Kings Rumors

Sixers’ Tyrese Maxey Wins 2023/24 Sportsmanship Award

After being named the league’s Most Improved Player last month, Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey has added another 2023/24 award to his trophy case, having been voted the Sportsmanship Award winner for this season as well, the NBA announced in a press release (Twitter links).

The Sportsmanship Award has been presented annually since ’95/96 and “honors a player who best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on the court.”

According to the NBA, each team nominated one of its players. The 30-player list was then trimmed down to six — one player from each division — by a panel of league executives. Finally, current players voted on the six finalists.

As the full voting results show, Maxey received the most first-place votes and most total points, making him the winner. Heat big man Kevin Love was the runner-up, followed by (in order) Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen, Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kings forward Harrison Barnes, and Spurs point guard Tre Jones.

The 21st overall pick of the 2020 draft, Maxey will be eligible for restricted free agency this offseason. After his excellent performances this season, there’s no doubt that the 23-year-old will return to the 76ers.

Spurs Haven’t Shown Much Interest In Trae Young

Trae Young could be an ideal fit for the Spurs. However, San Antonio has thus far shown little interest in acquiring the Hawks point guard, sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Fischer’s story echoes a couple other reports from the past month that have downplayed the idea of Young ending up in San Antonio.

The Hawks, who unexpectedly landed the top overall pick via the draft lottery, are widely expected to consider trade scenarios that would break up their backcourt of Young and Dejounte Murray. Atlanta scoured the league to gauge interest in all of its players prior to February’s trade deadline with the exception of forward Jalen Johnson, Fischer notes.

San Antonio has no clear long-term floor leader and it’s expected the Spurs will explore their options to find a pick-and-roll partner for Victor Wembanyama. Yet multiple league figures tell Fischer that San Antonio’s interest in trading for Young has been vastly overstated.

The two teams could be doing some business together this summer, whether or not it involves Young. San Antonio holds the No. 4 and No. 8 picks, making it a natural trade partner if the Hawks choose to move down. The franchises, of course, completed the Murray blockbuster two summers ago and Atlanta’s front office duo of general manager Landry Fields and assistant GM Onsi Saleh began their careers in the Spurs’ front office.

As for Young, the Lakers hold some interest in him and now have three first-rounders available to trade. Los Angeles will have to consider other options before committing any type of capital for Young, Fischer adds, though Donovan Mitchell might be off the table if he signs an extension.

The Lakers are still pondering their coaching options and they might wait until next month to make that hire, Fischer confirms in a separate story. That’s primarily due to their interest in J.J. Redick. His current obligation to ESPN/ABC for the network’s postseason schedule and NBA Finals has various insiders under the impression Los Angeles’ search may stretch into June, as Marc Stein previously reported.

The Lakers have numerous candidates on their list, but James Borrego has been widely categorized as the experienced, veteran foil to Redick’s candidacy, Fischer writes. The former Hornets head man and current Pelicans assistant has maintained close ties with Anthony Davis since Davis was a rookie and Borrego was an assistant for the then-Hornets.

In other coaching news, Mike Brown’s contract extension talks with the Kings are expected to center around an eight-figure threshold and a Tom Thibodeau extension with the Knicks is also expected to reach those figures, Fischer notes.

Hawks Win 2024 NBA Draft Lottery; Wizards, Rockets, Spurs In Top 4

The Hawks have won the 2024 NBA draft lottery, jumping all the way up from No. 10 in the pre-lottery order to No. 1.

Atlanta had just a 3% chance of claiming this year’s top pick. Those are the longest odds for any team that has won the lottery since the NBA revamped the format prior to the 2019 draft.

The full lottery order for the 2024 draft is as follows:

  1. Atlanta Hawks
  2. Washington Wizards
  3. Houston Rockets (from Nets)
  4. San Antonio Spurs
  5. Detroit Pistons
  6. Charlotte Hornets
  7. Portland Trail Blazers
  8. San Antonio Spurs (from Raptors)
  9. Memphis Grizzlies
  10. Utah Jazz
  11. Chicago Bulls
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Rockets)
  13. Sacramento Kings
  14. Portland Trail Blazers (from Warriors)

There’s no consensus No. 1 pick in 2024 like there was with Victor Wembanyama a year ago, so the Hawks will have plenty of options to consider in the coming weeks.

French big man Alexandre Sarr, French forward Zaccharie Risacher, UConn center Donovan Clingan, G League Ignite wing Ron Holland, Ignite forward Matas Buzelis, Serbian point guard Nikola Topic, and Kentucky guard Rob Dillingham are among the prospects expected to be in the mix for the top few picks.

Some of those players look like better fits than others on the current Atlanta roster, but there has been an expectation that the Hawks will make some significant changes this summer, with Trae Young and Dejounte Murray viewed as possible trade candidates. Atlanta’s front office will have to take those potential moves into account as it weighs what to do with the No. 1 pick.

Washington, Houston, and San Antonio are among the other big winners of draft lottery day. The Wizards entered the day ranked second in the pre-lottery order and no team had better odds at the top pick, but they also had just a 27.4% chance to remain in the top two, so they can’t complain about the outcome. It will be the second lottery pick for the current front office, which will get the opportunity to add another building block to last year’s No. 7 overall selection Bilal Coulibaly.

The Rockets‘ own pick at No. 12 will be sent to the Thunder as a result of 2019’s Russell Westbrook trade, but Houston will pick third overall thanks to one of the unprotected Nets first-rounders that was included in the 2021 James Harden blockbuster. Prior to the lottery, that pick had just the ninth-best odds to move into the top three (14.5%).

A report this week stated that the Rockets are interested in trading their lottery selection for future draft assets after having made nine first-round picks in the past three years. Assuming Houston’s stance hasn’t changed following the lottery results, the fact that the pick is now No. 3 instead of No. 9 should significantly improve its value on the trade market.

The Spurs, meanwhile, had an eventful lottery day, landing a pair of picks in the top eight as they look to build a contending team around Wembanyama. Their own pick moved up one spot, from No. 5 in the pre-lottery order to No. 4, and they also secured a second pick as a result of Toronto dropping from No. 6 to No. 8.

The Raptors traded their top-six protected 2024 first-round pick to San Antonio in a package for Jakob Poeltl last year and would have retained it if no teams had leapfrogged them into the top four. Because Atlanta and Houston both moved up, that No. 8 pick will be controlled by the Spurs — the Raptors’ obligation to San Antonio is complete and they’ll control all their own first-rounders beginning in 2025.

It’s another disappointing lottery day for the Pistons, who – for a second consecutive year – finished with the NBA’s worst record and ended up with the No. 5 overall pick. For what it’s worth, Detroit only had about a 50/50 chance (52.1%) in each case to land in the top four, due to the flatter nature of the odds under the NBA’s current format. Still, losing that coin flip in back-to-back years is a discouraging outcome for a Pistons team whose rebuild hasn’t progressed at the rate the organization hoped.

While no team dropped as far as the Pistons (four spots), the Hornets (No. 3 to No. 6), Trail Blazers (No. 4 to No. 7), Grizzlies (No. 7 to No. 9), and Jazz (No. 8 to No. 10) also moved back multiple spots as a result of the lottery.

If Utah had fallen one more spot, the Jazz would’ve owed their top-10 protected first-round pick to the Thunder, but that obligation will roll over to 2025 instead — the pick will retain its top-10 protection next year.

The Wizards, Pistons, Hornets, Trail Blazers, and Kings also had traded picks fall into their protected range and will owe their 2025 first-rounders to rival teams. The Knicks will receive Washington’s 2025 pick if it’s not in the top 10 and Detroit’s pick if it’s not in the top 13. The Spurs will control Charlotte’s lottery-protected 2025 pick; the Bulls would get Portland’s 2025 pick if it’s outside the lottery; and the Hawks will acquire the Kings’ 2025 first-rounder if it doesn’t end up in the top 12.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Warriors would have retained their 2024 first-rounder in the unlikely event that it had moved into the top four. Because it stayed at No. 14, it was sent to Portland and Golden State has no further obligation to the Blazers.

And-Ones: Towns, Media Rights, California Classic, Howard

Timberwolves forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns has been named the NBA’s Social Justice Champion for the 2023/24 season, the league announced in a press release.

The four-time All-Star is a voting rights advocate and supported Minnesota’s Restore the Vote bill last year, which “restores the right to vote to thousands of formerly incarcerated individuals.” Towns also advocates for changes to the criminal justice and education systems in the U.S.

