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Sasha Vezenkov scores 29 points in heartbreaking EuroLeague loss

Sasha Vezenkov shined but it wasn't enough as Olympiacos lost 79-78 to Real Madrid in the EuroLeague Championship.
By | 66 Comments | May 22, 2023

By Sandra Halank, Wikimedia Commons

The EuroLeague Final took place on Sunday between Olympiacos and Real Madrid. Normally this wouldn’t generate much attention over here, but with the Kings owning the draft rights to EuroLeague MVP Sasha Vezenkov, it was a chance to see if he could rise to the occasion on the big stage.

Vezenkov definitely shined in the moment, scoring a game-high 29 points (tying the record for most points in a EuroLeague Final) on 11-21 from the field, as well as 9 rebounds and 4 assists in 39 minutes.  Despite the effort however, Olympiacos fell in heartbreaking fashion as Sergio Llull scored a pull up jumper with 3.1 seconds left to put Real Madrid up 79-78.  Olympiacos’ own game-winning attempt from Kostas Sloukas was unsuccessful.

While there is reportedly mutual interest in Vezenkov joining the Sacramento Kings this summer, who knows how this loss might factor into play.  Is Vezenkov willing to give up a starring role to travel halfway around the world to join a Sacramento team where he will probably have to come off the bench?  The financial opportunity is definitely a big factor, but it isn’t the only one.

There are several points that would work in Vezenkov’s favor to join Sacramento.  For starters, Sacramento’s situation is far different from last summer when Vezenkov opted against coming over to the NBA.  The Kings are coming off a wonderful season in which they won 48 games and broke a 16 year playoff drought.  There’s also the possibility that his role could be bigger than originally thought, especially with Harrison Barnes’ future somewhat up in the air as an unrestricted free agent.

Vezenkov is in the prime of his career and this is probably the best chance for him to make the NBA jump. Coming over doesn’t mean he can’t return to the EuroLeague later in his career if he wants to. We’ve seen that happen time and time again, including with Sacramento’s own Nemanja Bjelica, another former EuroLeague MVP.  But NBA opportunities don’t come along very often, and for Vezenkov this is a great chance to join a team on the rise and make a name for himself on the NBA stage.

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andy_sims
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May 22, 2023 1:40 pm

I was encouraged seeing him take the ball to the hoop as opposed to just nailing jumpers. Get you some free throws, Sasha!

He even played a little defense, which makes him a perfect fit.

macdoogs
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May 22, 2023 2:13 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Defensively reminds me of Lyles a bit. Not a world beater obviously but if he plays with effort he can make some plays. Especially with help defense. Next season should be fun

Hamlet1989
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May 22, 2023 3:34 pm
Reply to  macdoogs

He duplicates Lyles in many ways and Lyles is well-liked, young, and seems to be finding his footing as an efficient if not terribly productive NBA player. Are the Kings willing/able to bring Lyles back? Will it take Sasha a season (or two?) to find his footing defensively. How does the money compare? I can’t help but wonder what Vezenkov’s right’s are worth in trade, Maybe with some combination of Huerter/Monk, #23, and Holmes. Throw in Davion or even Murray (shame on me for even thinking…) and there is possibly a pretty significant trade to be made.

Jack
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May 22, 2023 3:50 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

Yes Shame on you. You don’t break up a solid young team like the Kings. Why on earth would you want to do that?

murraytant
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May 22, 2023 5:03 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

agree with Jack. Shame on you? Only the Greek and the Joker are worth the haul you propose.

Hamlet1989
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May 22, 2023 5:53 pm
Reply to  murraytant

You’re right. And maybe if we throw in another 1st rounder or two we could put together a viable offer for Jalen Brown

BeTheBall
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May 22, 2023 8:02 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

🤣🤣

RikSmits
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May 22, 2023 10:03 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

A little defense, and 2-8 from 3 in the most important game of the season? Yeah, he’ll really fit in.

