The future of Ben McLemore in Sacramento
It has been a decade since the Sacramento Kings were in the mix for a playoff berth. The team has been hindered by failed trades, head coaching changes and players who didn’t pan out in recent years. But heading into this season, the club has a couple of things working in their favor: they possess the best center in basketball with DeMarcus Cousins in the fold and newly hired head coach Dave Joerger has playoff experience from his days in Memphis.
This could signal progress.
But the Kings are a bit shaky in the backcourt, specifically at point guard. The franchise lost Rajon Rondo, the league leader in assists in 2016, in free agency this past summer and his replacement, Darren Collison, is suspended for the first eight games of the season. The club signed veteran Ty Lawson, once considered a borderline All-Star talent, in what could be a low-risk, high-reward addition.
At shooting guard, things become a bit more stable as the team signed guards Arron Afflalo and Garrett Temple in free agency this past summer. However, the arrival of Afflalo and Temple could spell the end of former lottery pick Ben McLemore’s tenure with the team. Or will it?
McLemore, the No. 7 overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, could be headed to restricted free agency next summer if the club doesn’t get an extension signed before the Oct. 31 deadline. Few believe the Kings will crack open the wallet before the deadline (in essence bidding against themselves) and that they will likely wait until next summer to let the market set the guard’s value.
But will McLemore make it to next summer as a member of the Kings?
Last season, McLemore’s minutes per game decreased from 32.6 in 2015 to 21.2 in 68 appearances. In 2015, McLemore started 82 games for Sacramento but last season earned a starting nod in just 53 out of his 68 appearances. McLemore has career averages of 9.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 232 regular season appearances (190 starts). Defensive inconsistency has plagued McLemore since entering the league and with a defensive-minded coach now calling the shots, it’s fair to question how the fourth-year guard fits in the new philosophy.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Milwaukee Bucks reportedly offered former Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams to the Kings in exchange for McLemore. The Bucks are desperately seeking more offensive firepower after leading scorer Khris Middleton went down due to injury and is expected to miss the majority of the season.
According to the report, the Kings rebuffed Milwaukee’s initial advances for McLemore. But was it a case of the package offered not being sweet enough or does the club actually view the guard as part of their long-term rebuilding strategy? The Bucks will reportedly probe around the league in search of help on the wing, so this is a fluid situation to keep an eye on.
Dwyane Wade further opens up about heading to the Windy City
It’s rare for a professional athlete to play his or her entire career with one organization. The fans, media and players themselves understands this is part of the business. Teams go young, try to save money or want to go in a different direction on the floor from a style standpoint. But there is always a group of elite guys who are able to play out the entirety of their careers in one place. Great players, spanning multiple sports such as Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant, David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Ernie Banks, George Brett, Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Jerry West, John Stockton and Magic Johnson immediately come to mind.
Future Hall of Fame guard Dwyane Wade was seemingly the next star to be included to this list as a member of the Miami HEAT. After all, Wade won three championships in Miami and led the team to five trips to the NBA Finals since entering the league in 2003.
But a somewhat contentious contract negotiation this past summer led to Wade taking a two-year deal with his hometown Chicago Bulls. The move was shocking and sent ripples throughout the league. Wade and the HEAT’s contract negotiations hit a rocky patch in the summer of 2015 as well, but the two sides were able to agree on a one-year pact.
Wade insists there’s no bad blood and it simply came down to simple economics.
“For me, it’s as simple as, I got a deal in Miami for $41 million, I got a deal in Chicago for $47 million,” Wade said, according to SLAM. “It didn’t come down to the money. I thought about Cleveland, but I didn’t fit there. You don’t just do something because, ‘Oh, I could win the ring there.’ I have three rings. I don’t need to chase the ring. This is what I wanted to do. I couldn’t fight it. If you fight it, you’re gonna always be like, ‘You shoulda’, or, ‘What could’ve [happened?]’ I don’t like to live my life like that.”
Wade’s former teammate Udonis Haslem has played his entire career in Miami as well and officially entered the league at the same time as Wade back in 2003 – after going undrafted in 2002. Haslem says Wade’s departure caught him off guard because he thought both parties would ultimately come to an agreement even after the initial stalemate.
“Dwyane wanted to feel like he was loved and respected more—that was important to him, as it should be,” Haslem said. “He never thought he’d leave Miami. Never. None of us could have envisioned it. Last year, he gambled on himself with a one-year deal and played really well. Going into this summer, he didn’t think it would be as much of a negotiation as usual. I think both sides expected the negotiation to be smoother.”
Wade scored six points in his preseason debut with the Bulls earlier this week and figures to be in the team’s starting lineup alongside former All-Star Rajon Rondo and recent Olympic Gold Medalist (and the Bulls’ leading man) Jimmy Butler.
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