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Kings make neither friends nor progress

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NBCSports.com’s 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.

The good news for the Kings this offseason: They could do nearly no wrong (with one big exception). The bad news for the Kings this offseason: They could do nearly no right (with one big exception).

Yet, even in that stuck position, they still found ways to agitate a lot of people this summer.

Sacramento has been cripplingly impatient during its 12-year playoff drought, repeatedly falling for get-good-quick schemes that fell flat and left the team even less prepared to build up later. Among the worst was a 2015 salary-dump trade with the 76ers that cost the Kings their unprotected 2019 first-rounder (and forced Sacramento to swap the No. 3 pick with Philadelphia’s No. 5 pick last year).

But that mismanagement was also liberating this summer. The Kings will almost certainly be lousy again next year, but they can aim to be as good as possible without negative consequences. Signing hamstringing veterans like they did last offseason would have been far more reasonable this year. So would prioritizing youth despite not receiving the bonus tanking benefit. It’s all whatever.

Sacramento didn’t have a quiet offseason, though – at least not to those crossing paths with the combustible franchise.

The most consequential move was draft Marvin Bagley III No. 2 over Luka Doncic, seemingly the preferred choice among Kings fans. I would have picked Doncic, and I definitely wouldn’t have picked Bagley. Sacramento’s understood rationale – Bagley wanting to be there – is especially discouraging.

Maybe Bagley will turn out better than Doncic. Even picks made for poor reasons sometimes turn out. But I’m not a believer, and I sure don’t envy Kings fans trying to talk themselves into Bagley after getting their hopes up for Doncic.

Sacramento also signed Zach LaVine to a four-year, $78 million offer sheet that – fortunately for the Kings – Chicago matched. The deal will likely be a thorn in the Bulls’ side, but they probably weren’t eager to lose a key piece of their Jimmy Butler-trade return for nothing.

From there, Sacramento moved onto players who already agreed to terms with other teams, poaching Nemanja Bjelica from the 76ers and Yogi Ferrell from the Mavericks. Those defections reflect worse on the players, but this sure wasn’t a way for the Kings to endear themselves around the league.

Guaranteeing a 30-year-old Bjelica $13,325,000 over the next two years with a third season unguaranteed at $7.15 million seems about fair. It’s not certain he’ll hold positive trade value, but he might, and Sacramento didn’t necessarily have a better use for that money.

I like the Ferrell signing more. The Kings had plenty of room to get value while out-bidding the absurdly team-friendly contract he agreed to with Dallas. Sacramento will pay him $3 million next season and got an unguaranteed season tacked on.

Between all their incitement, the Kings provided comic relief by trading for Ben McLemore – whom they once drafted No. 7, never significantly developed, never traded then let leave in free agency without even a qualifying offer extended. It was actually part of a larger trade that worked well for Sacramento, netting a 2021 Grizzlies second-rounder for Garett Temple, an overpaid but still productive 32-year-old. Temple, McLemore and the other involved player – Deyonta Davis – are all are on expiring contracts. The second-rounder helps the Kings far more than Temple would’ve. McLemore returning to Sacramento is just a humorous side effect.

Even funnier: Vlade Divac declaring the Kings are a “super team, just young.” It’s hard to see a super team – present or future – in Bagley, De'Aaron FoxBogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, Harry GilesSkal Labissiere and Justin Jackson.

But that won’t be judged yet, and Bagley was the only core player added this summer. It’s especially too soon to evaluate him fully. In these grades, I’m reluctant to assign much credit or blame for draft picks who’ve yet to play in the NBA.

They took an adventurous route, but in an offseason where the Kings had the No. 2 pick and little else to change their fortunes, the Kings used essentially only the No. 2 pick to change their fortunes. We don’t yet what that’ll mean, but this grade reflects at least a little bit of my Bagley skepticism.

Offseason grade: C-

Yogi Ferrell says no hard feelings with Dallas, he needed change in career

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Yogi Ferrell verbally agreed to a contract to stay with the Dallas Mavericks — then realized his agent had gotten him into a terrible contract. Rather than take the one-year qualifying offer for $2.9 million then become an unrestricted free agent next year, but the deal they first agreed to was for less money ($2.5 million) then gave Dallas all the power with a $2.9 million player option the second year. Backing out of an agreed to deal is not a good look, but Ferrell wanted to get a better deal for himself.

He did with a two-year, $6.2 million contract with the Kings.

On The Jim Rome Show a couple days ago, Ferrell said there were no hard feelings.

“I was fortunate (the Mavericks) were able to put me in the position that they were in. There were no hard feelings. I decided I needed the chance in my career. With my style of play, I feel like it fits better with the Kings than the Mavericks.”

He thanked the Mavericks — including Mark Cuban and coach Rick Carlisle specifically — for giving him a chance when other teams did not. However, with ball handlers such as Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic on the roster, his role was not going to expand.

Sacramento has De'Aaron Fox at the point and Ferrell will back him up, getting run in an athletic second unit that includes Buddy Hield, Harry Giles (who showed real promise at Summer League) and more. Ferrell is going to get more of a chance, then can be a free agent in 2020 when there should be a lot more cash available in the market than this past summer.

Report: Zach LaVine signs four-year, $78 million offer sheet with Kings, Bulls to match.

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UPDATE: The Chicago Bulls are going to match

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The Sacramento Kings had been talking to LaVine about a potential offer, and they came in big reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The deal has no options and no-trade clauses, according to Vince Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago. The Bulls’ deadline is 11:59 ET on Sunday.

To keep a team from matching on a restricted free agent, the team with the offer sheet usually has to overpay. Still, that is A LOT of money for LaVine. A lot.

That said, the Bulls and LaVine were talking and sources said the salary offer was around $18 million a season. Is that $2 million a season worth losing him? Or, have the Bulls shifted their focus more toward Lauri Markkanen as the cornerstone of the future.

LaVine is a bet on potential, he has shown a lot in stretches, but his game is based on athleticism and he is coming off an ACL surgery, then had to be shut down last season with knee tendonitis. Health has to be a concern.

However, if healthy he has the tools to be a quality two guard in the NBA. His last season in Minnesota before the ACL injury he averaged 18.9 points per game with an above-average 57.6 true shooting percentage and the ability to hit threes. The questions are can he get back to that place physically, and can his game mature to make up for any loss of athleticism? LaVine does put in the work. Also, to LaVine’s credit, since coming to the Bulls he embraced the role of being the new face of the franchise in public.

The Kings are betting that the Bulls don’t want to go up to $20 million, and Sacramento will have added to a young core that includes De'Aaron FoxBuddy Hield, and Marvin Bagley III. They will have some quality young pieces who can play an exciting up-tempo style.

Which rebuilding team is willing to pay LaVine for his potential?

Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell receive, Jayson Tatum one vote shy of, unanimous All-Rookie first-team selections

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The 76ers’ Ben Simmons, Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell, Celtics’ Jayson Tatum and Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma were locks for the All-Rookie first team.

The final seemingly up-for-grabs spot? It went to the Bulls’ Lauri Markkanen, and it wasn’t close.

Here’s the full voting for All-Rookie teams (first-team votes, second-team votes, total voting points):

First team

  • Donovan Mitchell, UTA (100-0-200)
  • Ben Simmons, PHI (100-0-200)
  • Jayson Tatum, BOS (99-1-199)
  • Kyle Kuzma, LAL (93-7-193)
  • Lauri Markkanen, CHI (76-21-173)

Second team

Others receiving votes:

The first team matches our choices.

Dennis Smith Jr. and Josh Jackson are the only selections I’d quibble with. Those two were just so destructive with shooting efficiency and defense. To be fair, they were pressed into larger roles than they were ready for on bad teams. But if the goal is picking the rookies who had the best seasons (what I aim to do), Smith and Jackson didn’t cut it.

However, some voters give more credence to long-term potential, and Smith and Jackson both have plenty of that. Other voters are drawn by bigger per-game numbers, which Smith and Jackson produced in their larger roles. So, it’s minimally surprising they made it.

That one first-team vote for Jackson, though? That’s odd – and it was enough to get him on the second team by one voting point over Heat center Bam Adebayo.

Manu Ginobili leads Spurs over Kings to clinch 21st straight playoff berth

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Rudy Gay scored 18 points, Manu Ginobili had 17 and the San Antonio Spurs rallied late to beat the Sacramento Kings 98-85 on Monday night and clinch their 21st straight postseason appearance.

Sacramento, which was eliminated from the postseason on March 11, led by 14 points before being outscored 38-19 in the fourth quarter.

Reserves Gay, Ginobili and Bryn Forbes combined for 25 points in the fourth quarter. Forbes finished with 11 points total.

Willie Cauley-Stein led Sacramento with 25 points and 10 rebounds. De'Aaron Fox added 21 points, and Buddy Hield had 17.

Forbes’ fast-break layup off a steal by Kyle Anderson gave San Antonio its first advantage at 68-67 with 10:21 remaining. Sacramento went back ahead seconds later when Hield hit a 3-pointer, and the lead changed three times after that before Ginobili and Gay gave the Spurs’ the edge for good.

Gay and Ginobili had thunderous dunks in the final five minutes that helped San Antonio maintain small leads.

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Gay also had a 3-point play off a runner he tossed in and ripped the ball from Cauley-Stein while blocking the 7-footers shot.

A 3-pointer by Forbes and a layup by Ginobili 30 seconds later to gave the Spurs an 82-77 lead with 5:23 remaining.

LaMarcus Aldridge added 15 points and 14 rebounds but was 6 for 19 from the field.

Sacramento forced the rally with some hot shooting through three quarters.

Fox, who was shooting 30 percent from 3-point range for the season, made his first three 3s. He finished 3 for 5.

The Kings had 11 offensive rebounds through three quarters to the consternation of the Spurs’ fans, who groaned louder with each.

Sacramento shot 41 percent for the game.