Kings

The ripple effect of Iman Shumpert reportedly opting in with the Kings

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USATSI

The ripple effect of Iman Shumpert reportedly opting in with the Kings

The Sacramento Kings came into the offseason with a couple of looming decisions regarding their veterans. First, Kosta Koufos picked up his player option last month, choosing an $8.7 million payday over free agency. It now appears that Iman Shumpert is ready to make a similar decision.

According to Shams Charania of Yahoo!, Shumpert has informed the Kings that he will exercise his player option for the final season of the four-year, $40 million deal he signed in 2015. Shumpert is scheduled to make $11 million this season in Sacramento.

Shumpert joined the Kings at the trade deadline as part of the deal that sent George Hill and his $20 million contract for the 2018-19 season to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The 27-year-old wing sat out the second half of the season after developing plantar fasciitis in his left foot while rehabbing from left knee surgery. He has never officially suited up in a Kings uniform for a regular season game.

Limited to just 14 games with the Cavaliers, the seven-year NBA vet scored 4.4 points and grabbed 2.9 rebounds per game. After missing most of the 2017-18 season, his decision to opt in was almost foregone conclusion from the moment he was acquired.

The Ripple Effect

Shumpert’s decision to stay in Sacramento might have a carry-over to another veteran weighing his options. Garrett Temple has to choose whether to return for one season at $8 million or test free agency.

The Kings have made no effort to hide their youth movement, leaving both Shumpert and Temple in a precarious position when it comes to minutes. The duo can play spot duty at the small forward position, but both are natural shooting guards.

Sacramento has Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield ready to take the majority of minutes at the two, and the team hopes to address the small forward position via the draft or through free agency.

Roster Crunch

With Shumpert in tow, the Kings have 10 players with guaranteed contracts next season, before Temple makes his decision. They also have the second overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft and an early second round pick as well, which could conceivably push their roster to 12 or 13 players before the opening of free agency on July 1.

If the Kings hope to make the roster changes necessary to improve, they’ll need to be aggressive on the market with their group of expiring contracts and possibly one or more of their young players.

Financial Impact

Shumpert’s $11 million is a tough pill to swallow, but much better than paying George Hill’s $19 million owed next season. Vlade Divac saved $8 million in cash and roughly $6 million in cap space for the 2018-19 season when factoring in Georgios Papagiannis’ $2 million in dead money. The 20-year-old big was waived to make room for the Hill transaction.

If Temple opts out and hits the free agent market, the Kings would have roughly $28 million to spend in free agency this summer. If Temple opts in, that number would be reduced to $20 million, which is still substantially more than most teams have this offseason.

Sacramento is in a strong, long-term financial position. Willie Cauley-Stein is the only young player entering the final year of his rookie deal and he will likely have to play out this season without a contract extension offer.

Koufos, Shumpert, Zach Randolph and Temple, if he opts in, will all become free agents after this season, giving the Kings an estimated $63 million in cap room for the summer of 2019.

The Out

Shumpert opted in, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he will open the season in Kings purple. Sacramento can shop the veteran now to teams on the trade market looking for veteran defensive help or hold on to him until closer to the deadline when expiring contracts have potential value.

If the Kings decide to jump into the free agent market with two feet and need extra cap space, they also have the option of waiving Shumpert and using the NBA’s stretch provision. His $11 million salary would break down into three separate chunks, clearing $7.3 million in cap space this season while costing the Kings roughly $3.7 million each of the next two seasons when they have plenty of cap space to work with.

NBA rumors: Bulls players eyed boycott of coach Jim Boylen's practice

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USATSI

NBA rumors: Bulls players eyed boycott of coach Jim Boylen's practice

The Sacramento Kings know dysfunction when they see it, particularly after years of losing basketball and oddly timed personnel changes.

They’ll see it again Monday night, but this time, it will be from the 6-21 Chicago Bulls, their opponents, who are mired in last place in the Eastern Conference.

Jim Boylen, the new Bulls coach in his first week after Fred Hoiberg’s firing, evidently isn’t too popular with his players. After coaching the Bulls through an embarrassing 56-point home loss to the Celtics on Saturday, he promised another grueling practice Sunday.

That sparked talk of something much more common in 18th-century navies than in the 21st-century NBA:

Mutiny

Take it away, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic ...

That grueling practice never took place Sunday because the Bulls players discussed a boycott of practice, multiple sources told The Athletic. Veteran players spent Saturday night trying to talk Boylen out of a Sunday session, sources said, and when their pleas were rejected, they began bouncing around other ideas in a team-wide group text.

