August 23, 2016, 9:11 am
Vlade Divac was given control of one of the most volatile franchises in recent memory last year when the Kings decided it was time to move on from then-General Manager Pete D’allesandro. The team had just fired it’s best coach since Rick Adelman, and replaced him with someone who, months later, would start a summer long (season-long) feud with franchise player DeMarcus Cousins.
The roster left a lot to be desired as well. The Kings had very few assets aside from Cousins, and were fairly limited in their ability to trade future draft picks. Beyond that, his job was to somehow build a team around Cousins with virtually no trade assets or cap space, and it had to be done in the next three seasons, before Cousins would hit free agency.
This is what happens when a franchise doesn’t get anything from the lottery. After years of trying to build a team around Cousins and wasting draft picks, the team had backed itself into a corner. They wouldn’t be able to attract big name free agents, and they didn’t have the ability to make big trades.
Now one summer later, the Kings have one more season left to try to convince Cousins that the team is headed in the right direction. This meant that this off-season would be a completely new test for the front office.
So what did they do? They addressed the biggest problem that the team has had over the last few years, which meant finally recognizing that this team needed more young talent. Ever since the team was sold, they had been pushing themselves to compete when the new arena opened, even when that goal became more and more unrealistic, which ended up hurting the team more than anything.
This new ownership group took control and recognized that the fans had been frustrated with the regular mediocrity, but seem to have misread that frustration as a desire to win as quickly as possible. It’s true that Kings fans desperately wanted a winning team, but above all else they wanted the stability and proper management that the team had so sorely lacked in the past.
What has always needed to happen was proper rebuilding. Acquiring assets, and then either developing them or trading them when the time was right. The Maloofs had no interest in running the franchise, and the Ranadive regime got too impatient early on, so this step was skipped over. Because of this, the team lacked the depth to make the significant trades that it needed to make, and had seemingly done nothing to try to address that.
This summer has been different though. It’s important for me to note that Divac did an amazing job hiring Dave Joerger, a very well respected coach that should be a great building block going forward. Coaches like this very rarely end up in Sacramento, so this should absolutely be remembered as a win for Divac.
Divac was also very smart to not overspend during a free agency period where seemingly every team overspent. By keeping their cap sheet clean, he has allowed them flexibility going forward, and preparing the team to make smart free agency decisions in the future.
Where he received the most criticism, much of which was unwarranted, was in the draft. Divac turned Marco Belinelli into a first round pick, an incredible return considering what most of us expected the Kings to get for him, and also turned the team’s first round pick into three.
Looking back at the team’s options, it’s not hard to see why they did what they did. This draft seemed to have a clear top eight and then a seemingly unclear 9-30. With the Kings owning the eigth pick, this meant that their choice was virtually made for them, and it would be whoever fell out of that top eight, which ended up being Marquese Chriss.
I’m not going to pretend to be a draft expert. I won’t know how these players work out until they either do or don’t, but I will take a stab at reading into what others have said about them.
Chriss was seen as a player with huge upside and a huge potential to bust, meaning that a team that doesn’t have a ton of faith in his ability to reach his upside would probably be better off passing than taking him and risking it. It’s hard to know how the team evaluated him, but it’s safe to say that they saw more value in adding later picks and Bogdan Bogdanovic than taking Chriss.
And as far as those picks go, I saw many mock drafts putting Skal Labissiere in the lottery, and Malachi Richardson was seen as a player that could have gone earlier than he did as well. Both are noted to be high upside picks, which should be a welcome addition to a roster desperate for young potential.
The Georgios Papagiannis pick was seen as a reach, but if Vlade truly believes in him, and didn’t think he would be available later, then he needs to trust himself and his scouting department to make tough calls like that. Bogdan Bogdanovic has looked really good this summer as well.
This is where I believe Vlade has done well. The team went and got first round picks in a trade for the first time in years. Divac showed patience when the team needed it most, and got the team multiple usable assets going forward.
This group of young players also happens to fit in perfectly with either direction the Kings choose. Should the team decide to move on from Cousins, they should expect an enormous package for him. Cousins is the most dominant center in the NBA and any team would love to have him. This group of young players, plus Willie Cauley-Stein and whatever we get back in a theoretical Cousins trade should be an incredible base to build from, and should give the franchise plenty of opportunity to move forward even with our future picks somewhat tied up.
If the team can convince Cousins to stay, then this group should serve as many different things for the team. They now have the opportunity to develop their young talent, and see who fits and who doesn’t, or they could end up packaging some of it in a trade down the line. The team hasn’t had much to trade in the last few years, and have recognized that they will need to make trades going forward if they expect to add big players going forward.
Either way, the team needed to get younger, and that’s exactly what Divac did. He had dealt with a lack of trade assets, and recognized what he needed to do to address that problem. People haven’t agreed with every decision that he’s made, but the Kings are in a better place than they were before the summer.
June 5, 2020, 3:31 pmDejounte MurrayPG, San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs were dealing with injuries to LaMarcus Aldridge, Dejounte Murray, Jakob Poeltl and Lonnie Walker IV before the season was halted, but all four are expected to be "good to go" when the NBA resumes action.
Poeltl (MCL sprain) was dealing with the most significant injury of the bunch, and if he's ready then everyone else will be as well. Aldridge was day-to-day with a shoulder strain, while Murray and his strained calf were the biggest headache for fantasy GMs before the season stopped. Initially given no timetable for return, he's ready to go and will split the PG work with Derrick White as the Spurs try to extend their playoff streak.
Source: The Athletic
June 5, 2020, 3:26 pmDarius BazleyPF, Oklahoma City Thunder
Darius Bazley has recovered from a right knee bone bruise that he suffered in February.
We're going to say that he's healthy after he was spotted playing pickup games this past week. Bazley was set to be re-evaluated 4-6 weeks after sustaining the injury and is good to go. He's not a lock to receive minutes in the postseason but more depth options never hurt anybody.
Source: The Athletic
June 5, 2020, 3:25 pmAndre RobersonSG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Andre Roberson (left knee) may be able to play in the NBA's eight-game regular season, per The Athletic's Erik Horne.
Roberson has been out since January of 2018 thanks to a ruptured patellar tendon and some subsequent setbacks, but he said back in April that he's past the rehab stage of his recovery. It would be tough to envision the Thunder granting Roberson a big role considering the severity of his injury and the length of his layoff, but there's a chance that the defensive stopper can make some impact for the team down the stretch. Either way, it will be great to see him back on the floor again.
Source: The Athletic
June 5, 2020, 2:01 pmJonathan IsaacPF, Orlando Magic
Jonathan Isaac (left knee) has been running on a low-impact treadmill for about two weeks now.
Isaac went down at the beginning of January with what was thought to be a season-ending injury, involving a posterior lateral corner injury and a medial bone contusion — i.e., a severe sprain and a bone bruise. At that point he was set to be re-evaluated in 8-10 weeks, and while we're well past those timelines, Isaac does appear to be moving along in his recovery. It remains to be seen if he'll be available for Orlando's postseason chase or if the Magic would even bother risking his bright future at this point.
Source: The Athletic
June 5, 2020, 1:26 pmEvan FournierSF, Orlando Magic
Evan Fournier (right UCL sprain) is fully recovered.
Fournier was supposed to be looking at an "extended absence" when he first went down in March, slamming the brakes on what was a top-70 season. The fact that he's healthy again will be a huge lift to the Magic, who currently occupy the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. They only need to hold off the Wizards to earn a playoff berth but also have an outside chance at jumping over the Nets to take the seventh spot.
Source: The Athletic
June 5, 2020, 1:21 pmKevin DurantSF, Brooklyn Nets
Kevin Durant (Achilles) will not return to the court this season, per Anthony Puccio.
There were whispers that KD might be able to get back on the floor given the extra few months of the season, and especially after he's started to appear in workout videos, but it has been repeatedly speculated that Durant would not return during the 2019-20 season under any circumstance. There's no sense in having Durant shake off the rust in an intense setting, even if he may be capable of contributing right now. Brooklyn's eyes are rightfully on next season as far as serious contention goes.
Source: Anthony Puccio on Twitter
June 4, 2020, 2:00 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
The Board of Governors has approved the NBA's 22-team format to restart the 2019-20 season.
The vote was 29-1. It was widely expected that the format would get the go-ahead, even though more than one team didn't fully support the proposed plan, and the NBA has at least settled on what the season will look like once it's able to resume. They have also set the draft lottery for August 25 and the draft for October 15. The biggest hurdles remain anything that has to do with COVID-19, and to this point the league has yet to say anything about those challenges, but there is plenty of forward momentum these days.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
June 3, 2020, 9:23 pmEnes KanterC, Boston Celtics
Sean Deveney reported that "multiple agents say not all players are on board with an NBA return".
One agent said, "Most of the guys are excited, fired up, they want to get back out there. Those are 95 percent of the conversations I have had". There are players that feel the money is not worth putting themselves and their families at risk. Enes Kanter weighed in on the topic, saying "there are some other team's players out there, that they don't want to play. They're like, 'It's just a game. I'm not going to risk my life". It is likely that the high-profile players will still play, but it looks like some role players may not be willing to take the risk to join their team when the NBA season resumes.
June 3, 2020, 4:39 pmDerrick RosePG, Detroit Pistons
The Pistons announced that they plan to reopen team facilities on Thursday, allowing voluntary individual workouts while following all the social-distancing guidelines.
Although the Pistons' season is likely over as they are not one of the 22 teams that will continue to play if the Board of Governors vote to ratify the plan on Thursday, this will allow players to stay in shape for the 2020-21 season which is expected to start in December.
Source: James Edwards III
June 3, 2020, 11:41 amZion WilliamsonPF, New Orleans Pelicans
Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Pelicans, Blazers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Wizards will be the six non-playoff teams resuming action when the NBA restarts.
This makes complete sense, as they're the only non-playoff teams that can sniff the postseason. Woj backs up an earlier Shams Charania report about a potential play-in tournament for the final playoff spot in each Conference as well. If the ninth seed trails the eighth seed by more than four games when the league's truncated regular season wraps up, the eighth seed makes the playoffs. If the deficit is under four games, however, the two teams will compete in a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for the ninth.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter