Keegan Murray

Thunder’s Williams, Holmgren Among Players Joining USA Select Team

Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren of the Thunder and Jalen Green of the Rockets are among the young players joining the USA Select Team ahead of the upcoming FIBA World Cup, league sources tell Shams Charania and Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Those three players will be eligible to travel with Team USA to the Philippines and could potentially be added to the 12-man national team roster in the event of an injury, per The Athletic.

Williams, Holmgren and Green will be joined by Pistons guard Cade Cunningham and Kings forward Keegan Murray for Team USA’s training camp in a couple of weeks, where they will practice and scrimmage against the main roster, according to Charania and Vardon. As many as 12 players could end up being named to the Select Team.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported (via Twitter) that Cunningham would attend the training camp. The 2021 No. 1 overall pick was actually offered a spot on the senior team’s roster, according to Wojnarowski, but decided to forgo the opportunity in order to focus on the 2023/24 season. Cunningham was limited to 12 games last season due to a shin injury which required surgery.

Williams, the runner-up for the ’22/23 Rookie of the Year award, is coming off a stellar first season with OKC, averaging 14.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.3 APG and 1.4 SPG on .521/.356/.812 shooting in 75 games (30.3 MPG). Holmgren, the No. 2 overall pick last year, missed the entire season due to foot surgery, but he’s healthy again and recently played during Las Vegas Summer League.

Green, the No. 2 overall pick in 2021, averaged 22.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG and 3.7 APG on .416/.338/.786 shooting in 76 games (34.2 MPG) for Houston last season. Murray was the fourth pick of last year’s draft. The former Iowa product averaged 12.2 PPG and 4.6 RPG while shooting 41.1% from three-point range during his All-Rookie First Team campaign.

The Americans will start training camp for the World Cup on August 3 in Las Vegas, with their first game scheduled later that month in the Philippines.

Kings’ McNair: Decision To Retain Roster Provides ‘Runway’ To Future Success

While many around the league suspected the Kings were gearing up for a major free agency acquisition entering July, Sacramento ended up largely using its cap space to retain its core. On the night of the 2023 NBA draft, the Kings traded Richaun Holmes and the No. 24 overall pick to the Mavericks to create cap space, which they used to re-sign Harrison Barnes to a three-year, $54MM contract and then later renegotiate and extend Domantas Sabonis on a five-year, $217MM deal.

Sacramento general manager Monte McNair sat down with The Athletic’s Anthony Slater and Sam Amick to discuss the Kings’ decision to retain their core and why he’s higher on their offseason moves than outsiders might be.

“(I’m) not saying that we won’t look at upgrades (or that) we didn’t,” McNair said. “Because we certainly explored all those options. But knowing that one of our options was going to be to bring the bulk of our team back (was appealing).

After making the decision to trade Tyrese Haliburton to the Pacers for Sabonis at the 2022 trade deadline, the Kings spent the subsequent summer trying to build a playoff contender that would end the club’s then-16-year playoff drought. Sacramento drafted Keegan Murray, a 22-year-old rookie who stepped into the rotation right away, and acquired Malik Monk and Kevin Huerter to surround De’Aaron Fox and Sabonis.

What followed was a 48-win season that resulted in the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, ending the Kings’ playoff drought. This summer was quieter for McNair — the Kings drafted Colby Jones and Jalen Slawson, signed Sasha Vezenkov and Nerlens Noel, and traded for Chris Duarte.

Although Sacramento didn’t make a major splash, McNair believes the addition of Vezenkov is a significant one. The Kings acquired the 2023 EuroLeague MVP along with cash from Cleveland last summer for the No. 49 overall pick in the 2022 draft. While Sacramento wasn’t sure at the time if Vezenkov would ever end up in the NBA, McNair believes the team’s stellar play helped convince him to come stateside. Vezenkov signed a three-year, $20MM deal this offseason.

McNair said that he understands the muted reaction from outsiders, but that the Kings were extremely high on Vezenkov for a while and that he’s going to turn some heads.

A lot of people hear ‘international’ and they don’t know them, and then they come over and all of a sudden it’s (Nikola) Mirotic or it’s the Bogdanovics (Bogdan and Bojan) or (Nemanja) Bjelica,” McNair said. “Or you can obviously go back to the Pejas and Turkoglus (former Kings Peja Stojakovic and Hedo Turkoglu). And once they’re over here, then people get excited about them. But I think people will be surprised, just because they don’t know him very well and what he can do.

