Kevon Looney

Pacific Notes: Looney, Lakers, Suns, Kings

When it comes to Warriors players facing free agency this summer, the focus has rightly been on Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, but those aren’t the only players on the roster with expiring contracts.

One key role player up for a new deal this offseason is Kevon Looney, who played regular minutes at center this season as DeMarcus Cousins and Damian Jones dealt with injuries. Now, his role has increased once again with Cousins expected to miss the rest of the playoffs, perhaps putting him in a position to boost his value as he nears free agency.

The Warriors hold Looney’s Bird rights, allowing the team to go over the cap to re-sign him. But if Thompson and Durant return, it’s not clear how high Golden State would be willing to go to retain a role player. Asked about Looney’s upcoming free agency, teammate Andre Iguodala acknowledged that a more lucrative payday may await the youngster elsewhere.

“I hope he gets paid,” Iguodala said, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic (video link). “So I hope he doesn’t come back because I hope he gets all the money.”

Here’s more out of the Pacific:

  • Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka met with Sixers assistant Monty Williams earlier this week to discuss the club’s head coaching vacancy, and there’s an expectation on both sides that a second visit will occur at some point, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Williams is one of three known candidates for the Lakers’ job, along with Tyronn Lue and Juwan Howard.
  • The Suns‘ approach to the offseason will hinge largely on where the team’s first-round pick lands in the lottery, as Gina Mizell of The Athletic explains. Mizell sketches out multiple potential paths for Phoenix’s offseason — one that involves Zion Williamson, one featuring Ja Morant, and one in which the Suns land outside the top two in the draft.
  • In a story published shortly after Dave Joerger was let go by the Kings, Jason Jones of The Athletic passes along some fascinating tidbits on Joerger’s tenure in Sacramento. According to Jones, Joerger never really seemed to connect with youngsters Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles, favorites of the front office. Sources also told Jones that Joerger favored drafting Luka Doncic over Bagley, and would have been on board with trading Buddy Hield before the 2018/19 season.

Warriors Notes: Bogut, Jones, Looney, Cousins

Andrew Bogut could return to the Warriors for their March 16 game at Oklahoma City, according to Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News. Circumstances are setting up for Bogut to make his debut in an ABC prime time game against one of Golden State’s top challengers, featuring a matchup against New Zealand rival Steven Adams.

After receiving clearance from his Australian team to rejoin the NBA, the next step for Bogut is to obtain a U.S. work visa, Medina continues. Bogut must decide whether to have a visa sent to the American consulate in Sydney or to obtain a tourist visa that would enable him to travel to Oakland. If he picks the second option, he will have to fly to Vancouver during the week to obtain a work visa.

“Maybe at the end of next week would be the hope,” Warriors GM Bob Myers said yesterday in his weekly interview on 95.7 The Game.

There’s more Warriors news to pass along:

  • Coach Steve Kerr hasn’t given up on the possibility that Damian Jones might return for the playoffs, even though it appears unlikely, Medina adds in the same piece. Jones hasn’t played since undergoing surgery in December on a torn left pectoral muscle. Kerr said the third-year center has done on-court work “in the last week or two,” but still hasn’t participated in “anything live,” such as a full-court scrimmage. The Warriors are already well stocked at center, with Bogut joining DeMarcus Cousins, Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and Jonas Jerebko. Golden State has Jones under contract for $2.3MM next season.
  • The right pelvic soreness that Looney has been experiencing isn’t related to hip injuries that limited him to 58 games over his first two seasons, Medina relays in a separate story. Looney has missed the past two games and said the training staff told him to rest until the problem was resolved. “I know what real pain feels like. I know when it’s really serious,” he said. “I feel all ends of the injuries in that area. I knew it wasn’t serious and knew I could clean it up in a couple of days. It was best for me to take care of it now.”
  • Cousins credits assistant coach Jarron Collins for making his comeback from a ruptured Achilles successful, Medina writes in another piece. Cousins calls the 10-year NBA veteran and fifth-year coach “the biggest help for me this entire season.”

Warriors Notes: Bogut, Lee, Evans, Looney

Just a couple days after one report suggested that two-way player Damion Lee appeared to have the inside track on the Warriors’ final roster spot, word broke today that the club will instead fill that opening by bringing back veteran center Andrew Bogut, whose season in Australia is now over.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic explores that decision, explaining that Golden State sent a representative to watch Bogut in Australia in recent weeks. The club came away feeling as if he looked rejuvenated after a year removed from the NBA.

“[It] seems like he’s in a really good place,” one team source told The Athletic. “Physically and mentally. [The] shorter, less demanding season did wonders for him.”

Additionally, as Slater details, the Warriors stars who played with Bogut in previous seasons – including Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green – have remained on friendly terms with the 34-year-old. When they were approached about the idea of a reunion, they all gave the go-ahead, sources tell Slater.

While it remains to be seen if Bogut will be the perfect on-court fit for the Warriors, the team wanted a bigger-bodied, defensively-minded center, according to Slater, who notes that the Dubs lost a pair of those players – and a ton of postseason experience – when both David West and Zaza Pachulia left the club last summer.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Although Bogut will fill that 15th roster spot for now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Warriors won’t make another roster move before the playoffs, Slater writes. Depending on how the rotation looks in the coming weeks, Lee – or another player – could still earn a place on the 15-man squad. “Everything is an option until the last day,” a team source said to Slater.
  • Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News echoes that sentiment, but notes (via Twitter) that the Warriors are unlikely to waive little-used rookie Jacob Evans to make room for anyone this season. Evans and injured big man Damian Jones are both under contract for 2019/20, and Golden State will want to avoid creating dead money on next year’s cap, says Slater.
  • Shams Charania of The Vertical provides an injury update on Kevon Looney, tweeting that an MRI revealed a pelvic strain. Looney will be considered day-to-day, with a return date dependent on his strengthening and rehab.
  • Klay Thompson is also day-to-day for the Warriors, as we detailed earlier today.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Durant, Warriors, Clippers

The Kings came into the 2018/19 season projected to be a 25-win team. They’ve already blown past that projection and continue to vie for a playoff spot in a competitive Western Conference. And in the view of head coach Dave Joerger, the club’s success this season is just the start of something special in Sacramento, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee details.

“We’re playing hard and we don’t quit,” Joerger said. “What we’re building here, we will reap the rewards of this for many years to come — not many years from now, but going forward. If this is who we are, and I believe it is, we’re a tough out (in a playoff series) and Sacramento is a tough place to play if you’re a visiting team. We’ll keep coming at you.”

If the Kings’ young players continue to make positive strides, Joerger is right that things should only get better for the franchise moving forward. De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Harry Giles are all in their first, second, or third NBA season, and none are over 26 years old.

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

  • Speaking to Kerith Burke of NBC Sports Bay Area, Warriors star Kevin Durant offered a couple interesting answers in a Q&A, suggesting that he won’t be thinking about his legacy when he makes his free agency decision this summer. He also indicated that he doesn’t feel the need to “build something” somewhere. “I don’t need anything in this basketball world to fulfill anything in me. The NBA is never going to fulfill me,” Durant said. “It’s going to make me feel good about all of the work that I’ve put in, but I think those days of me wanting to prove something to anybody or walk around with a huge chip on my shoulder is not my thing.”
  • While Kevon Looney is probably still the Warriors‘ more trusted option, he and Jordan Bell have been trending in opposite directions lately, with Bell taking some of Looney’s minutes, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Both players are eligible for free agency in 2019, so they’ll be looking to finish the season strong.
  • Despite trading away their leading scorer at each of the last two deadlines (Blake Griffin in 2018 and Tobias Harris in 2019), the Clippers remain in the playoff mix and have managed to pull off the enviable feat of retooling their roster without bottoming out, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of Armed with young players, some draft assets, and cap flexibility going forward, the Clips are in position to make a splash this offseason.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Pacific 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 turn our attention to the Pacific Division:

Kevon Looney, Warriors, 22, PF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $1.57MM deal in 2018
Looney has received rotation minutes throughout the season, providing defense and rebounding while the stars do most of the scoring. Looney, who had back-to-back 12-rebound games this week, has made the most of his limited offensive opportunities (62.6%) though he doesn’t shoot threes or make enough of his free throws. Efficiency ratings and advanced defensive metrics are above-average. It remains to be seen how much DeMarcus Cousins‘ return will impact his minutes but for now, he’s enhanced his resume.