The texts started Saturday night and carried into Sunday morning. One idea that had significant support, according to sources, was the players simply not showing up to the Advocate Center on Sunday. A preliminary plan was to gather at one player’s house and wait for the phones to begin buzzing. That plan fizzled because Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez spoke up, voicing their concerns about the unprofessionalism of that potential act of rebellion, as well as the impact such a stance could have on the roster’s younger, less established players, sources said.

Another idea discussed centered on players walking into the practice facility Sunday morning as a unified group before turning and immediately walking out.

In the end, players reported to work and rather than practice on the court or review Saturday night’s game in the film room, they held two meetings — one with players airing their grievances among themselves, followed by one with coaches entering the room to do the same with players.

The meetings began around noon. Just before 2 p.m., they were done.

What sounds done is Bulls players’ patience with Boylen, a former San Antonio Spurs assistant whom Mayberry noted cites Gregg Popovich’s tactics yet doesn’t have the legendary coach’s credibility. It’s Boylen’s first week on the job, so that’s no surprise.

There’s much more to this story, and we won’t recite every gritty detail here, but the Kings can take solace in the fact they won’t be the team dealing with coaching whispers and team-wide drama in this game.

You honestly couldn’t say that a few weeks ago, as rumors about Kings coach Dave Joerger’s future swirled. Winning is the best deodorant, though, and the 13-12 Kings should be smelling a victory over a down-in-the-dumps foe in Chicago.

Kings Under Review: Backcourt shines, forwards struggle vs. Pacers

Kings Under Review: Backcourt shines, forwards struggle vs. Pacers

After a hot start in the first quarter, the Sacramento Kings hit a wall in Indiana. It was partially due to the Pacers strong defensive effort, but the Kings seemed to lose their legs on the second night of a back-to-back.

Seven Pacers scored in double-figures, and they held the Kings under 100 points for just the third time all season. Indiana limited Sacramento to 42.2 percent shooting from the field and just 28.1 from long range to improve to 16-10 on the season.

Despite their offensive struggles, the Kings were in the game during the fourth quarter, but they could find their range or get the necessary stops to beat a solid Pacers team.

Sacramento currently stand at 13-12 on the season after the loss. Here are two positives and two negative from the game:

POSITIVES

Buoyed by the Backcourt

De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield scored a combined 55 points in the win over Cleveland and they were back at it again in Indiana.

Hield led Sacramento with 20 points on 8-of-20 shooting, although he went cold from the 3-point line for much of the game. After dropping in three straight triples in the first quarter and finishing the period with 13 points, Hield missed his next seven from behind the arc.

Fox struggled from the perimeter as well, missing all three of his long shots. He still managed to post 18 points, six assists, two blocks and a steal in 32 minutes of action.

These two are becoming a deadly tandem and turning heads around the league.

Justin Jackson showing signs of life

Jackson has struggled to find his way at the NBA after an extremely successful run at North Carolina, but he's starting to make a contribution for Sacramento. 

He was a non-factor early, but when the game was on the line, Jackson three 3-pointers in the fourth to keep the Kings in the game. He finished the evening with 11 points in 25 minutes.

Over his last five games, the 23-year-old small forward has hit 10-of-16 (62.5 percent) from 3-point land. If he can continue to play quality defense and hit his open shots, he's worthy of a longer look.

NEGATIVES

Trouble at the Four

The tandem of Nemanja Bjelica and Marvin Bagley III have been really good for Sacramento for most of the season. They had an off night in Indy.

Bjelica finished the game with six points on 2-for-6 shooting, including 0-for-3 from long range. His misses from deep were from way outside, including bricks from 30, 30 and 26 feet. He grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds in the loss, but the Kings needed more.

Bagley couldn't keep his hands to himself and the officiating crew punished him. The rookie big played a total of 9:43 before fouling out. He finished with just four points and two rebounds.

In addition to the rough numbers offensively, Thaddeus Young dropped in a team-high 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Pacers and Domantas Sabonis put up numbers playing the four as well.

The Fade

Sacramento looked ready to play early. They led by as many as nine points in the first quarter and finished up 31-24 after 12 minutes of action. But it wasn't their night.

The Kings looked tired and overmatched after a fast start and when the game was on the line, they couldn't get the stops they needed.

Both teams played on the road the night before, so the Kings can't use that as an excuse. Sacramento was outscored 83-66 in the final 36 minutes.

Indiana is a seasoned, veteran team which helps in these back-to-back situations, but there are no giveaway games if you want to be in the playoff discussion come April.