Kevin Huerter

Pacific Notes: Harden, Leonard, Russell, Huerter

The Clippers‘ acquisition of James Harden during the opening weeks of the 2023/24 regular season was met with mixed reviews at the time of the trade, then major skepticism after the team lost its first five games with the former MVP in uniform. However, as Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register writes, Harden has been indispensable in the first round for Los Angeles with star forward Kawhi Leonard ailing.

Harden has played over 39 minutes in each of the Clippers’ four playoff games so far. He leads the team in postseason scoring (26.0 PPG), has been L.A.’s top play-maker (7.0 APG), has a scorching hot shooting line of .541/.500/.913, and even leads the club with 1.3 blocked shots per contest.

“That’s what James is here for,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said on Sunday. “When PG or Kawhi or one of our top dogs is out, to be able to step in and fill in and be able to score the basketball, make plays for other guys, make it easier for Norm (Powell) and Zu (Ivica Zubac) and Mace (Mason Plumlee) and those guys.”

Because Harden is in the second season of a two-year contract, he won’t become eligible for an extension before reaching unrestricted free agency this offseason. The Clippers will hold his full Bird rights though, putting them in a good position to bring him back.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • With uncertainty surrounding Leonard’s availability for the rest of the Clippers‘ first-round series, Lue is focused on supporting the star forward rather than bemoaning the fact that the team might have to continue playing without him, per Law Murray of The Athletic. “(He’s) worked hard to get to this point, to a place he wants to be in the playoffs,” Lue said of Kawhi. “And then to be hurt and not be able to be 100 percent and play the way he’s capable of playing, it’s very frustrating for him. I feel bad for him.”
  • The first-round series vs. Denver has been a roller coaster ride for Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell, who made just 6-of-20 shots in Game 1 and 0-of-7 in Game 3, but had 44 total points on 51.6% shooting (57.9% on threes) in Games 2 and 4. Mark Medina of The Sporting Tribune takes a look at Saturday’s bounce-back performance from Russell, who could become a free agent this summer by turning down his $18.7MM player option for 2024/25. For what it’s worth, L.A. has a +3.6 net rating in D-Lo’s 145 minutes on the court during the series.
  • It was a forgettable year for Kings wing Kevin Huerter, who saw his minutes reduced, shot a career-worst 36.1% on three-point attempts, and suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in March. “Frustrating is definitely the word,” Huerter said, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “Even before the injury, just a lot of ups and downs — a lot more downs, I think, than previous years.” On a positive note, the 25-year-old said he’s ahead of schedule in his recovery from shoulder surgery: “They said 12 weeks out from surgery was (when I can) start shooting, doing on-court stuff. … We’re hoping August is contact. Should be on pace for training camp in September.”

Pacific Notes: Clippers, Powell, Fox, Ellis, Huerter, Allen

The Clippers found a way to hold the Mavericks to 30 points in the first half of Game 1. Coach Tyronn Lue knows that keeping Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving under control for Game 2 tonight will be even tougher, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes.

“It’s very challenging,” he said. “You got two of the best scorers in the league on the same team. So, when they’re both on the court at the same time, it’s kind of hard to double-team one guy and leave the other guy. So, you got to pick your poison. I thought for the most part our guys did a good job with executing the defensive plan.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers forward Norman Powell is upset he wasn’t one of the finalists for the Sixth Man of the Year award, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets. “I mean, I think it’s BS, to be honest, two years in a row,” he said. “I don’t know what else you’ve got to do to be a sixth man. Last year, you’re leading the league in bench points. Don’t get nominated. This year, the most efficient off the bench, given the fact I’m playing with four Hall of Famers, limited touches. … it’s just tough.” Powell averaged 13.9 points during the regular season on .486/.435/.831 shooting.
  • De’Aaron Fox said on Monday that it’s impossible to think of this Kings season as anything but a major disappointment, per Hunter Patterson of The Athletic. Sacramento was bounced in the play-in tournament. “You want to continue to play for more,” Fox said. “I don’t think we were bad this year, but obviously the West got tougher and I don’t think we stepped up to that plate. … We took a step backward a little bit as a team. We still have things we can continue to get better at as a group.”
  • In the same story, Patterson notes that Keon Ellis and Kevin Huerter could have a spirited battle for the Kings’ starting shooting guard spot next season. Ellis impressed with his defense, while Huerter is a career 38.2% 3-point shooter. “It’s definitely the season where I’ve kind of made a name for myself a little bit,” Ellis said. “We didn’t finish the way we wanted to with the injuries and all of the things that go into that, but definitely for me it’s a season I’m going to look back at and be like, ‘This is where it started for me.’”
  • Suns wing Grayson Allen suffered a right ankle injury in Tuesday’s game against Minnesota and did not return. Allen came into the game with a sore ankle, per The Arizona Republic’s Duane Rankin (Twitter link), but was deemed healthy enough to play.

Injury Updates: Embiid, Lillard, Hart, Sharpe, Turner, Sochan, Huerter

Joel Embiid returned to the Sixers‘ lineup Tuesday, but he may not be available for an important showdown in Miami Thursday night, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The reigning MVP is listed as questionable for the contest after playing nearly 30 minutes and scoring 24 points in his first game since undergoing meniscus surgery in late January.

Tomorrow’s game will go a long way toward determining which teams wind up in the play-in tournament. The Heat are currently in sixth place at 42-33, followed by the Pacers at 43-34 and Philadelphia at 41-35. Miami can clinch the tiebreaker over the Sixers with a win.

Philadelphia could be missing several rotation players even if Embiid is cleared, Pompey adds. Also listed as questionable are Tyrese Maxey, who missed the past two games with tightness in his left hip, Tobias Harris, who has a hyperextended left knee, and Mohamed Bamba, who sat out Tuesday’s game with an illness.

There’s more injury news to pass along:

  • Bucks coach Doc Rivers provided an update on Damian Lillard, who sat out Tuesday and tonight with a right groin strain, tweets Eric Nehm of The Journal-Sentinel. Rivers said Lillard is “feeling a lot better” today and there’s hope that he’ll be able to return Friday. “I think he’s closer,” Rivers said. “I cannot guarantee that, though. … Now that’s one (injury) that if it’s not 100 percent or 90-whatever percentile they put him in, then no. With that one, we’re just not going to take any chances. It’s not worth it.”
  • Josh Hart is the latest addition to the Knicks‘ injury report, being listed as questionable for Friday’s game at Chicago with a sprained right wrist, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Post (Twitter link). Hart was icing the wrist at the morning shootaround before Tuesday’s contest, Bondy adds.
  • Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe, who hasn’t played since January 11 due to core muscle surgery, is moving closer to a return, coach Chauncey Billups told reporters, including Casey Holdahl (Twitter link). “(Sharpe) is getting better, getting on the court with us,” Billups said. “He did a few things in our practice the other day, I thought he looked good so I was really excited about that. … We’ll just keep trying to ramp him up, challenge him physically to see if he can take it.”
  • Pacers center Myles Turner sat out Wednesday’s loss at Brooklyn after dislocating his right index finger while dunking on Monday, per Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star.
  • Spurs forward Jeremy Sochan confirmed that he underwent successful surgery today on his left ankle, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Sochan hopes to be recovered in time to join the Polish national team for this summer’s Olympic qualifying tournament, Orsborn adds.
  • Kings guard Kevin Huerter had successful surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter link). The team expects him to be ready for the start of next season.

Kevin Huerter To Undergo Season-Ending Shoulder Surgery

Kevin Huerter‘s 2023/24 season will come to an early end due to his left shoulder injury, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The Kings‘ wing will undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum, agent Mark Bartelstein tells Wojnarowski.

The expectation is that Huerter will make a full recovery this offseason and will be ready for the start of the 2024/25 season, Woj adds.

Huerter spent the first four seasons of his career in Atlanta before being traded to Sacramento during the 2022 offseason in exchange for a protected first-round pick. The 25-year-old set new career highs in points per game (15.2) and three-point percentage (40.2%) during his first season as a King, but saw his role and his numbers dip this season as head coach Mike Brown made defense a greater priority.

Huerter averaged just 10.2 PPG on .443/.361/.766 shooting in 64 contests (24.4 MPG) this season before suffering his shoulder injury on March 18 vs. Memphis. The Kings announced last Thursday that he had been diagnosed with a left shoulder dislocation and a labral tear and that treatment options were still being evaluated.

In Huerter’s absence, Keon Ellis has moved into Sacramento’s starting lineup for the past five games and is averaging 27.0 minutes per contest, a significant step up from his season average. Davion Mitchell and Chris Duarte have also both seen more consistent playing time since Huerter went down.

The Kings are in the midst of a competitive race for playoff positioning in the Western Conference. They’re currently at No. 8 with a 42-30 record, though they’re only one game back of the No. 6 Mavericks. Finishing in the top six would assure the club of a playoff berth without having to win one ore more play-in games.

Kings’ Kevin Huerter Suffers Labral Tear, No Timetable For Return

The Kings announced guard Kevin Huerter suffered a left shoulder dislocation and a labral tear in Monday’s game against the Grizzlies, as The Sacramento Bee’s Jason Anderson relays (Twitter link). Treatment options are still being evaluated but there is no timetable for Huerter’s return.

As FOX40 Sacramento’s Sean Cunningham observes (Twitter link), Grizzlies guard Ja Morant is out for the rest of the season with a labral tear. While that might not be the case for Huerter, time is running out for him to make a return with the regular season set to end on April 14. Regardless, it’s a tough blow for the Kings.

Huerter is averaging 10.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game this season while shooting 36.1% on three-pointers. He’s a key piece for the 40-28 Kings, having started 59 of his 64 appearances, with an average of 24.4 minutes per contest.

The Kings are in sixth in the Western Conference, just a half-game ahead of the Mavericks and the Suns to avoid the play-in. They’re also 2.0 games behind the Pelicans for fifth in the West. Keon Ellis started in Huerter’s place on Wednesday, recording six points and four steals in a 34-point win over the Raptors.

Kings Notes: Huerter, Ellis, Vezenkov, Monk

Kings shooting guard Kevin Huerter suffered a left shoulder injury in Monday’s game against Memphis and there are concerns that he could miss the rest of the regular season, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Huerter had to leave the game after being fouled by Desmond Bane, and he was ruled out for tonight’s contest at Toronto.

The Kings are likely exploring treatment options for Huerter before making a formal statement on his prognosis, according to Anderson, who cites a 2020 study by the National Library of Medicine showing that NBA players are typically sidelined for 3.6 weeks with shoulder subluxations and 7.6 weeks with shoulder dislocations. Anderson notes that a four-week absence would keep Huerter out until the start of the playoffs, while an eight-week absence would have him returning in mid-May in the midst of the conference semifinals.

Huerter is a valuable part of Sacramento’s offense, averaging 10.2 PPG in 64 games this season while shooting 44.3% from the field and 36.1% from three-point range.

There’s more on the Kings:

  • Coach Mike Brown plans to start Keon Ellis while Huerter is unavailable, Anderson adds. Ellis, who had his two-way contract converted to a multi-year deal last month, has started six games and the Kings have won them all. “Obviously, with this team, it’s always next-man up mentality,” De’Aaron Fox said. “We have to be ready to play without Kev if it is some type of long-term thing, and I think everybody is confident in Keon. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, the minutes he’s been providing the last few games, especially since he’s been back in the rotation, have been great.”
  • Sasha Vezenkov isn’t quite ready to return from his right ankle sprain, Anderson tweets. The first-year power forward, who hasn’t played since February 9, had been upgraded to questionable for tonight, but the team opted to give him another night off.
  • In an interview with Anthony Slater of The Athletic, Malik Monk explains the career arc that has made him the favorite for Sixth Man of the Year honors as well as his decision to leave the Lakers and sign with the Kings as a free agent in 2022. “I feel like the organization needed a turnaround,” Monk said. “I feel like they needed new faces here. I feel like I could bring an energy that Sac had been waiting for since (DeMarcus Cousins) left. And my homie is here, my best friend here. Fox. This was going to be the most comfortable fit for me. Because leaving Los Angeles, a big city, coming here slows everything down. Slow pace. Now I can just focus on my craft. It’s been working for me.”

Kings’ Trey Lyles Out At Least Two Weeks With Knee Sprain

Kings forward/center Trey Lyles, who sustained a knee injury in Tuesday’s victory over Milwaukee and was subsequently ruled out for Wednesday’s game, has been diagnosed with a MCL sprain in his left knee, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. The team announced that Lyles will be sidelined for at least two weeks, which is when he’ll be reevaluated.

As Anderson writes, Lyles will likely miss at least eight more games, including Saturday’s contest vs. New York. Rookie forward Sasha Vezenkov will also miss his 15th consecutive game tomorrow, though Anderson suggests the former EuroLeague MVP could be close to returning from a right ankle sprain. Kevin Huerter (right leg contusion), who was out Wednesday, is questionable for Saturday’s game.

Lyles is a key reserve for a Sacramento team that has won four of its past five games and is currently the No. 6 seed in the West. The 28-year-old is the primary big man off the bench, averaging 7.1 PPG and 4.4 RPG on .450/.383/.698 shooting in 49 games (19.8 MPG).