Patrick Beverley, Clippers, 30, PG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $23MM deal in 2015
Beverley missed most of last season due to right knee surgery. Beverley’s offensive numbers are down but that’s not the strength of his game. He has resumed his role as a pesky, on-the-ball defender and Doc Rivers has played him an average of 26.9 MPG this month. Beverley posted one of the oddest stat lines of the year for a guard on Monday — three points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks in 25 minutes against New Orleans. His ability to get under opponents’ skin will help him land a multi-year deal in the summer.

Ryan Anderson, Suns, 30, PF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $80MM deal in 2016
Anderson will make a substantial amount of money next season, yet he’ll probably sign for the veteran’s minimum. How does that work? He’s guaranteed $15.6MM in the last year of his contract and the Suns have until July 10th to decide whether to give him a $21.2MM full guarantee. Considering that Anderson never plays anymore, that will likely be an easy decision for the Suns. Anderson cashed in at just the right time the last time he entered the market but he’s gone from starter on one of the league’s top teams one season to spectator on one of the league’s worst clubs this year.

Ivica Zubac, Lakers, 21, C (Up) — Signed to a three-year, $3.9MM deal in 2016
Coach Luke Walton and the front office didn’t appear to have any faith in their young big earlier this season, as evidenced by the early-season signing of Tyson Chandler. When finally given a chance a month ago, Zubac has delivered some solid performances. He erupted for 26 points and 12 rebounds in 28 minutes against Oklahoma City on Thursday. Zubac needs to become a more physical defender but he has a deft touch around the rim. A restricted free agent, Zubac’s status with the franchise hinges on how much cap space they want to free up this summer. His qualifying offer is just over $1.9MM.

Kosta Koufos, Kings, 29, C (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $32.9MM deal in 2015
Considering how the Kings have been collecting young bigs through the draft in the last couple of years, it was almost inevitable that Koufos’ role would diminish. That’s especially true this month, as Koufos hasn’t seen the court in the last four games. Koufos is a traditional center who doesn’t shoot threes and he’s also a poor free throw shooter. Defense and rebounding are the areas where Koufos can help a team in a backup role but offers on the open market will be modest.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Warriors Notes: Centers, Curry, Green, Iguodala

Tyson Chandler‘s statement that he considered signing with the Warriors before joining the Lakers is a sign that Golden State is having second thoughts about its current group of centers, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Steven Adams dominated the Warriors on Wednesday with 20 points and 11 rebounds in Oklahoma City’s 28-point win, elevating concerns that Damian Jones, Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell aren’t doing enough in the middle.

The organization made the decision to go with younger centers this summer, letting JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia and David West all leave. However, after a few weeks Golden State was already reaching out to a veteran like Chandler to provide more stability.

Jones made his 17th start in 19 games Wednesday, but posted just four points and no rebounds, continuing his season-long struggle. Looney had four points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes, but Slater notes that his offensive limitations make it hard to trust him with a larger role. Bell has fallen out of the rotation and hasn’t played well enough to earn more minutes.

Of course, the Warriors’ problems at center could be solved in a big way once offseason addition DeMarcus Cousins is able to play. But there’s still no timetable for him to return after last season’s Achilles injury, which means center could be a lingering issue for the defending champs.

