Kings Rumors

And-Ones: In-Season Tournament, Point Differential, Cole

While most of the league has gotten back to business as usual, the eight teams that advanced in the NBA’s first-ever in-season tournament are focused on the knockout round and a trip to Las Vegas for the semifinals and title game, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Single-elimination games will start Monday with the Pacers hosting the Celtics and the Pelicans meeting the Kings, and will continue Tuesday with Knicks-Bucks and Lakers-Suns matchups.

“I just want to make every appeal I can to our fans that we need the loudest building possible,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. “To show you that no good deed goes unpunished, we draw the team with the best record in basketball. But we do get to play them at home. So that’s something important. We need our building to be as loud and raucous as it possibly can and we need to throw a game out there that’s exceptional.”

The new tournament falls at a perfect time on the NBA calendar, notes Sam Amick of The Athletic. It brings added stakes to numerous early-season games and ends six days before December 15, which marks the unofficial start of trading season as most free agents who signed during the summer become eligible to be dealt. Ten days later marks the Christmas Day showcase, which Amick points out is when much of the general public typically starts paying attention to the league.

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • The NBA may have to address the point-differential issue before next year’s tourney, Amick adds in the same piece. Having it as the primary tie-breaker led to unusual strategy in several late-game situations on Tuesday, and Knicks guard Josh Hart said it “messes with the integrity of the game a little bit.” Warriors coach Steve Kerr, whose team needed a 13-point win at Sacramento to reach the final eight, talked with reporters before the game about a scenario where it might be advantageous to let the Kings force overtime and try to dominate the extra session. He also made it clear that he wouldn’t pursue that strategy. “I’ll let (commissioner) Adam Silver answer,” Kerr said. “He gets to decide what we should do. I don’t know. It’s a very interesting question.”
  • The Athletic’s NBA staff examines the most pressing concerns for all 30 teams, from the top of the league, where the Celtics have to be worried about frontcourt depth in light of Kristaps Porzingis‘ injury history, to the bottom, where the Pistons might be forced into upending their roster sooner than expected.
  • Veteran guard Norris Cole has joined the G League Ignite, tweets Marc J. Spears of Andscape. Cole, 35, won two titles with the Heat but has been out of the NBA since 2017.

Injury Notes: Haliburton, Bam, K. Murray, Nuggets, Suns, Hornets

Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton is expected to be out for Saturday’s game against Miami, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Indiana’s best player is officially listed as questionable.

As Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star tweets, Haliburton missed the team’s shootaround this morning due to a right knee bone bruise and an upper respiratory infection. The Pacers went just 6-20 without Haliburton last season, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter).

Haliburton, who signed a five-year, maximum-salary rookie scale extension in the offseason, is off to an All-NBA-caliber start to 2023/24, averaging career highs of 27.0 points and a league-leading 11.8 assists per game while posting an elite .519/.447/.880 shooting line. The Pacers host the Celtics on Monday for the quarterfinal of the league’s inaugural in-season tournament, so hopefully he’ll be back in time for that contest.

Heat center Bam Adebayo has also been ruled out of Saturday’s contest due to a left hip contusion, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (subscriber link) wouldn’t be surprised to see Orlando Robinson get the starting nod in his place, with Kevin Love continuing to come off the bench due to the synergy he’s developing with the second unit.

Here are a few more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • Kings forward Keegan Murray, the No. 4 overall pick of last year’s draft, will return on Saturday against Denver after missing four games due to lower back soreness, sources tell Sean Cunningham of Fox 40 KTXL (Twitter link). As for the Nuggets, Jamal Murray (ankle) and Aaron Gordon (heel) are questionable after missing Friday’s game against Phoenix, according to Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link).
  • Suns star Devin Booker is questionable for Saturday’s contest vs. Memphis, notes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Booker, who is dealing with an ankle sprain, missed Friday’s game against Denver. Eric Gordon is also questionable due to a right knee contusion.
  • Hornets backup center Nick Richards will return to action on Saturday after missing the previous six games while in the league’s concussion protocol, the team announced (via Twitter). No. 2 overall pick Brandon Miller will also be available after missing Charlotte’s last game with a left ankle injury.

