Zach Randolph

Kings Notes: Bagley, Randolph, Koufos, Labissiere

Willie Cauley-Stein‘s improved performance may have taken away some of the need for Marvin Bagley, but the Kings would have drafted him second overall anyway, Jason Jones of The Athletic writes in a mailbag column. Sacramento could use another creator on offense, a role that could have been filled by Luka Doncic, who went one pick later, but Jones believes Bogdan Bogdanovic will help in that area when he recovers from his knee injury.

Kings management views Bagley as a positionless frontline player who won’t be limited to center or power forward. Doncic was in the top three on their draft board, along with Deandre Ayton, but Jones states that the Kings were sold on Bagley’s combination of athleticism, energy and rebounding, along with his potential to develop into a reliable scorer.

There’s more out of Sacramento, all courtesy of Jones:

  • Veteran forward Zach Randolph may not play all season if he remains on the Kings’ roster. The front office informed him that it planned to concentrate on giving time to its young big men, and the team is already having difficulty finding enough minutes for all of them. Randolph averaged 14.5 PPG and 6.7 RPG last season, so he believes he can still contribute, even after turning 37 this summer. He is currently away from the team, but his expiring contract worth nearly $11.7MM could prove useful in a trade.
  • Kosta Koufos, who recently returned from a hamstring injury to add to the logjam of big men, is a strong candidate to be re-signed after the season ends. Coach Dave Joerger and GM Vlade Divac are both strong supporters of Koufos, who is making $8.7MM in the final year of his current deal.
  • The Kings considered trading away Skal Labissiere last season, but it would take a strong offer now for them to consider parting with him. With Cauley-Stein and Koufos both heading into free agency, a rotation spot would open up for Labissiere if either of them leaves.
  • Joerger was planning to experiment with a three-guard rotation in training camp before Bogdanovic hurt his knee. With Buddy Hield playing well, that could be an option once Boganovic is back on the court.
  • The Kings are willing to use their cap space to facilitate deals, but only if they get a significant asset in return. Sacramento would love to acquire a first-round pick after giving theirs up in a 2015 deal with the Sixers.

Grizzlies Notes: Roster Opening, Noah, Randolph

The Grizzlies‘ Thursday announcement that they’ve waived third-year guard Andrew Harrison came as a bit of a surprise, given the fairly prominent role he has had in the team’s rotation in recent seasons. Cutting Harrison opens up a spot on Memphis’ 15-man NBA roster, but the move wasn’t made with a specific signing in mind, according to Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian (Twitter link). Herrington adds that he wouldn’t expect that roster spot to be filled immediately.

While teams can carry up to 15 players on standard NBA contracts, many clubs opt not to fill their rosters near the start of the season — as our roster counts page shows, only 19 of 30 teams have full 15-man rosters at the moment.

Leaving that last spot empty allows for roster flexibility and saves some money. Plus, with a pair of players on two-way contracts also available if needed, teams generally have plenty of depth without having to carry a 15th man.

Here’s more out of Memphis:

  • The Grizzlies currently have a greater need in the frontcourt than the backcourt, as Herrington notes (via Twitter). According to Herrington, the team “had some contact” with free agent center Joakim Noah recently, but have no plans to sign him at this point.
  • Despite Memphis’ desire for a little more frontcourt help and the strong possibility that Zach Randolph will eventually get a buyout in Sacramento, don’t expect a reunion between Randolph and the Grizzlies, Herrington writes in a mailbag for The Daily Memphian. Herrington believes the club is more likely to target a defensive option in the middle, and may not make a move unless Marc Gasol goes down for an extended period.
  • The Grizzlies’ strong start can be attributed in part to improvements on their bench, as Drew Hill of The Memphis Commercial Appeal details. Offseason additions like Shelvin Mack and Omri Casspi are among the players making an impact in Memphis’ second unit.

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: Ball, Chriss, Harrell, Randolph

When the Lakers drafted Lonzo Ball, they acquired a package deal that included his outspoken father, LaVar. In his rookie season, Lonzo has fielded questions about his father’s critiques of the Lakers, the Big Baller Brand, and his brothers’ basketball careers.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne outlines a tense, if not somewhat hostile, environment since the Ball infiltrated the Lakers organization. Among the issues Shelburne reports: The Lakers didn’t allow the family’s production team to film games for their ‘Ball In The Family’ Facebook show for free, charged Lonzo regular price for tickets, and privately admonished LaVar when poor reviews of BBB’s products were directed to the team.

While the organization has stayed mostly silent in regards to LaVar’s comments, privately, the team views him as a major distraction. One official tells Shelburne that LaVar is viewed as someone that, “reaches out with one hand and slaps us with the other.”

It has been a tumultuous, injury-filled rookie season for Lonzo, but he has shown signs of promise. While it remains to be seen whether he’ll deliver promise on that promise to an extent that makes his father’s presence worth tolerating, Magic Johnson has plenty of confidence in the partnership and no regrets about drafting the young point guard.

“He’s everything we thought he would be and more,” Johnson said. “Things are gonna work out for the Lakers and for Lonzo.”

Check out other Pacific Division news and notes below:

  • While it appeared that Marquese Chriss turned a major corner less than two months ago, his game has seemingly regressed back to rookie status in his second season with the Suns, Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports writes.
  • Acquired in last summer’s Chris Paul trade, Montrezl Harrell has played well for the Clippers and has solidified his role as the backup center. It’s not easy to pinpoint one specific thing Harrell does well, but he says he just maximizes his minutes, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes. “I just took the minutes I had and made the best of it when I got in,” Harrell said. “I just kept working on my game, off the court and on the court.”
  • In spite of his team’s youth movement, Kings veteran Zach Randolph has played more than expected in recent weeks, which has allowed him to get into a groove offensively, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. “You get a good rhythm,” Randolph said. “Especially something that I’m not used to, the team developing our young players. So you get into a good rhythm, it’s important, playing and getting that feel.”

Kyler’s Latest: Nuggets, Whiteside, Mavs, Kings

Nuggets veterans Kenneth Faried and Emmanuel Mudiay could be had in trades at this year’s deadline, league sources tell Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, who suggests that the asking prices for those players likely wouldn’t be too high. I identified both Faried and Mudiay as potential trade candidates in my look at the Northwest on Wednesday.

If the Nuggets become a seller, Will Barton would also be a very intriguing trade chip, Kyler writes. However, that may be wishful thinking on the part of rival teams. Denver currently holds a playoff spot in the West and Barton has played the second-most minutes on the club, so it seems unlikely that the Nuggets would move him. Ultimately, the team may not end up trading anyone — Kyler suggests there’s a sense around the NBA that Denver isn’t looking to make a deal as aggressively as several other teams.

Here’s more from Kyler:

  • Sources close to the Heat acknowledge that teams have called about Hassan Whiteside, but say he probably won’t be made available at the deadline, writes Kyler.
  • The Mavericks “have had eyes” for Julius Randle, and would be a potential trade partner for L.A. if the Lakers move the big man. Kyler refers to Dallas a “open for business” in terms of trades.
  • According to Kyler, the prevailing thought around the NBA is that Willy Hernangomez is the player most likely to be moved by the Knicks, though he’s unlikely to net a significant return.
  • While many league insiders think Nikola Mirotic will end up in Utah, the Jazz don’t currently seem to be on board with sending a first-round pick to the Bulls, says Kyler.
  • Team sources tell Kyler that Garrett Temple and Zach Randolph are more likely than not to finish the season in Sacramento, but the Kings have been “very open and receptive” to trying to find their veterans new homes.
  • Although the Magic are viewed as a team that could be active at the deadline, the team is reluctant to take back long-term salary and would be happy to ride out the season and make changes in the summer if necessary, per Kyler.

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.

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.

Kings Notes: Sampson, Richardson, Randolph, Hill

The Kings would like to give more playing time to small forward JaKarr Sampson, but they are limited by his two-way contract, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Sampson can’t spend more than 45 days in the NBA and must be signed to a regular contract if he exceeds that number. To do that, the team would have to open a roster spot and part with one of its 15 guaranteed contracts.

Sampson has played just six games in Sacramento, but has impressed the coaches with his defensive abilities. He has the size to guard wing players who otherwise give the Kings problems. He is also averaging 5.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in 17 minutes per night. He has previous NBA experience with the Sixers and Nuggets, but was out of the league last season.

There’s more news from Sacramento:
  • Personnel moves have cut into the opportunities for second-year shooting guard Malachi Richardson, Jones adds in the same story. Last year’s trade for Buddy Hield and the addition of Bogdan Bogdanovic have pushed Richardson down in the rotation. He faces competition at small forward from Garrett Temple, Vince Carter and rookie Justin Jackson. Richardson has gotten into just 13 games so far this season.
  • Free agent addition Zach Randolph considers himself a “dinosaur” because of the way he plays, but he has become the team’s best player, Jones states in a separate story. In the first season of a two-year, $24MM contract, the 36-year-old is averaging 15.2 points and 7.0 rebounds in 26 games. That’s despite a low-post game that seems best suited to another era. “Basketball is basketball; it’ll all come around,” Randolph said. “…You’ve still got to play in that paint; you’ve still got guys rolling. When you need a bucket, you go to the post. It comes back around.” Randolph adds that he hasn’t considered retirement and believes he can play several more seasons.
  • After a rough start in Sacramento, fellow offseason signee George Hill has stepped up his game, Jones notes in the same story. Hill is shooting better than 53% in his last nine games and he provides a veteran presence to ease the pressure on rookies De’Aaron Fox and Frank Mason.

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: Deng, Beverley, Randolph

Luol Deng‘s four-year, $72MM contract that he signed in 2016 has become one of the NBA’s biggest albatross contracts. The Lakers signed the 32-year-old to essentially become a more expensive version of what Metta World Peace was to last year’s team.

Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times writes that Deng, who spent parts of his first 10 seasons with the Bulls, no longer wants to play for the Lakers. He has played in just one game this season, recording 2 points and 1 assist in 13 minutes of action. As he awaits a resolution on his future, Deng told Ganguli he does not regret his contract.

“I just know that for me, I never really [took] the contract and said I just want to shut it down, I just don’t want to do anything,” Deng said. “I’m still working as hard as I can trying to figure it out and trying to be the best player I can be. It was never, let me go and relax and not do anything. That was never the case. So I don’t regret it at all.”

The Lakers are heavily invested in a youth movement, highlighted by their first-round picks from the past seasons in Brandon Ingram and Lonzo BallDeng could help the team as a mentor to the upstarts but minutes will be hard to come by unless he is traded.

Check out other news from the Pacific Division:

  • A sore right knee has sidelined Clippers’ point guard Patrick Beverley, head coach Doc Rivers told reporters, including Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. Despite initial concern, Rivers said the team expects their catalyst to miss about one week.  “It’s the same thing that kept him out of the second half of camp,” Rivers said. “But he’ll be fine, that’s the good news. We were worried that it could be worse and it’s not. But he’s still probably going to miss a week of games. So, it’s just another guy out.”
  • Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee writes that Zach Randolph, who endured a tough offseason that included an arrest for marijuana possession, is slowly getting back into shape. The Kings’ hoped the veteran would bring his toughness and grit to a young team and he spoke highly of the team’s core and what he can teach them.