May 29, 2019, 2:47 am
The Kings entered the 2018-2019 season with the all too persistent cloud of KANGZ dysfunction looming over the franchise, but with an up-and-down season came genuine moments of excitement, promise, and of course, a bit more dysfunction to top it all off in Sactown. Our Post-Mortem series continues with a look at the Kings’ past season that was equal parts flashy, fun, frustrating, and discouragingly familiar, and a look ahead at what we can expect moving forward.
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2018-2019 Record: 39-43
Pre All-Star Break Record: 30-27
Post All-Star Break Record: 9-16
The more you think about the first 10 games of the season with the benefit of hindsight, the more they start to feel like a microcosm of the year at large for the Kings. Out of the starting gate, the Kings caught the rest of the league by surprise by winning six of their first nine games, punctuated with a 31-10-15 De’Aaron Fox triple-double on the road against the Hawks. Riding high, the next game in Milwaukee presented an opportunity to close out the first extended road trip of the season with a sixth consecutive win. What followed was a 144-109 beatdown handed out by the Bucks as Giannis got loose for 26 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists while the most notable Kings line was 22 points with a lone rebound, turnover and nothing else from Justin Jackson.
The rug was ultimately ripped out from under the ascendant Kings’ feet in the blowout loss to the Bucks, but those first 10 games of the season made it clear that this was not the same team that the league had become accustomed to trouncing season after season. Yet, the threat of a return to disappointment and dysfunction still loomed large in the background.
A breakout from the then 20-year-old De’Aaron Fox and a late-career renaissance from the 30-year-old Nemanja Bjelica were large factors in the Kings’ early success this season. What Bjelica lacks in raw athleticism, he makes up for in spacing ability and basketball IQ, and his impact on winning games was apparent early. On the other end of pendulum, Fox is a ball of pure energy and electricity, and to former coach Dave Joerger’s credit, the frenetic and hard-charging pace of his game came to define the offensive attack. The new-look Kings found an identity — it was undeniably fun, and perhaps most importantly, it was a winning strategy more often than not.
Last season, the Kings’ 95.59 pace was the slowest pace in the NBA while their offensive rating of 103.0 was the second worst. This season, at a 103.92 pace, the Kings were the third fastest team in the Association behind only the Hawks and Pelicans and their 109.5 offensive rating is right in the middle of the pack. Not only were the Kings playing at pace and generating significantly more points as a result, they were moving the ball well while still limiting turnovers with the seventh highest assist to turnover ratio in NBA.
As the season marched on, the Kings rumbled on at a pace that – like the first 10 games of the season – took several steps forward only to eventually fall a few steps back as they hovered just above the .500 mark and very much in the playoff picture.
However, winning does not cure all that ails, as messy infighting within the organization was continuously leaked throughout the season, bringing the black cloud of KANGZness back to hover over what was one of the more exciting, feel-good, “how could you not root for them” rosters in the league.
At the trade deadline, the Kings were still firmly in the playoff hunt, and acted accordingly with win-now moves in the hope of bringing postseason basketball to Sacramento for the first time since 2005.
They shipped out Iman Shumpert for Alec Burks (and a 2020 second), a combo guard who had been playing well in Cleveland and could presumably add some offensive firepower and ball-handling off the bench.
The higher profile move came when the Kings received Harrison Barnes from the Mavs in exchange for Justin Jackson and Zach Randolph. Barnes was brought in to provide an answer to the Kings’ problems with consistency on the wing, while the Mavs were likely looking to offload Barnes due to his $25.1 M player option for 2019-20 as they clearly seek to move a different direction. A few other lower profile moves occurred as the Kings swapped underachieving young bigs by sending Skal Labissiere for Caleb Swanigan, released Ben McLemore, and brought in Corey Brewer as a free agent.
Despite playing the role of buyers at the deadline, it wasn’t quite enough as the Kings still ended the season in no man’s land. Not quite amassing enough wins to earn the eight seed in the crowded Western Conference, but not quite bad enough to be favorites to win the lottery (though they weren’t thinking in those terms given the pick conveying to Boston or Philly depending on how the ping pong balls bounced).
