Vlade Divac

Pacific Notes: Chandler, Kings, Ballmer, Pachulia

Suns center Tyson Chandler is unsure when he’ll be able to play again because of a neck injury, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic reports. Chandler has missed five of the last six games due to swelling in a neck joint. That swelling has caused his neck to spasm and even lock up, Chandler told Bordow. “Coming back from the All-Star break I was looking forward to playing really well down the stretch,” Chandler said. “So it’s disappointing coming back having to deal with this.” The Suns miss Chandler’s leadership when he’s out, Bordow writes in a separate piece, noting the Suns are 5-25 when either he or Devin Booker doesn’t play.

In other news around the Pacific Division:

  • The fact that Kings coach Dave Joerger has agreed to a 10- or 11-man rotation shows that he has a good working relationship with GM Vlade Divac, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes in a mailbag column. Joerger had been asked to expand the rotation to get more minutes for his younger players, even though he’d probably prefer a shorter rotation, Jones continues. Divac also consults with Joerger on when to send players to the G League, Jones adds.
  • Clippers owner Steve Ballmer doesn’t believe in tanking despite the team trading away Blake Griffin to the Pistons late last month. Ballmer made the statement at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference and the quotes were relayed by ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz. “I think bottoming out is a dangerous game,” Ballmer said. “If you have to play it, maybe you have to play it. Then again, superstars don’t want to go to teams that look like absolute losers. … In a way you’re being dismissive of your fans by taking that big a step back.”
  • Warriors center Zaza Pachulia was not disciplined by the league for falling onto Thunder All-Star Russell Westbrook on Saturday, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post tweets. Westbrook called Pachulia a dirty player after the incident.

Woj’s Latest: Cavaliers, Clippers, Kings, Jazz

In his latest piece for ESPN.com, Adrian Wojnarowski goes into extensive detail on the deadline deals completed last week by the Cavaliers, and offers some fascinating tidbits on how those trades got done, and one potential blockbuster that didn’t get done. Let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • Before making his series of trades, Cavaliers GM Koby Altman got an elusive face-to-face sitdown with LeBron James to let his star player know what he was working on. Altman later met with LeBron again to tell him that the trades for Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, George Hill, and Rodney Hood were complete, and to ask for his blessing on the deal that sent Dwyane Wade to Miami, says Wojnarowski.
  • Altman had received ownership approval to trade Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, and the Cavs’ own 2018 first-round pick to the Clippers for DeAndre Jordan, according to Wojnarowski. Los Angeles was on board with the deal, but wanted to find a third team to take Shumpert and to give the Clips a center, since they didn’t want another shooting guard. Altman and Clippers GM Michael Winger weren’t able to find that third team, and since L.A. was unwilling to take on Shumpert (or Tristan Thompson or J.R. Smith) and the Cavs had some reservations about extending Jordan’s contract in the offseason, the deal ultimately fell through.
  • The three-way trade between the Cavaliers, Kings, and Jazz nearly fell apart on deadline day when Sacramento insisted that Georgios Papagiannis be included in the deal. According to Woj, Cleveland and Utah were “adamant” that Papagiannis had never been discussed, but Kings assistant GM Brandon Williams insists that his notes confirm that either Papagiannis or Malachi Richardson would be included.
  • As an aside, Wojnarowski writes that Williams was handling negotiations because GM Vlade Divac “seldom gets on the phone for the trade-building parts,” even though any Kings trade requires his approval, along with the approval of owner Vivek Ranadive.
  • The Cavaliers were very much against Papagiannis’ inclusion in the trade, since taking on his $2.3MM cap hit would have cost the club significantly more than that in tax payments. Utah also had no interest in acquiring the former lottery pick, with Wojnarowski suggesting that Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey was “livid” about the insertion of Papagiannis and was ready to call off the trade. As for the Kings, they were hoping to move 2016’s 13th overall pick to avoid the embarrassment of waiving him themselves, says Woj.
  • Eventually, Altman was able to work out a solution and talked Lindsey into it, per Wojnarowski. Papagiannis’ rest-of-season salary for this year and his guaranteed salary for 2018/19 totaled $3.2MM, and the Cavaliers were willing to pay that amount to Sacramento, but Cleveland was limited to sending out $2.1MM for the rest of this league year. Altman convinced the Jazz to send the Kings the remaining $1.1MM, with Lindsey getting a little something out of the deal: the ability to swap 2024 second-round picks with the Cavs. The Kings, having been compensated for Papagiannis’ remaining salary, simply waived him rather than insisting he be a part of the trade.

