- Willie Cauley-Stein establishing his market value is among the storylines surrounding the Kings the remainder of the season, according to James Ham of NBCSports.com. Cauley-Stein has to emerge as the defensive stopper he was in college and improve his rebounding to earn an extension this offseason, Ham continues. The development of the De’Aaron Fox–Bogdan Bogdanovic backcourt and the need for Buddy Hield to become a playmaker are some of the other things to watch, Ham adds.
The Kings are about the most consistent franchise in the NBA over the last decade. However, for the unfortunate fans in Sacramento, the Kings have been consistently inferior, writes Phillip Reese of The Sacramento Bee.
On pace to win about 25 games this season, the Kings are right on target to finish in a familiar position in the standings. Sacramento has won between 22 and 33 games for the last eight seasons, and no other team has a lower standard deviation in wins or end-of-season rankings so far this decade.
Practically speaking, the Kings have finished no better than 21st and no worse than 28th, while teams like the Cavaliers (first – 29th), Magic (second – 30th), and Lakers (third – 29th) have finished both worse and far better. The next most-consistent team? The Spurs, whose superior consistency has seen then finish as high as first and no worse than ninth since the 2009/10 season.
There’s more out of Sacramento:
- Known for being super quick, rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox is using that speed to catch up with his contemporaries after a slow start to his rookie season, writes Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Often cited as a poor shooter, Fox’s shooting percentage (41.0) is now actually higher than fellow lottery picks/point guards Dennis Smith Jr. (39.4), Lonzo Ball (35.6), and Frank Ntilikina (35.0).
- In another article for The Sacramento Bee, Voisin writes about how newly-acquired forward Bruno Caboclo, 22, received a strong endorsement from former NBA player and fellow Brazilian, Tiago Splitter. “Bruno is a great player,” said Splitter. “He needs a team that gives him confidence, that lets him play and has some good leaders. He’s a good shooter, has long arms, and has a feel for the game. He’s an NBA player for sure. I wish him the best.”
- For the second year in a row, Buddy Hield (Bahamas) represented Team World in the Rising Stars Challenge last night, and his team-high 29-point performance was capable in part because of a confidence surge after being moved to the bench, reports Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. “I think coach making the decision to bring me off the bench was probably the best decision,” Hield said. “I think it’s good for me, to help me, slow down a little bit and let the game come to me.”
- In spite of his team’s youth movement, Kings veteran Zach Randolph has played more than expected in recent weeks, which has allowed him to get into a groove offensively, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. “You get a good rhythm,” Randolph said. “Especially something that I’m not used to, the team developing our young players. So you get into a good rhythm, it’s important, playing and getting that feel.”
In his latest piece for ESPN.com, Adrian Wojnarowski goes into extensive detail on the deadline deals completed last week by the Cavaliers, and offers some fascinating tidbits on how those trades got done, and one potential blockbuster that didn’t get done. Let’s dive in and round up the highlights…
- Before making his series of trades, Cavaliers GM Koby Altman got an elusive face-to-face sitdown with LeBron James to let his star player know what he was working on. Altman later met with LeBron again to tell him that the trades for Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, George Hill, and Rodney Hood were complete, and to ask for his blessing on the deal that sent Dwyane Wade to Miami, says Wojnarowski.
- Altman had received ownership approval to trade Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, and the Cavs’ own 2018 first-round pick to the Clippers for DeAndre Jordan, according to Wojnarowski. Los Angeles was on board with the deal, but wanted to find a third team to take Shumpert and to give the Clips a center, since they didn’t want another shooting guard. Altman and Clippers GM Michael Winger weren’t able to find that third team, and since L.A. was unwilling to take on Shumpert (or Tristan Thompson or J.R. Smith) and the Cavs had some reservations about extending Jordan’s contract in the offseason, the deal ultimately fell through.
- The three-way trade between the Cavaliers, Kings, and Jazz nearly fell apart on deadline day when Sacramento insisted that Georgios Papagiannis be included in the deal. According to Woj, Cleveland and Utah were “adamant” that Papagiannis had never been discussed, but Kings assistant GM Brandon Williams insists that his notes confirm that either Papagiannis or Malachi Richardson would be included.
- As an aside, Wojnarowski writes that Williams was handling negotiations because GM Vlade Divac “seldom gets on the phone for the trade-building parts,” even though any Kings trade requires his approval, along with the approval of owner Vivek Ranadive.
- The Cavaliers were very much against Papagiannis’ inclusion in the trade, since taking on his $2.3MM cap hit would have cost the club significantly more than that in tax payments. Utah also had no interest in acquiring the former lottery pick, with Wojnarowski suggesting that Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey was “livid” about the insertion of Papagiannis and was ready to call off the trade. As for the Kings, they were hoping to move 2016’s 13th overall pick to avoid the embarrassment of waiving him themselves, says Woj.