With Lyles sidelined, backup centers Alex Len and JaVale McGee will likely have an opportunity to earn rotation minutes. Assuming he returns soon, Vezenkov is another frontcourt option head coach Mike Brown could turn to.

Lyles re-signed with the Kings on a two-year, $16MM contract last summer. He’ll be earning $8MM next season before hitting free agency again in 2025.

Pacific Notes: Wiggins, Suns, S. Lee, Fox, Huerter, Reddish

Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins will miss his second straight game on Thursday vs. New York due to personal reasons, with Anthony Slater of The Athletic describing the absence as a “family matter.” It’s unclear when Wiggins will return to the lineup, though head coach Steve Kerr said the team expects him back at some point.

Don’t know,” Kerr said of a return timeline. “We’ll obviously respect Andrew’s wishes for this to remain private. Personal reasons.”

As Slater notes, Wiggins missed the final 25 games of the 2022/23 season due to personal reasons, returning just before the postseason began.

Here are a few more notes from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns have an open roster spot. Veterans Mike Muscala (Pistons) and Patty Mills (Hawks) were recently waived by their former clubs, with Muscala reaching a buyout agreement. Would Phoenix be interested in either of those players? John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 says the answer is no (Twitter links). The Suns are much more likely to convert Saben Lee‘s two-way contract to a standard deal, according to Gambadoro, who says (via Twitter) the odds of that happening are “very high.” It’s worth noting that Lee, who was the 38th pick of the 2020 draft, is in his fourth NBA season — he will not be eligible for two-way contracts in 2024/25 and beyond.
  • After building an early lead on Wednesday against the Nuggets, the Kings wound up being blown out in Denver without star point guard De’Aaron Fox, writes Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee. Fox, who sustained a left knee contusion in Monday’s loss to Miami, went through the team’s shootaround yesterday morning and his pregame shooting routine prior to being ruled out, which seemingly indicates the injury is relatively minor.
  • According to Biderman, guard Kevin Huerter was frustrated with his lack of playing time following Wednesday’s game, in which he played just 18 minutes. “I don’t know if I could put my finger on one (thing),” Huerter said of the Kings being outscored by 35 points over the second and third quarters. “I wish I was out there to help us more though.” Huerter declined to expand on those comments, but Biderman points out that the 25-year-old is playing a career-low 25.2 minutes per game and briefly lost his starting job in December before reclaiming it.
  • After missing the previous 14 games with a right ankle sprain, Lakers wing Cam Reddish returned to action in Wednesday’s win over the Clippers, per Khobi Price of The Southern Califnornia News Group. The former lottery pick played 20 minutes and supplanted second-year guard/forward Max Christie in the rotation, Price adds.

Trade Rumors: Bucks, Wright, Suns, Mavs, Hornets, Knicks, Magic, Bulls

The Bucks remain committed to upgrading their roster in the hopes of contending for a championship this season and are “shopping hard for help,” one league source tells Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

Milwaukee doesn’t have a ton of trade assets on hand to offer, so the team’s most likely outgoing package would consist of Pat Connaughton, Cameron Payne, and Portland’s 2024 second-round pick (currently projected to be No. 35), says Fischer. Connaughton and Payne only make up $11.4MM in outgoing money, so Bobby Portis and his $11.7MM cap hit would need to be included if Milwaukee targets a higher-salary player, Fischer notes.

