Vince Carter

Kings Begin Sitting Veteran Players

With top odds at the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft more likely than a playoff berth, the 13-30 Kings will focus more on developing their young players during the second half of the season. As Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes, that means head coach Dave Joerger has begun to remove certain veteran players from the team’s rotation for a game at a time.

According to Jones, the Kings will sit at least two – and perhaps three – of their veterans in each game going forward. That group of vets includes George Hill, Kosta Koufos, Garrett Temple, Vince Carter, and Zach Randolph. Carter and Randolph didn’t get off the bench during Monday night’s loss to Oklahoma City.

“It’s not an easy conversation,” Joerger said. “They’re very professional, they’re competitive. All of them are rotation players on a playoff team. So to ask those guys to step aside at different times is not enjoyable for me. They handled it well, they’ve been pros.”

When the Kings put together their roster for 2017/18, the hope was that the veteran group, led by free agent additions Hill, Carter, and Randolph, would complement young players like De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Willie Cauley-Stein, forming a productive lineup. However, most of Sacramento’s young players aren’t yet ready to be impact players, and the club’s vets – particularly Hill – have been inconsistent.

With Joerger and the Kings focused on determining which young players should be part of the team’s long-term plans, it will be interesting to see if any of the vets are on the move before the February 8 trade deadline. The Hill and Randolph contracts may be tricky to move, but Carter is on an expiring deal, and Koufos and Temple have affordable player options for 2018/19.

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Sacramento Kings

The Kings have known they’ll be mired in a years-long rebuild for a while now — and it’s not the fun kind of rebuild in which they can flaunt the potential of their youngsters while showing glimpses of hypothetical future greatness.

Unfortunately, the team sits tied for last in the Western Conference despite some forgettable campaigns from their rookies and sophomores, three of their regular starters coming in north of 30 years old and their most productive of the bunch being a 17-year veteran.

Don’t expect a major depth chart overhaul next summer when the team hits free agency. The club’s hands are somewhat tied in terms of roster flexibility, leaving the Kings little choice but to wait on the development of their in-house assets.

Vince Carter, SF, 41 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $8MM deal in 2017Vince Carter of the Sacramento Kings vertical
The Kings threw a pile of money at Carter last summer to clog their depth chart and offer the occasional nugget of sage advice to the youth around him. By all accounts, they’ve gotten just what anyone might have expected. While it’s admirable that the former All-Star is still capable of dropping 20-plus points and dragging his team to random unexpected victories, such performances are of little consequence to a franchise that should be focusing on getting more out of its prospects. Carter supposedly remains intent on playing in 2018/19, but it’s rather anticlimactic to picture his 21st season coming in Sacramento.

Kosta Koufos, C, 29 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $33MM deal in 2015
Koufos, a moderately efficient career backup, finessed a substantial long-term contract out of the Kings back in 2015, but few players have seen the value of their skillsets deflate more than Koufos. Suddenly a nine-year veteran, Koufos would be wise to accept his player option for $8.4MM.

Garrett Temple, SG, 32 (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $24MM deal in 2016
Temple has carved out a role for himself as a versatile veteran swingman. This is the type of vet that the Kings should be committing to rather than paying top dollar for novelty greybeards. The market will be squeezed next summer, so expect Temple back on board for his $8MM player option. Still, if next offseason’s economy looks similar to last year’s, he could benefit from testing the waters.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kings Notes: Carter, Labissiere, Veterans, Fox

Forty-year-old Vince Carter is sticking to his plan to play one more season after this one, he tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Carter had his best game since joining the Kings with 24 points Wednesday against the Cavaliers, the most points scored by someone 40 or older in less than 30 minutes since 1988.

The performance stood out for Carter, who is playing less than 15 minutes a night after leaving a playoff team in Memphis to sign with Sacramento. He understands that he doesn’t fit well with a rebuilding organization and isn’t surprised to hear his name mentioned in trade rumors.

“It’s a business. … I just have to do my job for what it says on the front of my jersey,” Carter said. “I kind of go from there. I am still going to be me. I am still going to play my best game within the confines of what the coach wants and asks from me. You’ll stress yourself out worrying about what is being said. There are always going to be rumors out there. That’s just how it goes in the league and it’s more prevalent now, whether it’s a superstar, two-way player or you’re a guy that has been around five years.”

