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Vlade Divac: Kings working on extension with Buddy Hield

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Buddy Hield is an important part of the Sacramento Kings future, and the Young shooting superstar knows that. So do the Kings, and that’s why they are reportedly working on an extension with Hield that will take him through the next several years.

Speaking to the Sacramento Bee this week, Kings general manager Vlade Divac said that they are working hard to get a deal done with Hield. The Bahamanian guard is heading into 2019-20 on the last year of his rookie deal after being drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans in 2016.

Via Sac Bee:

“We are … every day is working and Buddy’s a big part of this team, and we’ll figure something out down the road,” Divac said. “We’re working on it and we’ll figure out something. Buddy is (a) very important piece to this franchise.”

Hield is an important part of the core moving forward for the Kings. Everyone is always trying to add shooting, and Hield provides that in spades. Last season for Sacramento, he shot 42.7 percent from 3-point range while posting the best VORP of his career.

Meanwhile, Hield is keeping busy. He has recruited several players to help donate to the recovery efforts in his native Bahamas after the devastation enacted by Hurricane Dorian.

Suns improve, but to what end?

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NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

While coaching Marist, Jeff Bower hosted a middling recruit named Cameron Johnson. Bower was ahead of the curve. Bringing Johnson to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference would’ve been a coup. Bigger programs eventually realized Johnson’s ability, and he bypassed Marist for the ACC (Pittsburgh then North Carolina).

Bower and Johnson reunited this summer. The Bower-employing Suns drafted Johnson No. 11 overall.

Delightful coincidence or distressing signal?

Since leaving Marist, Bower got hired by the Pistons, ran day-to-day operations in Detroit’s front office the entire San Van Gundy era, got fired by the Pistons, sat out a full season and got hired by Phoenix. It has been a long time since his initial meeting with Johnson.

Put another way: Johnson is old.

At 23, he’s one of the oldest lottery picks in the last 20 years. His 23-and-over company aside from Buddy Hield (No. 6 in 2016) is uninspiring. The others: Ekpe Udoh (No. 6 in 2010), Tyler Hansbrough (No. 13 in 2009), Al Thornton (No. 14 in 2007), Rafael Araújo (No. 8 in 2004), Melvin Ely (No. 12 in 2002), Fred Jones (No. 14 in 2002), Courtney Alexander (No. 13 in 2000).

Johnson is a polished shooter. There’s a chance he could fill a rotation role for Phoenix next season. But it’ll be a limited role. His upside appears low. His injury history is troubling.

Off all the ways the Suns misplaced their priorities and operated like novices this summer, drafting Johnson stands out.

Phoenix entered the draft with the No. 6 pick then traded down for No. 11 and Dario Saric. Saric is a fine player, but not someone – one year from free agency – who justifies watching prospects like Jarrett Culver and Coby White go off the board. Then, the Suns made the shocking reach for Johnson.

Unfortunately for Phoenix, that multi-blunder process doesn’t even cover everything that went wrong this summer. In James Jones’ first year as general manager, the Suns were determined to get their desired players and improve quickly. Missions accomplished. But Phoenix’s short-term upgrades came with too little consideration for value and where the team is in its ascent.

The big addition was Ricky Rubio – a solid starting point guard on a team that had no point guard. He’ll solidify so many disparate parts around him. But h didn’t come cheap at three years, $51 million.

A pair of draft-day trade agreements with the Pacers and Celtics helped clear cap room for Rubio. But Phoenix’s return was disappointing. The Suns traded up from No. 32 to No. 24, relinquished the Bucks’ 2020 first-rounder, unloaded T.J. Warren (three years, $35.25 million remaining) and took Aron Baynes (one year, $5,453,280 remaining). I at least like using the No. 24 pick on Ty Jerome.

That didn’t open enough cap space for Rubio, though. So, the Suns had to trade Josh Jackson, De’Anthony Melton and a second-rounder or two to the Grizzlies for Jevon Carter. None of those prospects – including 2017 No. 4 pick Jackson – are great. But Phoenix had to forfeit some upside in order to clear cap room.

The Suns used the full room exception on Frank Kaminsky (two years with a team option). Again, not great value.

Neither was re-signing Kelly Oubre for two years, $30 million. But at least that was justifiable, because Phoenix held him at a lower number and had his Bird Rights. Oubre is an interesting young player who fits the long-term vision the Suns should be prioritizing.

Phoenix didn’t completely ignore youth this summer. Cheick Diallo and undrafted Jalen Lecque have upside and signed deals that grant substantial team control. Still, they were low-priority moves.

It’s easy to see what happened in Phoenix. The Suns have missed the playoffs a franchise-worst nine straight years and got impatient. They want to win now.

Rubio will help. The other new role players will help. New coach Monty Williams will help.

But even with all its immediate improvements, Phoenix is highly unlikely to make the playoffs next season. Would going from 19 to 34 wins really feel that much better, especially considering the downgrade in lottery odds? I don’t think so.

The bigger picture hasn’t changed much. The Suns are building around Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. Phoenix can still grow into a winner around those two.

I doubt it happens next season. And because of this summer’s moves, the Suns will have fewer resources to use when Booker and Ayton are actually ready to win.

Offseason grade: D+

Report: Trevor Ariza headed to Sacramento, agrees to two-year, $25 million contract

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The Sacramento Kings, your entertaining league-pass favorite from last season, is serious about making the playoffs this season (and ending the longest postseason drought in the NBA).

To that end, they are adding wing depth and veteran leadership in the form of Trevor Ariza, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Ariza averaged 14.1 points per game after being traded to the Wizards last season. He’s a solid veteran that new coach Luke Walton can trust with minutes.

The Kings have re-signed Harrison Barnes, who played more at the three last season for the Kings but may be pushed into service at the four considering Bogdan Bogdanovic and now Ariza also need minutes on the wing. That said, the Kings now have a lot of athletic depth to go with the speed of De'Aaron Fox and the shooting of Buddy Hield. The Kings also have added Dewayne Dedmon at the five to pair with the improving Harry Giles and anyone else they might sign.

The Kings are going to be fun again next season. And good.

Report: Kings signing Harrison Barnes (four years, $85M), Dewayne Dedmon (three years, $40M)

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The Kings will re-sign Harrison Barnes to a huge contract… and still have enough money left to get a starting center in Dewayne Dedmon.

Sam Amick of The Athletic:

That’s a lot for Barnes, but at least the Kings did it in a smart way – spending more now, when their money doesn’t go as far. This franchise is only beginning to shed its reputation as “basketball hell.” Free agents frequently spurn Sacramento. As De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley III and Bogdan Bogdanovic lead the next era, the Kings could become far more appealing down the road. And because of Barnes’ contract structure, they’ll have more flexibility then.

If Barnes’ deal is as frontloaded as possible

  • 2019-20: $24,147,727
  • 2020-21: $22,215,909
  • 2021-22: $20,284,091
  • 2022-23: $18,352,273

That’s also a lot of money for Dedmon. But the fit looks strong, and again, I’m not sure the Kings had a better way to use their cap space.

The 29-year-old Dedmon should provide an immediate upgrade at center. If his young teammates are ready to take the next step, he could make the difference between making the playoffs and not. Dedmon is a good defender who shoots 3s and just generally plays hard.

This makes it more likely incumbent starting center Willie Cauley-Stein will get his wish with Sacramento pulling his qualifying offer and making him an unrestricted free agent. But the Kings have enough cap room to sign Barnes and Demon and keep Cauley-Stein restricted.

Report: Kings to offer Harrison Barnes four-year contract worth about $88 million

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Harrison Barnes declined a $25,102,512 player option with the Kings.

He wasn’t doing that without assurances of a bigger deal.

Carmichael Dave of KHTK Sports Sacramento:

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

That’s a lot of money for Barnes, who’s a fine starting forward but hardly a standout.

He’s comfortable with the ball in his hands, shoots well from distance and capably defends bigger players in small-ball lineups. He’s also a legitimate small forward in a league thin at that position.

But his defense at small forward is mediocre. He rarely draws fouls. He doesn’t create much for others. For all his touches, he just generates passably efficient shots for himself – a skill that raises a team’s floor but limits its ceiling.

His role was reduced after Sacramento traded for him last season. He showed he could fit in and raise his shooting percentages with less usage. But is that player worth $22 million per year?

Maybe for the Kings. They’ve had such a hard time luring free agents and have plenty of money to spend. The 27-year-old Barnes can still fit with their younger core of De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley III and Bogdan Bogdanovic.

If Barnes gets $88 million over four years, his starting salary could range from $19,642,857 to $25 million. That’d leave Sacramento with about about $35 million-$41 million in cap space. Can the Kings spend that much productively now? It might make sense to frontload Barnes’ contract. Paying him more this season would allow greater flexibility down the road.

Of course, this is all relative. Signing Barnes for $88 million over four years doesn’t exactly show Sacramento is overly concerned with long-term flexibility.