Shabazz Muhammad

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.

And-Ones: Load Management, CBA, Chiozza, Muhammad

Both the NBA and the NBPA acknowledged during their recent Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations that players missing time due to load management is an issue for the league, according to Baxter Holmes of ESPN, who hears that it was a topic of much discussion during those negotiations. However, as Holmes details in an extensive Insider-only feature, neither side could come up with a silver bullet to solve the problem, which many view as “unfixable.”

As Holmes outlines, there are plenty of team officials who have advocated for a reduction of the NBA’s 82-game regular season schedule, which would perhaps be the most logical fix. Even having teams play just 72 games instead of 82 would allow the league to eliminate many of the back-to-back sets that often lead to players sitting out on either the first or second night. However, cutting back the 82-game schedule is widely viewed as a non-starter, given the lost revenue it would create.

Within his story on load management, Holmes also provides some new details on the 65-game minimum that the new CBA is implementing for players to qualify for postseason awards.

According to Holmes, players would have to log at least 20 minutes in at least 63 of those games for them to count toward the minimum. Sources tell ESPN that players would be permitted to play between 15-20 minutes in two games and still have them count toward the minimum of 65. These may be the “conditions” that Adrian Wojnarowski alluded to last weekend in his first report on the new CBA.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran guard Chris Chiozza has signed with Spanish team UCAM Murcia, according to an announcement from the club. Chiozza, who has appeared in 91 total NBA games for four teams since 2019, spent most of 2022/23 with the Long Island Nets in the G League. His new contract in Spain is a rest-of-season deal.
  • Former NBA lottery pick Shabazz Muhammad has joined the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association, writes Dario Skerletic of Sportando, passing along a report from Chinese outlet CGTN Sports Scene (Twitter link). Muhammad signed a G League contract earlier this season as he attempted to make his way back to the NBA — he has since inked deals to play in Lebanon and now China.
  • The NBA is hoping that its G League team in Mexico City is a first step toward opening up a pathway for more Latin American players to make it to the NBA, according to Ricardo Torres of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

And-Ones: Dorsey, Muhammad, B. Miller, Tall Ball

The Texas Legends – the Mavericks‘ G League affiliate – have parted ways with guard Tyler Dorsey, the team announced today (via Twitter). Dorsey had been averaging 18.9 points per game with a .370 3PT% in 12 regular season appearances (30.7 MPG) for the Legends.

It’s possible Dorsey recognized that no NBA call-up opportunities were imminent and requested his release — as a Eurohoops story notes, March 1 is the deadline for EuroLeague teams to add new players to their rosters, and Dorsey reportedly drew interest from multiple clubs in the EuroLeague when he was waived by Dallas earlier this season.

Meanwhile, the Texas Legends announced on Friday that they’ve reacquired veteran forward Justin Jackson. Jackson, who played for the Legends last season, spent most of this season in Boston, but was traded to Oklahoma City at this month’s trade deadline and was subsequently waived by the Thunder.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Free agent wing Shabazz Muhammad has agreed to a “significant” deal with Beirut Club in Lebanon, his agency Edge Sports International announced (via Twitter). The former first-round pick signed a G League contract earlier this season as he attempted to make his way back to the NBA, but will continue his career overseas for now.
  • After police testimony earlier this week revealed that star Alabama prospect Brandon Miller allegedly brought the gun that was used in the killing of a woman on the Tuscaloosa strip last month, Miller’s attorney issued a statement attempting to clarify the 20-year-old’s role (or lack thereof) in the incident (link via Jeff Goodman of Stadium). As Jeff Borzello of ESPN writes, the school announced in a statement on Wednesday that Miller would continue to play for the Crimson Tide, since he’s “not considered a suspect in this case, only a cooperative witness.” Several hours later, Miller scored a career-high 41 points in an overtime win over South Carolina.
  • David Aldridge of The Athletic explores the resurgence of “Tall Ball” across the NBA, pointing to frontcourt pairings in Cleveland (Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley), Milwaukee (Brook Lopez, Giannis Antetokounmpo), and Washington (Kristaps Porzingis, Daniel Gafford) as some examples of the trend.

Shabazz Muhammad Signs G League Contract

Free agent swingman Shabazz Muhammad, the No. 14 pick of the 2013 draft, has signed a contract to play in the NBA G League, sources tell Ian Begley of (Twitter link).

Muhammad holds five seasons of NBA experience, primarily with the Timberwolves. He was released by Minnesota towards the end of 2017/18 and finished out the season with Milwaukee, but has been out of the league ever since.

Muhammad has been attempting an NBA comeback since at least March, if not earlier. He worked out for the Kings, Lakers and Warriors in the offseason, but was unable to land a contract.

The 30-year-old holds career averages of 9.0 PPG and 2.8 RPG on .473/.319/.751 shooting in 278 games (17.2 MPG). He played in China for a couple seasons after his NBA departure, and last season appeared in a pair of G League games during the Showcase Cup before joining a team in the Philippines.

As was the case with David Nwaba and Sterling Brown — a couple of veterans who recently signed their own G League deals — Muhammad is still free to sign with any NBA team — the move was made to try to impress teams and get another shot.

Lakers Work Out Several Veteran Free Agents

SEPTEMBER 18: Thomas disputed the claim that he participated in the Lakers’ workout, posting a tweet stating that he didn’t work out for the club.

SEPTEMBER 17: Isaiah Thomas was among several free agents who worked out recently for the Lakers, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The 33-year-old guard is looking for his next team after finishing last season with the Hornets.

If Thomas earns a roster spot, it would mark his third stint with the organization. He signed a 10-day contract with L.A. under the hardship provision last December, appearing in four games and averaging 9.3 PPG in 25.3 minutes per night. Thomas also played 17 games with the Lakers during the 2017/18 season.

A report in July indicated that the Hornets still had some interest in bringing back Thomas, who signed a rest-of-the-season contract after joining the team on a pair of 10-day deals in March. Charlotte currently has two openings on its offseason roster.

Armoni Brooks, Sharife Cooper and Mychal Mulder took part in the workout as well, according to Scotto. He also identifies Shabazz Muhammad, Jeremy Lamb, Dwayne Bacon and Miye Oni as participants (Twitter link).

L.A. currently has one opening on its 20-man roster, but it’s a long shot for any of these players to be with the team once the season begins. Luxury tax penalties would cost the Lakers about $7MM to fill their final roster spot, so they will likely operate with 14 players for most of the season. Friday’s signing of Dennis Schröder gives them 12 fully guaranteed contracts, while Austin Reaves and Wenyen Gabriel are on non-guaranteed deals.

Warriors Working Out Ben McLemore, Elfrid Payton, Others

The Warriors are bringing in a number of veteran free agents this week for workouts, league sources tell Shams Charania and Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

According to Charania and Slater, some of the free agents taking part in the workouts are Ben McLemore, Elfrid Payton, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Kenneth Faried, Miye Oni, Ty-Shon Alexander, Wesley Saunders, and Jon Axel Gudmundsson.

Golden State also held similar free agent workouts in August, according to Charania and Slater, who say that Shabazz Muhammad, Solomon Hill, Tyler Cook, and Kelan Martin were among the players who participated in those sessions about two weeks ago.

The purpose of this week’s workouts is twofold — as Tim Kawakami of The Athletic tweets, the players currently on the Warriors’ roster are beginning their informal pre-camp work at the team’s facility this week, so the free agents who join them will help ensure there are enough bodies to play 5-on-5 scrimmages. Additionally, there’s an expectation that the Warriors could sign one or more of the auditioning veterans to their 20-man training camp roster, per Charania and Slater.

Golden State currently has 18 players under contract (13 on guaranteed standard deals), with Jerome Robinson expected to be the 19th. That leaves one spot available for now.

Andre Iguodala has yet to decide whether he’ll retire or return to the Warriors for another season, so it’s possible he could fill that 20th and final roster spot (and become the 14th man on the team’s projected regular season roster). Robinson, Mac McClung, Pat Spencer, and Trevion Williams are among the camp invitees who could compete for a place on the 15-man regular season roster, especially if Iguodala doesn’t return.