There’s more Warriors news to pass along:

  • Stephen Curry didn’t appear to be bothered by a groin sprain during shooting drills at Tuesday’s practice, but the Warriors are being careful about bringing back their star guard, Slater relays in the same story. He has already been ruled out for games Friday and Saturday against the Trail Blazers and Kings. Golden State is 2-5 since Curry suffered the injury.
  • Draymond Green, who is sidelined with a sprained toe, may be losing his impact as a vocal leader, Slater adds. Green was caught on camera giving a fiery speech during a first-half timeout, but the reaction of his teammates suggests that it wasn’t inspirational.
  • Andre Iguodala hasn’t been able to provide a scoring boost with Curry and Green sidelined, writes Dieter Kurtenbach of The San Jose Mercury News. Iguodala is averaging just 6.4 PPG since the start of November. Kurtenbach contends he could be filling the roles of playmaker and third scorer, but appears to be coasting through the regular season.

Pacific Rumors: Ingram, Holmes, Looney, Gilgeous-Alexander

LeBron James continues to chat up Brandon Ingram as a budding superstar, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin relays. The Lakers small forward got a chance to play the point in the latest preseason game and racked up 31 points, nine rebounds and three steals. “His pace, his ability to play the point and play the wing, he’s a very special talent, and we’re definitely happy to have him on our side,” James said, adding, “I know what I see in him, and he’s looking for this opportunity to make this next jump in his third year.” Ingram is eligible for a rookie scale extension next offseason and James’ praise won’t hurt his cause.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Richaun Holmes isn’t a scorer but his other attributes have made him a favorite with the Suns’ coaching staff, as Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic notes. The big man has earned a role with Phoenix with his energetic style. “He moves well, is a live body, good defender,” coach Igor Kokoskov said. “Very athletic. He’s got to help us defensively, protect the paint. Runs the floor and he fits in well with what we’re doing here.” Holmes was acquired from the Sixers for $1MM in July.
  • Warriors forward Kevon Looney drew lukewarm interest from a handful of teams in free agency, he revealed to Mark Medina of the San Jose Mercury News. The Rockets, Timberwolves, Clippers, Sixers and Hawks made contact but “nobody really offered,” Looney said. He was an unrestricted free agent after Golden State declined to pick up his option last fall but he settled for a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal.
  • Lottery pick Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has earned significant playing time during training camp, according to Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times. The University of Kentucky product is averaging 11 PPG and 4.5 APG in 24.0 MPG for the Clippers in two preseason outings.

Warriors Notes: Green, Looney, Durant, Livingston

Draymond Green may be kept out of action for the rest of the week because of pain in his right knee, but Warriors coach Steve Kerr doesn’t believe it’s a serious condition, according to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Green won’t play against the Kings in Friday’s game, but he will travel to Seattle with the team.

“Just being careful,” Kerr said after today’s practice. “He still had a little inflammation this morning.”

Kerr added that Green underwent an MRI, which came back clean. Free agent Jonas Jerebko is expected to take Green’s spot in the starting lineup on Friday.

There’s more Warriors news to pass along:

  • Kerr was concerned that center Kevon Looney would be lost in free agency, writes Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area. Looney was an unrestricted free agent because the team declined his fourth-year option of nearly $2.23MM. He re-signed with the Warriors for the minimum, which was about $700K less than his option. “When we didn’t pick up his option and then all of a sudden he had a great camp and a great start to the season and a great finish, it was a little nerve-wracking thinking we might lose him,” Kerr said. “But it all worked out in the end for us. I’d really like to see him make some money and do really well for himself. He deserves it. And hopefully that’s here.”
  • Kevin Durant plans to be open and honest about the free agency process next summer, relays Nick Friedell of ESPN. Durant said he believes he handled things the same way in 2016, even though he received a firestorm of criticism after leaving Oklahoma City to join the Warriors. “I’m like, ‘Man, there’s so much attention on me because I switched teams,'” he said. “I thought I did something wrong, but I knew deep down in my heart that was the perfect decision for me and I know that now I just got to stand on that, outwardly say it, and that will stop the speculation from a lot of people.”
  • Shaun Livingston is focused on enjoying the upcoming season without worrying that it might his last with Golden State, Poole writes in a separate story. Livingston has a partial guarantee on his $7.7MM contract for next season, and the Warriors will have to pay him just $2.2MM if they waive him before July 1. That would save the team almost $20MM in luxury tax.

Warriors Notes: Thompson, Green, Looney, Dynasty

Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson isn’t particularly excited about becoming a free agent at the end of the season. He doubts he could find a better situation than he’s already in, as Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. “Not really. When guys go into free agency, they’re looking for situations like mine. I’m content.” Thompson, who will make a shade under $19MM this season, will be an unrestricted FA unless he signs an extension. Golden State owner Joe Lacob said he’d like to sign Thompson to an extension but nothing is imminent. Thompson deferred all extension questions to his agent, as Nick Friedell of ESPN tweets.

In other news regarding the Warriors:

  • Power forward Draymond Green is signed through the 2019/20 season and he anticipates staying with the organization beyond that point, Mark Medina of the San Jose Mercury News reports. Lacob indicated the organization has also been discussing an extension with Green’s representatives. Green isn’t sure if they’ll come to an agreement but he doesn’t see himself wearing another uniform in the foreseeable future. “I’m confident I’ll be here a very long time,” he said.
  • Kevon Looney knows DeMarcus Cousins will be the team’s center once he fully recovers from his Achilles injury, according to the Warriors website post. Looney expects a spirited competition for minutes at that spot until Cousins’ return. “Since I’ve been here we’ve been playing center by committee. That’s what we’re going to do to start the season off. … until he come back we’re going to go out there and do our best and hunt it down,” Looney said.
  • With Kevin Durant, Thompson, Cousins and several other players eligible to be free agents after the season and growing payroll concerns, there’s a feeling that the team’s dynasty could soon be coming to an end. Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post takes a closer look at that possibility.

Warriors Notes: McCaw, Livingston, Durant, Kerr

Patrick McCaw will probably accept the Warriors’ qualifying offer before training camp opens, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. A restricted free agent, McCaw has been waiting all summer for a team to offer more than Golden State’s QO of $1.7MM.

A disappointing second season contributed to McCaw’s current situation. His 2-point and 3-point shooting percentages both declined, and his scoring and rebounding numbers didn’t improve, even with a slight increase in playing time. Still, McCaw will likely remain in the rotation if he returns to Golden State, which may not be guaranteed if he signs elsewhere.

Both parties have leverage in the standoff, Slater notes. The Warriors can match any offer that McCaw receives, while he and his representatives know that the team can only offer minimum deals to potential replacements. With 13 players under contract, Golden State plans to give the 14th roster spot to McCaw while keeping the final one open.

Slater passes along more Warriors info in his mailbag column:

  • Golden State will have to make a decision on Shaun Livingston‘s partially guaranteed contract for 2019/20 by June 30, and the team’s choice may reflect how negotiations are going in other areas. Livingston has a $2MM guarantee on his $7,692,308 deal and could be a welcome source of savings for a team that’s already well over the cap with Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant both heading toward free agency and Draymond Green eligible for an extension. Livingston will turn 33 next week and it could be an easy decision if his game declines this season.
  • Damian Jones is the best bet to start at center when the season begins. Jordan Bell is the most talented candidate and will probably inherit the job once DeMarcus Cousins leaves in free agency, while Kevon Looney‘s reliable defense puts him in the discussion. Slater expects Jones to win the job unless he has an awful preseason, with Bell eventually taking over until Cousins is healthy enough to return in January or February.
  • Durant hasn’t made any decisions about his future, but he may be looking for a long-term deal next summer. The Warriors will have his full Bird Rights for the first time since he joined the organization and he may want security at age 31, whether that means a five-year contract with Golden State or a four-year deal elsewhere.
  • Coach Steve Kerr was able to make it through last season without major health issues, but the pain resulting from his back surgery hasn’t gone away. Kerr had to take two leaves of absences in the wake of the operation, but his recent contract extension is a sign that the issue is under control.