Pacific Rumors: L. Williams, Ball, Divac, Kings

Combo guard Lou Williams hasn’t made any progress with the Clippers regarding an extension, Sam Amick of USA Today reports. Williams is enjoying a career year and has an expiring contract that could draw interest from numerous contenders, but it sounds like the veteran wouldn’t mind staying put and reaching an agreement to stay in L.A. “I’m putting everything on the line out here for this organization, and you know the season I’m having I would like to be rewarded for it and just appreciated,” he told Amick.

In other Pacific Division developments:

  • Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball has missed the last four games with a left knee injury and he may remain sidelined during the team’s upcoming five-game road trip, ESPN.com’s Ohm Youngmisuk reports. Ball is expected to join the team on the trip, which begins Friday in Chicago. The Lakers are 2-8 in games he’s missed. “Whether he plays or not [on the trip], that all depends on the knee,” coach Luke Walton told reporters. “We are not going to rush him back from a sore knee. Once that gets better, we will get him back on the court.”
  • Kings GM Vlade Divac‘s job is safe despite the club’s disappointing season, writes The Sacramento Bee’s Jason Jones. Divac’s contract runs through the 2019/20 season and it wouldn’t do the organization any good to begin another rebuild with a different GM at this point, according to Jones, who adds that the way that next season unfolds will determine if Divac sticks long-term.
  • With the Kings resting veterans and going all-in on their youth movement in the second half, Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee takes a closer look at several of the team’s young players, exploring what the team wants to see down the stretch from Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, De’Aaron Fox, and others.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Pacific Notes: Ball, Paul, Divac, CP3, Randle

Lonzo Ball looked overmatched during his NBA debut against the Clippers as Patrick Beverley aggressively shut him down. Ball, 19, returned last night to post 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in the Lakers‘ win against the Suns. Team president Magic Johnson spoke to USA Today before Ball’s debut and addressed his mindset before the game.

“He’s nervous,” Johnson said. “But he has a demeanor where you don’t know he’s nervous. But tonight, he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.”

It did not take long for Ball to show a glimpse of why he was one of the most highly-anticipated rookies in recent memory. His near triple-double in the Lakers’ 132-130 win over Phoenix show his potential is off the charts. While one game does not define Ball or what his career will be like, it’s clear that he still has support from Lakers brass and it will stay that way for years to come.

“Last year he was the most efficient college basketball player,” Johnson said. “And now that he’s come to the pros, he’s been — ever since we drafted him — he’s been a great young man, a great teammate. His teammates, they love him. Love him. Those were the things I was looking for (before drafting him).

Check out other news around the Pacific Division:

  • Chris Paul has been mostly silent on why he left the Clippers to play for the Rockets. However, in a recent documentary, Paul said his former team’s “culture” is one reason he left, claiming the team did not do enough to compete with Golden State, Elliot Teaford of The Orange County Register writes. Clippers coach Doc Rivers fired back, saying, “I don’t think you have to try to burn the house down or justify why you left. That’s what I would say to it. I like our culture.”
  • Julius Randle looked lackadaisical on defense and offense in the Lakers’ season-opener, which led to a stern talk from head coach Luke Walton, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register writes. Whether it’s frustration over losing the starting spot or not being in game shape, Randle’s performance on Thursday was alarming.
  • Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee spoke with Kings‘ general manager Vlade Divac, who gave his thoughts on every player on Sacramento’s roster.
  • The Kings hired former WNBA coach and player Jenny Boucek as an assistant player development coach, according to the Associated Press.

Kings Extend Vlade Divac, Dave Joerger Through 2019/20

The Kings have extended the contract of general manager Vlade Divac and exercised their fourth-year option on head coach Dave Joerger, the team announced today in a press release. As a result of the moves, both Divac and Joerger will now be under contract with Sacramento through the 2019/20 season.

While neither Divac nor Joerger was expected to be on the hot seat entering the season, the decision to extend their contracts before opening night represents a show of support from the franchise as the Kings kick off their rebuilding process in earnest. Having entered last season intent on making the playoffs, the DeMarcus Cousins-less Kings will head into the season focused more on developing young players and taking incremental steps forward.

Divac, who has been with the Kings since 2015, made some questionable moves and decisions during his first year or two with the franchise, and was widely criticized for the club’s return in the Cousins trade. However, the Cousins package – essentially Buddy Hield, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles, and Frank Mason – looks a little more promising today than it did at the time, and the Kings had a good offseason. Sacramento drafted a potential franchise point guard in De’Aaron Fox and made some solid veteran signings in free agency, picking up George Hill, Zach Randolph, and Vince Carter.

As for Joerger, in 2016/17 – his first season with the Kings – he led the team to a 32-50 record. Prior to arriving in Sacramento, Joerger had a 147-99 (.598) record in three seasons with the Grizzlies. While the club in Memphis had perennial aspirations of contending, Joerger will be tasked with coaching a different sort of club in Sacramento over the next couple seasons — the Kings’ decision to pick up his 2019/20 option indicates the team believes he’ll be up to the challenge of developing the young players on the roster.

Kings Notes: Joerger, Fox, Giles

With as many as five rookies on board for 2017/18, the only way to gauge head coach Dave Joerger‘s performance as the club’s head coach will be with time.

Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes that the the 43-year-old bench boss will need to show discipline and patience with his young roster, traits that would have serve him well during his stint as a minor league coach in the G League.

It could be years before Kings fans see just what players like De’Aaron Fox and Justin Jackson are capable of and that’s never a good thing for coaches at the professional level. As Jones notes, Joerger’s three predecessors didn’t even last two seasons.

Still, there’s been a culture shift in Sacramento and, in addition to this year’s rookie crop, the roster boasts numerous development projects ranging from 2016/17 mid-season acquisition Buddy Hield to sophomore Greek big man Georgios Papagiannis.

There aren’t many teams who have had nine players in the first or second years of their contract,” Joerger said. “It hasn’t been done, but you have to give them time and keep our expectations that guys go out and compete hard every night and they get better everyday in practice.”

There’s more from the Kings:

  • When fifth-overall pick De’Aaron Fox goes to work with his new Kings teammates he’ll do so with one big advantage; he actually knows his fellow rookies well already. Fox spoke with the Sacramento Bee’s Jason Jones in a recent media scrum.
  • It didn’t take long for the basketball world to notice that the Kings brought home a good haul from the NBA Draft and, unsurprisingly, general manager Vlade Divac is happy with who they got. Divac spoke with the media, including Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee.
  • For better and worse, 20th-overall pick Harry Giles is drawing comparisons to former Kings forward Chris Webber, Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee writes.

Kings Notes: Fox, Post Draft Grades, Private Jet

The Kings got their man when they selected De’Aaron Fox with the fifth overall pick in Thursday’s draft but even if the team had the first pick, the result may have been the same. Per Sean Cunningham of ABC 10 (via Twitter), general manager Vlade Divac said that Sacramento “most likely” would have taken Fox first overall.

“It was a guy that we all loved and in some way,” he said, according to The Sacramento Bee’s Ailene Voisin. “If we had the No. 1 pick, he would’ve been our guy. De’Aaron is our future.”

The Kentucky guard averaged 16.7 PPG and 4.6 APG in 36 collegiate contests this past season and was rumored to be taken anywhere from second overall to sixth overall. Despite working out for several teams, Fox told FOX Sports’ Aaron Torres that the vibe around the team was special and that he felt his presence could lead to bigger things.

I know they really want a point guard, I know they need one,” Fox said. “They have the young pieces, and in a few years I do think we could be competing for championships.

Here are additional notes surrounding the Kings:

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Divac, Clippers

The Lakers would be making a terrible mistake by targeting Pacers forward Paul George as their much needed superstar, Mitch Lawrence of the Sporting News writes.

George, the “anti-Magic,” has shown poor leadership and a tendency to alienate teammates, Lawrence says. Those aren’t characteristics typically paired with a young team like the Lakers.

In the same piece, Lawrence goes on to add that a better fit for George may be Boston because the Celtics, unlike the Lakers, boast the strong-willed vets to withstand George’s occasional negativity.

Should the Lakers continue to pursue the swingman, however, they’ll need ensure that their point guard is mentally strong enough to deal with the vocal superstar.