The Kings ultimately ran out of gas and limped down the stretch, going 9-16 after the All-Star break, barely missing the playoffs with the 9th best record in the Western Conference. The front office clearly pushed their chips in for a playoff berth, so the season could be considered a failure in that regard, but grading this Kings team in black and white according to the dichotomy of either reaching the playoffs or tanking doesn’t seem fair.
After floating rudderless for so many years, the current roster generated a sense of optimism that the black cloud over the Golden 1 Center may finally lift. For a franchise with a tortured past, an ounce of hope is worth its weight in gold.
After two relatively disappointing seasons in 2016 and 2017, the Kings opted for continuity, bringing Dave Joerger back for a third season. That is not an insignificant show of confidence considering the fact that the Kings went through four coaches in as many years prior to Joerger coming aboard.
Joerger completely retooled the Kings offense this season, handing De’Aaron Fox the keys and changing them from one of the slowest teams in the league to one of the fastest in one offseason. Joerger also seemed to learn from mistakes last season managing his rotation, opting to give his starters a longer leash and bringing Buddy Hield to the starting lineup in a consistent 30-35 minute per night role. The results spoke for themselves, as the Kings far exceeded preseason expectations.
Despite the wins and excitement that the new-look Kings generated, Joerger’s rotations and player development philosophies were clearly at odds with the front office’s as tensions were made public and Kings GM Vlade Divac seemingly issued an ultimatum to Joerger – play the kids or lose your job. This did seem to resonate to a certain extent, as Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles found steadier roles in the Kings rotation off the bench.
While Joerger did acquiesce some to the front office’s demands, the relationship appeared soured past the point of saving as Joerger was unceremoniously relieved of duty immediately following the Kings’ best season in over a decade. There’s that dysfunction poking out again.
After a relatively brief coaching search, the King’s announced that they would be bringing on the recently unemployed Luke Walton. However, before Walton could be formally introduced as the King’s head coach, allegations of sexual assault were made public, putting his future with the franchise in question. Walton has denied allegations, but the Kings and NBA launched independent investigations which have yet to conclude.
If Walton is cleared of wrongdoing and formally brought on to coach the Kings, we can likely expect the Kings’ hard-charging offensive ways to continue. Under Walton, the Lakers have consistently ranked among the top-5 teams in pace, so it is probably safe to assume that the Kings will remain among the fastest teams in the league. Beyond playstyle, we can likely expect to see far more Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles as a condition of Walton’s hiring given the rift that their playing time and development created under Joerger. However, all of this is still in the air as the investigations into the alleged incidents continues.
ADP: 128/92 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 23/23 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 45/39 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 82
2018-19 averages: 82 G | 31.9 MP | 20.7 PTS | 3.4 3PM | 5.0 REB | 2.5 AST | 0.7 STL | 0.4 BLK | 1.8 TOV | .458 FG% | .886 FT%
Hield followed up a strong 2017-18 campaign with an even better season this year, playing in all 82 games and finishing the year inside of the top-40 on a per game basis. The play of teammates De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley drew a significant amount of praise, but Hield is more than entitled to his fair share of appreciation. He shot a career best 46 percent from the field while managing to knock down the fourth highest number of threes (278) in the league behind only James Harden, Steph Curry and Paul George.
He also upped his rebound and assist production and managed to become much more of a fantasy asset at the line, shooting 89 percent on 2.4 attempts per game compared to 88 percent last season on only one attempt per game. A lot of that increase in counting stat production is simply because Hield played nearly 32 minutes per game as a starter, compared to the 25 minutes per night he saw last season as a reserve.
If there is anything to complain about in Hield’s fantasy production this year, it is the inability to generate steals. It was a major hole in his stat set his rookie year, but he seemed to turn a corner last year, averaging 1.1 per game. However, that success did not carry forward this year as he produced a meager 0.7 steals per game.
