Kosta Koufos

Kings Notes: Bagley, Randolph, Koufos, Labissiere

Willie Cauley-Stein‘s improved performance may have taken away some of the need for Marvin Bagley, but the Kings would have drafted him second overall anyway, Jason Jones of The Athletic writes in a mailbag column. Sacramento could use another creator on offense, a role that could have been filled by Luka Doncic, who went one pick later, but Jones believes Bogdan Bogdanovic will help in that area when he recovers from his knee injury.

Kings management views Bagley as a positionless frontline player who won’t be limited to center or power forward. Doncic was in the top three on their draft board, along with Deandre Ayton, but Jones states that the Kings were sold on Bagley’s combination of athleticism, energy and rebounding, along with his potential to develop into a reliable scorer.

There’s more out of Sacramento, all courtesy of Jones:

  • Veteran forward Zach Randolph may not play all season if he remains on the Kings’ roster. The front office informed him that it planned to concentrate on giving time to its young big men, and the team is already having difficulty finding enough minutes for all of them. Randolph averaged 14.5 PPG and 6.7 RPG last season, so he believes he can still contribute, even after turning 37 this summer. He is currently away from the team, but his expiring contract worth nearly $11.7MM could prove useful in a trade.
  • Kosta Koufos, who recently returned from a hamstring injury to add to the logjam of big men, is a strong candidate to be re-signed after the season ends. Coach Dave Joerger and GM Vlade Divac are both strong supporters of Koufos, who is making $8.7MM in the final year of his current deal.
  • The Kings considered trading away Skal Labissiere last season, but it would take a strong offer now for them to consider parting with him. With Cauley-Stein and Koufos both heading into free agency, a rotation spot would open up for Labissiere if either of them leaves.
  • Joerger was planning to experiment with a three-guard rotation in training camp before Bogdanovic hurt his knee. With Buddy Hield playing well, that could be an option once Boganovic is back on the court.
  • The Kings are willing to use their cap space to facilitate deals, but only if they get a significant asset in return. Sacramento would love to acquire a first-round pick after giving theirs up in a 2015 deal with the Sixers.

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.

Kings’ Kosta Koufos Exercises Player Option

MAY 11: Koufos has officially exercised his 2018/19 option, according to RealGM’s NBA transactions log.

MAY 10: Kosta Koufos won’t opt for free agency this summer, according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, who reports that the Kings center will pick up his player option for 2018/19. That option will pay Koufos a salary of $8,739,500 next season before he reaches unrestricted free agency in 2019.

Koufos, 29, has been a mainstay in the Kings’ rotation for the last three seasons, having signed a four-year, $32MM+ deal with the franchise in the summer of 2015. In 2017/18, Koufos averaged 6.7 PPG and 6.6 RPG in 71 regular season contests (19.6 MPG).

Although Sacramento has added young bigs like Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis, and Harry Giles in recent drafts, the team has yet to alter Koufos’ role, as he continues to average approximately 20 minutes per game.

Papagiannis was waived by the Kings earlier this year, but with Cauley-Stein and Labissiere still under contract, and Giles set to make his debut in the fall, it will be interesting to see if Koufos once again gets regular minutes for the club going forward. He could have a little value as a trade chip, given his now-expiring salary for 2018/19.

Koufos joins Cory Joseph, Jeremy Lin, Wesley Johnson, and Wesley Matthews as veterans who have exercised – or will exercise – player options, matching 2017’s total of five exercised options. That number will likely keep growing this year, since teams aren’t expected to be as aggressive with their spending in free agency.

