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Kings sign GM Vlade Divac to four-year deal

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Update: Kings release:

Today, the Sacramento Kings announced that the team has extended the contract of General Manager Vlade Divac through the 2022-23 season.

“It is an exciting time to be in Sacramento and I am honored to continue my work of building towards sustained success for this franchise,” said Kings General Manager Vlade Divac. “I believe our team has what it takes to win and make the playoffs. I want to thank Vivek, the entire Kings organization and the fans for all their support.”

“Vlade has been vital to what we are building here and I am so pleased to announce his extension,” said Kings Owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadivé. “Throughout his entire career, Vlade is someone who has always made those around him better, both on and off the court. I look forward to our bright future ahead as we work to make Sacramento Proud.”

 

The Kings were the NBA’s most pleasant surprise. Widely expected to be among the league’s worst teams, Sacramento went 39-43 – its best season in years. The Kings played fast and fun. De'Aaron Fox improved like crazy. Buddy Hield broke out. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Willie Cauley-Stein and Marvin Bagley III bolstered a young supporting cast.

Rightfully, the person in charge of the roster will get rewarded.

Sam Amick of The Athletic:

According to two​ sources with​ knowledge of​ the​ situation,​​ Kings general manager Vlade Divac has agreed to terms on a four-year deal that runs through the 2022-23 season.

According to the sources, the fate of the Kings’ third-year coach rests solely in Divac’s hands. As part of Divac’s agreement, owner Vivek Ranadive made it clear that the team’s top basketball executive will make the final call on the coach who has one season and approximately $5 million remaining on his current contract.

Divac got off to a rough start as an executive. He has seemingly grown into his role and has absolutely put the Kings on the right track. They’re wise to lock him up.

But dysfunction clearly remains within the organization. There’s no other way to explain Dave Joerger, who deserves serious Coach of the Year consideration, not being certain to return. Joerger is caught in a larger divide, though it’s not as if he lacks his own internal squabbles.

Plenty of challenges remain for Divac. The Kings must continue to build without this year’s first-round pick, which he traded in an awful deal earlier in his tenure. Sacramento must handle Harrison Barnes, an in-season addition who didn’t lead to the desired immediate success and holds a $25,102,512 player option for next season. And the Kings must determine who’ll coach them.

But Sacramento finally has a promising collection of young talent. Divac has given himself a strong foundation to build on as he confronts other challenges.

Embiid has 21 points, 17 rebounds, leads 76ers past Kings

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A little rest and a taste of spring did a lot for Jimmy Butler.

Butler had 22 points, six rebounds and seven assists while playing with the type of assertiveness coach Brett Brown says the 76ers need from him in Philadelphia’s 123-114 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.

Joel Embiid added 21 points and 17 rebounds and made some big plays on both ends of the court late in the fourth quarter for the 76ers, who won their third in a row to pull even with idle Indiana for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Philadelphia holds the tiebreaker with the Pacers and is trying to maintain hold of home court in a first-round playoff series, something Brown said he coveted before the contest. Fifth-seeded Boston is two games behind the 76ers and Pacers.

In order to secure home court and go deep in the playoffs, Brown knows he’ll need Butler to play the way he did against the Kings.

“He was our bell ringer,” Brown said. “We will not be as good as we can be without him playing the way he played tonight.”

Butler rested in Philadelphia’s last game, a 106-99 victory over Cleveland on Tuesday. And he felt even more refreshed by Friday’s weather in Philly, which reached 75 degrees.

“That’s all it takes,” Butler said. “Rest and good weather. It makes my knees not ache.”

And it’s only going to warm up as the postseason draws near, a great sign for 76ers fans.

“The snow is gone,” Butler said. “We’re good. We’re ready to rock.”

Tobias Harris and JJ Redick each added 19 points and Ben Simmons contributed 18 for the 76ers.

Harrison Barnes and De'Aaron Fox had 16 points apiece for Sacramento, which lost its third in a row and seventh in the last nine to further hurt its playoff push. The Kings, who last made the postseason in 2006, entered ninth in the West, five games behind the Clippers.

“We’re playing hard, we’re playing the right way, we’re playing together,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “The wins are going to come.”

And how?

“Don’t play Golden State, Oklahoma City, Denver, Philly, Boston . I can go on,” Joerger joked.

With Philadelphia clinging to a four-point lead with 3 minutes remaining, Embiid blocked Willie Cauley-Stein‘s layup attempt. Two possessions later, Embiid rejected Barnes’ close-range try before hitting a short jumper of his own to make it 121-114 with 1:45 remaining.

“At the end of the day, I think Joel Embiid made two defensive plays that were terrific,” Joerger said.

The Kings were playing one night after a 126-120 loss at Boston, a game in which they had a 17-point first-half lead.

Against Philadelphia, Sacramento played from behind from the outset. Philadelphia increased its 62-58 halftime advantage to as many as 13 in the third quarter on Redick’s 3 that made it 93-80 with 2:13 left in the period.