The good news is despite regressing in defensive stat production, he was still one of the more consistent players this season and cruised to a top-40 per game finish. If he manages to hover around the one steal per game mark next season, there is a shot that he finishes as a top-30 player next season. Even better, owners may still be able to get Hield at somewhat of a discount relative to his production given the much flashier options surrounding him.
ADP: 82/118 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 31/43 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 53/70 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 81
2018-19 averages: 81 G | 31.4 MP | 17.3 PTS | 1.1 3PM | 3.8 REB | 7.3 AST | 1.6 STL | 0.6 BLK | 2.8 TOV | .458 FG% | .727 FT%
Fox came into the season locked and loaded as the Kings’ starting point guard with no apparent challenger for minutes, and delivered a breakout season in which he flashed the potential to become a legitimate star in the league moving forward. To keep it short, the statistical areas where Fox improved include just about all of them. From per-36 numbers to advanced stats, Fox not only increased statistical output nearly uniformly, he did so by large margins in most cases.
Coming out of college, we were fairly certain that Fox could make an impact in the assist and steal categories, but there were significant questions about efficiency and the ability to develop any consistency in his jump shot. After shooting 41 percent from the floor (31 percent from deep) as a rookie, Fox made significant strides as a shooter, going 46 percent from the field and 37 percent from downtown.
Much of that efficiency gain comes down to shot selection. As a percentage of his overall shots this season compared to last, four percent more came at the rim, nine percent fewer came from mid-range and long twos, and two percent more came from beyond the arc. Unfortunately, those efficiency gains stop as soon as we look at free throw percentage. As a 73 percent shooter from the line on 5.1 attempts per game, he does some damage in that category. Given the fact that in college he hovered around the same percentage, it is hard to project him becoming anything more than a neutral impact in the category.
Fox was a draft day steal for those that took a late flier on him, but the same may not be true next season. With exciting young players, there can be a tendency to hype up their successes and downplay their deficiencies. Depending on how much buzz is out there, managers may need to spend an early-to-mid round pick on Fox under the assumption that he will develop further into a top-40 player. He may well take another step forward, but it is far from a sure thing, making his potential draft price a risk.
ADP: NA/129 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 103/95 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 134/117 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 77
2018-19 averages: 77 G | 23.2 MP | 9.6 PTS | 1.3 3PM | 5.8 REB | 1.9 AST | 0.7 STL | 0.7 BLK | 1.1 TOV | .479 FG% | .761 FT%
Add Bjelica to the growing list of Kings’ players that exceeded expectations this season. He likely went undrafted in plenty of leagues and managed to provide top-75 value over the first few months of the season. Bjelica should be commended for producing career-high numbers despite being a central pawn in the Cold War that would eventually turn hot between then-coach Dave Joerger and the Kings’ higher-ups.
Bjelica was brought in by Vlade Divac on a relatively lucrative multi-year deal despite Marvin Bagley being selected 2nd overall by the Kings just a month earlier, presumably to provide floor spacing and veteran experience off the bench for a relatively green Kings core of Fox, Hield and Bagley. Joerger seemed to disagree with this, clearly preferring the veteran savvy of Bjelica to the inexperience of Bagley. As early as November last year, reports began to surface about tension between Joerger and the front office over a lack of playing time for Bagley and Giles.
Joerger stood his ground for some time, as the Kings continued to win games and remain in the hunt for a playoff berth, but as the season wore on Bjelica’s playing time began to steadily decrease as Bagley’s minutes ramped up and Giles found a more consistent role in the rotation. With Joerger now out the door, and Luke Walton assumed to take over (for now), it is probably safe to assume that next season Bjelica’s role will probably fall more in the 20-25 minute per night range. Unfortunately, that makes him more of a top-175 deep league player than the early season top-75 asset we enjoyed this year.
ADP: 90/111 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 99/90 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 138/122 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 81
2018-19 averages: 81 G | 27.3 MP | 11.9 PTS | 0.0 3PM | 8.4 REB | 2.4 AST | 1.2 STL | 0.6 BLK | 1.0 TOV | .556 FG% | .551 FT%
For a fourth consecutive season, Cauley-Stein finished outside of the top-100 on a per game basis. Despite the relatively pedestrian ranking, Cauley-Stein did manage to produce career-high rebound, steal and field goal percentage numbers. His career-low free throw efficiency (55.1 percent on 3.1 attempts per game) held him back significantly as a fantasy producer.
The improvements in per-minute production are a welcome sign, but barring a miraculous improvement at the line it is hard to imagine Cauley-Stein significantly raising his fantasy value. His block percentage has steadily declined from his rookie year, and that is generally not a stat that we can expect to improve as a player ages.
Cauley-Stein heads into the offseason a restricted free agent, so the Kings will have to decide whether he is the center of future in Sacramento if another team is willing to throw starting five money at the 25-year-old. His destination will likely have a huge impact on his fantasy value moving forward. If he slots in as a starter on the Kings or elsewhere, he will probably continue to be a top-100ish late round player for years to come. If he ends up in a bench role behind a more consistent starting five, his value could plummet outside of standard league relevance.
ADP: 131/121 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 117/120 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 116/126 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 70
2018-19 averages: 70 G | 27.8 MP | 14.1 PTS | 1.9 3PM | 3.5 REB | 3.8 AST | 1.0 STL | 0.2 BLK | 1.7 TOV | .418 FG% | .827 FT%
With two season now under his belt in the NBA, Bogdanovic still has yet to put it all together and deliver as a consistent top-100 fantasy player. After missing time early in the season rehabbing from a knee injury he suffered over the summer, it took Bogdanovic a bit of time to get his legs under him. He did have a strong finish down the stretch, scoring in double digits in each of his last 10 games.
On a per-minute basis, Bogdanovic did show some significant improvement nearly uniformly increasing his scoring, 3-point and assist numbers most dramatically. Combine the increased per-minute production with his consistent late-season production, and there is room for optimism of a top-75 season next year.
His jack of all trades stat-set is incredibly appealing, particularly in roto formats, but this season he really struggled to find the bottom of the net by shooting a borderline punt-worthy 41.8 percent on 12.3 attempts per game. Injury and inconsistent utilization likely play a large role in Bogdanovic’s inconsistent play, but as a 27-year-old entering what will be his third NBA season in 2019, we have to wonder how much room he has to improve.
ADP: 69/79 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 113/113 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 144/137 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 77
2018-19 averages: 77 G | 32.9 MP | 16.4 PTS | 2.3 3PM | 4.7 REB | 1.5 AST | 0.6 STL | 0.2 BLK | 1.3 TOV | .420 FG% | .824 FT%
Barnes came over from the Mavericks at the trade deadline and never quite seemed to adapt to his new surroundings, posting numbers outside of the top-200 over the past few weeks of the season. While Barnes didn’t play particularly well in Sacramento, he also hadn’t exactly been lighting things on fire this season in Dallas as he was only the 134th ranked player at the deadline largely thanks to lower than average shooting and rebound numbers.
At 27 years old, Barnes is largely a known commodity at this point. He provides steady production in points, threes and rebounds, which is an asset from a mid-to-late round player, but that is where his contributions end. He is a fairly one-dimensional fantasy player, but provides a solid lift in those areas where he does produce.
Barnes has a $25 million player option for next season, which he may choose to exercise. If he declines, the Kings would likely have to overpay relative to his production to keep Barnes. His time in Sacramento was rough, but the team struggled beyond just Barnes down the stretch and he was forced into action with little time to adjust. As long as he is playing 32-35 minutes, he should continue to post late-round top-125ish numbers wherever he lands, but would need at least 40 a night to be in the conversation at his ADP this season.
Marvin Bagley III
ADP: 91/125 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 157/162 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 145/148 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 62
2018-19 averages: 62 G | 25.3 MP | 14.9 PTS | 0.5 3PM | 7.6 REB | 1.0 AST | 0.5 STL | 1.0 BLK | 1.6 TOV | .504 FG% | .691 FT%
Bagley immediately became a polarizing prospect before even playing a single minute in the NBA simply because he was selected second overall over the likes of Luka Doncic and Trae Young. The Kings seemed to have a laser-locked focus on Bagley heading into the draft, and ended up with their guy.
He played with the inconsistency that can be expected from a rookie and battled injuries throughout the year (including a knee bone bruise), but exceeded expectations throughout the season. In only his second NBA game, Bagley made a statement with 19 points on 70 percent shooting with eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block in 32 minutes. Over the final 20 games of the season, he nearly missed out on the top-100 after averaging 17.9 points on 50 percent shooting with 0.9 threes, 8.9 rebounds and 0.2 blocks.
His stat set is a bit sparse when we look at peripheral stats outside of scoring and rebounding, but he did manage to average a block per game over the season and has some room to grow as a shot blocker and steal collector. He may never become a nightly triple-one type player, but it was encouraging to see that his potential for that production exists.
With Joerger out the door and a new head coach who was undoubtedly told that developing Bagley was a condition of the hiring, he is likely to play a significantly larger role next season and expand on what was an already encouraging rookie year. His stat set may limit his ultimate fantasy ceiling, but a top-100 campaign from Bagley next season with top-75 upside is not hard to imagine.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 212/211 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 229/230 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 64
2018-19 averages: 64 G | 21.5 MP | 8.8 PTS | 1.0 3PM | 3.7 REB | 2.0 AST | 0.6 STL | 0.3 BLK | 1.0 TOV | .405 FG% | .823 FT%
The Kings acquired Burks at the trade deadline to provide an added scoring punch to the bench unit. He played well in Cleveland, and pieced together a nice string of top-100 games on the talent-deprived and injury-riddled Cavs.
After joining the Kings, Burks went completely dark, scoring zero points with three rebounds and nothing else in 21 minutes in his second game with the team. It remained about that bad moving forward, as Burks was eventually phased out of the rotation entirely.
He enters the summer an unrestricted free agent, and given the mutually unpleasant experience with one another, it is probably safe to assume that he won’t be back in Sacramento. He’s had flashes of productivity, but at 27 years old and a resume riddled with inconsistent play it is hard to imagine he garners much attention as a free agent. His productivity with Cleveland justifies keeping an eye on him in 16-team leagues and deeper, but one very speculative eye is about all that is warranted.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 348/343 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 297/282 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 31
2018-19 averages: 31 G | 15.9 MP | 4.9 PTS | 0.5 3PM | 2.5 REB | 1.3 AST | 1.0 STL | 0.2 BLK | 0.6 TOV | .431 FG% | .721 FT%
Brewer was brought in on a 10-day contract after the trade deadline to provide depth on the wing and subsequently signed for the remainder of the season. His disruptive defensive style, which can be best described as slender man in a blender, earned him a consistent spot in the Kings’ rotation down the stretch and a spot in the heart of fantasy owners everywhere as he was able to rack up eight steals in four games over a portion of the fantasy playoffs.
Brewer doesn’t do much else outside of steals, but was among one of the better options for steals streaming available in deep leagues. He is an unrestricted free agent, but the Kings may opt to bring him back at a discount given his energetic style of play meshes well with the pace that they want to play at. If he comes back for another year with the Kings, keep him in mind as a steals streamer in deep leagues, but feel free to leave him on the wire otherwise.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 257/241 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 319/302 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 71
2018-19 averages: 71 G | 15.0 MP | 5.9 PTS | 0.8 3PM | 1.5 REB | 1.9 AST | 0.5 STL | 0.1 BLK | 0.5 TOV | .436 FG% | .896 FT%
After two relatively productive years with the Mavericks, Ferrell opted to sign with the Kings in free agency last summer on a two year $6.2 million deal. The second year of the deal was non-guaranteed, so the Kings could waive Ferrell prior to the start of the season and not suffer any hit to their cap figure.
In his two years with the Mavs, Ferrell was a fringe top-175 fantasy player in around 27 minutes per game, making him back-end roster worthy in 16-team leagues and deeper. This season, however, Ferrell struggled to find a consistent role and barely finished inside the top-300 in a limited bench role of around 15 minutes per night.
Sacramento may look to find a more reliable reserve guard in free agency to slot behind De’Aaron Fox. If they succeed, Ferrell could become expendable and waived before the July 4 deadline for teams to accept his contract option for 2019. He has been a productive source of threes, assists and steals, so deep-league managers should keep an eye on where he lands if waived by the Kings.
ADP: NA/141 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 288/302 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 307/348 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 58
2018-19 averages: 58 G | 14.1 MP | 7.0 PTS | 0.0 3PM | 3.8 REB | 1.5 AST | 0.5 STL | 0.4 BLK | 1.3 TOV | .503 FG% | .637 FT%
Giles got some burn last season in fantasy circles as a potential sleeper pick, trade deadline stash player and beyond, but never was able to put it all together with any consistency. His diverse per-minute statistical profile consisting of solid numbers in points, boards, blocks and steals is interesting, but the fact is that Giles is still largely an unknown commodity due to a limited high-level basketball sample size.
His ceiling is fairly apparent – big production in blocks, rebounds with efficient scoring to go along with some steals and out of position assists and potential to expand his range beyond the 3-point line. The defensive potential is plain to see with his long, athletic frame. He often passes the eye-test and looks like a plus defender out there, which is backed up by a solid 2.3 block percentage.
However, if he can’t get minutes, none of that matters.
His foul rate of 6.6 per 36 minutes currently limits his fantasy ceiling, but that will hopefully become less of an issue with experience. The bigger question following Dave Joerger’s dismissal (presumably over “are the Kings ready to let Willie Cauley-Stein walk as a RFA and commit to a Bagley-Giles frontcourt?”) is whether they will bring in stopgap veteran frontcourt help or even look to land one of the household name big men on the market this offseason.
Early free agency moves may help paint a picture of the Kings’ vision for their future frontcourt, but until we know more it is hard to recommend Giles as anything more than a late flier in fantasy drafts next season.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 354/354 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 388/387 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 42
2018-19 averages: 42 G | 11.9 MP | 3.7 PTS | 0.0 3PM | 4.2 REB | 0.9 AST | 0.4 STL | 0.4 BLK | 0.6 TOV | .477 FG% | .417 FT%
After being a fantasy relevant player in deep leagues for the past few years with the Kings, Koufos was relegated to playing largely spot minutes as this season progressed. When the minutes were there, he was a fairly reliable source of boards and the occasional block in deep leagues.
He enters the offseason an unrestricted free agent, and given the emphasis on developing Bagley and Giles, it seems unlikely that he returns to Sacramento unless it is on a bargain basement contract. He is 30 years old and past his prime, so wherever he lands his role will likely be minimal. Feel free to remove Koufos from any watch list outside of the deepest of leagues.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 400/393 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 352/329 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 21
2018-19 averages: 21 G | 14.9 MP | 5.3 PTS | 0.7 3PM | 2.8 REB | 0.5 AST | 0.5 STL | 0.1 BLK | 0.4 TOV | .449 FG% | .600 FT%
Despite a few notable early-season performances filling in the injured Bogdan Bogdanovic, Troy Williams spent most of the year in the G-League. His NBA averages are pretty meager, but he does have a fairly interesting jack-of-all trades type stat set if we consider his G-League numbers (19.7 points on 44 percent efficiency, 1.8 threes, 6.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.6 blocks).
He was on a two-way deal with the Kings this season with no guaranteed money owed in 2019, so it is hard to say where he ends up. He is 24 years old and not exactly lighting the G-League on fire, so don’t expect much from Williams moving forward. Feel free to keep on a watch list or add speculatively in 30-team dynasty leagues if he gets a guaranteed deal somewhere since he has shown the ability to pop off in the NBA from time-to-time between his time in Sacramento and New York.
Sign Richaun Holmes and glory awaits… that is all. Okay, maybe that is not the only thing the Kings need, but avoiding the urge to sink boatloads of cash in bigger ticket free agents in favor of lower profile budget options that fill key areas of need with depth could help them turn from an up-and-coming team to a legitimate playoff contender.
While adding some much needed depth behind at the point and in the frontcourt, the Kings need to find the right balance between continuing the positive momentum generated last season and developing young players that figure to be a part of this core for years to come.
Continuity and patience, not exactly the Kings’ strong suit in recent years, should become a mantra repeated daily from ownership to the front office down to the coaching staff. It is hard not to believe that the constant revolving door of coaches and front office staff has contributed to the team’s dysfunction.
Signing Nikola Vucevic to a max deal will not make this team a title contender overnight, and those with the power to make those decisions would be wise to remember that the road back to relevance will be long and bumpy, but short-cuts will almost certainly lead you off a cliff.
June 2, 2020, 10:02 pmCorey BrewerSF, Sacramento Kings
Corey Brewer, a veteran of eight different NBA teams, is still hoping to sign another contract before he calls it a career.
Brewer, 34, seems to think he has enough in the tank for one final stint in the NBA. “We had some talks with a few teams, but nothing really happened. My agent is still working on it, so we’ll see,” Brewer said. “I feel like I can still help a team and I feel like I have a few good years left. But you never know, man." Brewer has not suited up for an NBA team this season and, with a waning jump shot and increased age, his chances of securing another pact in the NBA are pretty unlikely.
June 2, 2020, 9:47 pmDeMarcus CousinsC, Los Angeles Lakers
Kings broadcaster Grant Napear stepped down from his position with the Kings on Tuesday after he said 'All Lives Matter..Every Single One!' when asked about his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement during a Twitter interaction with former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.
This is the first domino to fall in American professional sports in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement, even if it's a relatively insignificant one. Napear said of himself and the interaction, "I’m not as educated on BLM as I thought I was. I had no idea that when I said 'All Lives Matter' that it was counter to what BLM was trying to get across," he said. "I’m in pain. I’m 60 years old and I still have a lot to learn." The Kings will evidently have to find a new play-by-play man for their radio broadcasts to accompany Doug Christie when games resume.
June 2, 2020, 8:45 pmJohn WallPG, Washington Wizards
John Wall, who has long been rumored to have absolutely zero chance of returning to the court even if the current season is resumed, said in a conference call last week that he feels "110 percent."
Wall and the Wizards both maintain that he will not return to action this season, regardless of the outcome of the vote on Thursday by the NBA Board of Governors. This is good news, obviously, for the team as they set their sights on next season. As of late, trade rumors have been swirling around the franchise's two top assets: Wall and All Star guard Bradley Beal. Moving forward, there is a high possibility that the Wizards will decide between the two, as Beal's contract will expire after next season. Which player will the Wizards keep? Who will they trade, or will they trade them both? They are hoping to have some time to evaluate how the pair plays in tandem early next season, as Wall has missed significant time with a torn left Achilles he suffered during the 2018-19 season. But it may be too late to negotiate an extension with Beal at that point, so they will have to play their cards with extreme care.
Source: The Athletic
June 2, 2020, 8:27 pmBradley BealSG, Washington Wizards
Wes Unseld, a Hall of Famer and Washington Bullets legend, passed away on Tuesday due to complications with pneumonia and other illnesses. He was 74 years old.
An outstanding rebounder, Unseld is also one of only two players to ever be awarded Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season in 1968-69. He guided the Bullets to the NBA Finals four times, winning once in 1978, a series where Unseld took home MVP honors. Hornets' GM and former teammate Mitch Kupchak said of Unseld, “As a teammate, he was tough, dependable and competitive to no end.” Unseld was a fearless competitor and highly respected across the league during his 13 seasons with the Bullets franchise. Former Knicks center and fellow Hall of Famer Willis Reed recently recalled their battles against one another, "He was most consciously a rebounder — he could shoot, but he didn’t emphasize that part of his game — and felt that if he did his job right, by getting the defensive rebound and making the quick outlet pass, they would score quickly.” Unseld was undoubtedly a pioneer for the game of basketball and means a great deal to the city of Washington D.C.