(I am kidding folks, I’d like him to come over at the right price).

macdoogs
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May 22, 2023 2:10 pm

Not exactly sure what his nba career will look like in the end but I do think he’d be a valuable addition to the team. The biggest question is his role, and I guess what he’d expect his role to be? If he checks his ego at the door and buys in like the rest of the team did/does, we’re going to have a very potent offense. He could very well push us over 50 wins with his talent, BBIQ, and shooting.

Also, as a lefty, there’s not a more beautiful play in basketball than a left handed shooter who laces it. That logo 3 was beautiful.

andy_sims
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May 22, 2023 2:21 pm
Reply to  macdoogs

We’d be the most sinister team in the league.

UpgradedToQuestionable
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May 22, 2023 2:58 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

G0!-che (allowances for spelling and French pronunciation).

As for ego – that is, IMO, more of a regular U.S. thing and an irregular International player thing. Sasha has been playing League ball since age 16 and I can guarantee he was not ever treated like the ‘Mercan version of a star, maybe not until this year, and maybe not this year.

His challenge is whether or not to give up the secure and appreciated place he has and try his skills at the world’s toughest level, with the chance for a major pay increase. Bringing over the family is another tough decision to weigh, I am sure.

He is an intriguing and exciting prospect. Plugging him in and expecting him to be a NBA level starter is ridiculous (IMO). I’d like to think of him as next season’s Keegan Murray and let Coach Brown insert him into the line up as he sees fit.

I think it was very karma-esque that he was presented his EuroLeague MVP trophy by none other than Dejan Bodiroga (NBA draft 1995, #51 by Sacramento Kings/Geoff Petrie) who decided not to come over.

TheGrantNapear
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May 22, 2023 2:37 pm
Reply to  macdoogs

Making the change from the Euro leagues to the NBA is a huge adjustment. It takes time to get used to the increased speed and athleticism of the NBA. I doubt he comes here wanting some big expanded role. Makes sense to ease into the game here.

billoddity
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May 22, 2023 2:25 pm

Another lefty! Just not sure whose minutes he takes? Probably Monk or Huerter? Kings must get bigger, stronger and more skilled at the PF position, this is less helpful in the immediate future.

TheGrantNapear
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May 22, 2023 2:34 pm
Reply to  billoddity

Seems like he can play the 3 and 4 coming off the bench, plenty minutes to go around during a long season.

Jack
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May 22, 2023 3:54 pm
Reply to  billoddity

More like Lyles minutes. Maybe a 3 in place of Davis.

andy_sims
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May 22, 2023 5:09 pm
Reply to  Jack

I’d say his odds are about 50/50 of being a better NBA player than Trey Lyles, who remains significantly undervalued.

It’ll be interested to see what kind of offers he gets this summer. I’d love to have Lyles back, he’s a smart player. And if you’ll recall, he doesn’t take shit from anyone.

SuperShaka
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May 22, 2023 8:44 pm
Reply to  billoddity

He could take the minutes of Metu and Okpala. Plus it’s unlikely 8 players will play 73+ games next season.

eddie41
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May 22, 2023 2:26 pm

Looks like he is on-brand for the new Kings. Might be the best option for starting PF.

TheGrantNapear
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May 22, 2023 2:33 pm
Reply to  eddie41

That’s a severe lack of athleticism at the 4 and 5 if you start Sasha with Sabonis, we’d get killed on defense.

eddie41
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May 22, 2023 2:49 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

Who is your starting PF then? and does he fit the offense?

Naz Reid might be good in Sacramento but what if the bidding goes out of control?

Trey Lyles is not a bad option.

Who else?

Jack
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May 22, 2023 4:12 pm
Reply to  eddie41

There are a lot of power forwards out there if Monty wants to get a little creative. For all you reading this post let’s have a little fun survey.I will name 10 or 11 PF’s who might be a King next year. Anyone .of you out there of the 10 or 11 name 3 of your favorites. Here Goes. Choices: Reid, Wood, Issac, J. Collins, Kuzma, Washington,CamJohnson, Grant, P. Williams, H. Jones. I know there are others. I’ll start. My 3 would be in order Patrick Williams, Herb Jones and Kyle Kuzma. What’s yours?

eddie41
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May 22, 2023 4:38 pm
Reply to  Jack

Thanks for the list. There are some good players in there. I’d have to think about it.

eddie41
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May 22, 2023 9:26 pm
Reply to  eddie41

so, looking at that list, Kuzma is interesting and the team tried to trade for him before, but at what price? I already mentioned Naz Reid as a possible target.

After that, few of those players are good rebounders for a PF. that’s one of the reasons why we’re considering HB to be a SF and are looking at free agents to improve the PF position. others on the list have serious questions about durability, and maybe the three ball. Possibly none of them are an ideal fit next to Sabonis. So are they better than HB and Lyles who already have a rapport and foundation to build on?

If it’s not ideal, I think it’s important to look for value acquisitions – guys who the the team will not have to overpay for, and can possibly check some additional boxes. (eg., the ability to play the 4 or the 5). Lyles is probably someone the team can resign on a reasonable contract. And Vezenkov is looking like a very good option.

murraytant
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May 22, 2023 5:07 pm
Reply to  Jack

Reid, Johnson and PJ.

TheGrantNapear
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May 22, 2023 5:24 pm
Reply to  Jack

Majority of your list are great options, should be fun seeing how MM attacks the 4 spot.
Naz and Wood should come easy.
I don’t care for Collins although the fit next to Sabonis would be interesting and I actually think ATL would have to give us something for taking Collins’ contract (perhaps lifting the draft pick from the KH trade).
Kuzma is going to be expensive.
PJ, Cam and Pat Williams have some untapped potential me thinks.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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May 22, 2023 5:34 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

I think the opposite. I feel the Kings could give them this year’s pick at #24 then free up the pick obligations in the future in a Collins trade. Those obligations really tie up Monte’s hands in trade talks. I’d prefer to clean the slate.

To preface, I’d think Collins would excel next to Sabonis. I’m not saying I’d do it, but Holmes, Monk and #24 for Collins and some future asset is something I’d at least listen to.

UpgradedToQuestionable
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May 22, 2023 5:48 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

On the doable side (or my interpretation):
Of Trey Lyles type:
Grant Williams (would really like this)
Rui Hachimura
Georges Niang

Of the Naz Reid type (with Naz as a first choice)
PJ Washington
Jalen McDaniels

The biggest Get would be Nikola Vucevic
I just think he fits this team’s style – for better or worse – and he pairs really well with Domas as he can shoot outside and rebound inside, but both are solid bodies, if not tall.

As for the SF types – like Kuzma and John Collins (who plays small to me) – I am a big Kessler Edwards fan, and with Keegan more 3 than 4, Harrison, a small 4, and now the strong possibility of Vezenkov, who I will assume to be a tall, slow 3 – the Jerami Grant/Kuzma/Collins become less desirable. Admittedly, I have a jones for Herb Jones but I don’t know if he can be pried from the Pels (he’s a 3 who can play/guard the 2).

/ramble complete.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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May 22, 2023 6:31 pm

IMO, Sabonis needs to be surrounded by shooters for him to maximize his game. Vuc would be a solid get, as would Brook Lopez.

Collins is someone I think could be had for less and is just as good an outside shooter. His contract is an anchor around the Hawks neck, but he could maximize his shooting around the inside game of Fox and Sabonis. I feel his game has taken a serious hit on that ATL squad with Young jacking shots and no one kicking him the ball from the paint.

I get the feeling he could be a bigger, younger, and better Barnes for the Kings. It comes down to price in trade, but I’d strongly consider dumping Holmes, the #24 and more for him.

Jack
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May 22, 2023 7:27 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Might be the ticket. Barnes was usually the fifth go to this last year. That’s why I picked Williams and Jones. Both would be the fifth go to with Fox, Sabonis Huerter and Murray. Both play defense but don’t have to score 20 a night. My above 4th pick would have been Naz Reid. Young tough can rebound. Big body to help Sabonis with the stronger bigs. He also likes to drive to the basket. Kuzma can score and rebound plays pretty good defense.