Koufos is one of three Kings players with a player option for 2018/19. Iman Shumpert is considered a lock to exercise his $11MM+ option, while Garrett Temple is probably a good bet to pick up his $8MM option as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Deadline Notes: Evans, Hill, Hood, Mavericks

One of the most important deadlines on the NBA calendar is less than 24 hours away, and teams are preparing their best offers as we head for 2:00pm Central. We’ll find out soon if any more franchise-altering moves are in store for this season, but in the meantime here are some Wednesday night trade rumors:

  • The Celtics remain in the running for Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans, but there’s a sense that Memphis is getting better offers elsewhere, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. A GM from another team tells Bulpett that Boston is waiting to swoop in if talks with those other clubs fall apart. Evans’ value figures to have increased after Lou Williams agreed to an extension with the Clippers today, taking one high-scoring guard off the market.
  • Multiple teams have shown interest in George Hill, but the Kings don’t want to take on bad contracts, reports Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. The Cavaliers have been the team most prominently linked to the veteran guard, but Jones says the Rockets and others have contacted Sacramento about Hill. Houston could match salaries with Ryan Anderson, but he is owed more than $41MM over the next two seasons and the Kings want to avoid cutting into their future cap space. They are seeking young players and draft picks in return for Hill.
  • Teams have also called the Kings about veterans Garrett Temple, Vince Carter and Kosta Koufos, Jones adds in the same story. Both Temple ($8MM) and Koufos ($8.74MM) have player options for next season, while the 41-year-old Carter is on an expiring deal.
  • Jazz swingman Rodney Hood told Shams Charania of The Vertical that he expects to be traded. “I’ve had great times in Utah, but regardless of where I’m playing, whether it’s there or somewhere else, I’m going to stay professional,” Hood said. “I’m going to stick with it. My gut feeling is that I won’t be here by the deadline. I’ve enjoyed my time here, but I’ve felt isolated the past month and I would not be surprised if I was moved.” 
  • The Mavericks are being offered players by teams trying to unload salary, but they aren’t getting enough incentives to make the deals worthwhile, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Sefko lists Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle of the Lakers and J.R. Smith of the Cavaliers as players who would be available if Dallas doesn’t mind committing the cap space.
  • The Knicks may be in the market for more deals after sending Willy Hernangomez to the Hornets, writes Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Kyle O’Quinn and Courtney Lee are the most likely players to be moved.

Kings Begin Sitting Veteran Players

With top odds at the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft more likely than a playoff berth, the 13-30 Kings will focus more on developing their young players during the second half of the season. As Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes, that means head coach Dave Joerger has begun to remove certain veteran players from the team’s rotation for a game at a time.

According to Jones, the Kings will sit at least two – and perhaps three – of their veterans in each game going forward. That group of vets includes George Hill, Kosta Koufos, Garrett Temple, Vince Carter, and Zach Randolph. Carter and Randolph didn’t get off the bench during Monday night’s loss to Oklahoma City.

“It’s not an easy conversation,” Joerger said. “They’re very professional, they’re competitive. All of them are rotation players on a playoff team. So to ask those guys to step aside at different times is not enjoyable for me. They handled it well, they’ve been pros.”

When the Kings put together their roster for 2017/18, the hope was that the veteran group, led by free agent additions Hill, Carter, and Randolph, would complement young players like De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Willie Cauley-Stein, forming a productive lineup. However, most of Sacramento’s young players aren’t yet ready to be impact players, and the club’s vets – particularly Hill – have been inconsistent.

With Joerger and the Kings focused on determining which young players should be part of the team’s long-term plans, it will be interesting to see if any of the vets are on the move before the February 8 trade deadline. The Hill and Randolph contracts may be tricky to move, but Carter is on an expiring deal, and Koufos and Temple have affordable player options for 2018/19.

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Sacramento Kings

The Kings have known they’ll be mired in a years-long rebuild for a while now — and it’s not the fun kind of rebuild in which they can flaunt the potential of their youngsters while showing glimpses of hypothetical future greatness.

Unfortunately, the team sits tied for last in the Western Conference despite some forgettable campaigns from their rookies and sophomores, three of their regular starters coming in north of 30 years old and their most productive of the bunch being a 17-year veteran.

Don’t expect a major depth chart overhaul next summer when the team hits free agency. The club’s hands are somewhat tied in terms of roster flexibility, leaving the Kings little choice but to wait on the development of their in-house assets.