The 76ers had a 10-point advantage to start the fourth, but Yogi Ferrell‘s 3 capped a 9-2 Kings run to start the period that pulled Sacramento within 101-98 with 9:25 to play. But Simmons scored consecutive buckets from close range to increase the lead to seven and Sacramento never would get closer than three the rest of the way.

 

Clippers solidify playoff chances with 116-109 win over Kings

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Landry Shamet scored eight of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, Lou Williams made two free throws with 7.9 seconds left and the Los Angeles Clippers held off the Sacramento Kings 116-109 on Friday night.

Danilo Gallinari had 19 points and nine rebounds, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 15 and Ivica Zubac added 10 points and 10 rebounds to help the Clippers complete a season sweep of the Kings in a game that was critical for both teams’ postseason hopes.

The Clippers end the night the seven seed in the West, three full games (two in the loss column) ahead of the 10-seed Kings (and four full games up on the Lakers who lost to the Bucks Friday). The Kings are 2.5 games behind the Spurs, who are the eight seed and the team holding the final playoff slot in the West.

Buddy Hield had 23 points for Sacramento. De'Aaron Fox added 12 points and 12 assists, and Willie Cauley-Stein had 16 points and 12 rebounds.

It wasn’t easy.

The Kings trimmed a 13-point deficit to 110-107 with 1:16 remaining following back-to-back dunks from Harrison Barnes and Cauley-Stein.

Williams made a short jumper then added two free throws after Fox scored on a layup. Montrezl Harrell added a pair of free throws with 1.5 seconds left.

The Clippers have won nine straight against the Kings.

Neither team gained much of an advantage during a back-and-forth first half. The Clippers led by 10 midway through the first quarter but Harry Giles made back-to-back shots and Hield added three free throws to put the Kings ahead 56-52 at halftime.

 

Three Things to Know: It wasn’t pretty, but Lakers get first win without LeBron James

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LOS ANGELES — Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) It wasn’t pretty, but Lakers get first win without LeBron James. There were positives if you’re a Laker fan: Brandon Ingram looked the most comfortable he has all season, and any time you get a win against another team in the playoff chase in the West while your best player is out it’s a good thing.

But if I were going to choose a word to describe the 121-114 Lakers win over the Kings Sunday night it would be…

Sloppy.

This game was filled with all kinds of passes into the front row, guys picking up their dribbles without a plan, moving screens, three-second violations, and Willie Cauley-Stein getting the rebound and trying to go coast-to-coast type moments. Defense was often an afterthought.

Honestly, it was fun. Entertaining as heck (surprisingly, the Kings have become a League Pass favorite this season because their games are always a show). It just was not pretty.

Especially for Sacramento fans. At the 7:25 mark of the fourth quarter the Kings had a 108-101 lead, but Sacramento would shoot 3-of-14 the rest of the way, including 0-of-7 from three. While the Lakers picked up their defensive intensity, the Kings just missed wide-open corner threes and other looks they had been hitting all night.

“We missed some shots, the open ones that we had, and we didn’t get stops down the stretch,” De’Aaron Fox said after the game. “The last few games we’ve won, we got stops down the stretch and we didn’t do that today.”

The loss stung the Kings.

“Trying to make the playoffs in this conference, you really start to think about the ones you let slip,” Fox said.

For the Lakers, it was a win without LeBron, but the best part was Brandon Ingram, who finished with 21 points on 13 shot attempts, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds. He had passes that could have led to 11 more assists, but guys just missed the shot. The difference was Ingram was making quick decisions rather than facing up and surveying, and with that the offense flowed better.

“I thought Brandon Ingram, he showed, tonight, the complete game…” Laker coach Luke Walton said. “With him, it’s not about looking for his teammates first or not, it’s just making the right play. I thought tonight he did that. He seemed to have a joy about him playing tonight that, when he has it, it’s a lot of fun to watch.”

The question is, will Ingram have that joy when LeBron returns from his groin injury?

For now, the Lakers will ignore the questions and just take the win. They are 1-2 without LeBron and Oklahoma City is up next.

2) Luka Doncic drops Paul George, Mavericks come back in last two minutes to beat Thunder. And the legend of Luka Doncic continues to grow… how about a hesitation move that drops Paul George? Here you go.

Much like Sacramento is kicking itself for letting a game it thought it had get away, Oklahoma City is doing the same thing. The Thunder were ahead 101-95 with less than 2 minutes to go in the game, but the Mavericks went on a 10-2 in the final 1:56 to get the 105-103 win. That’s a tough loss for OKC.

3) Karl-Anthony Towns goes off for historic 34 points, 18 rebounds, in Minnesota win in Miami. Minnesota has struggled this season, never really defending well, not scoring consistently, and never really recovering fully from the Jimmy Butler-induced nightmare to start the season.

But they still have Karl-Anthony Towns, and he is still outstanding. Just ask the Miami Heat, who had no answer for him on Sunday.

Towns had 34 points, 18 rebounds, seven assists, six blocks, and three steals. Those are Kareem-Abdul Jabbar numbers.