Heat center Bam Adebayo, Pelicans guard CJ McCollum, Thunder wing Lindy Waters and Clippers guard Russell Westbrook were the other finalists.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • On an earnings call, TNT (Warner Bros. Discovery) CEO David Zaslav was cautiously optimistic about retaining media rights to NBA games, per Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “We’ve had a lot of time to prepare for this negotiation, and we have strategies in place for the various potential outcomes,” Zaslav said. “However, now is not the time to discuss any of this since we are in active negotiations with the league. And under our current deal with the NBA, we have matching rights that allow us to match third-party offers before the NBA enters into an agreement with them.”
  • Zaslav’s comments came on the heels of various reports saying NBC has submitted a $2.5 billion bid to be the league’s third media rights partner, joining ESPN/ABC (Disney) and Amazon, which already have framework deals in place. According to Tom Friend of Sports Business Journal, NBC is still viewed as the frontrunner, ahead of TNT.
  • The 2024 California Classic will be co-hosted by the Kings and Warriors, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee relays. California’s Summer League – a prelude to Las Vegas Summer League – will take place from July 6-10 and will feature 12 total games. The Kings, Hornets and Spurs will play in Sacramento and the Warriors, Lakers and Heat will play in San Francisco. Sacramento will head to the Chase Center to face Golden State on July 10 to wrap up the event, Anderson writes.
  • Former NBA guard Markus Howard was granted permission to play for Puerto Rico ahead of the country’s Olympic qualifying tournament this summer, the federation announced in a press release. The former Marquette star led the EuroLeague in scoring while playing for Spain’s Baskonia this season, BasketNews notes. “We are very happy to welcome Markus to our national team,” said Carlos Arroyo, general manager of Puerto Rico’s national team. “Markus has become one of the best players in Europe, and for us, it is a luxury to have him. His offensive level will raise the expectations of our team.”

Nikola Jokic Named Most Valuable Player

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has been selected as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the third time in four years, the league announced (via Twitter).

Jokic won the Michael Jordan Trophy by a wide margin, showing up on all 99 ballots and collecting 79 votes for first place, 18 for second place and two for third place, giving him a total of 926 points. Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished second, collecting 640 total points by coming in first on 15 ballots, second on 40, third on 40, fourth on three and fifth on one.

Rounding out the top five were Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (4-36-50-8-0-566), Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (1-1-4-44-23-192) and Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (0-3-1-28-32-142).

Also receiving votes were Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0-0-1-14-39-89), Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (0-1-1-1-3-18), Kings center Domantas Sabonis (one fourth-place vote) and Suns forward Kevin Durant (one fifth-place vote).

Jokic becomes the ninth player to claim at least three MVP awards (Twitter link). He ties Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Moses Malone, and trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six), Michael Jordan and Bill Russell (five each), and Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James (four each).

The Nuggets celebrated the honor by tweeting a video tribute to Jokic narrated by his wife, Natalija.

Jokic posted another outstanding statistical season, averaging 26.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists in 79 games. He shot 58.3% from the field and 35.9% from three-point range as Denver claimed the second seed in the Western Conference.

Bennett Durando of The Denver Post took a closer look at Jokic’s historic season, noting that he finished fifth in the league in total points, third in total rebounds and second in total assists. He also collected 25 triple-doubles and posted a true shooting percentage above 65% for the third straight season while leading the NBA in most advanced stats, including PER, VORP, box plus-minus, and win shares.

“I think he’s stated his case pretty well,” Jamal Murray said today before the award was announced. “He does it every night. It’s hard to do what he does and face the kind of pressure that he does each and every day. He does it in the smallest ways. He makes everybody around us better. He’s a leader on the court and someone we expect greatness from every time he steps on the court. And he’s delivered. … He’s been so consistent all his career, all his MVP runs. He’s been so consistent. So I don’t expect one or two bad games to sway that in any way.”

Pacific Notes: Suns’ Stars, Vogel, Kings, A. Davis

While there has been some speculation that the Suns will break up their big three of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal this summer following a disappointing first-round playoff exit, Brian Windhorst of ESPN doesn’t get the sense the team is seriously considering taking that path. In an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show (YouTube link), Windhorst said he expects all three stars to remain in Phoenix.

“Do people in the league say (the Suns will have to trade a star)? Yes, they do,” Windhorst said (hat tip to RealGM). “I’ve talked to multiple people who think that’s what they’re going to have to do. Do the Suns say that? No, they do not. I think the Suns’ intention is to keep all three of these star players, tweak the roster, tweak some of their systems and their processes, and try to be better next year.”

As Windhorst notes, the Suns’ approach to the offseason could change if one of their stars asked to be traded, but there was no indication in their end-of-season comments to the media that any of them is looking to get out of Phoenix. In fact, Durant and Booker expressed a belief in the value of continuity.

“Not that he is sworn to telling the whole truth all the time (but) Durant when he left basically said, ‘I think continuity is valuable,'” Windhorst said. “He was looking at the Timberwolves team that had basically brought their entire team back from last year and he was like, ‘That continuity is pretty important there.'”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • A decision on the future of Suns head coach Frank Vogel is expected to happen “soon,” sources tell Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Team owner Mat Ishbia essentially said as much when he spoke to reporters last Wednesday, indicating that the club would conduct an in-depth evaluation of its season, including Vogel’s performance, before making any decisions. It sounds like that evaluation process is almost complete.
  • While the NBA’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement will make it more difficult for taxpaying teams like Phoenix to make roster upgrades, it could actually benefit the Kings, according to James Ham of The Kings Beat. As Ham details, the new CBA gives teams that are under the tax aprons more trade flexibility, since they’re subject to more lenient salary-matching rules and – beginning this offseason – are permitted to use their mid-level exception to acquire players via trade.
  • Appearing on ESPN’s SportsCenter (Twitter video link) over the weekend, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin said that Lakers star Anthony Davis will have a voice in the team’s head coaching search (hat tip to Lakers Nation). “Of course LeBron James’ opinion will be taken into consideration, but not just LeBron James — Anthony Davis as well, I’m told,” McMenamin said. “The team kind of looks at Anthony Davis as finally taking the torch from LeBron in the last season-and-a-half. While LeBron can still have the time to process the end of this season as he decides his future with the team, they have another voice and another leader in Anthony Davis, whose opinion they will take under consideration.”

Wolves’ Mike Conley Named 2023/24 Teammate Of The Year

Timberwolves point guard Mike Conley has been named the NBA’s Teammate of the Year for the 2023/24 season, the league announced today (via Twitter).

The Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award “recognizes the player deemed the best teammate based on selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and a role model to other players, and commitment and dedication to team,” per the NBA.

The award isn’t voted on by media members. A panel of league executives select the 12 finalists (six from each conference) for the award, while current players vote on the winner. Players receive 10 points for a first place vote, seven for second, five for third, three for fourth, and one point for fifth place.

Here are this season’s full voting results, according to the NBA, with the player’s point total noted in parentheses:

It’s the second Teammate of the Year award for Conley, won also won it in 2018/19 when he was a member of the Grizzlies.

The award, which was introduced in ’12/13, had gone to Jrue Holiday in each of the past two seasons (and three of the past four), with Damian Lillard taking it home in 2021.

And-Ones: Media Rights, Awards, Hall Of Fame, Lithuania, More

The NBC is making a strong play for the right to broadcast NBA games beginning in 2025/26, according to Joe Flint, Amol Sharma, and Isabella Simonetti of The Wall Street Journal (subscription required). People familiar with the situation tell the WSJ trio that Comcast’s NBCUniversal is prepared to pay $2.5 billion per year for a package of NBA games.

As we wrote last week, Amazon Prime Video is in strong position to become a broadcast partner for the NBA, with ESPN/ABC (Disney) also making good progress in talks.

After operating with just two partners (ESPN/ABC and TNT) in its current media rights deal, the NBA is looking to expand to at least three partners this time around. If Amazon and NBC were to join the mix with Disney, it could leave TNT (Warner Bros. Discovery) on the outside looking in, though the league reportedly hasn’t ruled out making four separate deals.

As Flint, Sharma, and Simonetti detail, TNT Sports paid about $1.2 billion per year for its NBA rights the previous media rights agreement, which will expire after the 2024/25 season. TNT remains involved in negotiations with the league and will have the right to match NBC’s offer, but would be looking at a substantial increase in cost.

If Comcast is able to reach a deal with the NBA, their package would include both regular season and playoff games on NBC and their streaming service Peacock, according to the WSJ report.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • After revealing its Executive of the Year winner on Tuesday, the NBA has two more minor award announcements on tap this week, per the league (Twitter link) — Teammate of the Year will be announced on Wednesday, with the Hustle Award to follow on Thursday.
  • The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame recently announced that its enshrinement ceremony for 2024 has been postponed from August to October, primarily for Olympic-related logistical reasons. Vince Carter and Chauncey Billups are among the headliners of the ’24 class, which was revealed earlier this month.
  • Eight years after being told by a Pistons doctor that he wouldn’t be able to play basketball again due to a back injury, Lithuanian big man Donatas Motiejunas remains active in the EuroLeague and has played in 123 consecutive games. In a conversation with Donatas Urbonas of (subscription required), Motiejunas discussed how that incident – which resulted in a voided deadline-day trade – changed the trajectory of his professional career.
  • Speaking of Lithuanian big men, Kings center Domantas Sabonis and Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas are both expected to suit up for Lithuania’s national team in their Olympic qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico this summer, according to head coach Kazys Maksvytis. Eurohoops has the story, via a report from Lithuanian outlet
  • With LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry combining for a single playoff win, this spring feels like a passing-of-the-torch moment for the NBA, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens Named NBA’s Executive Of The Year

Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has been named the NBA’s Executive of the Year for the 2023/24 season, the league announced today (via Twitter).

In his third season as the Celtics’ head of basketball operations after eight years as the team’s head coach, Stevens put together a dominant Boston roster that posted a 64-18 record, easily the best mark in the NBA, along with a +11.7 net rating, the third-best mark in league history.

The Celtics were coming off a 57-win season in 2022/23, but Stevens shook up the roster drastically last summer, trading away longtime defensive stalwart Marcus Smart in a deal for Kristaps Porzingis, then moving key role players Malcolm Brogdon and Robert Williams in a a blockbuster for Jrue Holiday as training camps got underway.

Stevens also signed several Celtics players to contract extensions in the past 12 months, including Jaylen Brown, Payton Pritchard, and Holiday.

Unlike the NBA’s other major awards, the Executive of the Year is voted on by 29 team executives from around the league rather than 99 media members. Stevens received 16 of 29 potential first-place votes, along with six second-place votes and three third-place votes, for a total of 101 points (Twitter link).

The runner-up, Sam Presti of the Thunder, had 47 points, including four first-place votes. Tim Connelly of the Timberwolves also earned the top spot on four ballots en route to a third-place finish (29 points).

Knicks president Leon Rose (27 points; one first-place vote) was the only other executive to earn more than 11 points, though Nico Harrison (Mavericks) and Monte McNair (Kings) also received first-place votes, while Rockets general manager Rafael Stone earned a pair of them. A total of 13 executives showed up on at least one ballot.

Pacific Notes: Harden, Leonard, Russell, Huerter

The Clippers‘ acquisition of James Harden during the opening weeks of the 2023/24 regular season was met with mixed reviews at the time of the trade, then major skepticism after the team lost its first five games with the former MVP in uniform. However, as Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register writes, Harden has been indispensable in the first round for Los Angeles with star forward Kawhi Leonard ailing.

Harden has played over 39 minutes in each of the Clippers’ four playoff games so far. He leads the team in postseason scoring (26.0 PPG), has been L.A.’s top play-maker (7.0 APG), has a scorching hot shooting line of .541/.500/.913, and even leads the club with 1.3 blocked shots per contest.

“That’s what James is here for,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said on Sunday. “When PG or Kawhi or one of our top dogs is out, to be able to step in and fill in and be able to score the basketball, make plays for other guys, make it easier for Norm (Powell) and Zu (Ivica Zubac) and Mace (Mason Plumlee) and those guys.”

Because Harden is in the second season of a two-year contract, he won’t become eligible for an extension before reaching unrestricted free agency this offseason. The Clippers will hold his full Bird rights though, putting them in a good position to bring him back.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • With uncertainty surrounding Leonard’s availability for the rest of the Clippers‘ first-round series, Lue is focused on supporting the star forward rather than bemoaning the fact that the team might have to continue playing without him, per Law Murray of The Athletic. “(He’s) worked hard to get to this point, to a place he wants to be in the playoffs,” Lue said of Kawhi. “And then to be hurt and not be able to be 100 percent and play the way he’s capable of playing, it’s very frustrating for him. I feel bad for him.”
  • The first-round series vs. Denver has been a roller coaster ride for Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell, who made just 6-of-20 shots in Game 1 and 0-of-7 in Game 3, but had 44 total points on 51.6% shooting (57.9% on threes) in Games 2 and 4. Mark Medina of The Sporting Tribune takes a look at Saturday’s bounce-back performance from Russell, who could become a free agent this summer by turning down his $18.7MM player option for 2024/25. For what it’s worth, L.A. has a +3.6 net rating in D-Lo’s 145 minutes on the court during the series.
  • It was a forgettable year for Kings wing Kevin Huerter, who saw his minutes reduced, shot a career-worst 36.1% on three-point attempts, and suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in March. “Frustrating is definitely the word,” Huerter said, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “Even before the injury, just a lot of ups and downs — a lot more downs, I think, than previous years.” On a positive note, the 25-year-old said he’s ahead of schedule in his recovery from shoulder surgery: “They said 12 weeks out from surgery was (when I can) start shooting, doing on-court stuff. … We’re hoping August is contact. Should be on pace for training camp in September.”