• It took almost three weeks for the Kings to make a move in free agency, but Vlade Divac and the team’s front office suddenly sprung into action on July 20, securing guard Yogi Ferrell and forward Nemanja Bjelica on multi-year contracts. Ferrell’s fit with the Kings is seemingly perfect. He’ll slot right in as the backup point guard and will help with the team’s up-tempo aspirations. Bjelica’s fit, however, is a little more questionable.

    At 6-foot-10 he’s naturally a power forward, who can stretch the floor – that’s where he’s played for most of his career. However, last season Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau asked him to play small forward, almost exclusively, when All-Star Jimmy Butler went down with a knee injury. Despite his uptick in minutes at the three, many are still skeptical of the Kings’ plans to reportedly deploy him there next season. There’s no denying he’s a fantastic outside shooter, hitting a career-high 41.5 percent of his 3-point attempts last season, but his ability to defend more athletic wings is still a major question mark.

    Kevin Brand of Hoop Ball Wolves shared his insight on Bjelica’s fit with the Kings, how he’ll manage being deployed as a small forward and what he’ll bring defensively.

    Q: Is the three-year, $20.5 million deal the Kings gave Bjelica an overpay? Or do you believe that’s fair value?

    A: In this offseason? Perhaps. I believe in a fair market (for the players) this is about the right value, though. Even looking forward his contract could become a real solid asset on the trade market with that third year being non-guaranteed. He’s a solid fit for many teams and while the window for his services may not perfectly align with the Kings’ competitive window, I think there’s a good chance he gives them a net-positive return on investment.

    Q: Bjelica is predominately known as a power forward, but Butler’s injury opened up minutes for him at small forward last season. How did he perform on both sides of the ball and do you think he could play there full-time?

    A: Bjelica’s offensive game aligns better as a stretch-four, where he can catch-and-shoot beyond the arc, initiate some offense or move without the ball. He doesn’t have much of a post-up game (you can count on two hands and a foot how many post-ups Bjelica had last season) and isn’t a slasher that will finish through contact. Defensively he showed he is actually fairly versatile, though, and can guard both forward positions.

    There was a five-game stretch that sticks out to me when he was stepping in for Butler. It was by far the toughest portion of the Wolves’ schedule. He went up against Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant, Otto Porter Jr., Danny Green and Trevor Ariza in consecutive games, and held each player below their scoring averages while averaging 15.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.5 3-pointers per game in his own right.

    Bjelica doesn’t have the athleticism to match any of these players, but he has surprisingly quick reaction speed and enough length that made even Durant second-guess pulling the trigger. He’s a smart defender that not only understands team defense but enjoys it.

    Could he be deployed as a small forward full-time? Probably not. A five-game sample is too small to draw definitive conclusions; there would be too many holes for his teammates to cover and inconsistency has always plagued his game. In short spurts with the right matchups, it’s definitely plausible, though. He does a better job of blending in and preventing mistakes than taking command and making something happen. It could be trouble if he’s asked to clean up his teammates’ mistakes every night.

    Q: What’s his defense like at both forward spots?

    A: As a power forward, Bjelica is comfortable defending on the block as he doesn’t shy away from contact. He’s not a real threat for weak-side help or rim protection but is a mediocre one-on-one defender than can guard out to the 3-point line and won’t totally kill you.

    As a small forward he is prone to getting beat off the dribble but recovers moderately well thanks to his length. He’s not a big gambler on defense and stays within himself, knowing it’s just not part of his skill set. He’s adept at fighting through screens (again, not afraid of contact) and navigating traffic.

    He’s also a very solid pick-and-roll defender both on the ball and as the help.

    Bjelica is most suitable guarding power forwards but can theoretically switch onto wings. If he’s deployed next to a solid rim protector or big body, Bjelica can certainly carry his weight away from the basket. It’s possible to even envision him as a small-ball five if the matchups dictate it, although he’s never done that in his NBA career to this point. By no means is he a lock-down defender, but he’s not a total loss on that end and the mistakes aren’t a consistent occurrence. He’ll spot something he does wrong in a game and try to fix that as soon as possible.