  • After a tumultuous first few seasons at the helm, Vlade Divac has been given an opportunity to manage a stable Kings franchise, Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee writes. “I knew the staff I wanted to put together. There was always so much (drama) going on ever since I got here, it took up a lot of my time,” Divac said. “Finally I have been able to find people who believe in what we are trying to do and who I am very comfortable with.
  • The Clippers have every intention of competing for a title even with the injured Blake Griffin on the sidelines, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register writes. “It’s not the best thing that could have ever happened to us,” teammate Chris Paul said, “but it’s not the end of the world. We still are going to go out there. We know we got a job to do. We got a big game (Sunday), Game 4, and we go out there expecting to win.”
  • Could a candid conversation on Jimmy Kimmel be considered tampering? USA Today’s Alysha Tsuji wrote about how Lakers executive Magic Johnson may have tampered while commenting specifically about not tampering.
  • Count Gary Payton (Sr.) among the crowd who thinks Warriors forward Draymond Green should be this season’s Defensive Player of the Year, an Associated Press report outlines. The Glove also speaks highly of Kawhi Leonard as a legitimate candidate.

Kings Hire Scott Perry As Executive VP

2:51pm: The Kings have made it official, formally announcing Perry’s hiring in a press release.

“I’m thrilled that Scott will be joining our front office team,” Divac said in a statement. “His extensive experience in the league and management talents will help build on our progress are we work to develop a winning franchise.”

2:40pm: Just over a week after he was dismissed from the Magic front office along with Rob Hennigan, former Orlando assistant GM Scott Perry has found a new job. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter links), the Kings are hiring Perry as their executive VP of basketball operations and intend to have him work closely with Vlade Divac.

Perry, a seasoned NBA executive who has strong relationships throughout the league, is expected to execute many of the general manager duties in his new role with the Kings, though Divac will still have the final say on basketball decisions, Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter).

Shortly after word broke last Thursday that the Magic had fired Hennigan and Perry, multiple national reporters expressed surprise that Orlando would let Perry get away, since he and Hennigan had different voices in the front office. According to multiple reports, Perry wanted to make a trade with the Kings that would have landed DeMarcus Cousins in Orlando, but Hennigan wasn’t on board with the proposed deal — Perry will now join the other team involved in those Cousins talks, though the All-Star center is obviously no longer in Sacramento.

Perry began his career as an NBA executive back in 2000 when he was hired by the Pistons to work under GM Joe Dumars. Perry won a title with the club and later worked for the SuperSonics under Sam Presti before returning to the Pistons and eventually joining Hennigan’s front office in Orlando.

Perry will add a veteran voice to a decision-making process that has been headed by Divac and controlling owner Vivek Ranadive, two men without extensive NBA front office experience on their respective résumés.

Kings Notes: Point Guards, Bogdanovic, Gay

GM Vlade Divac said it’s “too early to say” whether or not the Kings will try to bring back Darren Collison or Ty Lawson next year, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. Jones adds that the team is stocked at many positions, but point guard is not of them.

Lawson had an uninspiring season in Sacramento, scoring 9.9 points per game while dishing out 4.9 assists per night. He made 24 starts for the club. Collison was suspended for the first eight games of the season because of domestic battery charges. He ended up playing in 68 contests for the Kings, averaging 13.2 points, 4.6 assists, and a steal per game. Both veterans will be unrestricted free agents this summer.

Here’s more from Sacramento:

  • Divac said Bogdan Bogdanovic, whose rights were acquired by the Kings in a 2016 draft night trade, is a “natural shooting guard” and added that the team wants him to come stateside, Jones relays in the same piece. “We would love to have him here. We have his rights, and this summer we’ll talk about it,” Divac said.
  • The Kings added an assistant GM last offseason and they remain open to expanding the front office even further, Jones adds in the same piece. “We’re open, always, to improve,” Divac said. “The team, the front office, everything is always open for improvement. I’m very happy and confident in what we have right now, but we should be open if something can make you better.”
  • Both Divac and coach Dave Joerger would like Rudy Gay to return to the Kings next season, Sean Cunningham of ABC10 tweets. Gay can become a free agent this summer by turning down a player option in his contract, but he remains undecided on whether or not he will do so.