One potential target who has been linked to the Bucks is Wizards guard Delon Wright, sources tell Fischer. Wright would be a logical fit for a Milwaukee team looking to improve its perimeter defense, though it’s unclear how high he ranks on the Bucks’ list of targets, Fischer writes, adding that the veteran point guard has a wide-ranging market.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Suns are still viewed as the leading suitor for Hornets forward Miles Bridges, league sources tell Fischer. Phoenix’s offer would likely consist of Nassir Little, Josh Okogie, and two second-round picks, per Fischer, though Charlotte is holding out hope of landing a first-rounder for Bridges. The Pistons and Jazz also continue to be linked to the Hornets forward, who has the ability to veto a trade, but the Mavericks – who are seeking forward help – haven’t shown interest in Bridges or Nets forward Dorian Finney-Smith as of late, Fischer reports.
  • The Hornets are fielding more trade inquiries on forward P.J. Washington than any other player, though they aren’t necessarily actively shopping him, according to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Fischer confirms a previous report stating the Mavericks are among the teams with interest in Washington, but hears that the Clippers are an unlikely landing spot.
  • Although the Knicks are among the other clubs with interest in Washington, sources tell Fischer, New York is believed to prefer Raptors wing Bruce Brown. Fischer adds that Quentin Grimes continues to generate interest from teams like the Hawks and Jazz, while Tony Jones of The Athletic said during an appearance on ESPN 700 in Utah that he believes Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson would welcome a trade to the Knicks (hat tip to Patrick Byrnes of
  • There have been some whispers around the league about the Magic targeting an experienced point guard such as Kyle Lowry (Hornets) or Chris Paul (Warriors), but Fischer doesn’t believe Orlando has trade interest in either player. Additionally, while the Magic could use some more outside shooting, the club isn’t thought to be pursuing upgrades in that area unless there’s a player who would be a positive on defense as well, according to Fischer, who cites Kings sharpshooter Kevin Huerter as one example of a player who is not on Orlando’s wish list.
  • Bulls guard Coby White is considered off limits in trade talks and Chicago’s asking price for Alex Caruso is very steep, league sources tell Yahoo Sports. With Zach LaVine out for the season, center Andre Drummond now appears to be the Bull most likely to be dealt, Fischer adds.

Kings Notes: Losing Streak, Rotation, Murray, NBAGL Team

The Kings remain in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race with a 23-18 record, but they’re in the midst of their worst stretch of the season, having dropped a fourth consecutive game on Thursday. While road losses in Philadelphia and Milwaukee last Friday and Sunday were understandable, Sacramento blew a big fourth quarter lead in Phoenix on Tuesday and fell at home to a depleted Pacers team last night.

“It’s a lot of little things that are turning into big things,” Keegan Murray said of the Kings’ on-court issues, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee.

One of those issues is free throw shooting. The Kings’ 72.5% rate from the foul line this season is easily the NBA’s worst mark and the team made just 25-of-44 (56.8%) free throws in its past two losses.

“That’s two games in a row we shoot 50% from the free throw line,” head coach Mike Brown said on Thursday. “I’m not sure what it is. Today we shot more free throws in a shootaround than we ever have in a shootaround since I’ve been here. And yesterday, we shot more free throws in a practice than we ever have since I’ve been here.”

“You go back to the work. You get in the gym,” wing Kevin Huerter said. “You’ve got to build your confidence by trusting the work you put in. We shot ourselves in the foot. This is the third game in a row this has happened against three good teams. It feels like it’s all self-inflicted and that’s why it’s frustrating for us. It’s no secret. We can’t miss 14 free throws at home and expect to beat a team that’s this good, even with the players they have out. That’s stuff that we can control.”

Here’s more on the Kings:

  • Despite the losing streak, Brown seems to have settled into a rotation he likes, with Huerter back in the starting five and Malik Monk, Trey Lyles, Sasha Vezenkov, and Alex Len playing regular minutes off the bench, notes Anderson. “I hate to say this, but I feel fairly comfortable (with the current rotation),” Brown said prior to Thursday’s loss. “Now, that doesn’t mean I may not change again with the way our rotation is right now, but I feel fairly comfortable with what we’re doing right now, and I’m going to ride with it a little bit and give it an opportunity.” Davion Mitchell, Chris Duarte, Keon Ellis, and JaVale McGee are among those not seeing regular playing time as of late.
  • Anthony Slater of The Athletic outlines why the Kings consider Murray essentially untouchable in trade talks, writing that the team views the former No. 4 overall pick as a player who could round out a long-term big three alongside Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox. “Keegan is a huge part of our future,” Brown said. “We rely on him for a lot and, to a certain degree, it is a little unfair. Because we’re a playoff team. There aren’t many guys that are in year two that are expected to do what he does.”
  • Anjali Ranadive, the daughter of Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, has stepped down from her position as the general manager of the Stockton Kings, Sacramento’s G League affiliate announced today in a press release. She’ll be pursuing a Ph.D. and focusing on her non-profit organization while assistant general manager Gabriel Harris takes on the day-to-day GM responsibilities in Stockton. “We are grateful to Anjali for her contributions to the Stockton Kings over the past two seasons,” Kings GM Monte McNair said in a statement. “Under her leadership the team has excelled on the court and is set for success in the future.”
  • In other Stockton news, the Kings’ G League team added a former NBA first-round pick earlier this week, announcing in a press release that veteran swingman Shabazz Muhammad has joined the roster. The No. 14 pick in the 2013 draft, Muhammad last played in the NBA in 2018 for Milwaukee, but continues to try to make it back to the league.