- Eventually, Altman was able to work out a solution and talked Lindsey into it, per Wojnarowski. Papagiannis’ rest-of-season salary for this year and his guaranteed salary for 2018/19 totaled $3.2MM, and the Cavaliers were willing to pay that amount to Sacramento, but Cleveland was limited to sending out $2.1MM for the rest of this league year. Altman convinced the Jazz to send the Kings the remaining $1.1MM, with Lindsey getting a little something out of the deal: the ability to swap 2024 second-round picks with the Cavs. The Kings, having been compensated for Papagiannis’ remaining salary, simply waived him rather than insisting he be a part of the trade.
Now that the dust has settled on last Thursday’s trade-deadline deals and the first round of veteran buyouts and cuts has been completed, it’s worth taking stock of which NBA teams have the flexibility to add a player or two without waivers anyone else.
With the help of our roster counts page, which we update all season, here are the NBA teams with open spots on their 15-man rosters. Open two-way contract slots aren’t included here, since teams are ineligible to sign new two-way contracts at this point in the season.
Teams with a player on a 10-day contract filling their open spot:
- Phoenix Suns
- Utah Jazz
Both the Suns and Jazz have 14 players on fully guaranteed NBA contracts, leaving one potential opening. For now, Josh Gray is filling that 15th spot in Phoenix and Naz Mitrou-Long is doing the same in Utah. However, they’re only on 10-day contracts, so both of these teams could soon create an open spot if necessary.
Teams with one open spot:
- Charlotte Hornets
- Chicago Bulls
- Dallas Mavericks
- Indiana Pacers
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- New Orleans Pelicans
- New York Knicks
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Orlando Magic
- Sacramento Kings
- Toronto Raptors
The teams listed above represent a mix of playoff-bound squads and rebuilding non-contenders. Teams like the Bulls, Mavericks, and Knicks could use their open roster spots to take fliers on young players via 10-day contracts, while clubs like the Timberwolves, Thunder, and Raptors may be eyeing the buyout market for veterans who could fortify their respective benches.
Teams with two open spots:
- Atlanta Hawks
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Washington Wizards
NBA rules generally prohibit teams from carrying fewer than 14 players on their 15-man squads. However, clubs are permitted to dip to 13 – or even 12 – in special circumstances, as long as they get back up to 14 within two weeks. Roster moves made last week by the Hawks, Cavaliers, Trail Blazers, and Wizards left them below the limit, so they’ll each have to add at least one player by the end of the All-Star break.
Note: Roster info current as of Tuesday, February 13 at 2:00pm CT.
- The Kings are in a good cap space situation, but the team’s vision is gearing toward the summer of 2019, James Ham of NBC Sports writes. That summer, the Kings will be rid of all veteran contract commitments and will be in prime position to strike in the market.
Several veteran players have been waived by their respective teams since Thursday’s trade deadline, with guard Marco Belinelli, forward Joe Johnson, and big man Brandan Wright receiving buyouts. As those vets prepare to sign with new teams, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link) passes along details on how much money they gave back to their old clubs.
According to Wojnarowski, Belinelli gave up $300K to get out of his deal with the Hawks, Johnson surrendered $1MM in his buyout agreement with the Kings, and Wright gave up $776K to the Grizzlies.
[RELATED: 2017/18 Buyout Market Summary]
As Woj observes in his tweet, a player who agrees to buy out typically does so knowing that he’ll earn back most or all of his lost salary once he signs a new deal. With that in mind, it’s worth noting that Wright’s buyout amount doesn’t appear to be arbitrary — if he signs a minimum salary deal with the Rockets today, Wright will earn approximately $776K for the rest of the season with Houston.
Since Belinelli, like Wright, has at least 10 years of NBA experience too, his minimum salary deal would also be worth about $776K if completed today. Those two contracts would count for only about $490K against the cap. As for Johnson, if he signs with Houston on Tuesday, he’d earn about $763K on a minimum salary deal, with a cap hit of approximately $482K.
Johnson, whose salary had been $10.5MM+ before his buyout, apparently agreed to give up a little more salary than he’ll earn the rest of the way with the Rockets. But that trade-off is certainly worth it, since he’ll make the move from the NBA’s worst team to the club with perhaps the best shot at knocking off the defending-champion Warriors.
As for Belinelli, his relatively modest buyout signals that the Hawks were ready to move on from the veteran and hand his minutes over to younger players. He’ll come out ahead financially after signing with the Sixers.
FEBRUARY 11, 5:34pm: The Kings have officially waived Johnson, the team announced on its website. Since the transaction was finalized today, Johnson will clear waivers on Tuesday.
