- James Ham of The Kings Beat examines the Kings‘ new-look roster to see if they’ve upgraded enough to break their long playoff drought.
Dellavedova will receive a partial guarantee of $250K if he’s not waived before Sacramento’s first game of the regular season, then would lock in his full $2.63MM guarantee if he remains under contract through the NBA’s league-wide guarantee deadline of January 7.
Here are a few more details on recently signed NBA contracts:
- Rodney McGruder‘s one-year, minimum-salary deal with the Pistons is fully guaranteed, Hoops Rumors has learned. That gives Detroit 17 players on guaranteed contracts, though one of those players (Kemba Walker) is very likely to be bought out. The Pistons would still have to trade or release one more player with a guaranteed salary in order to get to the 15-man regular season limit.
- Kevin Knox‘s two-year, $6MM contract with the Pistons is worth a flat $3MM in each of the two seasons. While the first year is guaranteed, the deal includes a team option for the 2023/24 season.
- As expected, Goran Dragic‘s one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Bulls and JaMychal Green‘s with the Warriors are both fully guaranteed.
2:03pm: It’s a one-year, partially guaranteed contract for Dellavedova, reports Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).
Dellavedova, who will turn 32 in September, has 447 regular season NBA appearances under his belt, having spent eight years playing for the Cavaliers and Bucks. However, he was limited to just 13 games with Cleveland in 2020/21 (his last NBA season) due to various health issues, including a concussion and an emergency appendectomy.
The Australian guard returned home to play for Melbourne United this past season and had a solid season with the club, averaging 10.6 PPG, 4.9 APG, and 3.0 RPG on .407/.380/.756 shooting in 27 contests (25.3 MPG).
Dellavedova reportedly worked out for the Kings and new head coach Mike Brown – who coached the veteran in Cleveland – in Las Vegas earlier this month in the hopes of earning a camp invite. Sacramento has been on the lookout for point guard depth, having also been linked to Quinn Cook.
While the terms of Dellavedova’s new contract aren’t yet known, it will almost certainly be worth the veteran’s minimum. It’s possible his salary won’t be fully guaranteed, but I expect he’ll have an opportunity to earn a regular season roster spot this fall.
Kings rookie forward Keegan Murray, the fourth pick in the 2022 draft out of Iowa, underwent surgery on his right wrist following this year’s Las Vegas Summer League, per James Ham of ESPN 1320 (Twitter link).
Ham calls the surgery “minor,” and says the operation was necessary to “clean out some loose bodies” in Murray’s wrist. The right-hander has already returned to the hardwood following his procedure and is currently shooting with his left hand while the right wrist continues to recover, according to Ham.
The Kings anticipate Murray will return to the floor in time for the start of the 2022/23 regular season, Ham adds. Sean Cunningham of Fox 40 KTXL tweets that Sacramento does not expect the No. 4 overall pick to miss the team’s training camp, slated to tip off in September.
Murray enjoyed a robust Summer League stint. His output earned him the 2022 Summer League MVP award. The 6’8″ wing averaged 23.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.0 APG, and 1.3 SPG across four contests, while connecting on 50% of his field goal looks, 40% of his long-range attempts, and 80.8% of his free throws.
- James Ham of Kings Beat offers four suggestions on how the Kings can improve their defense for the upcoming season.
After working to create a culture change in Minnesota last season, Patrick Beverley was looking forward to helping the Timberwolves take the next step. Although he was caught off guard by the team’s decision to send him to the Jazz in the Rudy Gobert trade, Beverley told Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston he wouldn’t call the move a surprise (video link).
“Surprised, no not in this business,” Beverley said. “Understood it. Never personal, always business. We did some great things in Minnesota. We kind of revamped the environment there. Gave the fans something to be happy about.”
Beverley brought a veteran presence to a young Wolves team that reached the playoffs for just the second time in the past 18 seasons. He hopes to fill a similar role for Utah, but admits that things are unpredictable in the midst of Donovan Mitchell trade rumors.
“We’ll see what happens in the next couple of weeks. It’s a lot going on right now,” Beverley said (video link). “We’ll see where the dust clears. Hopefully Donovan Mitchell stays and the team is competitive. If that’s the case we’re very excited.”
There’s more from the Northwest Division:
- The Knicks are still in position to make the best offer for Mitchell, but Jazz CEO Danny Ainge has the advantage of being able to wait until someone meets his price, notes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. Larsen examines the trade assets from the Hawks, Hornets, Heat, Kings, Raptors and Wizards – all rumored Mitchell suitors – to see what they could potentially offer.
- Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard considers himself fully recovered from abdominal surgery in January, according to Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report. Lillard played 29 games last season before deciding to have the operation, but he admits that the pain had been bothering him for nearly five years. “I feel 100 percent healthy,” Lillard said. “I got a break from playing and going out there knowing I didn’t feel good, and the burden of, ‘We have to win. I have to perform well.’ That’s a little bit stressful. So the last seven-and-a-half, almost eight months without having to think about none of those things, it kind of cleared my mind. Physically, I feel great.”
- Longtime Sixers executive Vince Rozman will join the Thunder as vice president of identification and intelligence, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
This is the seventh installment in our series breaking down the major trades of the 2022 offseason. As opposed to giving out grades, this series will explore why the teams were motivated to make the moves. Let’s dive into a deal between the Hawks and Kings…
The day after free agency began, the Hawks agreed to send Kevin Huerter to the Kings in exchange for Justin Holiday, Maurice Harkless, and the Kings’ 2024 first-round pick (top-14 protected). If the pick doesn’t convey immediately, it would be top-12 protected in 2025 and top-10 protected in 2026. If it still hasn’t changed hands by that point, the Hawks would instead receive two second-rounders.
The Kings’ perspective:
After dealing Tyrese Haliburton to Indiana at the trade deadline for two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis, the Kings signaled that they were building around a couple of dynamic play-makers (the other being De’Aaron Fox), each of whom has a clear hole in his offensive repertoire: three-point shooting. The two lefties have almost identical career percentages from behind the arc, with Fox at 32.0% and Sabonis at 31.9%.
Modern NBA offenses thrive with proper spacing, so surrounding the duo with shooters was paramount. Sacramento was just 25th in the league in three-point makes, 21st in three-point attempts, and 24th in three-point percentage last season (34.4%).
Enter Huerter, who averaged 12.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG and 2.7 APG in 74 games in 2021/22 (60 starts, 29.6 MPG). A look into his shooting numbers reveals that Huerter was an above-average marksman from all over the court, with a 57% true shooting percentage (58th percentile), 62% at the rim (57th percentile), 48% from mid-range (88%), 38.9% from three-point range (82nd percentile), and 80.8% from the line (64th percentile), per DunksAndThrees.com.
Huerter’s ’21/22 counting stats are quite similar to his career marks of 11.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 3.2 APG in 274 games (216 starts, 29.6 MPG), so consistent year-to-year output has been a strong selling point for the shooting guard. He has shot between 38.0% and 38.9% from deep in three of his four seasons, with a career mark of 37.9%. He is particularly lethal from the corners, with a career mark of 43.1%, including 44.9% last season.
The 6’7″ Huerter fits in nicely with the timelines of Fox (24) and Sabonis (26), as he turns 24 next month (Davion Mitchell turns 24 in September, Malik Monk is also 24, and first-rounder Keegan Murray is 21). He’s also under contract for four more years, so he could become a fixture for the club for multiple seasons.
Although he is mostly known for his shooting prowess, Huerter is a solid secondary play-maker too, with a career assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.38-to-1. He’s a very capable passer who displays above-average vision for a two guard. That should come in handy for the Kings, who were just 22nd in the league in assists last season.
Huerter has proven to a be a capable low-end starter in the NBA, and I mean that as a compliment. Being among the 150 or so best players in the best league in the world is no easy task, and Huerter is in that group. Even he winds up coming off the bench for the Kings, he has still shown he should be considered in that tier and he’d be one of the league’s best reserves.
Huerter has two primary weaknesses. For one, he’s sometimes too passive on offense and avoids contact, which is why he has attempted fewer than one free throw per game in his career in nearly 30 minutes per contest, a very poor rate. That, in turn, is why his true shooting percentage has only been above league average once in his career (last season), despite the fact that he’s a strong shooter.
The second weakness is that he’s a slightly below-average defender. He’s just an okay rebounder, and he’s skinny and can be pushed around even though he’s tall for his position. Huerter isn’t a liability by any means, like some other shooting specialists are, but he’s not a positive either.
It’s the less glamorous end of the court where I don’t love the deal for the Kings, who ranked just 27th in the league in defensive rating last season. In fairness to them, they needed help in basically every area, and Huerter is certainly a better player than either Holiday or Harkless, but not on defense.
New head coach Mike Brown has built his career on being a strong defensive tactician, but he can only do so much with the personnel of the roster. That will continue to be an issue next season for Sacramento, as Fox and Sabonis aren’t exactly defensive stoppers, nor is Monk, whom the team acquired in free agency to bolster its shooting.
Holiday struggled in his brief stint with the Kings, connecting on just 34.8% of his field goal attempts in 25 games (he was also part of the Sabonis trade), and Harkless was completely out of the rotation by the end of the season. Both players are significantly older than Huerter (Holiday is 33 and Harkless is 29), and neither was in Sacramento’s long-term plans, so moving them was no big loss even though both have had long careers for good reasons.
The Hawks’ Perspective:
Let’s get this out of the way first: Atlanta didn’t necessarily want to trade Huerter. Hawks fans will fondly remember his performance in Game 7 of the team’s second-round playoff victory over the Sixers in 2021, when Huerter put up 27 points, seven rebounds and three assists on 10-of-18 shooting, helping Atlanta reach the Eastern Conference Finals for just the second time in the past 50 years.
Moving Huerter was both a short- and long-term financial decision. The four-year, $65MM rookie scale extension he signed just before ’21/22 began kicks in next season, and trading for Dejounte Murray pushed the team into luxury tax territory.
The Hawks already have long-term salaries committed to Trae Young, John Collins and Clint Capela; Murray and Bogdan Bogdanovic are on the books for two more seasons; and De’Andre Hunter is eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer. The roster has become expensive, and after acquiring an All-Star guard in Murray, one of Huerter or Bogdanovic became expendable, through no fault of their own.
Bogdanovic is a better overall player than Huerter and more accustomed to coming off the bench, both positives for Atlanta. However, he’s coming off knee surgery, is older (he turns 30 next month), and makes more money the next two seasons than Huerter, so the Hawks might not have gotten the type of trade package they’d want for him.
Holiday and Harkless, both of whom are on expiring contracts, will make a combined $10.86MM in ‘22/23, saving the Hawks $3.64MM after moving Huerter’s $14.5MM salary. Keep in mind that by acquiring two players for one, the Hawks also don’t have to fill a second roster spot — even a minimum-salary deal carries a $1,836,090 cap hit, so the actual savings in the deal are closer to $5.48MM when taking that into account.
Of the two newly-acquired veterans, I expect Holiday to provide more on-court value and receive more playing time – he’s a much better outside shooter than Harkless (36.5% career from three on much higher volume vs. 32.0%), and I’m sure the Hawks would like to give 2021 first-rounder Jalen Johnson more NBA playing time at the backup power forward spot next season.
Both Holiday and Harkless are well-traveled veterans and have defense-first reputations. Holiday, in particular, provided solid value during his run with the Pacers from 2019-21. His defense wasn’t as sharp last season and his shooting can be inconsistent, but he’s definitely a bounce-back candidate with all the open looks he’ll get in his second stint in Atlanta.
Still, while the duo shouldn’t be discounted, the main appeal for the Hawks in their trade with Sacramento was moving off Huerter’s long-term salary and acquiring the 2024 first-round pick.
There’s no guarantee that pick will convey in two years, of course – the Kings have missed the playoffs for an NBA-record 16 consecutive seasons, so the fact that it’s lottery-protected might not bode well for Atlanta. However, Sacramento’s roster does look a little better on paper entering next season, especially on offense, and the club will have one more year to continue making upgrades before the pick can convey.
If it does convey in 2024, both teams would be happy – the Hawks would pick up another first-rounder, recouping some draft equity after dealing three first-round picks (two unprotected) and a pick swap to San Antonio for Murray, while the Kings would have finally broken their postseason drought.
If it doesn’t convey in 2024, there’s still a decent chance the Hawks could get the pick in either 2025 (top-12 protected) or 2026 (top-10 protected). That might actually be the preferred scenario for them, as the first unprotected pick they traded to the Spurs is for 2025, and San Antonio has swap rights in 2026.
The West is stacked, so a postseason berth certainly isn’t a given, but the Kings do have some interesting pieces, most of whom are young. There are realistic scenarios in which they get better with time and either make the play-in tournament or the playoffs outright. Murray could be the wild card, because if he’s as NBA-ready as he seems, he could be a game-changer.
Overall, the Huerter trade was an understandable deal for both sides. The Kings got a solid young starter who is under contract for four more years and addresses some weaknesses of the roster, and they protected the first-rounder they dealt away so it hopefully doesn’t come back to bite them.
The Hawks cleared long-term money and dodged the tax, got a buy-low candidate in Holiday, a veteran presence in Harkless, and recouped a bit of draft equity after giving up a substantial amount for Murray.
While the Knicks continue to be viewed as the frontrunners to trade for Jazz star Donovan Mitchell, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic that talks between the two teams have moved slowly so far. New York and Utah remain far from an agreement, Charania adds.
As Charania explains, with three guaranteed years remaining on Mitchell’s contract and approximately two months until training camps begin, Utah has plenty of time to gauge the trade market and evaluate the best offers for the All-Star guard, so the club isn’t operating with a sense of urgency at this point.
Since word broke that the Jazz are open to inquiries on Mitchell, the Knicks have frequently been mentioned as his primary suitor, but they’re far from the only team in the mix, according to Charania.
Sources tell The Athletic that the Heat, Wizards, Raptors, Hornets, Hawks, and Kings have all registered some level of interest in the 25-year-old.
Mitchell hasn’t requested a trade and hasn’t pushed to leave Utah, says Charania. However, if the Jazz were to shift into full-fledged rebuilding mode, he would prefer to end up with a contender, per Charania.
Utah’s Rudy Gobert and Royce O’Neale trades earlier this offseason signaled that a rebuild could be on the horizon for the team. Still, it remains possible that the Jazz could use some of the draft assets acquired in those deals to trade for win-now help with the intent of retooling around Mitchell. The roster still features veterans like Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, Patrick Beverley, and Malik Beasley, so it’s not as if Utah has engaged in a full tear-down yet.
- Along with Ham, former Lakers guard Malik Monk also expressed optimism that the team could turn it around, as relayed by TMZ Sports. Monk played 76 games with Los Angeles last season, averaging 13.8 points per contest on 39% shooting from deep. The 24-year-old signed a two-year contract with the Kings this month.
- James Ham of The Kings Beat examines whether the Kings can defy Las Vegas oddsmakers and win more than 32 games next season. Sacramento traded for Domantas Sabonis last season, pairing him with promising guard De’Aaron Fox –who recently averaged 23.2 points per game. In addition to Monk, Sabonis and Fox, the team also has Harrison Barnes, Richaun Holmes, Davion Mitchell, No. 4 pick Keegan Murray and others.
Keegan Murray is bringing hope to Kings fans after an MVP performance in the Las Vegas Summer League, writes Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com. The No. 4 overall pick displayed an advanced offensive array while averaging 23.3 points per game and shooting 50% from the field and 40% from three-point range.
Many draft observers criticized the Kings for passing on Jaden Ivey to select Murray, but he’s a better fit with the current roster and is showing signs that he’ll be able to contribute right away. An unidentified personnel executive told Bulpett that Murray was the second most impressive player in Summer League behind Paolo Banchero.
“I don’t think people knew how well he could shoot the ball,” the executive said of Murray. “He’s a tremendous shooter. That still has to translate to the real games, but I think he opened some people’s eyes. The Kings could be really interesting if (new head coach) Mike (Brown) can get those guys to realize what they can do. It’s been a long time since Sacramento was any good, and these guys obviously weren’t there for all of it, but sometimes it can be hard for a team to take that first big step.”
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- The Suns seem committed to being a taxpaying team after matching the Pacers’ offer sheet for Deandre Ayton, and Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic examines whether the roster is good enough to justify that investment. Phoenix currently has $167.1MM in guaranteed salary, well above the projected $150.267MM tax threshold, and is facing a projected $34.8MM tax bill.
- The Lakers have been watching Max Christie since 2019 and he was the top prospect on their draft board by far when it was time for their pick at No. 35, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “Just him showing flashes of being a good perimeter shooter with his shooting mechanics and being able to create his own shot off the dribble,” said assistant general manager and co-owner Jesse Buss. “A high-IQ player, obviously, with his size and his length, at the two guard position.”
- Free agent Kent Bazemore posted an online photo of his workouts with former Warriors teammate Stephen Curry (hat tip to Joey Linn of Sports Illustrated’s Fan Nation). Bazemore, who left Golden State to sign with the Lakers last summer, is waiting for an offer for next season.