The Kings aren’t just banking on Vezenkov, Duarte, and the other additions to help the team improve, according to McNair. Sacramento is extraordinarily high on Murray, who showed promising upside in his first season after averaging 12.2 points in 80 games last season along with starting in all seven of the club’s playoff games. Murray also set the record for threes made by a rookie with 206.

Murray played in the California Classic this summer and turned heads rather quickly with a 41-point outing in a game against the Heat. McNair believes Murray’s ongoing development is a key to unlocking another level for the Kings.

We know we need Keegan to take another step,” McNair said. “And one of the ways he can do that is to be more of a second or third option as opposed to a fourth or fifth option. And it’s hard to do that when you have two all-NBA guys, right? Then you have Kevin Huerter and Harrison Barnes. So you know, it may take some time for him to do that within the natural flow.

While the Kings’ offseason moves signal a desire to remain in the upper echelon of Western Conference teams, McNair explained that these transactions were as much about preserving future flexibility as they were about staying competitive in the short term. The Holmes trade didn’t just allow for the Kings to bring back Barnes and extend Sabonis — it also freed up $12.8MM in 2024. Every major piece of Sacramento’s rotation is under team control beyond next season except for Monk and Alex Len. That extra $12.8MM of breathing room could put the team in position to bring those pieces back or replace them.

Additionally, the Kings only owe one first-round pick, a lottery protected 2024 first-rounder to Atlanta. Outside of that, the club has a full treasure chest of draft assets and tradable contracts to help facilitate a future move, according to McNair.

McNair understands that the Kings had extraordinary luck with health last season and that other Western teams improved this offseason, but he’s sold on what his team can achieve moving forward.

One mistake you can make in this league is thinking your path will be linear,” McNair said. “We know it’s not going to be a straight line where we just continue to take one step at a time. Hopefully we’re taking major steps forward. But if there’s other road blocks or adversity in the way, you have to have the ability to pivot off of that, whether it’s a better fit or talent. So for us, we feel not just set up this year, but we have plenty of room to the tax line for trades (if needed).

Slater and Amick touch base on more topics with McNair, so I recommend checking out the article in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Murray, Fox, Clippers, Preston

On a recent episode of Podcast P with Paul George (YouTube link), Draymond Green said new point guard Chris Paul will help stabilize the Warriors‘ second unit and “unlock” one of the team’s former lottery picks.

“CP can anchor that unit…and I think that is a big thing to helping unlock our team again…I’ll tell you one more thing that I think it unlocks and I look forward to learning this from him; I think Chris Paul will completely unlock Jonathan Kuminga and his growth. CP is great with young guys,” Green said (hat tip to HoopsHype).

The Warriors are trading Jordan Poole, Ryan Rollins, Patrick Baldwin, a top-20 protected 2030 first-round pick, and a 2027 second round pick to the Wizards for Paul. The deal isn’t official yet but likely will be tomorrow once the free agency moratorium lifts.

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • Kings forward Keegan Murray is once again shining in Summer League action. As he prepares for his sophomore season, the first-team All-Rookie member is working with star guard De’Aaron Fox on a daily basis, writes Hunter Patterson of The Athletic. “I’ve been with him every single day so far this summer,” Murray said. “We play one-on-one three, four times a week so that’s helped me a lot in different areas on the court.” For those curious, Murray said he has yet to beat Fox one-on-one, though he’s come “very close.”
  • Additional trades could still be in the works, but it appears as though the Clippers‘ free agency work is done, according to Law Murray of The Athletic, who examines the team’s moves this offseason. With 16 players on standard contracts and Jason Preston on a non-guaranteed deal (it will be guaranteed July 18), the young guard’s performance during Summer League will be critical for his future with the team, says Murray.
  • Speaking of Preston, he said he underwent LASIK eye surgery and had another procedure to fix a deviated septum, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. The 23-year-old former second-round pick missed his entire rookie season after foot surgery and appeared in just 14 games with the Clippers in 2022/23.

Pacific Notes: Sabonis, Beal, Murray, Lakers’ Workout, Hachimura

Kings big man Domantas Sabonis is unlikely to play in the FIBA World Cup, according to Lithuanian national team head coach Kazys Maksvytis. “We all hope that Domantas will play,” Maksvytis said in the Zalgiris on Air podcast, as relayed by “However, we all know the valid reasons [that could prevent him from playing]. If I had to say on his chances today, I’d say those chances are less than 50 percent.”

Sabonis said earlier this month he may need surgery on his right thumb. The Kings and Sabonis could also pursue an extension this offseason.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Kings were among the teams to inquire about a trade for Wizards wing Bradley Beal but — not surprisingly — Sacramento balked when Washington asked about last year’s lottery pick, Keegan Murray, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic. The Wizards were interested in drafting Murray and tried to move up from the No. 10 pick to select the versatile forward, Aldridge adds.
  • Gonzaga big man Drew Timme was among the draft prospects who worked out for the Lakers on Monday, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Damion Baugh (TCU), Alex Fudge (Florida), Colin Castleton (Florida), Sincere Carry (Kent State) and Hunter Tyson (Clemson) joined Timme at the workout.
  • Rui Hachimura‘s market value is projected to be in the $12-18MM starting range, multiple executives told Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. While a majority of teams won’t have more than the $12.2MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception to offer Hachimura, at least seven teams project to have the cap room to put together a substantial offer sheet. Since Hachimura is a restricted free agent, the Lakers can match any offer.

NBA Announces All-Rookie Teams

Rookie of the Year winner Paolo Banchero was a unanimous choice for the 2022/23 All-Rookie First Team, the NBA announced today (via Twitter).

Players receive two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote, and Banchero received the maximum possible 200 points.

Here’s the full five-man squad, listed in order of their total points received via voters:

The All-Rookie Second Team was announced as well, with a couple of teammates headlining the group (Twitter link).

In my opinion, the most surprising omission from the All-Rookie Second Team was Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard, who received 46 points. Nembhard was actually listed on one more ballot than Eason, but Eason received two First Team votes versus Nembhard’s zero, giving him a narrow edge.

That’s not to say Eason (or anyone else) was undeserving — he had a strong season as a tenacious offensive rebounder and defender. I just thought Nembhard should have been honored because he started the majority of the season for a competitive Indiana team and was frequently tasked with guarding the opposing teams’ best player, as Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files notes (via Twitter).

According to the NBA (Twitter link), others receiving votes included Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe (36), Hawks wing AJ Griffin (26), Nuggets forward Christian Braun, Thunder center Jaylin Williams (seven), Mavericks guard Jaden Hardy (four), Spurs guard Malaki Branham (three), Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels (two), Hornets center Mark Williams (two) and Bucks wing MarJon Beauchamp (one).

In case you missed it, more NBA awards will be coming later this week. The All-Defensive teams will be announced on Tuesday, followed by All-NBA on Wednesday and the Teammate of the Year award on Thursday.

Kings Notes: Defense, Sabonis, Barnes, Vezenkov, Murray

The Kings‘ 118.6 offensive rating this season was easily the best mark in the NBA, but their 116.0 defensive rating was the worst of any of the 16 teams that made the playoffs. It’s no surprise then that general manager Monte McNair identified upgrading the defense as a top priority for Sacramento this offseason, per Eduardo Razo of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Still, McNair made it clear that he doesn’t want defensive upgrades to come at the expense of the Kings’ NBA-best offense, stressing that the front office will need to find a way to balance those efforts.

“You always want to continue to shore up your deficiencies, but you don’t want to pull on one string and you lose another,” McNair said. “So we’re going to have to do it in a way that we were able to put all the things we need on the floor for both offense and defense. So, yeah, I don’t know, delicate balance. Everybody has the same challenge, but yes, we need to maintain and improve. We can’t just make trade-offs that keep us in the same spot.”

Here’s more on the Kings:

  • Domantas Sabonis will be extension-eligible this summer and the new CBA will allow the Kings to give him a 40% raise (instead of 20%) in an extension offer. Still, that may not be enough to entice him to sign a deal, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. An extension for Sabonis could be worth up to $27.1MM in 2024/25, whereas his maximum salary as a free agent that summer may exceed $42MM. “Domas is a huge part of what we do,” McNair told reporters on Wednesday. “We’re going to do all we can to keep him here and build around him.”
  • Asked about Harrison Barnes‘ possible future in Sacramento, McNair referred to the free-agent-to-be as “a pretty fantastic part of our team,” per Slater, and suggested the Kings will have conversations in the coming weeks about retaining Barnes.
  • McNair praised the season that draft-and-stash prospect Sasha Vezenkov has had in Greece for Olympiacos and told reporters that a decision on the standout EuroLeague forward will be made later in the summer (Twitter video link via Deuce Mason). Vezenkov is under contract with Olympiacos through 2025, but could be bought out of that deal.
  • Keegan Murray didn’t come close to averaging 20 points per game in his first NBA season like Rookie of the Year winner Paolo Banchero, but McNair made the case this week that the Kings forward was the standout player in his draft class for another reason. “A rookie who started seven games in a playoff series, was, I believe, the most winning impact rookie on the court this year,” McNair said, per Tristi Rodriguez of NBC Sports Bay Area. “While we didn’t ask him to come in and shoot 30 shots, he certainly could have, he was the leading scorer in college basketball last year. But to come in and know what we need, which was to actually defend multiple positions, hit shots, cut to the basket, play off of our veterans, I thought it was a fantastic year for him.”
  • Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee explores whether it’s realistic for the Kings to attempt to emulate the Warriors’ championship blueprint.

Western Notes: Irving, Wiggins, Poole, Murray

The Mavericks said after the season they intended to re-sign Kyrie Irving and that’s what’s Steve Bulpett is hearing from rival executives. However, Luka Doncic will have to get used to not having the ball in his hands all the time and they’ve got to upgrade the roster defensively, Bulpett writes.

“Kyrie was on great behavior — like he was doing everything to try to win over Luka and be a teammate. Every single player on that team and everyone in the organization loves Kyrie from his time there so far,” one GM told Bulpett. “I do think there’s some skepticism going forward for what (the Mavericks are) going to offer him. Like, they’re not completely naïve.”

The Mavericks can offer Irving a five-year contract worth up to $272MM.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Andrew Wiggins surprised many people by how effective he was against Sacramento despite a long layoff due to personal reasons. The Warriors forward averaged 18.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in the first-round series and told The Athletic’s Sam Amick he should be even better against the Lakers. “I feel like in Game 1, once I scored a couple points, I was like, ‘Pffft, I’m back. I’m good.’ My feel for the game was still there. My rhythm and my conditioning felt good enough to compete,” he said. “So I think I’m only going to get (better), because my conditioning still needs to get better. I feel like there’s still more. I mean, last year I was picking up full court (defensively) the whole playoffs, and I didn’t do that yet. It’s coming though.”
  • In contrast, Warriors guard Jordan Poole had a rough series against the Kings, Tim Kawakami of The Athletic notes. He shot 33.8% from the field and struggled defensively against Sacramento’s guards. Poole’s four-year, $123MM extension kicks in next season and the Warriors hope he’ll pick it up against the Lakers. “Wasn’t his best series, obviously,” coach Steve Kerr said.
  • Kings rookie forward Keegan Murray came away from the playoffs feeling optimistic about his future, Hunter Patterson of The Athletic writes. The lottery pick averaged 9.7 points and 6.8 rebounds in the first-round series. He’ll work with Domantas Sabonis during the offseason. “This series made me more confident than anything in my ability to move forward and my ceiling of how good I can be in the NBA,” Murray said.

Kings Notes: Sabonis, Fox, Barnes, Monk, Murray, Mitchell

Domantas Sabonis may need surgery for the avulsion fracture in his thumb, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee tweets. The Kings center had an appointment with hand specialists on Monday to discuss whether the thumb needs to be repaired.

While he mends, Sabonis is open to hearing from the front office about potential moves. He said that if general manager Monte McNair and assistant GM Wes Wilcox have questions for him about roster construction, he will provide his input, James Ham of The Kings Beat tweets.

We have more on the Kings:

  • De’Aaron Fox will take lessons from his first playoff series, Jason Jones of The Athletic writes. Fox feels he and his teammates have to improve in order to become true contenders. “I know there’s another level I have to get to as a professional and our team has to get as well,” he said. “I’m grateful for this experience. The playoffs are everything that I expected it to be.”
  • Harrison Barnes and Trey Lyles are among the players headed to unrestricted free agency. Malik Monk hopes the front office can keep the core group intact, Ham tweets. “I would love to have the same guys here because we’re all like brothers,’ Monk said.
  • Sabonis is eligible for an extension this offseason but it’s unlikely he’ll agree to one, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks explains. The big man could get an additional four years and $122MM without a renegotiation but the extension is $132MM less than the five-year deal he could sign with the Kings after becoming a free agent next summer. It would also be $65MM less than a four-year max with a rival team that has cap space.
  • In order to acquire another high-level player, the Kings may have to deal Keegan Murray and/or Davion Mitchell, Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype opines in his offseason primer.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Draymond, Kings, Clippers

It seemed as though the Warriors had all the momentum after winning three straight games to go ahead 3-2 in their first-round series against Sacramento, which made their Game 6 home loss Friday night all the more stunning, writes Tim Kawakami of The Athletic.