FEBRUARY 10, 10:17am: Veteran Joe Johnson is expected to sign with the Rockets now that his buyout with the Kings has been finalized, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Johnson will clear waivers on Monday and be free to sign with Houston immediately.
Johnson, 36, was traded to the Kings on Thursday as part of a three-team deal that included the Cavaliers and Jazz. Once it became clear that Sacramento would likely buyout Johnson, early reports named the Celtics and Warriors as favorites for his services.
Johnson is in the second year of the two-year, $22MM deal he inked with Utah before the start of the 2016/17 season. The seven-time All-Star has been a starter for most of his 17-year NBA career but shifted into a reserve role with the Jazz last season. Johnson missed part of the season with a wrist injury but has averaged 7.3 PPG and 3.3 RPG in 32 games.
“Iso Joe” joins a Rockets team that is just half a game behind the Warriors for the best record in the Western Conference. The Rockets are also expected to sign 11-year veteran Brandan Wright, giving the team’s bench two scoring additions. Houston will have to waive a player, as the team has 14 players signed to guaranteed deals before the additions of Wright and Johnson, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
Elfrid Payton‘s stint with the Magic ended on Thursday and by Saturday, he was putting up a solid performance in his Suns debut. The former lottery pick posted 19 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds in the Suns’ 123-113 loss to the Nuggets. Payton’s performance drew rave reviews from his teammates and coaches, NBA.com’s Cody Cunningham writes.
“I thought he was good,” Suns head coach Jay Triano said. “It was different, the pace of play was better, getting the ball up and down the court, getting into the lane when he needed to, and making passes. He made the guys on the floor with him better.”
Payton, 23, has been viewed a disappointment through his first four NBA seasons after being the 10th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. However, given his age and upside, Payton drew interest from several teams prior to the deadline.
Check out other Pacific Division notes:
- The agent of now-former Kings center Georgios Papagiannis, Marios Olympios, was critical of the team’s decision to waive the 20-year-old, Aris Barkas of Euro Hoops writes. “He (Papagiannis) never got a chance by the Kings,” Olympios said on the Greek radio station Sport FM, Barkas writes. “He had a double-double every time he played in the G-League. He had to travel for two and a half hour everytime he was assigned to Reno and still he performed. There are many details that prove that he never got a real chance”.
- Warriors forward Draymond Green was fined $50,000 for directing inappropriate and offensive language toward a game official, the NBA announced on its website. The incident occurred during the Warriors’ loss to the Thunder this past Tuesday.
- The Suns received $1.5MM back in the buyout of new Celtics center Greg Monroe, tweets salary cap expert Albert Nahmad.
- After a blockbuster trade with the Cavaliers on Thursday, the Lakers freed up a ton of cap space that could be used to lure two premiere free agents to Los Angeles this summer. Mark Heisler of the Orange County Register writes that the organization’s moves have put it in position to be relevant again.
With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, much attention is being paid to what is expected to be several weeks of busy buyout market activity. The last day that a player can be waived from their current team and still be eligible to play in the postseason with a new team is March 1.
Below are a series of lists breaking down the veterans who have already been bought out – or simply waived – by their respective teams since the trade deadline, along with those who are expected to be, and several more who really ought to be considered possible buyout candidates even if no reports have come out explicitly stating as much.
As the weeks unfold, we may see new names surface as buyout candidates, in such cases (and whenever a player is formally bought out) we’ll update the list.
Potential buyout candidates:
- Arron Afflalo, SG, 32 (Magic) – $1.5MM in 2017/18
- Corey Brewer, SF, 31 (Lakers) – $7.6MM in 2017/18
- Vince Carter, SF, 41 (Kings) – $8.0MM in 2017/18
- Ersan Ilyasova, PF, 30 (Hawks) – $6.0MM in 2017/18
- Jarrett Jack, PG, 34 (Knicks) – $1.5MM in 2017/18
- Shabazz Muhammad, SF, 25 (Timberwolves) – $1.6MM in 2017/18 +1 year
- Joakim Noah, C, 32 (Knicks) – $17.8MM in 2017/18 +2 years
Expected to be bought out or released:
Veterans who have been bought out or released:
- Tony Allen, SG, 36 (Bulls) – $2.1MM in 2017/18
- Marco Belinelli, SG, 31 (Hawks) – $6.6MM in 2017/18: Signed with Sixers
- Joe Johnson, SF, 36 (Kings) – $10.5MM in 2017/18: Agreed to sign with Rockets
- Josh McRoberts, PF, 30 (Mavericks) – $6.0MM in 2017/18
- Derrick Rose, PG, 29 (Jazz) – $2.1MM in 2017/18
- Brandan Wright, PF, 30 (Grizzlies) – $6.0MM in 2017/18: Signed with Rockets