Tag: Sacramento Kings

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers

How the Warriors and Cavaliers built championship contenders so quickly


Kyrie Irving reportedly wanted Harrison Barnes. So did many Cleveland fans. The Cavaliers leaked they did, too.

The Warriors indicated they wanted Dion Waiters.

The Cavaliers drafted Waiters – who shut down workouts (before visiting Cleveland) and then shot up draft boards – No. 4 in the 2012 NBA draft. They either played into Golden State’s gamesmanship or poached the player the Warriors really wanted. Golden State took Barnes No. 7.

Three years later, the Warriors and Cavaliers are no longer sparring in the lottery. They meet in the NBA Finals – hoping to become the first team in seven years to jump from outside the playoffs to a championship so quickly.

Cleveland had the worst-ever four years preceding a conference-finals appearance, let alone the worst lead-up to a conference – or even NBA – title. Before its turnaround that begun in 2012, Golden State made the playoffs just once in 18 years.

How did these downtrodden franchises change their fortunes?

The Warriors have made the most of their opportunities. The Cavaliers have made the most most opportunities.

For Cleveland, everything starts with LeBron James.

When the Cavaliers drafted him in 2003, he immediately set them on a track toward title contention. They never reached the pinnacle, and those hopes exploded in flames of burning jerseys when he left for the Heat in 2010.

But Cleveland immediately began preparing to maximize its next championship window – whenever that might be.

They signed-and-traded LeBron for two first-round picks, the right to swap another first-rounder with Miami and two second-rounders. They accepted Baron Davis’ burdensome contract in exchange for the Clippers’ unprotected first-round pick. They dealt J.J. Hickson to the Kings for Omri Casspi and another first-round pick. They traded Ramon Sessions to the Lakers for a first-rounder and the right to swap future fist-rounders. They helped the Grizzles escape the luxury tax by taking Marreese Speights – and yet another first-round pick as bounty.

Some of those picks have been squandered. The Sacramento pick (which still has not been conveyed) went to Chicago for Luol Deng, who didn’t help Cleveland get anywhere before bolting in free agency.

But others have proven instrumental. The Clippers’ pick won the lottery, sending Kyrie Irving to the Cavaliers. They also had their own pick after a poor season, which resulted in Tristan Thompson.

Infamously, that wasn’t the end of the Cavs’ lottery luck. They won again in 2013 (Anthony Bennett) and 2014 (Andrew Wiggins). In their lone non-lucky lottery since LeBron left, they picked up Waiters.

Essentially, the idea was accumulating assets while the team was bad and then cashing in on them when it became good. The lottery helped immensely, but the underlying plan was sound.

Paying Davis and Speights didn’t bother Cleveland at the time. Spending that money on better players wouldn’t have been enough to make the Cavaliers good, anyway.

Now, every roster upgrade matters, and the Cavaliers have shifted gears.

They sent away Tyler Zeller (acquired with accumulated draft picks in the first place) and another first-rounder to dump Jarrett Jack, clearing the cap space to sign LeBron. They dealt Wiggins, Bennett and a first-rounder acquired in the LeBron sign-and-trade to get Kevin Love. They used Waiters to acquire J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. That deal came with a Thunder first-round pick, which Cleveland packaged with that Memphis first-rounder to get Timofey Mozgov.

The Cavaliers have built a complete team very quickly because they and luck positioned them so strongly entering last summer. I’m sure LeBron wanted to return home, but I doubt he would have signed with Cleveland if its collection of assets weren’t so impressive.

The Cavaliers made plenty of missteps along the way, but they and lottery luck afforded themselves that imperfection.

The Warriors, on the other hand, didn’t have such room for error. They needed to – and did – operate much more shrewdly.

Golden State also relied on fortune – not of lottery luck, but health.

The Warriors traded Monta Ellis for an injured Andrew Bogut in 2012 – a highly controversial deal at the time – and Bogut didn’t play the rest of that season. Curry was also done for the year due to an ankle injury.

Golden State was essentially building around two injured players.

And it couldn’t have worked any better.

Bogut and Curry got healthy, but not before the Warriors tanked their way into keeping their top-seven protected 2012 first-rounder and Curry agreed to a four-year, $44 million contract extension.

Barnes became that pick, and Curry’s bargain extension gave Golden State a ton of flexibility to upgrade the rest of the roster. So did the team’s best 2012 draft pick – second-rounder Draymond Green, who like most second-rounders, signed for near the minimum.

The Warriors used some of that flexibility (necessarily furthered by a salary dump on the Jazz) to sign Andre Iguodala in 2013 and add Shaun Livingston last year.

They also took a huge risk – firing Mark Jackson, who’d helped the team escape its decades-long rut, and hiring first-time coach Steve Kerr. Of course, it has worked beautifully. Green, Barnes and Klay Thompson have blossomed this season, and the team is clicking on both ends of the court.

This is the culmination of Golden State’s plan, but the road gets more difficult from here.

Green becomes a restricted free agent this summer, and he’ll surely command a max contract. That would take the Warriors into the luxury tax, so they’ll have to pay big to keep this group together.

Likewise, the Cavaliers are running out of future assets to trade in for immediate help. They also have the urgent task of keeping Love, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Both franchises face difficult decisions in the years ahead.

But title windows are difficult to crack ajar, let alone prop open for extend periods of time.

Golden State and Cleveland have done both. Whatever happens in the Finals, these teams should remain in contention for the next few years.

And to think, not long ago, they were trying to misdirect each other about selecting Dion Waiters high in the draft.

Kings’ Carl Landry could miss part of 2015-16 season after surgery on wrist injured in January

New Orleans Pelicans v Sacramento Kings

Carl Landry missed five games in January with a wrist injury.

Then, he returned to play 32 more games for the going-nowhere Kings.


Kings release:

Sacramento Kings forward Carl Landry underwent successful surgery this morning to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist, the team announced today. The procedure was performed by Dr. Michelle Carlson at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

Landry experienced wrist soreness during the 2014-15 season, missing five games as a result (Jan. 16 – Jan. 23). An initial evaluation at that time by Dr. Carlson indicated surgery was not necessary. When pain in the wrist persisted during the offseason, Landry underwent an MRI early this week which revealed that a procedure was required to repair the injury.

Landry will begin rehabilitation immediately and is expected to be out approximately four to five months.

Maybe Landry didn’t need surgery in January, and his condition worsened over the next few months. But if he was misdiagnosed during the season, that’s obviously less than ideal.

Landry projects to return around the beginning of next season. He might not be a huge loss on the court – both because Sacramento probably won’t be in playoff contention next season anyway and because he might not even make George Karl’s rotation when healthy.

But this injury reduces the Kings’ already-limited ability to trade Landry, whom they owe $6.5 million each of the next two seasons.

Rumor: Kings management wanted to draft Elfrid Payton, owner Vivek Ranadivé overruled for Nik Stauskas

Oklahoma City at Sacramento


In a look inside the Kings’ draft-night war room, owner Vivek Ranadivé and general manager Pete D’Alessandro discussed Nik Stauskas and Elfrid Payton while Sacramento is on the clock:

  • Ranadivé: “Stauskas or Payton? For me, Stauskas.”
  • D’Alessandro: “I say Stauskas.”
  • Ranadivé (pointing at someone else in the room): “Stauskas.”
  • Ranadivé (smiling): “Stauskas.”

Maybe they were just playing it up for the cameras, but that is a surprising amount of debate – i.e., more than none – while on the clock. And it’s the less-basketball-savvy owner, not the general manager, leading the discussion. A report of more draft-night disharmony provides circumstantial evidence something was amiss.

The Kings drafted Stauskas, and Payton went two spots later.

Payton made the All-Rookie team. Stauskas received a single second-team vote.

The book is hardly closed on Stauskas, but Payton definitely appears to have the brighter NBA future.

Chad Ford of ESPN:

I had someone from the Kings pass along this nugget in Chicago. That the front office wanted to take Elfrid Payton at No. 8. last year but were overruled by ownership, who wanted Nik Stauskas. Now, that could be classic CYA from the front office. Payton was who they should’ve taken and now, a year later, they’re making the case. But if that’s true, than Vivek may be the person who is ultimately deciding who they draft. In short, it’s really hard to have a good feel what’s happening in Sacramento. So many voices.

Maybe D’Alessandro, whose power has reportedly been usurped by Vlade Divac, is just trying to look better as he plots his exit. D’Alessandro is reportedly a candidate to become St. John’s athletic director.

But this rumor at least sounds plausible, because Ranadivé has such a history of meddling for the worse.

This particular example might be true. It might not.

But, even if it is true, how many times has Kings management wanted to make a move that would have turned out poorly? We don’t hear about those. There’s a selection bias in the information we get.