers by taking on the remainder of Kent Bazemore‘s $19.3MM expiring contract in the deal, which also netted Anthony Tolliver and a pair of future second-round picks.

By sending out three players in return, the Kings create roster flexibility that could be important in a potential trade of Dewayne Dedmon, Jones adds. The center, who signed a three-year, $40MM contract in free agency, lost his starting job after four games and has been vocal in his displeasure over a reduced role.

Jones notes that the deal is an admission that the summer’s free agency haul was a disappointment. Dedmon appears on the way out, and sending Trevor Ariza to Portland probably had to be done to make that happen. Jones relays that coach Luke Walton was fond of Ariza, but his contract is only partially guaranteed for next season so he may not have been part of the Kings’ future.

Jones believes anyone on Sacramento’s roster — apart from De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley III and Buddy Hield — is a candidate to be traded by the February 6 deadline, even Bogdan Bogdanovic, who will be a restricted free agent this summer.

There’s more reaction to today’s trade announcement:

  • The Kings have been collecting second-rounders and were happy to add two more, observes James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. With the addition of Portland’s picks in 2024 and 2025, Sacramento now has 13 second-round selections over the next six seasons. Ham adds that the value of those picks could increase once the league lowers the age requirement for the draft to 18, which is expected by 2022.
  • The trade is a signal that the Blazers have decided to “punt” the rest of the season, claims John Canzano of The Oregonian. He calls it understandable considering Portland had the highest payroll in the league and no playoff hopes other than possibly snatching the eighth seed. He also questions why president of basketball operations Neil Olshey decided to blow up a roster that reached the Western Conference finals last year, trading Evan Turner to the Hawks for Bazemore and sending Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless to the Heat for Hassan Whiteside.
  • Jason Quick of the Athletic talked to Bazemore on Friday night about the possibility of being traded. Bazemore had been hoping for a long stay in Portland, but he took a wait-and-see approach after several weeks of hearing his name in trade rumors. “I’ve been around long enough now, man, another day in the life, bro,” he said. “I ain’t even thought about it, honestly. Been traded before … I just go out and ready to go and continue to get better and be my best when the time is right.”

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Northwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Northwest Division:

Danilo Gallinari, Thunder, 31, SF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $64.7MM deal in 2017
Gallinari’s biggest issue has been staying out of the trainer’s room. His 68 regular-season appearances with the Clippers last season was his most since the 2012/13 season. But when he’s healthy, he can fill it up. He’s averaging 19.1 PPG and 5.1 RPG while shooting 41.3 percent from deep. When he gets to the free throw line, he’s money (at least 90 percent since 2016/17). At 31, Gallinari still has a few more good years left and will get a hefty long-term offer next summer.

Mason Plumlee, Nuggets, 29, C (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $41MM deal in 2017
Plumlee doesn’t stretch defenses like a majority of big men these days but he does enough to stay on the court. He’s the team’s fourth-leading rebounder despite averaging 16.6 MPG. He’s also adept at finding teammates (2.3 APG). Plumlee’s role figures to diminish if 2018 first-round Michael Porter Jr. starts to make a bigger impact but for now, Plumlee has a steady second-unit role on a contender. However, his annual salary will take a big dip next summer.

Jordan Bell, Timberwolves, 24, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $1.62MM deal in 2019
The Timberwolves can make Bell a restricted free agent by extending a $2.0MM qualifying offer in June. Thus far, Bell hasn’t done anything to make them want to keep the former Warriors big man around for another season. He’s been glued to the bench through the first month of this season, playing a total of eight minutes since November 4th. Noah Vonleh and Gorgui Dieng are ahead of him in the rotation off the bench, so Bell’s role won’t expand unless injuries strike.

Kent Bazemore, Trail Blazers, 30, SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $70MM deal in 2016
Bazemore was acquired from the Hawks in exchange for another veteran swingman, Evan Turner. The trade has been a lose-lose situation for both teams. Neither has made an impact on their current teams. Bazemore is averaging single digits for the first time since the 2014/15 season despite steady playing time (23.6 MPG). He’s shooting 34.6 percent from the field and his PER is 8.7. That’s not exactly the way Bazemore wanted his walk year to unfold. He’ll be settling for a sizable pay cut next summer.

Jeff Green, Jazz, 33, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2019
Green is the quintessential journeyman, seemingly popping up on a different team every season. Normally, he puts up solid numbers wherever he lands. That hasn’t the case through the first 14 games this season. Green has been in a shooting slump, making just 33 percent of his attempts. He shot over 47 percent for Cleveland and Washington the past two seasons, so a breakout might be imminent. If not, Green’s rotation spot could be in jeopardy when Ed Davis‘ fractured leg heals.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.