    Q: Do you think he’ll be a valuable addition to the Kings considering their current rebuilding situation and the other players on the roster?

    A: The fit is a little bit odd with the current glut of big men, but he does provide a different skill set at the power forward position than what they already have. He’s also an actual option to deploy at small forward in a pinch.

    Assuming Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles are the future, having someone around like Kosta Koufos becomes quite important to clean up the mistakes. A big rotation of those three and Bjelica makes some sense. Zach Randolph doesn’t really fit into any picture, Willie Cauley-Stein would ideally be a good fit but seems to be caught in an identity crisis and Skal Labissiere is Bjelica with some upside but far less polish.

    If Bjelica steps into Randolph’s minutes, whether it’s off the bench or starting, that would be a pretty solid boost for the Kings on both sides of the ball. He is not a ball-stopper offensively (sometimes to a fault) and could stretch the floor for De’Aaron Fox while getting more shots to Bogdan Bogdanovic and/or Buddy Hield.

    How they decide to shake out the rotation is anyone’s guess, but from an outsider’s perspective, Bjelica’s presence makes Randolph and Cauley-Stein expendable if they’re willing to go all-in on the Duke duo from the get-go. Otherwise it feels like the 30-year old would be merely blocking potential on-court development time.

    At the very least Bjelica will offer a well-rounded game (albeit with some inconsistency) and a terrific locker-room presence. Beli was a fan-favorite in the Minneapolis community and while many were sad to see him go, they were at the same time pleased he was able to break free of Tom Thibodeau’s clutches and hopefully blossom elsewhere.

    Hopefully, he finds success with the Kings, he has many people rooting for him from afar.

Fantasy News

  • Anthony Davis - F/C - Los Angeles Lakers

    According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Pelicans and Lakers will complete the Anthony Davis trade on July 6.

    July 6 is the first day that trades can be processed and it will drastically impact the Lakers' cap space. The Lakers would rather process the trade in late July, at least 30 days after the draft, so that they will have $32.5 million in cap rather than $23.4. Wojnarowski also reported that Davis is unlikely to waive his $4 million trade kicker which will also hamper LA's cap space. If the Lakers can't put together enough for a max contract player, it'll throw a big wrench into free agency. With this story constantly evolving, stay tuned for updates.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Clint Capela - C - Houston Rockets

    The Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets are considered to be the two main teams exploring trade scenarios for Clint Capela according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.

    With the biggest trade chip of the summer in Anthony Davis off the table, Capela figures to be next in line to draw significant interest around the league. In the Celtics scenario, Capela could either play alongside Horford or become his replacement depending on what Horford decides on his player option. However, seeing how reluctant they were to include some of their big assets in the AD trade, the same could be the case here. For the Brooklyn side it would be tough to imagine them pulling off a deal for Capela that doesn't involve moving Jarrett Allen, as the two have too similar of games to really play them together. This is all obviously very much in the speculation stage, but it is worth keeping an eye on both of these teams in regards to the Rockets' big man as the summer's arms race heads into full swing.

    Source: Steve Kyler on Twitter

  • Jayson Tatum - F - Boston Celtics

    The Celtics were unwilling to include Jayson Tatum in negotiations for Anthony Davis according to Marc Stein of the New York Times.

    It appears that the Celtics were never truly players in the AD sweepstakes, as it's tough to imagine talk went very far without Tatum in the fold. In the wake of this deal, it is becoming more and more apparent that the Celtics are prepared to pivot to handing Tatum the keys to the franchise, especially considering their chances of resigning Kyrie Irving appear to be dwindling by the day. Tatum did not have the breakout campaign many were hoping for in his second year, but if he goes into next season as Boston's clear cut number one option perhaps he could be in line for said breakout in year three.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • David Griffin - Team - New Orleans Pelicans

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that multiple teams are already indicating significant interest in acquiring the No. 4 pick in next week's draft, which now belongs to the Pelicans.

    In case you missed it, the Pelicans have agreed to trade Anthony Davis to the Lakers for a package that includes the fourth selection in the 2019 draft, which the Pelicans may flip to get a quality roster player or another young asset. David Griffin stood firm in his requests on a Davis deal, and although he was unable to get Kyle Kuzma included in the trade, the Pelicans came away with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, two future first-rounders and the No. 4 pick in next week's draft, which could lead to more picks or additional players. Expect New Orleans to be at the center of plenty of rumors over the next few days.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Anthony Davis - F/C - Los Angeles Lakers

    Despite being traded to one of his only preferred long-term destinations, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports is reporting that Anthony Davis will still enter free agency next summer.

    Davis could sign an extension this summer but he will play out the string and try to maximize his earnings. The Lakers have a year to sell Davis on remaining in Los Angeles, and one imagines that playing with LeBron James and whichever other stars that duo can lure to Staples Center is a pretty good pitch in and of itself. Davis has earned the right to test the market as one of the top players in the game but it would go down as a mild surprise if he didn't end up happy in the one place he's been clamoring for since the start of the saga. Not that unexpected things haven't happened in the NBA before, of course.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter

  • Josh Hart - G - New Orleans Pelicans

    Josh Hart will be traded to the Pelicans, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

    Hart gives the Pelicans a third young asset to go along with three first-round picks, joining Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram in the deal. He battled knee injuries throughout last season but proved to be one of the more versatile and effective players on a laughable Lakers roster. A jack of all trades and master of none, expect Hart to fill multiple roles off the bench for a Pelicans team that hasn't gotten consistent wing production in the recent past. It's a tough spot for fantasy value, however, as he's now blocked in the backcourt by Ball and Jrue Holiday.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Kemba Walker - G - Charlotte Hornets

    Following Saturday's blockbuster acquisition of Anthony Davis, Marc Stein is reporting that the Lakers will make Kemba Walker one of their top targets in free agency.

    It makes sense, as point guard is a major position of weakness on the roster with Lonzo Ball headed to New Orleans. Walker and Kyrie Irving are the top of the PG class, and though Charlotte can offer Kemba a boatload of money on a supermax deal, it's impossible to argue that they give him the same shot at winning that the Lakers do now.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • Brandon Ingram - F - New Orleans Pelicans

    ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Brandon Ingram is included in Saturday's Anthony Davis trade.

    Ingram will step right into a prominent role for the Pelicans, who have struggled to find production out of the small forward slot in recent years. His fantasy game still has plenty of holes but he should make a decent late-round flier if you're hunting for someone who can bring some points, rebounds and the occasional defensive stat. Be wary of his percentages, but a young, rebuilding squad with an eye on the long-term future is a nice spot for Ingram to land. Keep in mind that Ingram's season was cut short by deep vein thrombosis in his right arm, though he is expected to be ready for next season.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Lonzo Ball - G - New Orleans Pelicans

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Lonzo Ball will be headed to the Pelicans as part of the Anthony Davis trade.

    Ball will be joined by Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks. There were reports last season that the Ball camp doesn't feel New Orleans is the best basketball fit for his career, though a pairing of Ball and Jrue Holiday would provide elite defense. With Ball presumably headed to a roster that will actually build around him rather than make him a role player, it's possible that he turns in a big bounce-back fantasy season. His health looms over everything, but a healthy Ball in a featured role could still deliver on all his pre-draft hype.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Anthony Davis - F/C - Los Angeles Lakers

    The Pelicans have agreed to trade Anthony Davis to the Lakers for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 selection in next week's draft, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

    This is the big domino to fall in what's expected to be a crazy offseason, and Davis heading to the Lakers will have a ripple effect that changes things drastically for numerous other teams. A Davis-LeBron James duo is about as good as it gets, and the Lakers have to be considered title contenders as they shift their attention to filling out the rest of the roster. They've now become one of the most attractive destinations for free agents and have to feel good about retaining Davis long-term, all while retaining Kyle Kuzma. New Orleans can start fresh around presumed top pick Zion Williamson and Jrue Holiday, and it's possible that they dangle the No. 4 pick in the draft to help acquire a player that can provide immediate help to the roster. Getting three young players and three first-rounders is nice business for a team dealing a player who was hammering away at their leverage.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter