Vlade Divac

NBA rumors: Buddy Hield unhappy with role, might request offseason trade

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NBA rumors: Buddy Hield unhappy with role, might request offseason trade

No one likes to get demoted. Kings shooting guard Buddy Hield is no exception.

After starting 126 straight games for the Kings, Hield was moved to the bench before the team’s Jan. 24 game against the Chicago Bulls. For whatever reason, the move has sparked the Kings to a 6-3 record and increased production, not only from Hield, but De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic as well.

In a long breakdown of the current state of the Kings on The Athletic, this nugget of information was thrown into the mix.

“If Hield remains displeased with his role, a source with knowledge of his thinking said he might request a trade,” writes Shams Charania. “He believes he is a starter in the NBA and there’s no guarantee he’ll get that job back, given how the team has played lately.”

There is no question that Hield considers himself a starter in the league. As he prepares for his second straight 3-point contest at All-Star weekend, the fourth-year guard has refused to discuss his situation publicly, which is a break from how he has handled previous situations this season.

It’s clear he would rather work with the first team, but for now, he has avoided unloading on head coach Luke Walton or management for the decision.

Since heading to the second unit, Hield has flourished. He’s posting 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 28.6 minutes over the last nine games. He’s also hit 47-of-92 (51.1 percent) from behind the arc during that stretch.

This isn’t how the Kings planned out their season, especially after signing Hield to a four-year, $86 million extension over the summer. But it’s clear that the frustrations Hield is feeling are mutual.

The team wasn’t thrilled with the way he conducted contract negotiations through the press leading into the season. They also weren’t exactly enamored with his decision to go public with his grievances over fourth quarter playing time in December.

“It seems like we’re all over the place, the coaches and everybody - trust issues going on, I guess guys stop believing in players,” Hield said. “It is what it is, man. They have who they have playing out there and I just have to be supportive.

“I want to make plays and make shots,” Hield added. “I feel like I wasn’t trusted the past two games to be on the court, so as a player, no matter what, I feel like it’s my job to go out there and compete at a high level and guys know that if I’m struggling or not, they’ve still got to ride the wave.”

Hield later apologized to his coaches and teammates for his comments. He is an emotional player, especially after tough losses. Unfortunately, this is a pattern of decision making, not a one-off situation.

For now, Hield will stay with the second unit. Walton has repeatedly said this isn’t a permanent situation, but with the team winning and all three of the Kings’ primary guards playing well since the swap, it’s likely we will continue to see this rotation moving forward.

Hield is just finishing his rookie scale contract, which pays him $4.9 million this season. His salary jumps to $24.4 million next year as his new extension kicks in.

The Kings love Hield’s ability to stretch the floor and create running lanes for Fox. He is the fastest player to 800 3-point makes and with the way he’s currently shooting, he easily will surpass his team-record 275 3-point makes that he set last season.

It would behoove the Kings to find some common ground with their soon-to-be highest-paid player moving forward, but it will be difficult. The team spurned offers for Bogdanovic at the trade deadline with the hopes of signing him to a long extension this summer when he becomes a restricted free agent.

Fox isn’t going anywhere, either. The Kings starting point guard is due an extension this summer as well and is likely looking at a max-money five-year deal.

[RELATED: Holmes has labral tear, will be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks]

With a rash of injuries and no clear return date for either Richaun Holmes or Marvin Bagley, Walton could attempt to go small with his starting lineup. Harrison Barnes has played plenty of power forward in the past and the team has used Nemanja Bjelica as a small-ball five on many occasions this season.

Walton also could stay the course and hope that continued success breeds harmony in the locker room. It’s a complicated situation, but one that will take time to figure out.

For now, Hield is biting his tongue. He wants to be a starter. He wants to play major minutes. He wants to win.

That last point is key. As long as the Kings are winning, Buddy Hield may have to come off the bench and wait for his next opportunity.

Vlade Divac admits Dewayne Dedmon wasn't level of player Kings expected

Vlade Divac admits Dewayne Dedmon wasn't level of player Kings expected

SACRAMENTO -- Good intentions don’t always show good results.

When the Sacramento Kings signed Dewayne Dedmon to a three-year, $40 million contract, it was with the hopes that the veteran would help stretch the floor and open spacing for Marvin Bagley in the post.

Bagley broke his thumb in the season opener and Dedmon never quite found his shooting stroke. On Saturday evening, Kings general manager Vlade Divac sat down with the media to discuss the changes made at the NBA trade deadline, including the deal that sent Dedmon to the Atlanta Hawks.

“I don’t like, obviously, players or anybody to talk about stuff publically before things go through,” Divac said. “Definitely disappointed for me, for the organization and I’m sure from Dedmon’s side that things didn’t work. We had good intentions. He didn’t work out. We’re happy to move on and wish Dedmon all the best. Definitely, he wasn’t what we expected.”

The Kings were lucky to find a taker for the 30-year-old 7-footer. He averaged just 5.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and shot 19.7 percent from behind the arc in a Kings uniform.

Dedmon was outplayed during camp and again early in the season by Richaun Holmes, prompting coach Luke Walton to make a change in his starting lineup after just four games.

It cost the Kings two second-round draft picks to move on from Dedmon, but they also picked up Jabari Parker and Alex Len in the transaction. Parker is a player that Divac and his staff have had an eye on for a while and Len can fill some of the void left by Dedmon’s departure.

“Jabari - a player we’ve loved in the last couple of years and finally, we were able to get him on our team,” Divac said. “And Alex is a big guy that can block shots, set good screens, rebounds - things that we need to improve on our team.”

At 20-31, the Kings are not where they wanted to be. They came into the season with high hopes of snapping their 13-year playoff drought. There are still more than 30 games remaining in the season, but the hole the team has dug is deep.

[RELATED: How Kings did in Hawks trade]

“I feel the same way, just like everybody else - I think we can do better,” Divac said. “Yes, injuries are part of it, but it didn’t go the way we wanted it to. So we’ve just got to fight.”

Parker is getting extremely close to a return after missing most of January with a shoulder impingement issue. He hopes to play on Monday, although the team has yet to comment on that possibility. Len isn’t far behind in his recovery from a hip flexor injury.

Kings roster reset: Position-by-position look after NBA trade deadline

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Kings roster reset: Position-by-position look after NBA trade deadline

Sacramento Kings general manager Vlade Divac reset his roster over the past two weeks, bringing in four new faces to compete for court time. Now head coach Luke Walton has the tall task of piecing his rotations together on the fly while still dealing with injuries to part of his core group.

Dewayne Dedmon, Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan and Wenyen Gabriel are gone. Dedmon is headed to Atlanta, while the other three are up in Portland finding their way with the Trail Blazers.

Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver joined the Kings after starting the season with the Blazers and both have played in the last seven games for Sacramento. Newcomers Jabari Parker and Alex Len joined the Kings in a deadline deal on Wednesday and while they are in Sacramento already, they are both currently banged up.

With the team struggling at 19-31, the Kings shook up the squad. It’s on Walton to work through combinations of players, but here is a rough outline of what we should see in the final 32 games of the season.

Point Guard

De’Aaron Fox is on fire and Walton is going to want even more from his 22-year-old point guard down the stretch. He’s averaging 20.2 points, seven assists and 4.3 rebounds per game on the season, but he posted the best month of his career in January and the Kings will feature him down the stretch.

With Fox eating more of the minutes, the means that we will likely see slightly less of Cory Joseph. With Fox injured early in the season, Joseph stepped up and played well for Sacramento. He’s played better with the second unit and provided a nice backcourt mate with Buddy Hield.
 
Yogi Ferrell probably deserves better than spot duty, but he’s stayed ready and performed well when given the opportunity. Barring an injury, he will likely struggle to get on the court in the last three months of the season.

Shooting Guard

Since Walton swapped Hield out of the starting lineup for Bogdan Bogdanovic, the Kings are thriving. Bogdanovic is providing spacing and a second ball-handler with the starting unit, which takes a ton of pressure off of Fox. He’s also beginning to hit shots and he’s been extremely efficient. More importantly, the Kings are 4-2 since Bogdanovic stepped into a starting role.

Hield has also found his rhythm with the second unit as the primary scoring option. Since the swap, he’s averaging 22.2 points on 52.2 percent from the field and 48.4 percent from long range. Hield has played better on both sides of the ball and he’s producing better numbers in eight minutes per game less than what he was averaging as a starter. He could use more minutes, but he’s making the most of the time he gets and he’s a big reason the team is surging.

Justin James has seen some time at the two as well, but the rookie second-rounder has played sparingly this season. The Kings love his energy and athleticism, but the chance of him breaking into the rotation this season at either the two or the three is unlikely.

Small Forward

Harrison Barnes has carried the weight at this position for much of the season, but deadline additions may take some of the stress off the 27-year-old forward. His numbers are down across the board in December and January, which might be a byproduct of a busy off-season, that included a late summer World Cup performance for Team USA.

Bazemore has fit right in with the Kings since coming from Portland in the Ariza deal. He plays with energy and enthusiasm, especially on the defensive end, where he utilizes his length and athleticism. Bazemore is a nice change of pace from Barnes and he should play 20 or minutes per game down the stretch for Sacramento, unless they go into development mode late and give James some time at the wing.

Power Forward

The trade deadline may not have helped clear the log jam upfront. In fact, it may have added to the mess. Nemanja Bjelica has stepped in with Marvin Bagley’s injuries and played extremely well for the Kings this season. His ability to stretch the floor and his high basketball IQ make him a nice frontcourt partner for Richaun Holmes.

Bagley is scheduled to come back after the All-Star after aggravating his foot sprain. If he can stay healthy, Walton will eventually have to move him back into the starting lineup, whether that’s alongside Holmes or Bjelica. He’s extremely talented, but he needs as much floor time as possible if he hopes to continue to develop.

In addition to Bjelica and Bagley, the Kings added Parker to the mix. While he was a three coming out of Duke, the 6-foot-8 inch scorer has played more power forward at the NBA level. If he can get healthy, the former No. 2 overall pick can help the Kings with his ability score in bunches off the bench.

Anthony Tolliver is a member of this grouping of players as well, but once the Kings are healthy, the 34-year-old will have a tough time seeing the floor. Known for his ability to stretch the floor, the 12-year NBA vet has hit just 2-of-13 from behind the arc since joining the Kings.

This is a crowded position, but Bagley is the future. He can also play some five but expect the Kings to feed him plenty of minutes after the break as they try to build for the future.

Center

Holmes is on the mend. He hopes to play on Friday after missing the last 13 games with a shoulder injury and he’s proven to be one of the Kings’ most consistent performers. He may need some time to acclimate back to the lineup, but he is likely to see close to 28-30 minutes after the All-Star break.

Harry Giles is set to get some time at the five down the stretch as well. He’ll have to fight with Holmes for time and also Bagley, who can play both power forward and center. Giles has played in 17 of the Kings’ last 18 games after falling out of the rotation earlier in the season. He’s showing signs of improvement, but the center position is crowded.

Len will join this group, but he’s currently nursing a hip flexor injury that could keep him out for the two remaining games leading up to the All-Star break. The 26-year-old has good size and can stretch the floor, but he’s having a down shooting year from the perimeter. He’s also in the final year of his contract and the team has little incentive to find a spot in the rotation for him.