Pacific Notes: LeBron, Bronny, Divac, Kings, Wiggins, Moody

A little over four months after suffering cardiac arrest, USC freshman Bronny James has been cleared to make a full return to basketball, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. According to Charania, the expectation is that James will resume practicing with the team next week and make his NCAA debut not long after that.

Discussing the good news on Thursday, star forward LeBron James – Bronny’s father – told reporters that if his son’s USC debut occurs on the same day as a Lakers game, he intends to skip his own game to watch Bronny.

“Whenever he’s cleared and ready to have his first game, I already told my teammates that if they play on the same day we’re playing, I’m going to have to catch them the next game,” James said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “Family over everything … But definitely got to see Bronny’s first game whenever he’s cleared and ready to go.”

Teammate Anthony Davis said on Thursday that James has the support of the Lakers’ locker room if he missed a game to attend Bronny’s debut, but as John Hollinger of The Athletic observes (via Twitter), it likely won’t come to that. After this Saturday, the Lakers and Trojans won’t play on the same day until December 28, so as long as Bronny’s timeline doesn’t get pushed back, he’ll probably suit up for USC before then.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Vlade Divac, a former player and head of basketball operations for the Kings, has formally returned to the organization in the role of team ambassador, reports Sam Amick of The Athletic. As Amick explains, Divac’s position is on the business side of the franchise and doesn’t include any basketball operations influence. The former All-Star center is focused on “community, fan, and business outreach,” per Amick.
  • Seerat Sohi of The Ringer considers whether the Kings still have more room for internal improvement or whether the front office might feel pressure to make a trade to raise the team’s ceiling. If they go the latter route, the Kings will have to make sure they find a systemic fit who doesn’t overlap with the club’s existing talent, Sohi writes.
  • Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins injured his right index finger when he slammed a car door on it on Thursday, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Although Wiggins missed Thursday’s game, head coach Steve Kerr believes his absence will be short-term, Slater adds.
  • Third-year wing Moses Moody started in Wiggins’ place on Thursday and logged a season-high 28 minutes, scoring 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Moody has earned an opportunity to play a larger role for the Warriors, argues Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link).

Pacific Notes: Paul, Brown, Vezenkov, LaVine

Warriors guard Chris Paul seems to have avoided a major injury. Paul exited Golden State’s Tuesday game against Sacramento in the first quarter due to a lower left leg nerve contusion. He underwent an MRI on Wednesday, according to a team release (Twitter link via Andscape’s Marc J. Spears), and it confirmed his contusion and revealed no structural damage.

While Paul has to miss the Warriors’ next two games, he’s scheduled to be reevaluated on Monday.

Paul is an integral part of the Warriors’ rotation, averaging 8.9 points and 7.3 assists per game in 18 appearances (seven starts) this season. With Gary Payton II also out, Moses Moody and Cory Joseph are most likely to pick up extra minutes during Golden State’s upcoming stretch of games.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said rookie forward Kobe Brown will be a part of the team’s rotation moving forward, tweets ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. Lue said he wants to give Brown a chance due to his ability to knock down shots and his physicality. Brown is averaging 2.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in eight games this season after being selected with the 30th overall pick in this year’s draft.
  • Kings forward Sasha Vezenkov had season highs of 13 points and five rebounds during Sacramento’s Wednesday loss to the Clippers, continuing to assert himself into the team’s rotation. According to, Vezenkov is still adjusting to the NBA after making the transition from EuroLeague this summer. “It’s like going from the EuroCup to the EuroLeague or from the EuroLeague to the NBA,” Vezenkov said. “It’s hard to adjust, create your comfort zone, learn how the game is played, and earn everyone’s trust. With my work, my character, and my desire to win and help the team, I’m sure everything will be fine.”
  • Stemming from reports that the Lakers are expected to register some interest in trading for Bulls star guard Zach LaVine, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report explores whether such a trade makes sense for Los Angeles. Pincus writes that matching the price (LaVine is set to make $40.1MM this season) and taking on his long-term money (he’s under contract through at least 2026) are huge risks for the Lakers. On top of that, L.A.’s biggest issues this year have been injury problems and dealing with opposing centers and LaVine doesn’t address either of those concerns. Pincus reasons that the Lakers should consider trying to trade for Andre Drummond and Alex Caruso rather than for LaVine.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Lakers, Paul, Bol