Three Things to Know: Warriors try to flip the switch, Damian Lillard turns it back off

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Warriors try to flip the switch, Damian Lillard turns it back off. Coming off an embarrassing Christmas Day loss on their home court, the Golden State Warriors rolled out Thursday night at Oracle Arena and… played worse. Somehow. Even sloppier. Even more disinterested. It showed in how the Warriors shot 29.5 percent from three all night, but it was most evident in their 6-of-15 from the free throw line (40 percent).

But the Warriors tried to flip the switch like they have done so often the last couple of regular seasons.

Down 10 late the fourth quarter, the Warriors went on a 16-6 run fueled by Kevin Durant, who capped it off with a three to force overtime.

This is what the Warriors have done for a couple of seasons now — lose interest through much of the regular season, then play well enough for a half, a quarter, or just one run to get the win. They have enough talent to coast to a 23-12 record heading into Thursday night, despite all the time Stephen Curry and Draymond Green missed, despite the Durant/Green dust-up, despite the Klay Thompson shooting slump, despite everything.

Damian Lillard, however, is clutch and handed the Warriors their 13th loss. Despite going 2-of-7 from three on the night and almost fumbling away his last chance, Lillard got off a three over Curry in OT that proved to be a game winner.

There’s no big picture takeaway from this sloppy mid-season game. If you’re a Golden State fan looking for positives — “I love the way we competed in the second half,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said afterward — you are really reaching. There was not much to like in this one. If you’re Portland, sitting in the middle of a crowded Western Conference (2.5 games out of first place but just 1.5 from falling out of the playoffs entirely) just take the win, don’t ask questions and move along.

2) Bogdan Bogdanovic hits game-winning three in a punch to the gut of LeBron-less Lakers. If the Lakers were going to face a good team without LeBron James, Sacramento was the best choice (and yes, right now the 19-16, in-the-playoff-hunt Kings are a good team, surprising as that is). Why? The Kings have found their identity in pace and play fast, and with LeBron out up-tempo was how the Lakers were going to thrive.

And they did, with Kyle Kuzma scoring 33 points and Lonzo Ball adding 20 points and 12 assists (outdueling rival De’Aaron Fox for a night). The Lakers led almost the entire second half, but a late push back from the Kings had it close late. After Brandon Ingram (22 points on 19 shots, too much isolation where he was not effective) missed a free throw, Sacramento got the rebound, called timeout, and coach Dave Joerger drew up this for Bogdan Bogdanovic.

Joerger was smart on this play in a couple of ways. First, Buddy Hield is the Kings best shooter, but he was cold Thursday night (2-of-8, 0-of-2 from three) so the coach turned to the hot hand in Bogdanovic, who already had nine fourth quarter points (not ever coach goes away from his star in this spot). Second, he had Bogdanovic come off a Willie Cauley-Stein screen that forced a switch, putting Tyson Chandler on Bogdanovic — Chandler is a 7-footer and an active defender, but he doesn’t like to be in the rarefied air beyond the arc. That got Bogdanovic enough room for the shot.

Bogdanovic has proven to be the best thing the Kings got in that draft night trade with Phoenix that sent Marquese Chriss to the Suns. Actually, he’s just flat-out the best player in the deal. Not something anyone saw coming.

For the Lakers, Bogdanovic’s shot was a punch to the gut.

Los Angeles is going to have to go a couple of weeks (give or take) without LeBron and they need to find a few wins. Not easy to do in a West where there are no gimmies, L.A.’s next three are the Clippers (Friday night on a back-to-back), these Kings again Sunday, then the Thunder.

3) James Harden drops eighth-straight 30-point game and Boston can do nothing to stop him. Two teams that expected to be in title contention this season, but then got off to ugly starts only to apparently right the ships recently, got together Thursday night when Houston hosted Boston.

The big takeaway? James Harden was the best player on the court and Boston had no answers for him. The Beard had 45 points on 26 shot attempts and got to the line 17 times in Houston’s 127-113 win.

Harden has averaged 40.5 points in the past eight games, and that has helped carry the Rockets back into the playoffs. But it’s more than just Harden taking over, the Rockets have hit threes around him (not so much Thursday, 9-of-27 from the supporting players), and with the shots falling you see hustle on defense and guys going after loose balls in ways they did not earlier in the season. More importantly, when the other team makes a run — and Boston made runs — you don’t see the shoulders drop, the body language sag, and a sense of resignation from the Rockets. Now, they are a team that fights back.

That fight shows Houston’s turnaround is legit.

Boston took another tough loss in this one. Not stopping Harden is one thing — there are 28 other teams trying to figure out how to do that and failing — but the Celtics were outworked on the glass and generally out-muscled all game long. Houston was the more physical team and that was the big difference.

On their “how real is the turnaround” stretch of games, the Celtics are 2-2 — losses to the Bucks and Rockets, wins over the Sixers and Hornets. Road games against Memphis (another physical team) and San Antonio await. It’s not panic button time in Boston by any means, but this is not the team Celtics fans thought they were going to be watching this season. Not even close. And there is no one, simple answer to turning it around.