- The Kings expressed some interest in European star Sasha Vezenkov this offseason but he decided to stay at least for one more season with Greece’s Olympiacos. Vezenkov, a 2017 second-round pick, believes he made the right move, according to Achilleas Mavrodontis of Eurohoops.net. “It was the first summer in a long time that there was some solid talk, and the Kings showed interest,” he said. “Based on the information, what I heard, and what I had on the table, I decided that the best option for me was Olynpiacos. I don’t look back. I always stand by my decisions. I’m trying to prove that it was the best choice.”
- Speaking to reporters on Monday, Kings general manager Monte McNair expressed confidence in the team’s new-look roster and brushed off questions about his contract situation as he enters the final season of a three-year deal. “Is my deal, like, on the internet or something?” McNair joked, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “Look, for me and my group, we’re excited about what we’ve done. We’re excited that coach (Mike) Brown is in here. I’m the GM right now and I’ve got a bunch of work to do, so I’m going to do that until they kick me out, and I hope I’m here for a long time.”
- Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee takes a look at how No. 4 overall pick Keegan Murray is dealing with high expectations as he joins a Kings team attempting to snap a 16-year playoff drought.
- New Kings coach Mike Brown wants to play with pace and he believes there’s enough shooting around their dynamic point man to aid that cause, Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes. “We want to play fast and give (De’Aaron Fox) an opportunity to get downhill,” Brown said. “If we’re asking Fox to get downhill, he needs space to do it. In order to create space around him, you need shooters. When you’re talking about Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk, Keegan Murray, Harrison Barnes, Terence Davis, Trey Lyles, you’re talking about some high-level shooters.”
- Former head coach Alvin Gentry has been named the Kings’ VP of basketball engagement, according to a team press release. Mark Toyoda has been elevated to senior director of basketball administration. Melanie Stocking has been promoted to senior director of team operations. Saagar Sarin has been promoted to director of pro personnel and Aram Palamoudian has been promoted to basketball operations coordinator.
Suns forward Jae Crowder tweeted and deleted “99 won’t be there!” in reply to a Duane Rankin article about training camp questions, notes Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports (Twitter link). The Suns are rumored to be exploring the trade market for the veteran, with Crowder said to be interested in a return to the Heat, though that would be tricky, at least for now, due to salary-matching rules.
In 67 games (28.1 MPG) with the Suns last season, all starts, the 32-year-old averaged 9.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.9 APG and 1.4 SPG on .399/.348/.789 shooting. While his long-range shooting is inconsistent, Crowder remains a solid defender and smart passer on a reasonable $10.2MM expiring deal.
Here’s more from the Pacific:
- Clippers guard John Wall recently opened up about his personal struggles the past few years in an article for The Players Tribune. Wall contemplated suicide after a series of traumatic events, including tearing his Achilles tendon, an infection from the subsequent surgeries that nearly caused his foot to be amputated, and losing his mother to breast cancer. Wall details how close he was to his mother, whom he calls his “best friend in the whole world.”
- Every member of the Lakers‘ roster except for Dennis Schröder attended a players-led minicamp in San Diego on Friday, sources tell ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (Twitter links). Schröder was unable to attend due to logistical reasons — he’s still organizing a move back to L.A., per McMenamin. The veteran point guard has been quite busy recently. He signed a one-year deal to return to the Lakers last week and finished competing for Germany at EuroBasket last weekend.
- James Ham of The Kings Beat breaks down the Kings‘ depth at center entering training camp. Domantas Sabonis and Richaun Holmes figure to see the majority of the minutes at the five, and new head coach Mike Brown might experiment with playing them together at times, Ham writes.
The Kings have officially signed free agent swingman Kent Bazemore and guard Quinn Cook, the team confirmed today in a press release. Bazemore’s one-year agreement with Sacramento was first reported on August 7, while Cook’s one-year deal was reported a day later.
Bazemore, 33, has enjoyed a solid 10-year career as a three-and-D wing, though he had a disappointing year in Los Angeles in 2021/22, shooting a career-low 32.4% from the field and falling out of the Lakers’ rotation early in the season.
Cook, meanwhile, is a five-year NBA veteran who won titles with the Warriors and Lakers as a reserve. He has averaged 6.4 PPG and 1.6 APG in 188 career appearances (14.1 MPG) for five teams, but didn’t play in the league last season after being waived by Portland prior to opening night.
The exact terms of Bazemore’s and Cook’s deals aren’t yet known, but the Kings have been signing a series of veterans to non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed contracts this offseason and will likely have multiple roster spots up for grabs in training camp and the preseason.
Sacramento now has a full 20-man offseason roster, including 12 players on guaranteed contracts and a pair on two-way deals. Bazemore and Cook are among a group of six players expected to vie for spots on the 15-man regular season roster — Matthew Dellavedova, KZ Okpala, Sam Merrill, and Chima Moneke are also in that mix.
- The two-year, minimum-salary contract KZ Okpala signed with the Kings is virtually identical to the one Chima Moneke received earlier this offseason, as our JD Shaw reports (Twitter links). Okpala has a $250K partial guarantee in 2022/23 that would increase to $500K if he makes the opening night roster. He’d receive a partial guarantee of $250K for 2023/24 if he plays at least 1,000 minutes this season and Sacramento wins 41 or more games. His full ’23/24 salary would become guaranteed if he’s under contract through June 30, 2023.
The deadline for rookie scale extensions is just a month away, and the Heat have a major decision to make regarding Tyler Herro, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. After earning Sixth Man of the Year honors last season, Herro is in line for a new contract that Winderman estimates will exceed $25MM per year, whether that happens in the next 30 days or in restricted free agency next summer.
Winderman believes the most important factor for Miami’s front office is determining whether a significant trade is likely to present itself before the February deadline. Herro could be a valuable bargaining chip in landing another star, but if his extension is already in place, the poison pill provision will make him extremely difficult to move in 2022/23.
Situations involving the players most likely to be dealt this offseason have already been resolved, and no other stars appear unhappy with their current teams. However, Winderman points to the Pacers’ Myles Turner and the Hawks’ John Collins as players who might be available and notes that situations can change rapidly in a few months. He also points out that the rising salary cap means more teams will have money to spend next July, so Herro will be almost certain to receive a generous offer sheet.
There’s more from Miami:
- KZ Okpala has a new opportunity with the Kings, but the Heat gave him plenty of chances before deciding to trade him, Winderman states in a separate story. The power forward spent nearly three full seasons in Miami before being shipped to Oklahoma City in February, but he was never able to establish himself as part of the rotation.
- Heat fans have gotten used to watching the team pursue star players, but that may not be a realistic option for this season, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. The Heat are the only Eastern Conference playoff team that didn’t add a new rotation player during the offseason, and Jackson notes that no All-Star has tried to force his way to Miami since Jimmy Butler, even though it was rumored as a possible destination for Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell. Jackson says it’s a more realistic strategy to use some of the team’s draft assets to target someone along the lines of Turner, Jae Crowder or Bojan Bogdanovic if the Heat need a boost around the deadline.
- The Heat will hold training camp in the Bahamas, Jackson adds in a separate piece. Baha Mar, one of the Caribbean’s largest event venues, announced that it has a multi-year deal in place with the team.
- James Ham of The Kings Beat examines the Kings‘ options at small forward heading into training camp. Harrison Barnes will likely see most of the minutes, though his expiring contract makes him a trade candidate. Ham doesn’t expect newcomers Kent Bazemore, KZ Okpala and Chima Moneke to all make the roster.