Kosta Koufos

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.

Kings In Position To Be Active At Trade Deadline

Sacramento remains the only team in the NBA to have any cap space on its 2018/19 payroll, and as the February 7 trade deadline fast approaches, this means that the Kings are positioned to be a major player in the trade market, if they so choose, writes James Ham of NBC Sports California.

That being said, the Kings aren’t interested in taking on any long-term deals with their cap space unless a player on a long-term deal can help the team win now and in the future. Additionally, the team is reportedly not interested in taking on any expiring contracts to help another club save money unless assets are attached to said contract.

So, what do the Kings want? Per Ham, the Kings are motivated to add more length and size at the small forward position, while also interested in adding a veteran point guard to bring off the bench in a back-up/potential mentorship role for budding star De’Aaron Fox.

[RELATED: Kings Among Teams Interested in Jeremy Lin]

In addition to their $11MM in cap space, the Kings have the expiring contracts of Zach Randolph, Kosta Koufos, and Ben McLemore to worth with. Swingman Iman Shumpert is also in the final year of his contract, but has provided a veteran spark to a young team still competing for a playoff spot. Then again, Shumpert is only 6’5″ and plays small forward. As mentioned above, the team is interested in adding length to that position, so Shumpert could also be expendable if an attractive enough deal comes along.

As for the Kings’ current assets, Sacramento has no interest in moving any of its young talent (e.g. Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Marvin Bagley, or Buddy Hield) unless it means the team is making a massive long-term investment in a star-level player. And even then, the aforementioned core group of youngsters is close to untouchable.

In Ham’s view, general manager Vlade Divac should look to be active, as Sacramento has worked hard to be a player in the trade market and is the only team with cap space to use. However, the Kings should also be wary of using that cap space to take on future money that could eat into future cap room. Ultimately, Ham would be surprised to see no moves made before the deadline.

Knicks Have Explored Kanter, Parker Trade Scenario

As the Knicks attempt to find a new home for Enes Kanter, one scenario recently discussed by the team would see New York acquire Bulls forward Jabari Parker, reports Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

Both Kanter ($18.6MM) and Parker ($20MM) are on pricey expiring contracts, and the Knicks were previously cited as one of the teams that expressed interest in the former No. 2 overall pick. However, Chicago is unlikely to have any interest in Kanter, since the team is headed for the lottery and wants youngsters like Wendell Carter, Lauri Markkanen, and Bobby Portis to handle the brunt of the frontcourt minutes.

Bondy acknowledges as much, writing that finding a third team to take Kanter represented a “snag in the framework” of a deal involving Kanter and Parker. It’s unclear if discussions ever really got off the ground and advanced beyond the preliminary stages, Bondy adds.

Like the Bulls, the Knicks are currently focused on player development rather than playoff contention, and Kanter has made it clear he’s not on board with that approach, so the team has been on the lookout for potential trades.

The Knicks reportedly talked to the Kings about a possible swap involving Kanter and Zach Randolph, who has an $11MM+ expiring contract. Bondy suggests that Sacramento would like to add Kosta Koufos – another veteran on an expiring contract – to that hypothetical deal, but says the Knicks would require a sweetener (ie. a second-round pick) to make it work.

It’s not clear how much interest the Knicks really have in Parker, but if they like him as a player and view him as a better long-term fit than Kanter, acquiring him in a trade would give them some options in the offseason. His $20MM team option will certainly be declined, but whichever team has him at the end of the season would hold his Non-Bird rights and could offer him a starting salary ranging from anywhere between the minimum and $24MM.

Dinwiddie Extension Good News For Rozier, Russell?

League executives at last week’s G League Showcase in Las Vegas were “raving” about the Nets‘ deal to lock up Spencer Dinwiddie to a three-year, $34.3MM extension, comparing it to the Clippers‘ three-year, $24MM agreement with Lou Williams, writes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider-only link).

According to Marks, two teams he spoke to in Vegas had Dinwiddie ranked as the third-best point guard in the 2019 free agent class before he signed his extension, placing him behind only Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker. That would have put Dinwiddie ahead of younger players like Terry Rozier (Celtics) and D’Angelo Russell (Nets), both of whom are on track for restricted free agency.

Rozier and Russell should benefit from Dinwiddie’s deal, since it takes one of 2019’s top FA point guards off the board and could create additional competition for their services. According to Marks, league execs in Vegas last week identified the Magic and Suns as probable suitors for Rozier and Russell, though the Celtics and Nets will have the upper hand until an offer sheet is on the table.

Here’s more from Marks:

  • Teams are monitoring Markelle Fultz, not just to keep an eye on his health and future, but also to see how Fultz’s status will impact Sixers teammate T.J. McConnell, according to Marks. McConnell is headed for unrestricted free agency and is unlikely to get an in-season extension if Philadelphia intends to maximize its 2019 cap room. McConnell could command a salary in the $5-7MM range, Marks notes.
  • Teams around the NBA believe there could be a strong group of buyout candidates available later this season. According to Marks, the veteran players that clubs are keeping an eye on include Carmelo Anthony, Robin Lopez, Zach Randolph, Anthony Tolliver, Enes Kanter, Kenneth Faried, Jerryd Bayless, Iman Shumpert, Kosta Koufos, Alec Burks, J.R. Smith, and Jabari Parker. Some of those vets may be traded and some figure to remain with their current teams, but I could definitely see several of them ending up on the buyout market.

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.