Kawakami calls the 19-point defeat Golden State’s “most disappointing” performance since the trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green started making the postseason in 2013. The locker room was understandably quiet and reflective afterward.

Still, the team remains confident it will be able to rebound and emerge victorious Sunday afternoon in Sacramento for Game 7.

It’s up to us to go to Sacramento and do everything we did tonight — but opposite,” Thompson said. “And I know we will respond. I just know this team. I know these guys. I’ve played at the highest level with them and I know what we are capable of, and we will respond like the champions we are come Sunday.”

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • It’s time for head coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors to re-insert Draymond Green into the starting lineup in place of the struggling Jordan Poole, argues Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area, who points to Green’s experience of winning in high-pressure situations and his defensive acumen as reasons why the change should take place.
  • The Kings made a “series-altering” adjustment in Game 6, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. They decided to go smaller and faster, with more shooting around De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, who both had terrific games. They went away from Alex Len as backup center and used Trey Lyles at the five, with Terence Davis, Kevin Huerter and Keegan Murray receiving more playing time, while Harrison Barnes and Davion Mitchell played less. “We knew we could run them a little bit and we took advantage of that tonight,” Monk said. “I felt it a little bit more on them. They were a little tired. We’re younger than they are. So we knew we could take advantage of that. We’re going to try to do the same thing Sunday.”
  • Confirming a recent report from Mark Medina, president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank says the Clippers will “continue to build around” Kawhi Leonard and Paul George despite their injury troubles, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN relays. “Kawhi’s a ceiling raiser,” Frank said. “When you study past NBA champions, they have a top-five guy on their team, and Kawhi has shown that when healthy he can be the best player in the world. Paul is an eight-time All-Star now. So we’re going to continue to build around those guys and look for every which way [to improve around them].”
  • Both Leonard and George are eligible for pricey contract extensions in the offseason, and the Clippers will discuss the matter with their star players when the time comes, per Youngmisuk. “Those guys are great players and they’re great partners and we want to keep them as Clippers for a long time,” Frank said. “And so we’ll look forward to those conversations. And the No. 1 goal is how can we build a sustainable championship team? And those guys have been great partners, so at the appropriate time, we look forward to sitting down with them.”

California Notes: Powell, Thompson, Kings, Lakers

Clippers reserve guard Norman Powell appears to be rediscovering his fighting form of late. In his most recent contest, a 125-118 win over the Lakers Wednesday, Powell notched a team-high 27 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the floor, per Janis Carr of The Orange County Register.

“I think it’s like my fourth game back coming off injury after missing 11 games so it was just being prepared and just staying mentally locked in and as (head coach Tyronn) Lue says, not playing so angry,” Powell said. “It just shows how much I love the game and how much I commit to it, and my preparation every single day.”

Playing in his first full season with the Clippers, the 6’3″ swingman is averaging 16.7 PPG on .476/.404/.815 shooting splits. All but eight of his 58 healthy contests have come off the team’s bench.

There’s more out of California:

  • Starting Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson has been dealing with a sore back of late, but head coach Steve Kerr said on Friday that the 6’7″ vet is feeling better and was a full practice participant today, Kendra Andrews of ESPN tweets.
  • The 48-32 Kings could be without several notable players against the Warriors tonight, Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee tweets. All-Stars De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis are both questionable with ankle injuries. Shooting guard Kevin Huerter is managing his own injury, while rookie power forward Keegan Murray has a foot ailment. The statuses of forward Trey Lyles and guards Davion Mitchell and Malik Monk are also up-in-the-air. If Sacramento wins out and the Grizzlies lose out, the Kings would be able to secure the West’s second seed by benefit of a tiebreaker, but it appears the team is happy with its current No. 3 seed.
  • Despite a clean injury sheet, the healthy Lakers‘ loss against a Clippers team missing All-Star forward Paul George exposes the club as being less than title-caliber, opines Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times. Plaschke notes that stars Anthony Davis and LeBron James were clearly playing through ailments, and the rest of the team failed to step up to meet the moment.