Charania and Slater also note that that, while Lester Quinones and Quinndary Weatherspoon are currently on two-way deals, those roster spots are flexible. According to The Athletic’s duo, the Warriors are high on Weatherspoon, who is a candidate to join the 15-man roster either this fall or later in the season

Scotto’s Latest: Muhammad, Murray, Chandler, Maine Celtics

Former lottery pick Shabazz Muhammad is expected to be among the veteran free agents the Lakers host for workouts, league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

The 14th selection of the 2013 draft, Muhammad has been attempting an NBA comeback after being out of the league since 2018. He recently worked out for the Kings and said the Mavericks have shown some interest as well.

Still only 29 years old, Muhammad holds career averages of 9.0 PPG and 2.8 RPG on .473/.319/.751 shooting in 278 games (17.2 MPG). He played in China for a couple seasons after his NBA departure, and last season appeared in a pair of G League games during the Showcase Cup before joining a team in the Philippines.

Here are a few more notes from Scotto:

  • Jamal Murray is expected to make his return at the beginning of next season for the Nuggets after missing all of 2021/22 with a torn ACL. He called the prolonged absence a “learning experience and a test of patience,” but he’s ready to be a difference-maker next season. “A championship mindset, a winning attitude, and raising everybody’s level of play,” Murray replied when Scotto asked what he’d bring to Denver upon his return. “That’s what I do best.”
  • Former NBA forward Wilson Chandler, who played 12 seasons in the league, has had “exploratory” discussions with the Timberwolves about joining their front office, according to Scotto, who notes that Chandler had four seasons of overlap under new Wolves president Tim Connelly while the two were with the Nuggets. Chandler had a productive career, averaging 12.5 PPG and 4.3 RPG on .443/.341/.770 shooting in 676 games (483 starts, 30.0 MPG).
  • Boston’s G League affiliate, the Maine Celtics, are promoting Jarell Christian to GM from head coach, while Alex Barlow – Christian’s associate head coach last season – will take his place, sources tell Scotto. Christian was formerly an assistant coach with the Wizards, Scotto notes.

And-Ones: Muhammad, Musa, James, Grant

29-year-old former 2013 NBA lottery pick Shabazz Muhammad is hoping to return to the NBA after spending the past four seasons abroad, writes Dana O’Neil of The Athletic. Muhammad indicates that he has worked out for the Kings and has received interest from the Mavericks.

Muhammad was selected with the No. 14 pick out of UCLA in 2013 and spent the majority of his NBA tenure with the Timberwolves. After Minnesota waived him in the spring of 2018, he latched on with the Bucks. Since then, he has suited up for a pair of CBA clubs, the Shanxi Brave Dragons and the Shenzhen Aviators. During the 2021/22 season, Muhammad played briefly with the Nuggets’ NBAGL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold. He next joined the San Miguel Beermen of the Phillippine Basketball Association.

“It was a big adjustment,’’ Muhammad said of his time abroad. “The language barrier — I needed a translator to talk to my teammates — the food. I got down on myself.’’

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former Nets small forward Dzanan Musa has inked a deal with top EuroLeague power Real Madrid, according to Alessandro Maggi of Sportando. The 6’9″ wing, still just 23, was selected with the No. 29 pick by Brooklyn in 2018. From 2018-20, he appeared in a total of 49 games for the Nets, averaging 4.8 PPG, 2.1 RPG and 1.1 APG while shooting 37.6% from the floor. Musa spent the 2021/22 season with another Spanish team, Club Baloncesto Breogán, for whom he averaged 20.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 3.1 APG.
  • Another recent Net, point guard Mike James, has opted to re-sign with AS Monaco on a two-year deal, according to Eurohoops. James, 31, was named to the All-EuroLeague First Team during his 2021/22 season with AS Monaco, averaging 16.4 PPG, 5.7 APG and 3.4 RPG. The 6’1″ James last suited up in 13 games for the Nets during the 2020/21 season, averaging 7.7 PPG, 4.2 APG and 2.5 RPG across 18.2 MPG.
  • Former NBA reserve guard Jerian Grant has signed with the Turkish club Turk Telekom, per Eurohoops. Grant, now 29, was selected with the No. 19 pick out of Notre Dame in 2015, and logged time with the Knicks, Bulls, and Magic, before landing with the Wizards for his last NBA season, 2019/20. The 6’4″ vet holds career NBA averages of 6.1 PPG, 2.9 APG, 1.9 RPG and 0.7 SPG across 279 games. Grant spent the 2021/22 season with Italian EuroLeague club Olimpia Milano. During his games played within the Italian League, he averaged 7.4 PPG 2.7 APG and 1.9 RPG.

