Tag Archives: Sacramento Kings

Rudy Gay’s $19.3 million player option

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Before looking at Rudy Gay, let’s take a moment to remember the December 9, 2013 Sacramento Kings who blew out Dallas, mostly thanks to the combined 87 points from DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, and Derrick Williams. Basketball-Reference should commemorate them by giving them their own team page.

You can do a simple Google search about the trade sending Gay to Sacramento and discover just how many people wanted to chime in on it. While the trade is certainly worthy of discussion, I’ll look at what I find most interesting about it: the $19.3 million player option Gay can exercise next season.

By trading for Gay, the Kings hope he doesn’t take the last year of an $82 million contract he signed with Memphis back in 2010. If he indeed doesn’t and the Kings let him walk this summer, the trade is a salary dump both ways. Each team sheds the salaries of players not in their long-term future and spends it more wisely elsewhere. Sacramento needs some of that money Gay would turn down in order to re-sign Isaiah Thomas, one of the best reserves in the NBA before the trade. They’ll have to work around the luxury tax if Gay chooses the $19.3 million, the tax being an embarrassing obstacle for a team that’s shown signs of hope but is not yet a playoff contender.

And at this point, taking the player option would be Gay’s best move. Sure, players generally prefer more years of guaranteed money, even if the annual salary is cheaper than their player option since injuries, among other things, can derail future earnings. However, Zach Lowe at Grantland made a good point. Players like Andrei Kirilenko have opted out of the final year of their contracts, but they didn’t turn down anything close to the $19 million and change that Gay can take.

Gay’s value is also at its all-time lowest. He’s 27 and about to enter his prime, yet Toronto only got John Salmons, Greivis Vazquez, Chuck Hayes, and Patrick Patterson in return. Three of those players are decent pieces on a good team, but that’s not even close to the haul you’d expect in exchange for someone paid like a superstar, save for Amar’e Stoudemire’s uninsured knees. In the same column by Lowe, he writes that some GMs wouldn’t even want Gay for the midlevel exception, an amount only a fraction of what the player option would pay out.

But Sacramento was interested in the small forward, and there’s a chance it could work out better for them than it did for Toronto. For one, the Raptors already had a high volume-shooting wing in DeMar DeRozan while Sacramento has Derrick Williams and Ben McLemore, two likely starters who play much better off the ball at this point in their careers. Gay’s also replacing one of the worst starting small forwards in the league in John Salmons, whose PER so far is nearly half of Gay’s.

The problem lies in how he works with DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas, who have usage rates of 35 and 28 percent, respectively. Both will now be in the starting lineup with Gay, thanks to the trade, and both need the ball. They’ve certainly been more efficient with it than Gay has, and if the former Raptor continues using possessions at his current rate (about 30 percent), this makes the trade a potential disaster. Bad times all around, both on the court and in the checkbook.

Neither result bodes all that well for Sacramento anyway. If Gay fits in well and the Kings win a few more games than expected, they lessen the value of their first round pick in the upcoming draft. Even more confusing is if it brings Gay’s value up to the point he tests free agency, meaning Sacramento may get nothing in return for him and, in the process, worsen their No. 1 pick in a loaded draft.

If Gay doesn’t work out in Sacramento and his current value somehow continues to decline, then he’s better suited to exercise his player option, which also sets the franchise back yet another season. Sacramento could avoid the $19.3 million and end the paranoia altogether by offering a salary at about half the price but with long-term security for Gay, say $46 million for four years, but that only creates more problems down the road.

All of this is the cost of acquiring Rudy Gay, whose stock continues to drop but price tag only gets more expensive. That’s no longer Toronto’s problem, but Sacramento’s.

For more Rudy Gay-related postings, check this out.

Could Roy Hibbert really block more shots than an entire team?

The rest of the league has finally caught up to Roy Hibbert’s blocks. Well, for the most part.

Just two weekends ago, Hibbert had 56 blocks in 13 games, good for more than eight teams: Washington (55 blocks), Orlando (54), Minnesota (54), New York (53), Memphis (52), Brooklyn (52), Chicago (47), and Sacramento (34).

But Hibbert has been in a “slump” since then, blocking just six shots in his last five games with two of those matchups coming against teams most often rejected: Minnesota and Charlotte. Seven of the eight previously listed teams caught up or surpassed the 7’2” behemoth, leaving only Sacramento behind. The current block score between Hibbert and the Kings: 62-48 in Hibbert’s favor.

Can he keep this up for a whole season?

Not since 2009 has one player single-handedly blocked more shots than an entire team, when Dwight Howard had 231 to the New York Knicks’ 204, the lowest of any team in NBA history save for the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, according to Basketball-Reference. That Knicks squad, coached by Mike D’Antoni, played a ton of small ball with David Lee in the middle and Al Harrington at the ‘4’. The same thing also happened to the Knicks of ’08, led by Isiah Thomas where they blocked less shots (213) than Marcus Camby (285) and Josh Smith (227) while going possibly too big with Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph.

This year’s Kings fit somewhere in between those two Knicks rosters. They’re neither as mobile up front as D’Antoni’s Knicks nor as large as the Knicks of 2008, but there’s a chance Sacramento is equally as dysfunctional as the two. So there’s that.

The Kings just don’t have the personnel up front to be even an average shot-blocking team. DeMarcus Cousins can swat some but he fouls 5.1 times per 36 minutes, and there’s little protection when he’s in foul trouble or needs a breather. Chuck Hayes is an immovable force but that’s for better and for worse, Derrick Williams is like Blake Griffin in the way his athleticism doesn’t translate to blocking shots (and it doesn’t help that he logs time at small forward), Jason Thompson at least looks like he could get up and swat a couple, but his foul rate so far, 6.0 per-36, hasn’t helped and Patrick Patterson, like mostly every other power forward on the Kings, is undersized and a gamble on defense (though offensively he fits in).

Some of the lack of blocks can be attributed to the Kings allowing the least amount of shots within the restricted area by a comfortable margin, according to NBA.com, but there has to be a correlation between that and leading the league in fouling. Still, despite opposing teams scoring at will once they’re near the rim (68.4 percent, last in the league), Sacramento’s allowed only 20.1 attempts from there. Second-place Washington has allowed 23.3 attempts while Indiana sits in seventh place at 24.8.

And really, the Kings are safe from breaking the ’09 Knicks record for the least amount of blocks in an 82-game season. They’re on pace for 262 which is doable when DeMarcus Cousins, as unpredictable as he can be, has at least been consistently durable throughout his career. An injury (or suspension) to him, though, and things could get interesting.

Minnesota also lurks as a possible candidate to be outblocked by Hibbert. There’s not much between a slashing guard and the rim when Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic are the frontline, but guys like Dante Cunningham, Ronny Turiaf, and Gorgui Dieng are threats in their limited playing time off the bench. Cunningham’s the only player consistently in the rotation, though, while Turiaf is out with a fractured elbow and Dieng has been slow to adjust to the NBA, fouling 7.9 times per-36. The Timberwolves make up for the lack of a rim presence by forcing turnovers and not fouling. When that doesn’t work, though, it’s kind of a really big problem.

And some of this weird accomplishment of blocking more shots than an entire team is up to Hibbert, after all. Right now, his foul rate of 3.7 per 36 minutes isn’t an outlier; it’s back down to about where it was in 2012. His blocking frequency is more of a concern. Only 26 times in NBA history has a player blocked eight percent of field goal attempts while on the floor and playing over 70 games, according to Basketball-Reference, the latter necessary should Hibbert block more than Sacramento or Minnesota. That may seem like a realistic rate for an entire season but Manute Bol, Jim McIlvaine, and Shawn Bradley account for over half of those 26 occurrences. That, and only five times has a player had a block rate of eight percent while logging 30 minutes per game.

Like DeMarcus Cousins though, Hibbert has been durable throughout his career. And like in the previous paragraph, his foul rate is down which has allowed him to play a couple more minutes per game.

Besides, the statistics aren’t that much of an outlier when his work over the off-season got the attention of Grantland, among others. He also dwarfed Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter, and Ian Mahinmi in one specific, amusing photo. All that hard work is aimed towards helping the Pacers with their journey to a championship, not some weird statistical accomplishment that doesn’t accomplish anything if it doesn’t come with all the little things a great defense like Indiana’s is made of.

Maybe the last five games are just variance anyway, balancing out the ridiculous start Hibbert had. We’re still in “SMALL SAMPLE SIZE ALERT!” territory, after all. But if blocking more shots than an entire team comes within the confines of playing great defense, it would be one of multiple ways showing how Hibbert has become a premier force of nature.

For more odd accomplishments I hope for this season, check this out

The rise and fall of Derrick Williams through trade rumors

May 17, 2011

Despite having the most lottery balls, Minnesota ends up with the second overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. It all but leads to the Timberwolves either drafting Derrick Williams or trading the pick.

May 19, 2011

The Pacers are making seriously play for the No. 2 pick with Danny Granger, Michael Beasley, and Ricky Rubio also being involved.

Royce Young of CBS’ Eye on Basketball with a nice take on why Rubio and Beasley were involved:

I can’t say that I quite understand why Rubio and Beasley were also included in the deal, but hey, it’s David Kahn and I’m not going to start posing questions that have no answers.

However, Kahn all but laughed off the rumors:

Talks between the two teams would continue though. Oh, yes, they would.

June 21, 2011

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! reports more discussions between the Pacers and Timberwolves:

With an eye on drafting Arizona’s Derrick Williams, the Indiana Pacers have discussed a package including center Roy Hibbert (notes) and the 15th pick for the Minnesota Timberwolves’ second overall pick, league sources said. Nevertheless, the overture hasn’t gained traction in Minnesota.

Thinking results-oriented leaves me dizzy. 2011 Roy Hibbert really wasn’t the same defensive monster he is today.

Larry Bird squashed any rumors of a trade centered around Hibbert anyway, according to Jeff Rabjohns.

That same day, though, Taylor Zarzour of the CBS Charlotte wrote about how the Bobcats should trade everyone for Derrick Williams.

June 23, 2011

Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Hawks’ interest in the No. 2 pick, dangling Josh Smith as bait.

In a lust to draft center Enes Kanter, the Atlanta Hawks are trying to engage the Minnesota Timberwolves in discussions to trade Josh Smith(notes) for the No. 2 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

So far, the Wolves haven’t been forthcoming on a potential deal, but sources say Atlanta was still trying to discuss a deal in the hours leading up to the draft.

The same key components of the trade pop up later in Bill Simmons’ 2012 NBA Trade Value column.

February 15, 2012

Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports on Minnesota pursuing Pau Gasol:

In other news involving NBA big men, a source said Wednesday that Minnesota continues to pursue a possible trade for Lakers forward Pau Gasol, dangling rookie Derrick Williams, who is from the Los Angeles area, and draft choices. The only players considered untouchable by the Timberwolves, who are seeking to add a veteran by the trade deadline, are Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. The Timberwolves believe it could be enticing for Gasol to play on the same team as fellow Spaniard Rubio.

I can’t say I remember that trade rumor from the 2011-12 season, but it would come back ten months later.

June 28, 2012

This seemed like Kahn being Kahn more than anything else.

July 5, 2012

But Kahn would stop at nothing for Nicolas Batum.

July 6, 2012

Darren Wolfson reports about a different sign-and-trade scenario, this one involving Philadelphia:

According to the source, the way to get Batum here is still via a sign-and-trade. David Kahn, the Wolves’ president of basketball operations, will continue to talk with the Portland Trail Blazers throughout the weekend.

One scenario involves a three-way trade with Philadelphia. Andre Iguodala would go to Portland, Derrick Williams would go as part of a package to the Sixers and Batum would come to Minnesota. So far, Portland is balking.

December 6, 2012

We’re into Derrick Williams’ second season now. I’ll always remember his rookie campaign when he slammed home alley-oops from Ricky Rubio, who was also a rookie. They both sent the Target Center into a frenzy I hadn’t seen since Game 7 of the Western Semis back in 200-fricken-4. It was exciting as hell.

But everything else about Williams’ game was inconsistent including what position he would play. You could see the confusion when he was on the floor, and, as a result, his stock start to plummet. He was becoming just a trade piece to something involving bigger names.

From Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press:

The Los Angeles Lakers recently rejected a Timberwolves trade offer for forward Pau Gasol that would revolve around Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic and forward Derrick Williams, according to an ESPN.com report citing sources with knowledge of the Lakers’ thinking.

The report claimed that the Lakers also turned down an offer from the Toronto Raptors.

It seemed like the biggest piece the Lakers would’ve taken back was Nikola Pekovic, versus Derrick Williams. That would’ve been flip-flopped ten months earlier.

February 20, 2013

Paul Millsap would’ve been a terrific rent for Minnesota, but by then it would’ve been a lopsided trade if no other players or draft picks were involved.

June 26, 2013

Chad Ford brings back memories of two years ago, when Indiana was rumored to have baited Danny Granger, then Roy Hibbert to move up to No. 2 to get Derrick Williams:

The Wolves continue to try to move up higher in the draft to land either Victor Oladipo or Ben McLemore. The latest rumbles have them reaching out to the Magic, Bobcats and Suns offering Derrick Williams and the No. 9 and No. 26 picks in return for Orlando’s No. 2 pick, Charlotte’s No. 4 pick or Phoenix’s No. 5 pick.

November 12, 2013

One tidbit from Adrian Wojnarowski’s column about the Knicks chasing Kevin Love:

Kevin Love is on deck to be recruited to New York in 2015, and that’s among the reasons the Timberwolves are so determined to make deals to climb deep into the playoffs these next two years. Young Minnesota players Derrick Williams and Alexey Shved are available in deals for veterans to help these T’wolves now, league executives told Yahoo Sports.

By now, Williams’ trade value is at an all time low, with returns ranging from Iman Shumpert to…

November 25, 2013

At last, the real trade that would end Derrick Williams’ campaign in Minnesota:

The Timberwolves now have a dream starting five of Lucs and Kevins: Kevin Martin, Luc Mbah a MouteKevin Garnett, Kevin Love, and Luc Longley. Or something like that.

November 26, 2013

And it’s official, from the Wolves press release:

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has acquired forward Luc Mbah a Moute (BAH-ah MOO-tay) from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for forward Derrick Williams.

“We are excited to acquire a solid veteran player in Luc Mbah a Moute,” said Flip Saunders, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations. “Luc is known as one of the premier defensive players in the league with an ability to guard multiple positions. He adds a lot of energy, grit and a high basketball IQ to our team. We thank Derrick for his contributions to our organization and wish him well in Sacramento.”

Best of luck to Derrick Williams. Minnesota never felt like the best fit for him.

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