Skal Labissiere

Kings, Blazers Swap Skal Labissiere, Caleb Swanigan

The Kings have sent Skal Labissiere to the Trail Blazers in exchange for Caleb Swanigan in a swap of little-used power forwards, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

A late first-round pick in 2016, Labissiere has barely played this season, appearing in 13 games and averaging 8.7 minutes per night. The Kings already picked up his option for next season, which will pay him $2,3MM.

Swanigan is averaging 8.1 minutes in 18 games. He will make a little more than $2MM next year.

Kings Considering A Coaching Change?

The Kings‘ surprising start may not be enough for head coach Dave Joerger to keep his job, writes Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Joerger is locked in a philosophical battle with the front office over minutes for some of the team’s younger players, Haynes explains. Management sees this as a development year for the organization, while Joerger is focused on winning as many games as possible.

Of particular concern is the way  Joerger is treating Marvin Bagley III, the second player taken in this year’s draft, who is playing just 22.3 minutes per night. The 19-year-old is putting up decent numbers despite the limited playing time, with per-36-minute averages of 18.7 PPG and 8.9 RPG.

The front office wants to build around a core of Bagley, point guard De’Aaron Fox and young forwards Harry Giles and Skal Labissiere. Joerger has preferred to rely on veterans, including 30-year-old Nemanja Bjelica, who has started every game this season.

While management recognizes Joerger’s contributions to an 8-7 start, there are concerns that may lead to a coaching change. Several voices in the organization are calling for more playing time for Bagley, who many in the front office projected as a starter before the season began. Bagley is still seeing much more action than Giles, who is averaging 10 minutes per night, and Labissiere, who is at a career-low 5.6 minutes and has gotten into just five games.

The discontent in the front office, coupled with frustration from players over lack of consistency in their roles, could prove too much for Joerger, even though his contract runs through next season.

However, GM Vlade Divac responded to the report with a statement of support for Joerger, tweets James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. “Dave has our full support and confidence,” Divac said. “We continue to work together to develop our young core and compete.”

Kings Exercise Options On Five Players

The Kings showed their commitment to the youth movement by exercising the rookie scale options on five players — guards De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, small forward Justin Jackson and big men Harry Giles and Skal Labissiere, according to a team press release.

Teams have until the end of the month to make rookie scale option decisions but Sacramento beat the deadline by nearly a week. The biggest salary commitment, due to his status as the fifth overall pick in the 2017 draft, goes to Fox. He’ll have a salary just shy of $6.44MM for the 2019/20 season. Hield’s fourth-year option will result in a $4.86MM cap hit.

Jackson’s third-year option is worth $3.28MM while Giles will make approximately $2.58MM. Labissiere’s fourth-year option will cost nearly $2.34MM.

All of those affirmative option decisions were expected with the possible exception of Labissiere’s contract. However, he’s off to a productive start this season, averaging 8.5 PPG and 4.7 RPG.

Fox is emerging as one of the cornerstones of the franchise, averaging 17.6 PPG, 6.6 APG and 1.4 steals through five games during his sophomore campaign. Hield is scoring at a 14.0 PPG clip thus far while making 43.2% of his 3-point tries. Jackson has posted 9.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 1.6 APG, while Giles is averaging 3.8 PPG and 3.0 RPG while working his way back from major knee issues.

You can find all the rookie scale option decisions around the league here.

Kings’ Frontcourt Logjam Worth Monitoring

The Kings are projected by most oddsmakers and NBA analysts to be the Western Conference’s worst team in 2018/19, but there are several young players on the roster who should be fun to watch. Marvin Bagley III, 2018’s second overall pick, is one of those players, while 2017 first-rounder Harry Giles, who generated buzz with his play this summer after missing his entire rookie season, is another.

However, Bagley only played 12 minutes in Sacramento’s opening-night game on Thursday, while Giles saw just 10 minutes of action. It’s certainly not unusual for rookies to have modest roles to start the season, but the Kings’ frontcourt rotation in their first game highlighted the logjam that exists at the four and five, as Jason Jones of The Athletic details.

With Willie Cauley-Stein and Nemanja Bjelica starting at center and power forward, respectively, and Justin Jackson also playing at the four in some lineups, head coach Dave Joerger suggests it may be “tough” to find minutes for Bagley, especially since the club is thinking long-term with its top pick, Jones writes. For his part, the No. 2 overall pick said he’s “trying to stay patient” when it comes to his playing time.

“I can only control what I can control,” Bagley said after Thursday’s loss. “And whenever my number is called, I’ve just got to go hard, go 100%, and try to do whatever I can to try to help us win. I think I did all right for what I did tonight, how much time I played tonight.”

