Sacramento Kings

Will Rudy Gay Stay In Sacramento?

Back in September, Gay informed the Kings that he intended to opt out of his contract in the summer of 2017, and it sounded at the time like Gay would probably be leaving Sacramento. Six months later though, he’s less certain about his future.

The veteran forward may prefer to leave Sacramento, but it might ultimately make more sense for him to opt in, take his time getting back to full strength, and hit the market in the summer of 2018 after rebuilding his value. The Kings’ trade of DeMarcus Cousins last month signaled a significant change of direction for the franchise, so they might even look to trade Gay to a more favorable destination for him if he does opt in.

Kings Notes: Hield, Evans, Richardson

When the Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans, the majority of discussion surrounding the deal focused on the superstar heading to New Orleans.

As the dust continues to settle, it’s become increasingly clear that Tyreke Evans and Buddy Hield can have substantial impacts of their own. Benedict Tagle of Kings.com recently wrote about what the pair have been accomplishing since arriving in Northern California.

Though just seven games into his second stint with the team that drafted him, Evans has improved upon the numbers he posted with the Pelicans at the start of the year. Evans began the 2016/17 campaign on the shelf and had to slowly play himself back into game shape. Since rejoining Sacramento, however, he’s posted career highs in points, rebounds and blocks per 100 possessions.

Hield, too, has seen his production rise since the trade. Hield’s 14.2 points per game since the trade are 5.6 higher than what he posted in New Orleans and his effective field-goal percentage has ballooned to .636.

There’s more from the Kings today:

Pacific Notes: Iguodala, Kerr, Joerger, Rob Pelinka

Andre Iguodala has been assessed a $10K fine for making “inappropriate comments” during a postgame interview, the league announced on its official website (link). Iguodala’s comments came after a 103-102 loss to Minnesota on Friday, when the 33-year-old was venting about not participating in a match-up with the Spurs. Steve Kerr had Iguodala’s back, claiming the 13-year vet likes to mess with the media.

“You guys just got Andre’d,” Kerr said to a group of reporters, including Chris Haynes of ESPN. Andre is one of those guys who likes to stir the pot and has a lot of cryptic messaging at times. [He] jokes around. I didn’t take anything from it. It’s just Andre being Andre.”

Iguodala spoke with the press Monday, expressing regret for the impact of his comments.

“I feel like it’s the wrong time because it puts my team in that situation and coaching staff in that situation,” he told Ethan Strauss of ESPN. “I have a great relationship with Steve Kerr, and he knows that. Steve spoke to you guys about it, you know what I mean. Steve in his words, someone still may not believe him, but he and I are in a great place. We don’t even have to speak about it because he knew that in no way shape or form that I’m talking about him.”

More from around the Pacific…

  • The Kings will be sticking with their veterans despite a losing record, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. Coach Dave Joerger isn’t going to “throw away” the team’s remaining games in 2016/17, Jones writes, and will play veterans (Garrett Temple, Arron Afflalo, Anthony Tolliver) alongside young players. “I’m very happy with coach,” Afflalo said. “Throughout all of this, he’s remained very positive and encouraged us to win games. He’s playing to win, he’s doing the best that he can with our roster. I commend him for that. So, from a veteran perspective, you’ve always got to keep hope alive and to to go out there and take it one game at a time.”
  • New Lakers GM Rob Pelinka plans to conduct individual meetings with his players, Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times writes. “For Earvin [Magic Johnson], Luke and I, we see our fundamental purpose, not just one that’s all about leadership in terms of the front office, but that’s also one about service,” Pelinka said. “When I say that, we want to make sure that we establish a platform of excellence for the players in that locker room. That’s the heartbeat of the team. I think the message to the guys is we want to serve your needs to help you be great.”

Checking In On NBA’s 2017 Draft Lottery Trades

As our 2016/17 NBA Reverse Standings show, the Celtics – by way of the Nets – have all but clinched the No. 1 spot in the 2017 draft lottery. With a record of 12-53, Brooklyn has a 7.5-game “lead” over the second-place Lakers, who are 20-46. Barring a hot streak that sees the Nets practically double their win total, their last-place finish will ensure that the Celtics have a 25% chance of landing the first overall pick this spring.

However, once we move past the Nets, there are many interesting lottery situations that are far from decided, which could have significant ramifications for the future of several franchises. Here’s a closer look at a few of them:

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are currently in second place in our reverse standings, with a 1.5-game lead on the Suns. If Los Angeles can hold that position the rest of the way, it would give the team a great chance to keep its 2017 first-round pick, which is top-three protected. If they lose the pick, it’ll be sent to the Sixers.

If the Lakers finish as the NBA’s second-worst team, they’d have a 55.8% chance of landing in the top three and keeping their pick. If they were to slip just one spot in the lottery standings and finish with the league’s third-worst record, those odds would shift below 50/50, to just 46.9%.

This year’s lottery outcome is particularly crucial for the Lakers, since losing this year’s pick would also mean they’d have to send their 2019 first-rounder (unprotected) to Orlando. If the Lakers keep this year’s first-rounder, their commitment to the Magic would become a pair of second-round picks in 2017 and 2018.

Philadelphia 76ers / Sacramento Kings

The Kings‘ 2017 first-round pick is top-10 protected — if it lands outside the top 10, Sacramento will have to send the pick to Chicago. However, a lengthy losing streak has put the Kings in a great position to keep that selection — they’re now 25-41, No. 6 in our reverse standings and four full games ahead of the 29-37 Hornets (No. 11).

With the Kings’ pick looking pretty safe, it’s now worth watching to see where it lands in relation to the Sixers‘ pick. Philadelphia has the opportunity to swap picks with the Kings, so Sacramento won’t necessarily be rooting for lottery luck unless both the Kings and Sixers can jump into the top three. Currently, the 24-42 Sixers are just one game ahead of Sacramento in our reverse standings.

If the Kings and Sixers finish as the league’s fifth- and sixth-worst teams, Philadelphia would have a 15.1% chance of landing the first-round pick, rather than just 8.8%.

New Orleans Pelicans

When the Pelicans acquired DeMarcus Cousins last month, most observers called the trade a coup for New Orleans. However, that early assessment of the deal hinged on the assumption that the Pelicans would improve with Cousins in the lineup, reducing the value of the first-round pick they sent to Sacramento in the swap. That hasn’t happened so far, as the 26-40 Pelicans place eighth in our reverse standings.

If the Pelicans were to finish as the NBA’s eighth-worst team, they’d have a 10% chance to jump into the top three and hang onto their pick. Otherwise, the Kings would be in position to acquire the pick and hold two top-10 selections.

The rest

No other lottery picks for 2017 appear to be in flux — the Mavericks traded their first-rounder to the Sixers, but it’s top-18 protected, and Dallas has essentially no chance of landing outside of the top 18.

Further down in our reverse standings, outside of the lottery, every traded first-round pick should change hands. Of those late-round selections, the most valuable traded pick looks to be the Grizzlies‘ selection, which they’ll send to the Trail Blazers. It currently projects to be No. 19 overall.

RealGM’s list of traded draft picks was used in the creation of this post.

Rudy Gay Undecided On 2017/18 Player Option

Way back in September, Rudy Gay informed the Kings that he intended to opt out of his contract in the summer of 2017, and it sounded at the time like Gay would likely be leaving Sacramento. However, having gone down with an Achilles injury in January, Gay is now uncertain about whether or not he’ll turn down his 2017/18 player option as planned, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee.

According to Jones, Gay acknowledged that his plans could change due to the Achilles injury. The veteran forward expects to be healthy in time to start the 2017/18 season, but he’ll rely on his agent’s assessment of the market and an evaluation of his health before he makes a decision on his player option, which is worth about $14.26MM.

“I’m looking at where I feel most comfortable, where I can showcase my talents and win,” Gay said, adding that he expects to return better and stronger than before. “Wherever I think I can do that at, that’s the best place for me.”

As I noted earlier today, Gay’s decision on his 2017/18 option will come well before most other veterans with player options on their contracts have to make their decisions. Gay will reportedly have to make a call on his option within five days of the Kings’ last game of the season.

Throughout the season, there have been reports suggesting that Kings management remains optimistic about retaining Gay, despite his plans to opt out. However, that was back when the team was still talking about locking up DeMarcus Cousins for the long term. It’s not clear now whether the Kings still view Gay as a key part of their future plans.

