Sacramento Kings

Hill Valuable To Kings As Mentor; Giles Decision Heavily Researched

If the trade rumors surrounding George Hill are true, the Kings would be parting with a valuable mentor for first-round pick De’Aaron Fox, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Hill’s playing time has been sporadic lately as coach Dave Joerger tries to commit more minutes to his younger guys. Hill is averaging 27.2 minutes and 10.5 points per game, both down significantly from last season in Utah.

  • The Kings used an analytic approach to the Harry Giles situation before opting to shut down the rookie for the season, relays Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. A franchise that has disdained analytics in the past researched Giles’ condition thoroughly before arriving at the decision. “We trusted modern sports medicine,” said assistant GM Brandon Williams. “That was the start of it. We knew we had to be careful because his ceiling is so high. Until you get to know Harry, you treat him as a fragile being. ‘Banged up. Went to Duke.’ We decided to wait for January, which is two years since his last [ACL] injury, and figure it out from there. What we learned these last few weeks was that the ACL is healed. Then the question became, ‘Do we push it?’”

Cavs Emerge As Suitor For George Hill

The Cavaliers have emerged as a suitor for George Hill, expressing interest in the Kings guard Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports writes. The Cavs are said to be envisioning Hill in a dual role out of their backcourt.

Hill has had an underwhelming first season with the rebuilding Kings, admitting months after signing a three-year, $57MM contract that he didn’t expect suiting up as a mentor on a forlorn young roster to be so difficult.

In 37 games with Sacramento this season, Hill has averaged 10.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. Those marks are considerably lower than what he posted in a stellar season for the Jazz in 2016/17.

If a trade materializes, Hill would join a logjam of veterans in Cleveland’s backcourt, considering that the team already has Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose and Jose Calderon in the mix.

Of course, in addition to depth chart issues, there are logistic issues to consider as well. If the Cavs were to land Hill and his $20MM contract, they’d likely have to send back a package of Channing Frye and either J.R. Smith or Iman Shumpert. None are particularly compelling assets for a team in Sacramento’s position, though Frye is at least on an expiring deal.

Kings’ Harry Giles Won’t Play In 2017/18

The Kings will shut down rookie center Harry Giles for the rest of the season, according to James Ham of NBC Sports California, who reports that Giles won’t make his NBA debut in 2017/18. The club has confirmed the news, announcing its decision in an official press release.

According to the Kings’ announcement, Giles is “entirely healthy” and hasn’t experienced any setbacks as he continues to work his way back from multiple ACL injuries. However, citing scientific research into ACL rehabilitation, the Kings say that they’ve decided the 2017 first-rounder will focus on “more vigorous practice activity and individual workouts” rather than appearing in any games this season.

As Ham notes, Giles, who is still just 19 years old, is one of just six players in the history of the NBA to attempt to return to the court after tearing his ACLs in both knees. The Kings, who were already incorporating several rookies into their lineup this season, including De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic, recognized that they could afford to be patient with Giles, initially ruling him out until sometime in 2018 back in October.

The Kings are now targeting 2018 Summer League for Giles’ official pro debut. While the former Duke Blue Devil badly wants to get on the court this season, he tells Sean Cunningham of ABC10 in Sacramento (Twitter link) that he’s on board with the organization’s plan for him.

Kyler’s Latest: Jordan, Kings, Mirotic, Whiteside

The streaky Clippers, who lost nine straight games back in November, have now won a season-high six consecutive contests, re-inserting themselves in the playoff picture in the Western Conference. Even though DeAndre Jordan has been sidelined with an ankle injury for the Clips’ last three wins, the streak seems to bode well for his chances of sticking in Los Angeles through the trade deadline.

As Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes, Clippers ownership and management doesn’t seem at all eager to blow up the roster. For now, the club is focused on seeing if it’s capable of competing in the West, preferring to wait until a bit closer to the deadline to evaluate all of its options.

If the Clippers do change course by February 8, the Bucks and Rockets figure to be among the teams with interest in Jordan, whose contract situation is worth monitoring. According to Kyler, there’s a belief that the veteran center won’t be able to top his $24.12MM player option as a free agent, meaning it’s possible he could decide to opt in for 2018/19. That possibility may affect how the Clippers and potential trade partners view Jordan at the deadline.

Here’s more from Kyler:

  • The Kings‘ veteran players are all potential trade candidates at the deadline, though some are more likely to be moved than others. George Hill, for example, won’t have much value, given his contract situation, his injury history, and his underwhelming play this season. Sources close to the situation tell Kyler that Sacramento seems to be trying to help its veterans find better situations as those players fall out of the team’s regular rotation.
  • Kyler hears that Nikola Mirotic‘s camp is pushing for the Bulls to pick up the forward’s $12.5MM team option for 2018/19. Until that team option is exercised, Mirotic has the ability to block a trade, giving him some leverage if Chicago wants to complete a deal. League sources tell Kyler that the Bulls have “gotten pretty far down the road” in talks with the Jazz and Pistons about Mirotic.
  • There’s “growing talk” around the NBA that the Heat would be open to the idea of moving Hassan Whiteside for the right mix of contracts and young players, Kyler writes. The Bucks and Cavaliers, both on the lookout for a center, would be obvious suitors, but it would tough for either team to make a deal, given Whiteside’s large cap hit ($23.78MM). John Henson, Mirza Teletovic, Tristan Thompson, and Iman Shumpert are among the players whose contracts might have to be included for Milwaukee or Cleveland to make a deal work, which doesn’t sound overly appealing for Miami.
  • The Mavericks are “dangling” some expiring contracts and appear to be seeking a promising prospect on a rookie scale deal, along with future picks, says Kyler. Dallas also has cap flexibility to take on a contract or two.

Pacific Notes: Ball, CP3, Clippers, Kings

Lonzo Balls balky left knee kept him out of the Lakers‘ loss to the Grizzlies on Monday and will likely sideline him for at least another game, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk writes. Ball underwent an MRI on Sunday after he complained of discomfort and he will not be able to return until the swelling subsides.

“I know my body the best,” Ball said. “So as long as I can run, that is pretty much all I need. So as soon as I can run and the swelling goes down a little bit, then I should be ready to go.”

Ball, 20, had played well since he returned from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for six games from late December through early January. In total, Ball has averaged 10.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 7.1 APG in 36 games for Los Angeles. The Lakers are 0-6 without Ball and are also currently without Brandon Ingram who is day-to-day with a sprained ankle.

Check out other Pacific Division notes below:

  • Before the melee that ensued during and after in the Rockets‘ matchup against the Clippers in Los Angeles on Monday, former Clipper Chris Paul did not want to be the focus of the game, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes. Paul spent six seasons with the Clippers before he was traded this past offseason to Houston, pairing him with perennial Most Valuable Player candidate James Harden. However, after the game was over, it was Paul and several of his Rockets teammates entering the Clippers locker room looking for a confrontation with several L.A. players that was the story.
  • Michael Lee of The Vertical examines the Clippers dynasty that never was. While Los Angeles compiled an impressive list of stars, such as Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and others, the team was never able to escape the first round of the playoffs.
  • Several Kings player have voiced their displeasure with the way things are going for the team and that could be beneficial for the organization’s rebuild, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. Jones argues that if players continue speaking up, the team will have to speed up its efforts to put forth a contending team with winning players.
  • With the trade deadline approaching, James Ham of NBC Sports takes a look at which Kings veterans could be on the move and the impact they could have on the market.

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.

Kings Bring Up Georgios Papagiannis And Malachi Richardson

Kings Notes: Cauley-Stein, Giles, Draft, Bogdanovic

As losses continue to pile up for the Kings, Willie Cauley-Stein suggests that Dave Joerger run the team like a college coach, relays Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. The Kings are now 1-7 in their last eight games with a roster that features 10 players with three or fewer seasons of NBA experience.

“If you’re not doing your job right, next man up, you get your turn next time it comes around,” Cauley-Stein said. “I think it’s got to happen like that, even for myself.”

The Kings have fallen to last in the West and are third in our latest Reverse Standings.

There’s more tonight out of Sacramento:

  • The team is being careful with first-round pick Harry Giles, who has yet to play this season because of physical concerns, Jones notes in a mailbag column. Giles hasn’t practiced much in front of the media, but team sources say he has shown impressive athleticism and shooting range in controlled settings. He is also a fast learner who has picked up the game through film sessions. Jones reports that Giles’ knees are in good shape and the Kings are focused on building up his strength to start playing.
  • The Kings’ only shot at picking up a first-round pick before the trade deadline is if a contender wants to take a chance on George Hill, Jones adds in the same piece. Hill is making $20MM this season, so matching salaries would be an issue, especially since Sacramento already has a full roster. Jones thinks the Kings might make a stronger effort to acquire a first-rounder next year, when their pick will be sent to the Sixers or Celtics.
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic isn’t a typical rookie, and the Kings aren’t treating him like one, Jones writes in a separate story. The Serbian shooting guard is 25 and has years of international experience, making him one of the leaders on a young team. The former draft-and-stash prospect agreed to a three-year, $27MM deal last summer. “He’s not a rookie,” Hill said. “To you guys he is, but to us, he’s a seasoned vet. He’s been battle tested and been playing high-level basketball his whole life now. He just knows how to play the game the right way. We feed off that. He plays with that edge, that grit, he just wants to win.”

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.

Kings’ Frank Mason To Miss Several Weeks

After initially being ruled out for at least a week last Tuesday due to a heel contusion, rookie Kings guard Frank Mason has been re-evaluated and received a new diagnosis, according to an announcement from the team. That MRI showed that Mason suffered a partial tear of the right plantar fascia.

According to the Kings, Mason will continue receiving treatment on his heel and will now be re-evaluated four to six weeks after the injury initially occurred. That timetable puts him on track to miss most or all of January, and perhaps a portion of February as well.

Mason, the 34th overall pick in the 2017 draft, was a regular part of the Kings’ rotation for the first half of the season when he was healthy, averaging 7.6 PPG, 2.9 APG, and 2.1 RPG in 29 contests (18.6 MPG). Although his .385 FG% may be a little lower than he’d like, he has been effective from three-point range (.419 3PT%).

The Kings are currently jockeying for lottery position rather than playoff position, so they’ll take their time with Mason’s rehab and ensure he’s 100% before he gets back on the court. When he does return, the 23-year-old figures to see plenty of minutes for a Sacramento team that will likely be prioritizing the development of its young players over playing time for its veterans.

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