Tyrese Haliburton

Pacific Notes: Haliburton, T. Davis, A. Davis, LeBron, Ibaka

Injuries limited Tyrese Haliburton to 58 games during his rookie season, but he still looks like a major steal in last year’s draft, writes James Ham of NBC Sports. The Iowa State guard slid all the way to the 12th pick on draft night, delighting the Kings, who had been hoping to get their hands on him.

“We had even been trying to move up and secure him,” general manager Monte McNair said in a recent TV interview. “When he ultimately fell to No. 12, obviously you never know how it will turn out, but in that moment, we were extremely excited. … I think we may have made a record-setting quick call to the league to lock that pick in. Like I said, he’s even exceeded those expectations and we had very high expectations of him through all of our draft prep and everything.”

Haliburton made a strong case for a spot on the All-Rookie team, averaging 13.0 points, 5.3 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. A hyperextended left knee ended his season early, but Ham states that the Kings are confident he’ll be ready for a full summer program with the team in preparation for next season.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Terence Davis had a short stay in Toronto, but it sounds like he wants to be with the Kings a lot longer, notes Jason Jones of The Athletic. The Raptors traded Davis to Sacramento in March, and he likes his new situation enough that he’s leaning toward re-signing when he becomes a restricted free agent this summer. “It’s definitely looking like that,” Davis said. “It’s looking really good for me. I would say this is some of the best basketball I’ve played in my career, even in college, this is a stretch of some of the best games I’ve played in my entire life.”
  • The Lakers continue to be careful with their stars as the season winds down. According to an ESPN storyAnthony Davis will sit out tonight against the Rockets after experiencing tightness in his left adductor during Tuesday’s game. He will join LeBron James, who announced earlier today that he will delay his return until at least Saturday. James visited an ankle specialist last week, sources told ESPN, and was able to practice Monday without having difficulty with making sharp cuts and jumping.
  • Serge Ibaka has already been listed as out for Thursday’s game, but the Clippers remain hopeful he can return before the regular season ends Sunday, writes Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. Ibaka has missed the past 29 games with lower back tightness, but he is traveling with the team on its current road trip.

Knee Injury To Sideline Haliburton For Rest Of Regular Season

Promising Kings rookie Tyrese Haliburton is expected to miss the rest of the 2020/21 regular season with a hyperextended left knee, per a team press release. An MRI examination revealed the injury.

The 28-37 Kings are currently the No. 12 seed in the West, 3.5 games behind the tenth-seeded Spurs for a play-in tournament berth. The club’s statement did not disclose whether or not Haliburton would be available for a potential play-in or playoff appearance, but the odds are against Sacramento making up that ground.

The injury, suffered Sunday in a game against the Mavericks, will not require surgical treatment. Haliburton, a leading contender for Rookie of the Year honors, will be missing Sacramento’s final eight games, including a game tonight.

Sacramento selected the 6’5″ Haliburton with the No. 12 pick out of Iowa State during the 2020 draft. In 58 games (including 20 starts) with the Kings, Haliburton has averaged 13.0 PPG, 5.3 APG, 3.0 RPG, and 1.3 SPG across 30.1 MPG. The 21-year-old is boasting a solid shooting line of .472/.409/.857.

Pacific Notes: Bagley, Fox, Toscano-Anderson, Jackson

Marvin Bagley III may be on the move after this season, according to James Ham of NBC Sports California (video link). The second overall pick in the 2018 draft is averaging 13.9 PPG and 7.4 RPG but the Kings‘ power forward hasn’t played since mid-March due to a hand injury.

“His name came up at the trade deadline,” Ham said. “It’s very possible he will not be with this team after this summer. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes.”

Bagley is eligible for a rookie scale extension before next season but Ham is skeptical the Kings will pursue a new deal. “I don’t think there’s any way he’s getting his extension,” Ham said.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox will be sidelined up to two weeks after entering the league’s health and safety protocols. That means Tyrese Haliburton will be in the lineup, going against top perimeter defenders, and Delon Wright will see his minutes expand, Jason Jones of The Athletic tweets.
  • The Warriors’ Juan Toscano-Anderson considers himself a “fringe” player until he receives some contractual security, Steve Berman of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. “Until I sign my name on that dotted line with a guaranteed contract, I’m still going to treat myself as a fringe NBA player,” he said. “My back’s always against the wall.” Toscano-Anderson is on a two-way contract with Golden State.
  • Reggie Jackson is enjoying a bounce-back season after re-signing with the Clippers for the veteran’s minimum and he’s having fun again, he told Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times“Just be ready for anything and be appreciative of what’s going on and really just re-fall in love with the game,” he said. Jackson is averaging 10.5 PPG and 3.2 APG and shooting a career-high 44.1% from deep.