There’s more news out of Sacramento:

  • Coach Dave Joerger is ignoring criticism of the way he has juggled the lineup as he searches for the right combinations, relays Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Joerger has used 14 starting lineups in 35 games and occasionally makes changes right before tip-off. Among the players affected is Skal Labissiere, who sat out three straight games before starting Friday night. The second-year power forward scored 10 points in the first quarter, but didn’t re-enter the game until the second half and played just 16 minutes total.
  • Of the Kings’ veterans, Zach Randolph and George Hill are most likely to remain with the team next season, Jones writes in a question-and-answer column. Both players signed as free agents over the summer and have contracts that run though the end of 2018/19. Randolph will make nearly $11.7MM next season before heading into free agency, while Hill will earn $19MM with a non-guaranteed $18MM for the following season. Jones expects Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos to exercise their player options and try to join a contender, while Carter’s contract expires after this season.
  • Rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox, out since December 14 with a partial tear in his right quadriceps muscle, was a limited participant in practice today, tweets Sean Cunningham of KXTV in Sacramento. Fox was shooting and running at full speed, but is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game.

Pacific Notes: Carter, Kings, Brown, Warriors, Clippers

Vince Carter is 40 years old and in his 20th NBA season but he can still evoke memories of the explosive player who was once regarded as one of the NBA’s best. Carter pitched in a season-high 24 points in the Kings‘ win over the Cavaliers on Wednesday and LeBron James had a raving review, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes.

“He made some bombs,” James said. “He’s a Hall of Famer for a reason, let’s not take that for granted. Once he got going, we couldn’t slow him down.”

There have been talks that Sacramento should distribute Carter’s minutes to younger players as the team rebuilds. However, Carter is only averaging a career-low 14.6 minutes per game to go along with 3.9 PPG. His job is no longer to be the offensive leader, but just a leader. The longtime Raptor and Nets has embraced the role.

“It’s not really about the points, it’s making a difference for our team in a positive matter,” Carter said. “… I just want to assess myself as, did I help our team or the second unit? Did we close a deficit or extend a lead in our time in the game? That’s usually how you get minutes or earn more minutes and opportunities. That’s just my approach.”

Check out other news from the Pacific Division below:

  • In a separate article, Jason Jones from the Sacramento Bee writes that after a recent loss to the Spurs, the Kings’ coaching staff and players view the Spurs’ model as their blueprint for success. The Spurs have been a contender for the past two decades, whereas the Kings have not sniffed the postseason since 2007.
  • In an in-depth and insightful feature (via USA TODAY Sports), assistant coach Mike Brown‘s contributions to the Warriors over the last three seasons are highlighted. Brown has spoken glowingly of the Golden State organization and the love has been reciprocated from head coach Steve Kerr – who Brown filled in for last season — and the players.
  • Speaking of the Warriors, the team’s current foundation is currently held together by having four All-Star talents leading the team. However, the key to keeping that foundation intact may rest with the team’s new arena that is currently being built, Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports writes.
  • Mark Heisler of the Orange County Register looks at the Clippers’ uncertain future and whether or not the team is likely to stay in Los Angeles.

Vince Carter On Return To Raptors: ‘It Will Happen’

According to the former superstar himself, Vince Carter could end up back with the Raptors before his career is done, Josh Lewenberg of TSN tweets. Even if it simply comes in the form of a ceremonial contract.

It’ll happen, I’m sure. Somehow,” Carter said.

While there have been attempts to reunite the greybeard swingman to his former franchise in the past, nothing has come to fruition. Perhaps more probable than Carter signing a typical contract with the team though, is the two parties inking a one-day deal so that he can formally retired with the franchise like Paul Pierce and Jason Maxiell did over the summer with the Celtics and Pistons, respectively.

It’s supposed to happen I think. I can say that now,” Carter added.

While Carter’s tenure with the Raptors may have ended under different circumstances than many other stars who left their original teams, the city seems to have generally embraced their long-lost perennial All-Star after years of raucous booing any time he set foot in the Air Canada Centre.

In parts of seven seasons with the Raptors, Carter averaged 23.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, guiding the team as far as the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2001 before forcing his way out of town and eventually to the Nets.

These days the 20-year vet plays more of a leadership role than a tangible one but still sees the court, having signed on with the Kings to help develop a young core. That was by design considering that he’s unwilling to give up the routine of playing consistently at this point.

I still want to play, I still want to compete, I still want to get out on the floor,” Carter told the media after Sacramento’s Sunday afternoon tilt in Toronto. “That’s not guaranteed, obviously on some of those elite teams and I’m just not ready for that.