Vince Carter, SF, 41 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $8MM deal in 2017Vince Carter of the Sacramento Kings vertical
The Kings threw a pile of money at Carter last summer to clog their depth chart and offer the occasional nugget of sage advice to the youth around him. By all accounts, they’ve gotten just what anyone might have expected. While it’s admirable that the former All-Star is still capable of dropping 20-plus points and dragging his team to random unexpected victories, such performances are of little consequence to a franchise that should be focusing on getting more out of its prospects. Carter supposedly remains intent on playing in 2018/19, but it’s rather anticlimactic to picture his 21st season coming in Sacramento.

Kosta Koufos, C, 29 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $33MM deal in 2015
Koufos, a moderately efficient career backup, finessed a substantial long-term contract out of the Kings back in 2015, but few players have seen the value of their skillsets deflate more than Koufos. Suddenly a nine-year veteran, Koufos would be wise to accept his player option for $8.4MM.

Garrett Temple, SG, 32 (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $24MM deal in 2016
Temple has carved out a role for himself as a versatile veteran swingman. This is the type of vet that the Kings should be committing to rather than paying top dollar for novelty greybeards. The market will be squeezed next summer, so expect Temple back on board for his $8MM player option. Still, if next offseason’s economy looks similar to last year’s, he could benefit from testing the waters.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kings Notes: Carter, Labissiere, Veterans, Fox

Forty-year-old Vince Carter is sticking to his plan to play one more season after this one, he tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Carter had his best game since joining the Kings with 24 points Wednesday against the Cavaliers, the most points scored by someone 40 or older in less than 30 minutes since 1988.

The performance stood out for Carter, who is playing less than 15 minutes a night after leaving a playoff team in Memphis to sign with Sacramento. He understands that he doesn’t fit well with a rebuilding organization and isn’t surprised to hear his name mentioned in trade rumors.

“It’s a business. … I just have to do my job for what it says on the front of my jersey,” Carter said. “I kind of go from there. I am still going to be me. I am still going to play my best game within the confines of what the coach wants and asks from me. You’ll stress yourself out worrying about what is being said. There are always going to be rumors out there. That’s just how it goes in the league and it’s more prevalent now, whether it’s a superstar, two-way player or you’re a guy that has been around five years.”

There’s more news out of Sacramento:

  • Coach Dave Joerger is ignoring criticism of the way he has juggled the lineup as he searches for the right combinations, relays Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Joerger has used 14 starting lineups in 35 games and occasionally makes changes right before tip-off. Among the players affected is Skal Labissiere, who sat out three straight games before starting Friday night. The second-year power forward scored 10 points in the first quarter, but didn’t re-enter the game until the second half and played just 16 minutes total.
  • Of the Kings’ veterans, Zach Randolph and George Hill are most likely to remain with the team next season, Jones writes in a question-and-answer column. Both players signed as free agents over the summer and have contracts that run though the end of 2018/19. Randolph will make nearly $11.7MM next season before heading into free agency, while Hill will earn $19MM with a non-guaranteed $18MM for the following season. Jones expects Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos to exercise their player options and try to join a contender, while Carter’s contract expires after this season.
  • Rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox, out since December 14 with a partial tear in his right quadriceps muscle, was a limited participant in practice today, tweets Sean Cunningham of KXTV in Sacramento. Fox was shooting and running at full speed, but is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game.

Pacific Notes: Jackson, Ball, Clippers, Suns

Suns rookie Josh Jackson was fined $35K for making a “menacing” gesture towards a Los Angeles Clippers fan this past weekend, it was announced yesterday by NBA executive Kiki VanDeWeghe.  While it appeared that Jackson was mimicking a gun with his hand gesture toward the fan, he explained that was not the case, but rather that he a“kind of wanted to put up the middle finger to him but … didn’t do that because I felt like I was … being watched, so I kind of halfway did it.”  Clearly, the NBA didn’t buy his explanation.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers see a lot of similarities between rookie Lonzo Ball and former Nets point guard and Bucks head coach Jason Kidd, as detailed in a story by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.  In addition to their comparable styles, ability to run, and passing skills, both were born in California and selected second in their respective drafts.  However, the Lakers are also quick to admit that Ball still has a long way to go to reach Kidd’s level, and no one expects it to happen overnight.
  • Despite losing perennial All-Star Chris Paul this offseason, the Clippers are off to a fast start and have no intention of letting up anytime soon, reports Elliott Teaford of The Daily Breeze.  In fact, according to head coach Doc Rivers, his team still has a ton of room for improvement. “We aren’t even close to as good as I think we can be,” Rivers said.
  • Its been an eventful week for the Suns, to say the least, but as Chris Reichert of 2 Ways & 10 Days reports, the drama has resulted in good news for three of the Suns’ G League affiliate coaches. Ty Ellis, Bret Burchard and Brandon Rosenthal have been promoted to assistants under the Suns’ new head coach, Jay Triano.  As a result, G League assistant coach Tyler Gatlin takes over as interim head coach for the Northern Arizona Suns.
  • In a recent Q&A, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee opined that should the Kings make any trades this season, Kosta Koufos would be the most likely candidate to be traded, based on his contract and the interest he has garnered in the past.  Jones also believes that rookie De’Aaron Fox and second-year man Skal Labissiere have the highest ceilings of anyone on the team.

Kyler’s Latest: Cavs, Sixers, Lopez, Kings, Magic

The Cavaliers have been “aggressively” exploring ways to clear the contract of Chris Andersen from their books, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Andersen, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, is on a minimum salary deal, but moving him would allow Cleveland to open up a roster spot and create additional savings on the team’s projected tax bill.

Although the Cavaliers have been mentioned in some intriguing trade rumors involving star players like Carmelo Anthony, Cleveland is more focused on bolstering its bench. According to Kyler, the Cavs are prioritizing adding a point guard and a big man for depth purposes.

Here are a few more items of interest from around the NBA, via Kyler’s report:

  • On Monday night, several reports indicated that the Sixers and Pelicans were discussing a possible swap of Jahlil Okafor for Alexis Ajinca and a 2018 first-round pick. However, a source tells Kyler that Philadelphia may not be on board with that specific framework, preferring to put Jrue Holiday in the deal rather than the future first-rounder. The two teams continue to talk, but both sides are exploring other options as well, writes Kyler.
  • We’ve heard in the past that the Nets are seeking two first-round picks in any Brook Lopez deal. Kyler says that the team is specifically seeking a lottery pick in 2017, plus an additional future first-rounder. It seems unlikely that any team will meet that asking price, but Brooklyn appears content to wait until at least the offseason to get serious about moving Lopez.
  • There’s a “growing sense” that the Kings might move Darren Collison, as well as Kosta Koufos, by the trade deadline, per Kyler.
  • Kyler identifies Nikola Vucevic, Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green, and C.J. Watson as Magic players that may be on the move this month, though he notes that Orlando’s asking prices remain high. Kyler’s sources suggest that Toronto would be a favorable long-term situation for Ibaka, but there’s no indication that the big man would be willing to sign with the Raptors long-term, or that the Raps would give up “meaningful assets” for Ibaka.

Rockets Interested In Kosta Koufos

The Rockets would like to add another big man, and Kings center Kosta Koufos has become a “prime target,” tweets ESPN’s Marc Stein.

Koufos is averaging 5.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per night and has started 28 of the 32 games he has played this season. He is in the second season of a four-year deal that Sacramento gave him in 2015, and is making a little more than $8MM in 2016/17

The Rockets are shorthanded in the middle since center Clint Capela suffered a fracture in his left fibula last week. Second-year forward Montrezl Harrell and veteran big man Nene have been sharing the minutes at center.

[RELATED: Rockets exploring trade market for big men]

Houston has also been trying to find a taker for Corey Brewer, but with little success, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN (Twitter link). Brewer is making $7.6MM this season with another year left on his contract at the same salary.