Source: Rick Bonnell on Twitter
June 2, 2020, 7:58 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
ESPN's Adrian Wojanrowski is reporting that Adam Silver and the NBA Board of Governors, who are planning to vote Thursday on how to continue the season, would like the NBA Finals to conclude no later than October 12.
With July 31 being the widely-reported restart date and the league tentatively planning to start 𝘯𝘦𝘹𝘵 season by Christmas Day of this year, it would make sense to crown a league champion as early as possible. The meeting with the NBA Board of Governors on Thursday will (finally) bring some clarity to the rest of the NBA season, as they will hold a vote to decide how to proceed. NBA fans have been waiting since the middle of March for some resolutions. This week will provide them.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
June 2, 2020, 12:28 pmStephen CurryPG, Golden State Warriors
The Warriors opened their practice facility on Monday, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic.
Slater adds that five players showed up for voluntary workouts. It's the first time that Golden State's gym has been open in over two months, and there are only three teams who have yet to get players back into team facilities. While it must be nice for the players to get back to some kind of business, the Warriors are not expected to be playing any more games this season given their league-worst record and the likelihood that the NBA trims the fat rather than ask every team to play out the season.
Source: Anthony Slater on Twitter
May 31, 2020, 8:10 pmKz OkpalaF, Miami Heat
Kz Okpala's offensive game has come a long way since January according to Heat Vice President and Assistant GM, Adam Simon.
Okpala is already viewed as an NBA-ready defender, and once his offensive game is up to speed the Heat will have a hard time not getting him into the rotation. He spent 20 games in the G League and five with the Heat before the suspension slowed down his progression in 2020. Okpala got off to a slow start due to injuries, and a trade on draft day took away his chance to play in summer league. While this season is unlikely to amount to anything, Okpala is someone to watch in deeper leagues next year.
Source: Miami Herald
May 31, 2020, 8:03 pmGabe VincentPG, Miami Heat
Heat Vice President and Assistant GM, Adam Simon, stated that Gabe Vincent's knee is "good to go".
It sounds like Vincent would have no problem being NBA ready if the Heat decided to call up the two-way guard when play hopefully resumes July 31. Vincent is a strong 3-point shooter with the ability to attack a closeout, but it is still unlikely the Heat will need to put him on the floor for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.
Source: Miami Herald
May 31, 2020, 7:51 pmShake MiltonSG, Philadelphia Sixers
According to projections by Mike O'Connor and Derek Bodner of The Athletic, Shake Milton will be a starter for the Sixers whenever play relaunches.
Milton was thriving for the Sixers when the season was suspended due to COVID-19, and some risk remains that Ben Simmons will bump him from the rotation when the stoppage in play is lifted. In 16 starts with the Sixers, Milton averaged 14.1 points, 2.2 3-pointers, 3.6 assists, 3 rebounds and 1.1 steals. As a 3-pointer specialist along, Milton has earned a slot in 12-team formats, but things are going to be more difficult when he is forced to play off-ball in a fully healthy lineup in Philadelphia
Source: The Athletic
May 31, 2020, 7:42 pmKevin DurantSF, Brooklyn Nets
On a recent ESPN podcast featuring Adrian Wojnarowski and his colleague Zach Lowe, Wojnarowski stated that Kevin Durant (torn Achilles) would not play for the Nets this year.
Wojnarowski went onto say that he had no source that had relayed that information to him. The Nets have largely been deferring to Durant and the medical staff when it comes to his prospects for playing this year. While the organization may get hopeful that KD will lace it up for a playoff run, all signs are still pointing to him waiting until 2020-21.
Source: Anthony Puccio on Twitter