The Raptors, presumably, would qualify as one of those elite teams, too busy actively competing in the Eastern Conference to necessarily allot guaranteed playing time to a veteran whose best days are in the rearview mirror.

If, or perhaps when, that day comes though and Carter is ready serve as more of a symbolic asset than an actual one, the man who helped grow the popularity of basketball in Canada could end up back where his career began in 1998.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Vinsanity, Hayward

While they may not be touted as the much anticipated products of The Process, NBA veterans like J.J. Redick, Jerryd Bayless and Amir Johnson have had a major impact on the Sixers, Ian Begley of ESPN writes.

Unlike token veterans who the Sixers have employed in the past like Jason Richardson and Elton Brand, both established players in the twilight of their careers, players like Redick, Bayless and Johnson still suit up and play for the squad every night.

To now have players sweating on the court that can add the leadership in real time, instead of something static in a video room — that is priceless,” head coach Brett Brown said. “I think the abundance we have this year and the fact that they play, the combination is powerful, and I appreciate [Sixers president and general manager] Bryan Colangelo helping me, helping us design the team with that in mind.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

Kings Notes: Hill, Randolph, G League, Draft

George Hill becomes eligible to be traded in six days, and Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee expects rumors involving the Kings point guard to start emerging soon. Like most players who signed contracts over the offseason, Hill can be traded beginning December 15. He probably envisioned a larger role when he inked a three-year, $57MM deal with Sacramento, as he is getting just 25.5 minutes per night, even though he has started all 23 games that he has played.

Hill’s playing time might diminish even further if he stays with the Kings. First-round pick De’Aaron Fox is Sacramento’s point guard of the future and the organization views him as a developing star. Second-round pick and fellow point guard Frank Mason has been a pleasant surprise, leaving Hill to play off the ball more often. His numbers are down across the board after averaging 16.9 points for the Jazz next season, and Jones suggests a trade would be best for both Hill and the Kings.

There’s more out of Sacramento:

  • Zach Randolph, another veteran offseason free agent addition, has developed into the Kings’ most consistent player, Jones writes in the same piece. Coach Dave Joerger doesn’t believe in using young players just for development purposes, so Randolph has pushed rookie forward Justin Jackson and second-year forward Skal Labissiere to the bench. Joerger’s policy is to reward production with playing time, and Randolph has earned his minutes by averaging 15.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per night.
  • The Kings made the right decision to send Jackson, Labissiere and Malachi Richardson to the G League this week, Jones contends in a separate story. Sacramento doesn’t have enough playing time to devote to the nine first- or second-year players on its roster. Fox and Mason are joined by rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic in the rotation, and Joerger is reluctant to use too many young players at the same time. “It’s just generally not great practice for us if we put at least four young guys on the floor together,” he said. “It can get ugly.”
  • The Kings’ focus has changed since adding free agents Hill, Randolph and Vince Carter over the summer, according to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Those signings were made by Scott Perry, who has since left the organization to become GM of the Knicks. The new regime reportedly told its three free agent additions and fellow veteran Garrett Temple that the emphasis is now on acquiring a top five pick in next year’s draft rather than contending for the playoffs.

Pacific Notes: Carter, Randle, Jackson

While 40-year-old veteran Vince Carter was brought to a rebuilding Kings team to provide experience and leadership, he was signed as a player and not a coach for a reason, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes.

That reason, Carter and Kings head coach Dave Joerger agree, is to support the development of the team’s young players on and off the court. Although Carter did miss a handful of games with kidney stones last month, his goal when he’s healthy and active is to teach his teammates to play the right way – by  leading by example.

Sure, Jones writes, Carter’s 11.7 minutes per game could go to Kings rookie Justin Jackson or raw sophomore Malachi Richardson, but his presence adds credibility to the organization in transition.