And-Ones: Referees, Play-In Tourney, Iverson Classic

While the NBA and its players’ union have provided weekly updates on the number of positive COVID-19 tests among players, we haven’t heard much about how the league’s referees – who travel commercially – have been affected by the coronavirus this season. Baxter Holmes of ESPN fills in some blanks, reporting that 10 of the NBA’s referees are currently sidelined, primarily due to COVID-related issues, and adding that 24 refs have missed at least one game this season due to the league’s health and safety protocols.

A league spokesperson tells Holmes that most of the current absences are related to contact tracing and that the NBA expects all 10 affected referees to be available for the start of the postseason next month.

In the interim, however, the league has had to “call up” six referees from the G League. According to Holmes, a number of teams and executives around the NBA have complained about the performance of those refs, prompting NBA VP of referee development and training Monty McCutchen to defend their performances.

“These were our top six G League officials who would have been getting some NBA games anyway this year. They had to be pressed into some more service, but they are knocking on the door to being staff members,” McCutchen told ESPN. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, let’s just call any random G League (official) because they live in Portland and we’ll pull them up that night.’ They had already reached levels of excellence that meant they were ready for this.”

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

  • NBA executives believe that flattening the lottery odds and introducing the play-in tournament has helped reduce league-wide tanking among non-playoff teams, according to Howard Beck of SI.com, who says that league sources think the play-in tournament will be adopted on a permanent basis beyond this season.
  • The Iverson Classic All-American Game, which will take place on May 8 in Memphis, has received NBA approval as a certified event, meaning team scouts can attend and evaluate prospects, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). Top 2022 prospects such as Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren headline the list of participants.
  • A little over five months after the 2020 draft took place, Sam Vecenie, John Hollinger, of James L. Edwards III of The Athletic completed a re-draft of the ’20 class. Among the big risers in The Athletic’s re-draft are LaMelo Ball (No. 3 to No. 1), Tyrese Haliburton (No. 12 to No. 5), Isaiah Stewart (No. 16 to No. 7), Aleksej Pokusevski (No. 17 to No. 7), and Jaden McDaniels (No. 28 to No. 10).

Pacific Notes: Morris, Schneider, Ayton, Haliburton

Clippers power forward Marcus Morris has thrived across the 16 games he has played since replacing Nicolas Batum in the team’s starting lineup, as Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times details. Los Angeles is 13-3 since head coach Tyronn Lue made the change.

Ahead of tonight’s 126-115 victory over the Pacers, Morris had been connecting on 48.8% on his 6.2 three-pointers a night and 51% overall from the floor since taking over as a starter.

My production is the same, minutes (have) been the same,” Batum said of the switch. “But Marcus has been great for us. He has been even better since he has been starting.”

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • The Warriors have announced (Twitter link) that Brandon Schneider will replace departing Rick Welts as Golden State’s president and COO when the latter retires at the end of the 2020/21 season. Schneider has served as the Warriors’ chief revenue officer since 2018, and has spent 19 seasons with Golden State overall.
  • Suns center Deandre Ayton has been a big, but subtle, contributor to the club’s newfound success this season, writes Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Though he is known more for his scoring and rebounding, Ayton has been able to juggle his impressive skill set with a growing defensive game and improved screening.
  • Kings rookie shooting guard Tyrese Haliburton acknowledged his frustration over his team’s current seven-game losing streak, according to James Ham of NBC Sports California“We know we’re better than this, we’ve proven we’re better than this throughout the year,” Haliburton said. “But obviously, consistency has plagued us our whole season.” With a 22-32 record, the Kings are currently four games behind the tenth-seeded Warriors for a chance at a play-in tournament berth.

Kings Notes: Haliburton, Fox, Golden 1 Center

After coming off the bench in 31 of his first 33 games this season, rookie guard Tyrese Haliburton was moved into the Kings‘ starting lineup on March 17 and remained there for the team’s next 12 games. However, he has once again been a reserve for the last two, with head coach Luke Walton explaining that he likes having Haliburton lead the second unit. The 21-year-old is taking that decision in stride, as he tells Sam Amick of The Athletic.

“I’m not tripping off that,” Haliburton said. “At the end of the day, I’m a basketball player. I’m not just saying this because it’s a media answer. Like, Buddy (Hield) yelled at me yesterday because I told him this and he was like, ‘Oh, don’t give me the media answer.’ But it’s the truth. I’m a basketball player at the end of the day, so I’m coming out here to compete every night. If you put me off the bench or start me or however many minutes, I’m going to value those minutes and compete.”

Haliburton spoke to Amick about a handful of other topics, including how he ended up falling to No. 12 in last November’s draft. The rookie guard said he thought briefly that he’d be picked by the Wizards at No. 9, but they opted for Deni Avdija instead.

Addressing a rumor that he had a hand in orchestrating his draft-day slide because he was focused on playing for the Kings, Haliburton acknowledged that he liked the idea of playing in Sacramento and that he didn’t see a fit with the Hawks, who had the sixth pick. However, he dismissed the idea that he discouraged the top 11 teams from selecting him.

“There’s all these stupid rumors going around that I told everybody not to pick me because I wanted to go to Sac at 12. Like, come on now, are you crazy? I would never,” Haliburton said. “These teams just didn’t pick me, you know? It is what it is.”

Here’s more on the Kings:

  • De’Aaron Fox has been hit by the NBA with a $20K fine for his public criticism of the officiating, the league announced in a press release. Fox’s comments came after Sacramento’s 128-112 loss to Utah on Saturday, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee details.
  • The Kings will welcome fans back to the Golden 1 Center for the first time this season beginning on April 20, per a team release. Approximately 1,600 frontline workers will attend that first game — subsequent games will be open to more fans, with the capacity gradually increasing.
  • Sacramento is one of many teams around the NBA with a player currently on a 10-day contract. Damian Jones will be eligible to sign a second 10-day deal with the Kings when his current contract expires on Friday night. If one side or the other wants to end the relationship, Sacramento will open up a spot on its 15-man roster.

Kings Rumors: Holmes, Barnes, Bagley, Bjelica

Although the Kings are open to listening to trade inquiries for anyone not named De’Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton, sources tell Zach Lowe of ESPN that it will take a significant return to pry away forward Harrison Barnes or big man Richaun Holmes.

Barnes has been a popular subject of trade speculation in recent weeks, having reportedly drawn interest from Boston and other teams, while a report earlier today said Toronto and Charlotte are among the teams eyeing Holmes. However, according to Lowe, the Kings are telling teams that they don’t consider themselves far off from being a playoff team, so they’re not eager to trade productive veterans in their prime for draft picks and prospects.

As Lowe points out, given Marvin Bagley III‘s struggles and health problems, the Kings may also view Holmes as their center of the future and will have the cap flexibility to re-sign him in free agency this offseason. If that’s the case, there’s no reason to try to get what they can for him on the trade market.

Here’s more on the Kings:

  • Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report also hears that the Kings are willing to discuss anyone besides Fox or Haliburton, but that the asking price for Barnes is high. Sources tell Fischer it may take multiple first-round picks to pique Sacramento’s interest. “Every playoff team would be interested in him, but that’s why I don’t think that deal’s gonna happen,” one assistant general manager said of Barnes.
  • There’s a belief in league circles that Bagley would welcome a change of scenery, according to Fischer. Bagley’s father pushed for a trade earlier this year, and the former No. 2 overall pick didn’t exactly denounce it. However, the big man is currently sidelined with a broken hand and Sacramento is asking for a first-round pick, reducing the likelihood of a deal, Fischer says.
  • Although it’s unclear whether any team will meet Sacramento’s asking price of a younger player and a second-round pick, Nemanja Bjelica remains the King most likely to be traded, per Fischer. “They want to move him, and Bjelica told them he wants to be moved,” an assistant GM said. League sources who spoke to Bleacher Report identified the Celtics as a top suitor for the stretch four.

Kings Rumors: Barnes, Bjelica, Hield, Whiteside, Haliburton

Harrison Barnes‘ professionalism, his declining contract structure, and his strong play this season are all factors that make him an appealing trade candidate, but they’re also reasons why the Kings will be reluctant to part with him, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic.

A source with knowledge of Sacramento’s plans tells Amick that the club won’t be motivated to move Barnes without a “significant” offer. The Celtics have been frequently linked to the veteran forward, but Amick isn’t sure that a package made up of late first-round picks and young bench players would be enough to get it done.

The Kings also haven’t yet conceded that they will be sellers, Amick continues. If they do go that route, De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton would likely be the only truly unavailable players on the roster, but the Kings are still just 3.5 games back of a play-in spot, reducing the likelihood of a fire sale.

Here’s more out of Sacramento:

  • Amick believes Nemanja Bjelica is perhaps the likeliest King to be traded, and hears from sources that the Pacers are among the teams to show interest in the stretch four. Amick also mentions Golden State, Boston, and Milwaukee, who have all been previously cited as potential suitors for Bjelica.
  • According to Amick, the size of Buddy Hield‘s contract probably makes him even more likely to stay put than Barnes, for now at least. Amick also wonders any teams will make a “spirited push” for center Richaun Holmes, especially if the Kings are unsure about whether they’ll be able to re-sign him this summer.
  • The Lakers continue to monitor Kings center Hassan Whiteside, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Whiteside has been previously identified as a possible Lakers target via trade or buyout.
  • Kings coach Luke Walton said over the weekend that rookie guard Tyrese Haliburton will remain on a minutes limit for the next few games, as James Ham of NBC Sports California tweets. Coming off a calf injury, Haliburton logged 18 minutes on Thursday and 24 on Saturday — he had been averaging over 30 minutes per game prior to the injury.

Luke Walton’s Job Appears Safe; Finances Play Role

Kings coach Luke Walton has been on the short list of NBA coaches with tenuous job status for awhile but he’s likely to retain his position at least through the end of this season, Sam Amick and Jason Jones of The Athletic report.

There are a variety of reasons why Walton is expected to hold onto his job, barring a complete second-half collapse. Finances come into play, as Walton is owed a combined $11.5MM in the next two seasons of his four-year guaranteed deal. The franchise has lost approximately $100MM due to the pandemic and there was even an ownership cash call in May, per Amick and Jones.

The Kings have a history of paying multiple coaches at the same time due to early firings, and minority owners are reluctant to go in that direction again.

Minority owners were asked to come up with funds to ensure the organization was still on track financially in accordance with five-year projection plans. Several of them were unable to do so, and owner Vivek Ranadive had to bridge the financial gap.

Walton has also dutifully carried out the plan set forth during the offseason by new GM Monte McNair.

McNair viewed this season as a “gap year,” with his long-term vision requiring two-to-four years to set in. Franchise player De’Aaron Fox has continued to support Walton publicly and privately and the front office is also impressed how rookie Tyrese Haliburton has blended with Fox. The progress shown by Marvin Bagley II in a starting role has also worked in Walton’s favor.

Here’s more tidbits from The Athletic’s story:

  • Nemanja Bjelica chose not to play for over a month because he was furious that Bagley had been handed his minutes. Glenn Robinson III was also upset with losing his rotation role before he was released.
  • Bjelica and Cory Joseph are the two players most likely to be dealt before the trade deadline. Hassan Whiteside has also been monitored by teams seeking a backup center.
  • Despite the improvements he’s shown, Bagley has drawn little interest on the trade market.

NBA Announces 2020/21 Rising Stars Rosters

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the pared-down nature of the NBA’s 2021 All-Star weekend, a Rising Stars Game showcasing the league’s top rookies and sophomores won’t be played this year.

However, the league has still announced the rosters for the event, via NBA Top Shot, naming the 20 players who would have been selected to participate if the game was taking place. Here are those rosters:

U.S. Team:

World Team:

The 20-man group includes eight rookies and 11 sophomores. The 20th player, Porter, made the cut as a sophomore since he missed his entire rookie season in 2018/19 due to an injury — this is technically his third year of NBA service.