Besides Cauley-Stein, Bjelica, Jackson, Bagley, and Giles, there are a few more big men on the Kings’ roster who would like to earn some minutes up front. Skal Labissiere didn’t play in the club’s opener, and neither did veteran Zach Randolph, who wasn’t even active for the game. Throw in Kosta Koufos, who should be healthy soon after battling a hamstring injury, and you have seven or eight players vying for playing time at two positions.

In other words, there will likely be “unhappy bigs every night” in Sacramento this season, as Jones tweets.

The Kings, who don’t have serious playoff aspirations, are unlikely to address their frontcourt logjam right away, but this is a situation worth monitoring over the course of the season. At least one trade before the deadline seems likely, and vets like Randolph and Koufos could ultimately be strong buyout candidates if they’re not moved by February. Stay tuned.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Lakers, Booker, Labissiere

The Kings have made two additions to their basketball operations staff, according to James Ham of NBC Sports.

Adam Filippi has joined the team as the Director of Pro Scouting. He most recently served as the Director of Global Scouting with the Hornets, and will be based out of Los Angeles covering the Southeast Region.

Sacramento also hired Anthony Darmiento as the Assistant Performance Coach. Darmiento will work alongside Head Performance & Strength Coach Ramsey Nijem this season, and holds experience in similar roles with USA Volleyball, USA Water Polo and the USA Olympic Committee.

There’s more out of the Pacific division:

 

Pacific Notes: Booker, Labissiere, Kuzma

The Suns have had a tough go of it over the course of the past three seasons. Now that they finally boast an intriguing young core, however, things may have hit a minor snag. Greg Moore of the Arizona Republic wonders if Devin Booker‘s hand injury could spoil Phoenix’s season.

While there’s no guarantee that Booker even misses regular season time recovering from hand surgery, it’s a distinct possibility. In any event, the up-and-coming Suns star will miss training camp and preseason, that could mean it won’t be until part-way through the 2018-19 campaign that he starts building chemistry with vaunted No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton.

As Gina Mizell of The Athletic writes in a similar piece speculating about the impact Booker’s absence will have, she notes that the Suns could even begin the season without a clear-cut point guard on the roster.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • There’s no shortage of intriguing big men on the Kings roster but one oft-forgotten frontcourt project is Skal Labissiere. Kyle Ramos of the team’s official site writes that this offseason has been 22-year-old’s best since entering the NBA in 2016.
  • A much-improved physique will put Lakers sophomore Kyle Kuzma in position to break out in 2018-19, Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype writes. The forward was a surprise success as a rookie last year and will look to make further progress after gaining strength in his shoulder and back.
  • There are plenty of things to like about what the Lakers did this offseason and projections for how they’ll fare in 2018-19 vary wildly. One question, James Blancarte of Basketball Insiders wonders, is whether or not the franchise will be able to resist the urge to shake up the roster with a trade if things don’t begin as expected in Los Angeles.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Bridges, Labissiere, Clippers

The Lakers ensured themselves a successful offseason when they signed LeBron James, but they still need to fill a vacancy at center, writes Matt John of Basketball Insiders. The addition of free agent JaVale McGee doesn’t really solidify the position, and the only other choices on the roster are rookie Moe Wagner and Ivica Zubac.

With David West and Brandan Wright as the best free agents left on the market, John identifies several potential trade targets, including Tristan Thompson, James’ former teammate in Cleveland. Thompson is a physical rebounder and defender with whom James had a good rapport. However, John notes that he may not be available unless Cleveland decides to rebuild.

Other possibilities include the Bismack Biyombo, who finds himself in a center logjam after being traded to Charlotte, the Bucks’ John Henson, the Bulls’ Robin Lopez, the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic and the Hawks’ Dewayne Dedmon.

There’s more news from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns rookie swingman Mikal Bridges was a little disappointed he didn’t play more in the summer league, James Blancarte of Basketeball Insiders reports. “It’s tough you know. Coming in mentally, you don’t know what the coach is going to do and how they are going to play you,” Bridges told Blancarte. “Couple of games, not playing as much as I thought I was going to be [playing]. Just staying mentally [tough], going through that.” Bridges averaged 6.2 PPG and 2.6 RPG in 20 MPG during five Las Vegas outings. He will also likely have wait his turn during his rookie campaign but Phoenix thought enough of him to swing a draft-night trade with the Sixers, Blancarte notes.
  • Kings big man Skal Labissiere is looking to improve his durability during his offseason workouts, Jason Wise of the team’s website relays. Memphis-area trainer Raheem Shabazz has made Instagram posts showing the work Labissiere is putting in as he prepares for his third NBA season.
  • Clippers lottery picks Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson showed flashes of potential in summer league games but they were far from perfect, according to Keith Smith of RealGM. Gilgeous-Alexander has a solid all-around game but needs lot of work with his shot. Robinson has to focus more on the defensive end, Smith continues, while undrafted big man Angel Delgado struggled on the perimeter. However, Delgado displayed strong rebounding instincts and toughness on the interior, Smith adds.