Early Decision Dates For 2017/18 Player Options

By default, NBA players who hold player options for the following season generally don’t have to make an official decision on those options until June 29, just two days before the new league year gets underway. However, that date can be altered on a contract-by-contract basis, which is why many of the 25 players who have player options or early termination options for 2017/18 will be making their decisions prior to June 29 this year.

Several of those player option decisions are due either on a specific date or a certain number of days following a team’s final regular season game. For instance, Rudy Gay‘s player option calls for him to make a decision either on June 10, or five days after the Kings’ last game, whichever comes first. Since Sacramento won’t make the playoffs this season, Gay’s player option decision date will arrive early — he’ll have to make a call next month, which will be interesting, since he’s still recovering from a season-ending Achilles injury.

Gay isn’t the only player whose contract calls for a decision a specific number of days after his team plays its last game. However, all of the other players in that boat could end up in the playoffs. Kyle Lowry, for instance, has to make a decision on his player option by June 19, or within seven days of the Raptors’ last game. If Toronto were to make it back to the Eastern Conference Finals, Lowry’s decision probably wouldn’t happen until June either way.

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders has done an excellent job keeping tabs on these early player option decision dates, so we’ll use his data to break down the schedule of upcoming decision dates. If a player who holds a 2017/18 player option isn’t listed here, that means his decision is due on June 29, or his decision date hasn’t been reported.

Here’s the list of early decision dates for 2017/18 player options:

Dependent on when team’s season ends:

  • June 10 (or five days after team’s last game): Rudy Gay (Kings)
  • June 12 (or one day after team’s last game): Rodney Stuckey (Pacers)
  • June 19 (or seven days after team’s last game): Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  • June 20 (or two days after team’s last game): Aron Baynes (Pistons), C.J. Miles (Pacers) (mutual option)

The rest:

For details on how much these player options are worth, check out our list of 2017 free agents by position or by team.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 3/9/17

Here are Thursday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • Shortly after he signed a 10-day contract with the Mavericks, Manny Harris was sent right back down to the D-League, the team announced in a press release. Harris figures to get a shot in Dallas at some point during his current 10-day deal, but with the Mavs not in action until tomorrow, Harris will remain with the Texas Legends for the club’s Thursday night game against Northern Arizona.
  • The Rockets have recalled Kyle Wiltjer from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the team announced today (Twitter link). Houston had needed to get up to 12 active players by today, necessitating the call-up of Wiltjer, as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • Rookie big man Georgios Papagiannis has been sent back to the D-League by the Kings, per James Ham of CSNBayArea.com (Twitter link). Papagiannis is one of 16 first-round picks from 2016 who have been on D-League assignments this season, as we detailed yesterday.
  • The Pelicans have assigned rookie Cheick Diallo to the D-League, according to the team (Twitter link). Diallo will head to the Greensboro Swarm, Charlotte’ D-League squad, via the flexible assignment rule.

Kings' New-Look Offense A Work In Progress

  • The new-look Kings are still a work in progress, particularly on offense, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. As Jones outlines, the offense was centered around DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay in the first half, but with neither player on the floor for the Kings anymore, the retooled squad sometimes looks like “five guys on the court just trying not to step on each other’s toes.”

Ty Lawson Facing Legal Troubles?

Ty Lawson was arrested in 2015 for drunk driving and TMZ Sports reports that he violated the terms of his probation, which resulted in a bench warrant being issued for his arrest.

Lawson was sentenced to a year of probation in March of 2016 after pleading guilty to one count of driving while impaired and failing to drive in a single lane, Kirk Mitchell of The Denver Post relays. He was required to stay completely sober and submit to drug testing. He allegedly tested positive for alcohol twice in the month of September and once last month. He also failed to complete his mandatory community service.

Lawson’s attorney issued a statement to deny the reports and clarify the situation, as James Ham of Comcast Sportsnet relays (Twitter link).

“Reports that there is a warrant out for Mr. Lawson’s arrest are incorrect. On March 22, 2016 the court reset this matter for March 22, 2017 to review Mr. Lawson’s probation status. All related matters will be reviewed by the court at that time.”

The Kings play the Bucks on March 22 and they will likely be without Lawson as he appears in a Denver courtroom. If he fails to show up for his court date, a warrant for his arrest will be issued.

Kings Players Still Thinking Postseason

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