The Kings savored their comeback win over Golden State Tuesday night, and not just because it gave them a spot in the knockout round of the in-season tournament, writes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Sacramento would have won the West’s Group C by staying within 11 points, but it felt better to claim a victory over the Warriors, who knocked the Kings out of the playoffs in April.

“We want to win. Obviously, our fans want us to beat Golden State,” De’Aaron Fox said. “A game this close, coming back from down 24, you want to win regardless of if it’s a tournament game or not.”

Malik Monk finished off Sacramento’s frantic rally by hitting a tough bank shot in traffic in the final seconds. Monk also delivered a message to the coaching staff midway through the fourth quarter, Andrews adds, telling them to stop complaining to the officials and let the players take care of business.

After breaking a 15-year playoff drought last season, the Kings have a chance to make more history by reaching the tournament’s semifinals in Las Vegas.

“We want to get to Vegas and be one of the first teams to advance to the final four,” Fox said.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Two days after LeBron James said “a lot” needs to be fixed following a 44-point loss in Philadelphia, the Lakers looked like a different team in beating Detroit, observes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Coach Darvin Ham didn’t address Monday’s embarrassment apart from a Wednesday morning film session in which he told his players that one bad night doesn’t define their season. “The biggest thing with (James), he’s a competitive, fierce competitor like myself, and that (loss to the Sixers) was a tough one to experience,” Ham said. “It’s okay to be frustrated because you’re passionate about the game, but we can’t get emotional and lose our focus, lose our way.”
  • Warriors guard Chris Paul suffered a nerve contusion in his lower left leg and will miss Thursday’s game against the Clippers, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Sources tell Woj that Paul is considered day-to-day.
  • Suns coach Frank Vogel told reporters after tonight’s game that Bol Bol will eventually get a chance to prove he can help the team (video link). A free agent addition this summer, Bol has played just seven total minutes in three games.

Western Rumors: Rockets, Grizzlies, Jazz, Kings, Brogdon

After making several significant changes to their roster during the 2023 offseason, the Rockets figure to remain active on the trade market during the season. League sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype that Houston has interest in pursuing further roster upgrades, with Victor Oladipo, Jock Landale, Jeff Green, and draft picks among the team’s potential trade chips.

None of those three players are owed guaranteed money beyond 2023/24 and all are being paid between $8-10MM this season, making them logical salary-matching pieces. Forward Jae’Sean Tate has also generated exploratory interest from playoff-caliber clubs in recent years, according to Scotto, who adds that Reggie Bullock also had several suitors before signing with Houston, making him a name to watch too.

One player we shouldn’t expect to end up in Houston? Bulls guard Zach LaVine. Scotto says the Rockets aren’t involved in the LaVine sweepstakes.

Scotto has more trade-related items of interest from around the Western Conference. Here are a few:

  • Sharpshooter Luke Kennard and forward John Konchar are among the Grizzlies players who are candidates to be dealt before February’s deadline, Scotto writes, identifying the Celtics, Warriors, and Lakers as some of the teams that have “kept tabs” on Konchar.
  • Rival executives think the Jazz may attempt to stabilize their backcourt by acquiring a veteran point guard, according to Scotto. While rookie Keyonte George has played well, he’s more of a combo guard, Scotto explains, naming Talen Horton-Tucker and Kelly Olynyk as a couple potential trade candidates on Utah’s roster.
  • Keegan Murray is the Kings player whom potential trade partners would covet most, but Sacramento views the young forward as an important part of its core and would be more inclined to move future first-round picks in any deal for an impact player, per Scotto.
  • Three executives who spoke to Scotto believe the Trail Blazers could land a protected 2024 first-round pick – or a similar asset – if they decide to trade Malcolm Brogdon this season.

Quarterfinals Set For NBA’s Inaugural In-Season Tournament

The last set of round robin games for the NBA’s first-ever in-season tournament took place on Tuesday night, and the eight quarterfinalists are now known.

In the Eastern Conference, the Bucks and Celtics joined the Pacers as group winners, while the Knicks claimed the wild card spot.

With a road victory over Miami on Tuesday, Milwaukee secured a 4-0 record in group play, and the Bucks’ +46 point differential was better than Indiana’s +39 mark, making them the No. 1 seed in the conference, with the Pacers coming in at No. 2.

A 124-97 victory over Chicago ensured that the Celtics finished group play with a 3-1 record and a +27 point differential. Orlando and Brooklyn also won three games in East Group C, but their respective point differentials (+22 and +20) weren’t quite good enough to match Boston’s.

The Magic and Nets were still in play for the wild card spot, but the Knicks’ 115-91 win over Charlotte on Tuesday increased their overall point differential to +42, giving them the edge over their fellow 3-1 Eastern clubs, including Cleveland.

Over in the Western Conference, the Lakers – who previously won their group – clinched the No. 1 seed based on Tuesday’s results. They’ll be joined in the quarterfinals by the 4-0 Kings and the 3-1 Pelicans and Suns.

The only other Western team to go undefeated in round robin games, Sacramento secured its spot with an impressive comeback win over Golden State, 124-123. The Kings’ overall point differential of +30 wasn’t anywhere close to the Lakers’ mark of +74, so Sacramento will enter the quarterfinals as the West’s No. 2 seed.

Because Houston fell to Dallas on Tuesday, the Pelicans finished as the only 3-1 team in Group B, clinching the West’s No. 3 seed.

The Suns, like New Orleans, were off on Tuesday, but benefited from the results of the action. Although the Timberwolves defeated Oklahoma City and matched Phoenix’s 3-1 record, Minnesota finished with a +0 point differential, far off the +34 mark posted by the Suns, who will be the West’s wild card team.

Here’s the quarterfinal schedule, per the NBA (Twitter link):

Monday, December 4:

  • Boston Celtics at Indiana Pacers (7:30 pm Eastern)
  • New Orleans Pelicans at Sacramento Kings (10:00 pm ET)

Tuesday, December 5:

  • New York Knicks at Milwaukee Bucks (7:30 pm ET)
  • Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers (10:00 pm ET)

The winners of those games will face one another in the semifinals on Dec. 7 in Las Vegas, with the finalists squaring off on Dec. 9. The quarterfinals and semifinals will count toward each club’s regular season record, but the final won’t.

The eight teams that have qualified as quarterfinalists have already earned bonuses worth $50K apiece for each of their players. Advancing to the semifinals would increase those bonuses to $100K per player, while making the final would bump the figure to $250K. The inaugural in-season tournament champion will receive bonuses of $500K per player.

Monk In Line For Substantial Raise

Kings guard Malik Monk isn’t fretting over the fact that he’s in his walk year, he told Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee. Monk is the only Sacramento rotation player in the final year of his contract.

Monk, who is averaging 13.2 points and 5.0 assists, is making $9.9MM this season. He’s in line for a substantial raise and that could cause issues for the Kings, Biderman notes. They are expected to be approximately $20MM below the luxury tax next summer and will have to weigh whether to approach or surpass that figure in order to re-sign Monk.

In-Season Tournament Updates: Pacers Clinch Top-Two Seed, Six Teams Eliminated

The Nuggets, Bulls, Raptors, Thunder, Clippers and Mavericks were all eliminated from the NBA’s inaugural in-season tournament in the group stage following Friday’s game results, marking 12 total teams out of contention.

The Pacers and Lakers remain the only two teams to clinch spots in the quarterfinals so far, with six more spots up for grabs. The final day of group stage play is Tuesday, Nov. 28 and the quarterfinals will take place on Dec. 4 and 5.

ESPN’s Tim Bontemps took a look at all the action from Friday, which featured numerous upsets that set the stage for some interesting scenarios to play out. By beating Detroit on Friday, Indiana won East Group A and guaranteed a top-two seed in the Eastern Conference. The BucksHeat game on Tuesday dictates who earns the top overall seed in the East. If the Bucks win, Milwaukee is the conference’s top seed, but if Miami wins, it will be the Pacers. A Miami loss eliminates the Heat.

If the Heat and Knicks win, there will be a three-way tiebreaker between Miami, Milwaukee and New York that is determined by point differential. In that scenario, the Heat would have to beat the Bucks by eight more points than the Knicks beat the Hornets on Tuesday in order to have a chance.

Orlando defeated Boston on Friday, meaning the Magic‘s chances of winning East Group C are bolstered. With the Raptors and Bulls eliminated, the Celtics, Magic and Nets are competing for that group.

The Suns‘ win over Memphis in their final group stage game helped them take steps toward securing a wild-card spot, finishing their games at 3-1 with a plus-34 point differential. The Lakers play in West Group A alongside the Suns and, given the wild card team plays the top seed, it’s likely they’ll face off against each other in the quarterfinals. The only way the Lakers don’t earn the West’s top seed is if the Kings beat the Warriors on Tuesday by 46 or more points.

West Group B got shaken up with the Rockets upsetting and eliminating the Nuggets on Friday, and the Pelicans are now the runaway favorite to win the group, according to Bontemps. The Pelicans beat the Clippers, eliminating them, and improving to 3-1. The Pelicans are not in front of the Suns for the wild card spot and will need the Rockets to lose in order to clinch the group.

The Kings are looking like a top contender for the tournament title, sitting at 3-0 and plus-29. If the Kings beat the Warriors on Tuesday, they advance. If both Sacramento and Minnesota lose, the Warriors win the group. If both Golden State and Minnesota win, it sets up a three-way tie to be decided by point differential. The Warriors are plus-5 and the Timberwolves are minus-3.

Any team that makes the quarterfinals clinches per-player bonuses worth at least $50K. The value of those bonuses would increase to $100K if they advance to the semifinals, $250K if they make the final, and $500K if they win the entire tournament.

The full in-season tournament standings can be found here.

Kings Waive Filip Petrusev

10:30pm: Petrusev has been officially waived, per’s transaction log.

10:05pm: The Kings plan to waive big man Filip Petrusev, a league source tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

According to Wojnarowski, the Kings intend to keep their 15th standard roster spot open “for the foreseeable future” once the move is official. Petrusev is expected to sign a contract overseas, Woj adds.

James Ham of reports (via Twitter) that the Serbian forward/center will be signing with EuroLeague team Olympiacos — there were rumors linking Petrusev to the Greek club last week.

Petrusev, 23, was the 50th pick of the 2021 draft. He was stashed overseas for a couple years before signing a two-year, minimum-salary contract with the Sixers this offseason. Philadelphia traded him to the Clippers in the James Harden deal, and he was immediately flipped to Sacramento for cash.

Although Petrusev was on a two-year deal, only his salary for 2023/24 included guaranteed money — he’ll make $559,782, half of the rookie minimum (or the equivalent to a two-way salary). That will also be the Kings’ cap hit when Petrusev clears waivers, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Petrusev, who played college ball at Gonzaga, won a EuroLeague championship with Anadolu Efes in 2022, earned a Serbian League title with Crvena Zvezda in 2023, and was part of the Serbian national team that finished second at the 2023 FIBA World Cup. Now he’ll be heading back to Europe after what must have been a frustrating NBA experience — he was on three different rosters just a week into his rookie season.

Overall, Petrusev appeared in three games this season — one with Philadelphia, two with Sacramento — for 10 total minutes.

The Kings will have 17 players under contract once Petrusev is released, with all three of their two-way spots filled.