Kings Notes: Shumpert, Cousins, Labissiere, Mason

Iman Shumpert was one of several Cavaliers to be traded at the trade deadline, leaving a championship contender to join the rebuilding Kings. The former NBA champion is currently out of action due to plantar fasciitis and his return date is unknown.

Shumpert spoke to reporters after his first practice with the Kings and expressed optimism about joining the franchise (via ABC10).

“I like it, they play an up and down speed, which is a speed I’m accustomed to,” Shumpert said. “It’s all equal opportunity and moving the ball; they move the ball side-to-side and play hard. We got a lot of athleticism and I think I could help a lot, really, and I think I fit in.”

Shumpert, 27, has only appeared in 14 games this season, averaging 4.4 PPG and 2.9 RPG — both career-lows. As an experienced player with NBA postseason experience, Shumpert said he is looking forward to helping the Kings’ young players.

“Just appreciating the opportunity and coming in here with a fresh mind,” he said. “The stuff that I’ve been doing over there [in Cleveland], and the things that I’ve learned playing in the playoffs every year, going to the [NBA] Finals the last three years. [I’m] just trying to bring it over here and help these guys apply it.

“Sometimes just bringing that voice can mean a lot with instilling confidence in young players. I know when I was young with the Knicks, having Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace and those other guys that have been there before come and instill that confidence.”

Check out other Kings notes down below:

  • Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee looks back at the one-year anniversary of the Kings trading DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans. Despite being in the postseason hunt at the time, the Kings decided to trade their best player, signaling the beginning of what team president Vlade Divac called a “culture change.” The Kings have struggled this season and third-year center Willie Cauley-Stein has noticed a change. “It was an instant culture shift,” Cauley-Stein said. “Just like from a personnel standpoint, it’s a lot more chill, a lot more relaxed, got more productive in practice. We were able to just teach each other stuff. Everybody had a role and everybody touched the ball and could get it going and play for each other.”
  • In a separate story, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee noted that forward Skal Labissiere (shoulder) and guard Frank Mason III (heel) would return Thursday. Both men were active and saw time in Thursday’s loss to the Thunder.

Kyler’s Latest: G. Hill, Kings, Mavs, Randle, Parker

In the wake of this week’s massive Blake Griffin trade, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders assessed the trade market in an effort to determine which teams may be the next to make moves. We covered some of Kyler’s Clippers-related items on Tuesday, and a Rodney Hood/Stanley Johnson note from his article was reported elsewhere, but there are plenty more tidbits worth rounding up. Let’s dive in…

  • The rumored deal involving George Hill between the Cavaliers and Kings isn’t dead yet, but both teams are exploring the market in search of trades they might like more, per Kyler. The two teams could revisit a Hill swap on or before February 8.
  • The Kings still appear willing to move a young player or two for a first-round pick, with Skal Labissiere and Malachi Richardson among those trade candidates, Kyler writes.
  • The Mavericks‘ preferred target is Julius Randle, but they may start to seriously consider Labissiere if the Lakers don’t engage in Randle talks, says Kyler. Still, Mavs sources tell Kyler that they place a lot of value on first-round picks, so it sounds like they’ll be reluctant to move one.
  • Bucks sources have “aggressively downplayed” the idea that the team will trade forward Jabari Parker, who is returning this week from an ACL injury. However, the team acknowledges that its cap situation could complicate contract talks with the former No. 2 overall pick this offseason. Bucks ownership appears willing to commit to Parker if management wants to lock him up, according to Kyler, who notes that the forward would be a prime trade chip if Milwaukee wants to make a splash for a big-name center.

Kings Make Skal Labissiere, Malachi Richardson Available

The Kings have made Skal Labissiere and Malachi Richardson available for a possible trade, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. Jones cites the possibly looming George Hill trade as the driving factor behind their looking to unload a young player.

If the Kings are to take on Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye from the Cavaliers as has been reported (in addition to draft compensation), they would need to first clear up a roster spot.

Last season the Kings addressed a similar scenario by waiving Matt Barnes ahead of the DeMarcus Cousins trade in which they netted one additional player. This time around, however, the club could potentially benefit more from parlaying one of their prospects into something valuable than just outright releasing somebody.

While Richardson has been buried behind players like Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield in the depth chart, Labissiere showed considerable promise following the Cousins deal that went down part-way through his rookie season.

Labissiere, still just 21 years old, is averaging 8.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in 2017/18 but posted 10.8 points and 6.0 rebounds in 22.4 minutes per game after the All-Star break in 2016/17 (sans Cousins).