Matthew Dellavedova Auditioning For Kings

7:08pm: Quinn Cook and Shabazz Muhammad also have workouts set for the Kings this week, tweets James Ham of ESPN 1320. Sacramento has three roster spots to fill.

6:44pm: Matthew Dellavedova is working out for the Kings in Las Vegas in hopes of earning an invitation to training camp, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

The 31-year-old Australian guard played for the Cavaliers during the 2020/21 season, but was limited to 13 games because of various injuries, a concussion and an emergency appendectomy. He returned home to play for Melbourne United this past season, but is hoping for an NBA comeback.

McMenamin notes that Mike Brown, Sacramento’s new head coach, was coaching in Cleveland when Dellavedova broke into the NBA in 2013.

Dellavedova played 447 games in eight NBA seasons, mostly with the Cavaliers, though he also spent some time with the Bucks. Known as an on-court leader and a scrappy defender, he was part of Cleveland’s championship team in 2016.

And-Ones: 2022 Big Board, Sleepers, Muhammad, Russia

Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren and Auburn forward Jabari Smith are in a tier of their own atop Sam Vecenie’s latest Big Board for the Athletic. Vecenie has four Duke players in the top 24, including Paolo Banchero at No. 4 and AJ Griffin at No. 6.

One new addition: Kentucky wing Shaedon Sharpe at No. 5. Sharpe hasn’t played this season after joining the Wildcats in January with the plan to play in 2022/23, but he could be draft-eligible this year if he declares. Sharpe is an outstanding athlete at 6’6″ (7’0″ wingspan) and is a legitimate pull-up shooter, according to Vecenie.

Strong performances during March Madness when more NBA eyes will be watching the 2022 draft class could lead to major movement on the board, as Vecenie states that there are minimal differences from spots 15-58. He plans to update his board again in April.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • John Hollinger of The Athletic explores 11 draft sleepers to keep an eye on during March Madness, including Colorado State forward David Roddy and Memphis forward Josh Minott. Hollinger’s favorite “deep, deep sleeper” is Toledo shooting guard Ryan Rollins, who was No. 29 on Vecenie’s board.
  • Shabazz Muhammad recently had an interview with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, stating that he’s hoping to make an NBA comeback. Muhammad last played in the league in 2017/18 with the Bucks, and he admits he wasn’t in the best shape at the time. “I’ve been working on my game seriously. When I was in Milwaukee, I noticed I had gotten myself out of shape. I’m in tip-top shape right now. I’m 220 pounds. That was my original weight when I came into the NBA and had some good years in Minnesota,” Muhammad said. “I realized you can’t take the NBA for granted, and that’s one thing I thought I did when I was in the NBA. Now, I’m thinking about getting back there by working my butt off and doing everything I have to do on and off the court as a person to be the best player and teammate I can be.” The 29-year-old swingman is currently playing in the Philippines.
  • Sources tell Marc Stein of Substack (Twitter link) that Russian teams are attempting to lure their American players back to the country by promising bonuses. Many players currently under contract have returned stateside due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. As Stein notes (via Twitter), Russian teams were barred from European competition by FIBA, but league play is set to continue within the country. Stein is skeptical that the American players will rejoin the teams given the instability in the region and the fact that WNBA star Brittney Griner is currently detained in Russia.