- The decision to trade DeMarcus Cousins back in 2017 has worked out perfectly for the Kings, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee writes. Sacramento has one of the brightest young cores in the NBA behind De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley lll and others, seamlessly transitioning to a new era despite trading their cornerstone piece.
Here are Wednesday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA G League:
- The Rockets assigned Isaiah Hartenstein to their Rio Grande Valley affiliate, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Clint Capela‘s expected return from injury tomorrow night reduces the need to have Hartenstein with the NBA team.
- The Kings sent Caleb Swanigan to their affiliate in Stockton, tweets James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. Swanigan was acquired from the Trail Blazers at the trade deadline and hasn’t played yet for Sacramento.
- The Suns assigned rookie guard De’Anthony Melton to Northern Arizona, the team announced on its website. This is the fourth G League assignment for Melton, who has been sidelined since January 24 with a sprained right ankle.
- The Heat shipped newly signed Emanuel Terry to their Sioux Falls affiliate, according to a press release from the team. Terry inked a 10-day contract with Miami earlier today.
The Kings are planning to sign veteran swingman Corey Brewer to a second 10-day contract, a source tells JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link). Brewer’s initial 10-day deal with the club expired overnight.
Brewer, who will turn 33 next month, signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Sixers earlier this year, then joined the Kings following the trade deadline. Having averaged 7.6 PPG, 2.4 RPG, and 1.7 SPG in seven games (20.0 MPG) in Philadelphia, Brewer didn’t see any action during his first 10 days with Sacramento.
Despite not using him yet, the Kings seem comfortable having a veteran like Brewer on their bench to play minutes at the two and three if necessary, having sent Iman Shumpert to Houston at the trade deadline. Sacramento is also carrying just 13 players after Brewer’s 10-day deal expired, so the team would have had to get back up to 14 eventually if he hadn’t been re-signed.
Waiting until Wednesday to complete Brewer’s next 10-day contract would allow the Kings to keep him under team control for their next five games, but NBA.com’s transactions log indicates that the move has already been finalized. If that’s the case, the deal will run through February 27, covering Sacramento’s next four contests. We’ll wait for official word from the team to be sure.
As we detailed earlier today, even before receiving his new 10-day deal, Brewer has already signed more 10-day contracts so far this season than any other NBA player.
Monetizing the legalization of sports betting is a hot topic among owners of North American professional sports franchises and several NBA teams are positioning themselves to be at the forefront of the movement.
The Wizards and Kings are among the teams looking to educate potential bettors in preparation for when legalized betting arrives in their respective areas, as ESPN passes along.
“I think this is the most important new business for us,” Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said while stressing the importance of making sure new bettors are not confused when placing wagers.
The Kings are allowing fans to “Call the Shot,” something that gives fans the ability to predict outcomes like the score of a quarter or the statistics of a certain player. The team is adding a lounge for premium seat holders where fans can go to and use iPads to make “bets” before returning to their seats to watch the events unfold. The Kings are calling the experience “predictive gaming.” which is expected to be available for four select games in March.
“The arena is the game console,” Sacramento owner Vivek Ranadive said. “And your phone is the controller for the game console. So we’re only limited by our imagination.”
There currently is no monetary value to the “bets,” as fans can play for free and will get virtual credits for winning. Sports betting is not currently legal in California but the Kings will have the infrastructure in place should wagering become legal.
“We’d have all the infrastructure in place,” Ranadive said. “We’d have the fan base that’s already educated. We’d have the ability to execute and all of that. So we think that we would be able to flip the switch very quickly and move.”
Washington D.C. is closer to legalized sports betting than California, as a bill that would allow sports betting inside of professional sports franchise stadiums and arenas is expected to be passed before the end of the NBA season. The Wizards are among the franchises in the district that are expected to build a Las Vegas-style sportsbook inside its stadium, according to the Washington Post.
Brick-and-mortar sportsbooks are expected to be permitted inside of Audi Field (D.C. United of the MLS), Capital One Arena (Wizards, NHL’s Capitals), St Elizabeth’s East Entertainment and Sports Arena (WNBA’s Mystics and Wizards’ G League affiliate GoGo), and National Park (Nationals of the MLB).
The Wizards have been progressive about getting their fans familiar with real-time betting. The team scheduled live, alternate sports betting broadcast for seven games this season where potential bettors can view what a version of live betting will look like while they watch the Wizards play.
“Right now, the people who go to casinos to gamble, it’s a small community and it generates $8-10 billion a year in revenues and play,” Leonsis said. “But there’s probably $100 billion that’s in the shadows by really sophisticated gamblers. And obviously, the first step is we want to get that audience that’s gaming illegally to come into the sunlight.”
Shifting experienced bettors away from the illegal market remains a challenge. CEO Geoff Freeman of the American Gaming Association believes it’s going to take a partnership between the leagues and betting operators to ensure that illegal bookmakers are put out of business, as I passed along previously in a piece for CNBC.
Eight states (DE, MS, NJ, NM, NV, PA, RI, WV) currently allow for sports wagering, though the impact on the illegal market hasn’t been drastic. “It’s not as if the bookies are out today shopping for new careers,” Joe Asher, CEO of the Britain-based sports betting operator William Hill, said after the landmark Supreme Court decision which made sports betting a reality in many states.
Pennsylvania is the only state with an NBA team that currently has legalized sports betting in place. However, there is no mobile betting available yet, so Philadelphians cannot place legal bets from inside the Wells Fargo Arena as they watch the Sixers play.
Now that the Kings have Harrison Barnes, the next step is to figure out the best role for him, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Acquired from the Mavericks last week, Barnes has played extensively at both forward spots and his usage in Sacramento may depend on the opponent, according to coach Dave Joerger.
“I’m still learning what to do,” Joerger said. “How much I do I want to play Harrison at (small forward)? How much at (power forward)? And what do the matchups look like? And I need to get it done sooner than later because we’re not going to find a rhythm if I don’t figure it out quickly.”
Barnes has played both positions extensively throughout his career, with 48% of his minutes as a three and 50% as a four. The Warriors used him mainly as a small forward when he broke into the league, but shifted him to power forward later in his tenure there. He was mainly a power forward in Dallas.
“It’s a good problem to have,” added Joerger, who said he has wanted Barnes on his team for years. “You want to be as versatile as we can be at times. It’s going to be a little bit on the run, as we know, and it’s tough on me, but guys are playing as hard as they can and that’s all you can ask as a coach. And it’s on me to figure some of that stuff out.”
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- LeBron James hasn’t lived up to the excitement that surrounded his decision to join the Lakers, contends Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times. L.A. will enter the All-Star break with a 28-29 record, placing them 10th in the Western Conference. Plaschke notes that although James has been brilliant on the court, he missed 17 games with a groin injury and affected team chemistry by maneuvering to get head coach Luke Walton replaced and pushing for an Anthony Davis deal that caused all of his young teammates to be subjected to weeks of trade rumors.
- The Lakers missed out on Enes Kanter in the buyout market, but they remain in the running for Markieff Morris, tweets ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, who names the Rockets, Thunder and Raptors as the other top contenders. L.A. is also considering Carmelo Anthony, Shelburne adds, but is concerned because he hasn’t been active since November.
- Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman examines whether the Clippers made the right move by trading away Blake Griffin last season.
Harrison Barnes, who arrived in Sacramento at the trade deadline, made his league debut in 2012 and since that time, he has appeared in 64 playoff games. He was in eighth grade when the Kings last made a postseason appearance, but he’s eager to help the franchise get over its 13-year drought.
“To be a part of this, to see it up close – talking with the coaches, talking with the players – it’s exciting just to see the hunger they have to win,” Barnes said (via Alex Kramers of NBA.com).
Barnes won a championship in Golden State before migrating to Dallas. He’s the only player on the roster with a ring. Outside of Alec Burks, who was also acquired at the deadline, and Nemanja Bjelica, no other Kings rotation player has postseason experience.
“[The key is] trying to develop everyday habits that put you in a position to have the right preparation,” Barnes said. “When you’re winning games, and you’re part of something bigger than yourself, I think that’s what makes everybody excited about being a part of it, excited about coming to work every day, excited about putting the work in and sacrificing for the guy next to you. The opportunity to play in the postseason, the opportunity to advance and go further, that’s I think what this group has. I think that’s what’s special, especially with a young group that kind of understands it right now.”
The 26-year-old saw himself fitting in with the team before he made his debut in Sacramento.
“The style they play is fast and free, with [De’Aaron Fox] leading the charge [and] pushing it up the floor,” he said. “Play fast, play free, move the ball, compete defensively, and hopefully, [I] can give a boost to a team that’s right there.”
Barnes’ ability to split time between the three and the four gives the Kings lineup options that they didn’t have before the trade.
“He’s a versatile player,” Joerger said of the North Carolina product. “He’s a little bit of an [isolation] player. He’s improved his jump shot on the perimeter. Heck of a quality guy. I think he’ll pick up stuff quick. I can move him around and play chess a little bit with him and find matchups and do different things offensively.”
- Before sending Porzingis to Dallas, the Knicks made an effort to engage with the Kings on a potential swap involving Marvin Bagley III, but Sacramento “flatly rejected” those inquiries, according to Stein. Last week, Stein reported that the Kings had a similar response when New York asked about De’Aaron Fox.
A Clippers loss on Monday night was good news for the Kings, who have now passed in L.A. in the Western Conference standings by percentage points.
At 30-26, the Kings currently hold the No. 8 position in the West, followed closely by the Clippers (31-27), with the Lakers (28-28) also lingering.
For much of the season, the general consensus on Sacramento has been that the young club is a great story, but will ultimately fall short of the postseason. While that may still be the case, we’re more than two-thirds of the way through the season, and the Kings deserve to be taken seriously.
Having been led by youngsters De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Bogdan Bogdanovic all season, the Kings added reinforcements at the trade deadline by trading for Harrison Barnes and are aiming to earn a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
However, even after trading away Tobias Harris, the Clippers aren’t about to roll over and give up their own hunt for a postseason slot. The team still has two other players who are nearly scoring 20 points per game – Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams – and features one of the deepest, most diverse rotations in the NBA.
The Clips are getting contributions from youngsters – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Landry Shamet, Montrezl Harrell, and Ivica Zubac – and veterans – Gallinari, Williams, Patrick Beverley, and Garrett Temple – alike, and have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the West, per Tankathon.com.
Of course, of these three playoff contenders, the Lakers are the team league observers believed would be the best bet to finish in the West’s top eight. LeBron James hasn’t missed the postseason since 2005 and hasn’t missed the Finals since 2010. However, the Lakers struggled during his month-long absence with a groin injury and a playoff berth is far from a lock.
What do you think? Which of these three teams do you expect to make the playoffs in the West? Do you think more than one of them will ultimately end up in the top eight, knocking out a team like the Spurs or Jazz? Will a dark horse club like the Timberwolves or Mavericks make a run and prevent any of these three from reaching the postseason?
Vote in our poll, then share your thoughts in the comment section below!
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Having entered trade deadline week carrying $11MM in cap room and a handful of expiring veteran contracts, the Kings were expected to be among the NBA’s most active teams at the deadline, and they delivered, completing a pair of deals for Alec Burks and Harrison Barnes. Discussing those trades following the deadline, GM Vlade Divac explained that the club was thinking about both its short- and long-term future.
“Our focus going into this process was to improve our team and not jeopardize our future,” Divac said, per James Ham of NBC Sports California. “I think we achieved exactly what we tried. We brought talent that is going to help us be a better team, not just for now, but moving forward.”
The Kings had long been seeking an answer at the small forward position and are hoping Barnes can be that player after they acquired him from the Mavs for Zach Randolph and Justin Jackson. The veteran forward could theoretically leave Sacramento in free agency this summer, but the Kings sound hopeful that Barnes will stick around, either on his 2019/20 player option or on a new deal, as Ham relays.
“We want to focus on the rest of the season, and we’re going to talk about it after,” Divac said of Barnes’ future. “But definitely, we have interest to have him here for a long time.”
Here’s more on the Kings:
- Following the trade deadline, Divac spoke to star point guard De’Aaron Fox, who was said to be disappointed to see the Kings lose Jackson and Iman Shumpert, as Sam Amick of The Athletic details. “I tried to explain (the team’s deadline moves), why we did it, where we want to be, the experience with the playoffs and all that,” Divac said. “Look, De’Aaron is our marquee player. That’s the guy. I want De’Aaron to take this team to the next level, and I’m here to help him. Whatever I do, I try to make this team better.”
- Corey Brewer, who signed a 10-day contract with the Kings after the trade deadline, called Sacramento a “perfect situation,” according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Brewer said he received interest from other teams, but likes the way the Kings “get up and down” the court and hopes to help the club’s push for a playoff spot.
- Even after signing Brewer, the Kings still have one open spot on their roster, as our list of NBA roster counts shows. Sacramento is under no obligation to fill that opening, but the team would have to eventually get back up to 14 players if it lets Brewer walk once his 10-day deal expires.
FEBRUARY 8: The Mavericks have officially waived Randolph, the team announced today in a press release.
Given his sizable cap hit ($11,692,308), Randolph will almost certainly go unclaimed, so he’ll become an unrestricted free agent once he clears waivers. He’ll be free to sign with any team besides Sacramento at that point.
There’s no indication based on Charania’s report that Randolph has agreed to reduce his salary as part of the transactions. Veterans on oversized contracts generally only agree to buyouts if they have a new destination lined up, and it’s not clear if that’s the case for Randolph.
The 37-year-old had yet to appear in a game for the Kings this season after playing 59 games (57 starts) in 2017/18. Randolph was still productive last season, averaging 14.5 PPG and 6.7 RPG on .473/.347/.785. While his limited ability to protect the rim or switch on defense will reduce his appeal to some extent it’s possible he’ll still draw interest from contending teams.