I think the worst thing you can do is trot five freshmen and sophomores out there together,” Joerger said. “I’ve been told that by many, many people in management, and those who’ve gone through a rebuild. You try to have a nice mix.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers have emerged as a solid defensive force this season and much of that can be attributed to reserve forward Julius Randle. Joey Ramirez of the team’s official site writes that Randle’s versatility on that side of the ball – he’s adept checking everything from perimeter players to big men – can be chalked up to his showing up to training camp in the best shape of his career.
  • Rookie Josh Jackson insists that his opting out of a predraft workout with the Celtics was because of a miscommunication between him and his agent and not because he didn’t want to play for a team stacked with veterans at his position, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald writes. “I’m not threatened by anybody, ever. I welcome competition,” the Suns forward said.
  • Leave it to Kyrie Irving to understand Devin Booker‘s reality with the SunsA. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes that Irving toiled in Cleveland before LeBron James returned much the same way that Booker is in Phoenix. “He already has that mentality of being a killer,” Irving said. “Now it’s just getting pieces around him in order to be at a high level to showcase that.

Kings Notes: Hill, Carter, Joeger

For the first time in his career, George Hill of the Kings isn’t playing for an established winner. Forgive him, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes, if he hasn’t look entirely comfortable so far.

Through 14 games in 2017/18, the Kings sit second-last in the Western Conference with a 3-11 record. Hill, in 12 of those contests, has put up a pedestrian 8.5 points and 2.9 assists in just over 25 minutes per game.

“This year has been tough so far, trying to learn the guys, be a mentor and teach at the same time,” Hill said of his brief tenure with the Kings so far. “Plus the fact that sometimes you lose yourself in situations like that. I take full responsibility for the way I’ve been playing. I’ve got to come out with a better George from here on out.

The guard intends to be more aggressive and look to score more as he works himself back into routine.

There’s more from the Kings today:

  • Veteran free agent addition Vince Carter is hard at work mentoring the young Kings, Kyle Ramos of the team’s official site writes. Carter has been focused on helping the young team learn to play the right way and not develop bad habits when they’re losing.
  • The Kings haven’t looked particularly dominant so far this season, but worse than losing is not competing enough. As Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes, head coach Dave Joerger isn’t afraid to come down on his young team if he doesn’t believe the effort is there. “We told our guys you’ve got to be ready to play because they’ll come at you, they compete and they play hard,” Joerger said ahead of Sacramento’s Wednesday night loss to the Hawks. “Losing is one thing, but we have to do a much better job of competing.
  • Kidney stones have sidelined 20-year-veteran Vince Carter over the course of the past four games, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports.

Kings Notes: Hill, Randolph, Labissiere, Okafor

Sacramento added a veteran presence to a rebuilding team this summer and the combination can make the older guys feel out of place, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. The Kings spent their free agent money on George Hill, Zach Randolph and Vince Carter, but their contributions have been limited as the team stumbled to a 1-8 start. Between nights off for rest and sitting through the fourth quarters of blowouts, they are playing and producing less than expected.

Hill has been the starting point guard as the Kings wait for prize rookie De’Aaron Fox to develop, but his stats have dropped to 9.6 points and 2.7 assists per game after posting 16.9 and 4.2 last season in Utah. Randolph is averaging 12.0 points, his lowest in six years, and 6.0 rebounds, his smallest number since 2002/03. Carter is scoring a career-low 2.6 points per game in less than 12 minutes per night.

“I ain’t been through this,” Randolph said. “…We’re a young team with a young talent, so staying positive and keeping everybody together, that’s the main thing.”

There’s more this morning out of Sacramento:

  • Bad matchups contributed to Skal Labissiere‘s lack of playing time this week, Jones explains in a separate story. The second-year power forward was on the court just six minutes in Saturday’s loss to the Pistons and sat out the entire first half Wednesday against the Celtics. Coach Dave Joerger said he hasn’t lost confidence in Labissiere, but at 6’11” he has trouble matching up against stretch fours like Detroit’s Tobias Harris and Boston’s Jayson Tatum. “It’s hard when all these teams are playing threes as fours and they’re stretching you out,” Joerger said. “… As he learns and gets experience, he’ll be able to play on the perimeter defensively. He’ll be able to take a guy down low if he has a mismatch down there.”
  • The Kings need all the young talent they can find, but Sixers center Jahlil Okafor doesn’t seem like a good fit, Jones states in a mailbag column. He believes Sacramento should prioritize perimeter shooting and defense, two areas where Okafor doesn’t offer much help. Although Jones doesn’t dismiss the idea, he says the Kings shouldn’t offer much for Okafor, who will be a restricted free agent next summer after Philadelphia declined his 2018/19 option.
  • Young players such as Frank Mason and Malachi Richardson are likely to get more playing time as the season wears on, Jones adds in the same piece. As the Kings fall farther out of the playoff race, their emphasis will be on developing their young talent and maximizing their draft position.
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