Hamlet1989
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May 26, 2023 8:02 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Mic drop!

TheGrantNapear
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May 22, 2023 8:31 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

In a vacuum I’d rather have Monk than Collins, let alone giving a pick on top of it. I agree getting out of that pick owed from the KH trade would be ideal. So the 24th pick instead of the future 2025 pick and salary filler would be a decent trade.
Collins has three more years at about $25 million per with the 3rd yr being a player option.

Fox
KH
KM
Collins
Sabonis

TheGrantNapear
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May 22, 2023 5:20 pm
Reply to  eddie41

Who is your starting PF then? and does he fit the offense?

That’s what the offseason is for. We still have FA, trades and the draft. I trust MM will find a good fit at the 4 to start next to Sabonis. Also, it’s very optimistic to think a Euro player (essentially a rookie) is just going to come over and start immediately. I just don’t see it. He’ll likely be a bench player that needs to earn his minutes like everyone else.

Jack
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May 22, 2023 7:30 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

I agree on Vezenkov. In time might be the best 49th trade we ever made. I trust Monty to find that PW to go along side Sabonis.

Jack
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May 22, 2023 3:55 pm
Reply to  eddie41

Not yet. Maybe some day,

TheGrantNapear
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May 22, 2023 2:32 pm

Watching those highlights the most impressive thing was his quick release on those 3’s, he kind of just flicks the shot up.

RobHessing
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May 22, 2023 3:55 pm

Seems like a talent, and more talent > less talent. Not worried about fit at the moment, as the roster for next season is probably less than a third written in ink right now.

TheGrantNapear
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May 22, 2023 5:31 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

the roster for next season is probably less than a third written in ink right now.

Yep, I low key think MM is going to make a ton of moves and a good chunk of the roster will be new. The West is wide open right now and ripe for the taking. A team’s window to make the Finals can shrink rapidly, just look at the Suns now compared to two years ago (I think they’re a play-in team at best next season).
Potential juggernauts are brewing with teams like the Spurs, OKC and NOP.
I don’t think we should mortgage the future per se, but I think we should be ultra aggressive this offseason.

Jack
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May 22, 2023 7:41 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

I don’t think Monty will make a ton of moves for a couple of reasons. First and IMO foremost is the chemistry of the team. I’ve listened to a lot of King’s players and they want to stay and keep the basic unit in tack. Good God look what they did this year. An old saying don’t mess with success. Now saying that IMO we can improve without upsetting the apple cart. We need a good power forward to go along side Sabonis. Don’t mess with the other 4 starters.we also need a backup center to help Sabonis. I would like a young one who can help but also improve. They are out there. In all respects I like TD but maybe an upgrade would also hep. A 3 and D player might be the ticket. Monty does have some baggage to be concerned about but I also trust him there.

Amonk81
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May 22, 2023 7:58 pm
Reply to  Jack

I don’t think the chemistry is so overwhelming Monte can’t trade away pieces or lose guys like Huerter, Barnes, Davion etc.

The kings had a great year but I see this as an opportunity to take the next step. The 3 I mentioned above did not shoot well in the playoffs and it prevented the Kings from winning/moving on.

Adding a shooting D 4 might be enough but might be they need more 3 and D wings. Guys like Miami have who defend and hit 3s in playoff pressure.

TheGrantNapear
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May 22, 2023 8:33 pm
Reply to  Amonk81

Yeah I think the chemistry thing is overblown. 3 to 5 new players would keep most the team in tact but potentially add a talent infusion at specific areas of need.

SuperShaka
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May 22, 2023 8:53 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

If the Kings bring back Lyles and Barnes along with keeping players currently under contract or option there would be 4 new players. Dozier is unlikely to be retained so that would be your 5. Trading multiple players away would likely mean changing half the roster after the first successful season in a long time.

TheGrantNapear
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May 23, 2023 6:34 am
Reply to  SuperShaka

Yep, and I’m fine with that. Have to keep pushing ahead and building. Too many teams in the West loaded with talent to sit on our hands and not keep trying to improve the roster around Fox and Sabonis.

Hobby916
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May 22, 2023 4:16 pm

Bring him over regardless of Lyles and/or Barnes being retained. Always room for guys that play hard and hustle.

Draft a SG/SF to take over some of those during the season

Sign/trade for an athletic big that can play 10-15 minutes a game.

Go get it, Monte!

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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May 22, 2023 4:43 pm

Just for shits and giggles, let’s say he doesn’t like the “fit” Sacramento offers, wants to be on more of a contender, or desires a larger market, what kind of trade value would he have? He has no monetary value since he is not on rookie scale deal, so I’m 100% sure how that works in the trade machine, but I’d imagine he’d have value as a sweetener to a larger deal.

Just hypothetically spitballing, but what if Monte could attach him to Holmes contract and finds a taker? What if you attach both to the #24 as well? Could Sasha’s rights, the #24, and Holmes bring in a player like OG or John Collins?

murraytant
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May 22, 2023 5:12 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

He has no choice. Kings or nothing
While it is possible that he has an opinion, and his agent wants to orchestrate a trade to his favorite fakers (or whatever) this would be an unusual occurrence. Like a pterodactyl landing on my roof.
He does not have a lot of value- has never played in US.
Collins or OG–no way! he is all theoretical/hypothetical.

Greg
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May 22, 2023 5:17 pm
Reply to  murraytant

His leverage is to simply stay in Europe

andy_sims
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May 22, 2023 5:19 pm
Reply to  Greg

He’ll need a passport to visit England if he does that. It didn’t used to be this way.

Adamsite
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May 22, 2023 5:22 pm
Reply to  murraytant

I think the only thing we have to go on was when the Kings traded for the rights to Bogi. Back in 2016 the Kings traded their #8 (Marquese Chriss) for The #13 (PapaG), the #28 (Skal) and the rights to Bogi.

Does Vlade do that trade if Bogi wasn’t included? Was Bogi considered the best asset in that deal coming fresh of a Euro League Championship and MVP run? There is similarity there between the situations of Bogi and Sasha.

Would the Kings consider something like Sasha and the #24 for the #16? Would Utah who has 3 first round picks?

Jack
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May 22, 2023 7:44 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I like whay you are thinking.

RAP87
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May 23, 2023 11:13 am
Reply to  Adamsite

I’d look at the Nets. Sasha, Holmes + 24th for DFS and Simmons??

Hamlet1989
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May 26, 2023 8:04 pm
Reply to  RAP87

?

murraytant
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May 22, 2023 5:37 pm

Sasha is 6/9 and 225 or so. His position is who he can guard -which is PF/4.
He is an ok rebounder. Kings need more than ok.
He is a very good shooter- that’s great.

He will compete with HB, Lyles and KM for minutes. One of those may go. Not KM who may be moved to the 3. But if HB stays, he is undersized at 4. Just like this year. Lyles is a great back up for 4/5.
Best scenario- Kings get a stretch 4 who rebounds- in draft? doubtful, as a FA?, as a trade?
But if that does not occur, even if HB stays (and that’s where the $ for FA lies) Sasha could start and would be an improvement.
Despite his MVP status, he can make more money here even with buy-out. Kings are better + Kings are NBA- both attractive. Is he an egomaniac and demands a role etc? That’s the biggest potential problem.
He knows what he is getting into- has lots of Euros to talk with.
He can help the Kings and they want him. Badly.
Many teams without coaches and when they get a coach, may change philosophies and players. Maybe potential pick-ups.
I suspect lots of movement in the offseason since all the GM’s have happy feet. Some options out there.

50% chance Kings trade #24. If not, unless someone drops, any #24 will not contribute much.
There are 3 defensive mined Euros. the 22/23 spot seems to be a dividing line. I like Kris but would not take him (redundant), Lively and Nanji are long but cannot shoot. Whitehead, Lewis, Jones?? I would be excited for Bilal or L. Miller but they are on the 20/21 bubble. Lewis does not play D. Sensabaugh (rated in top 20) would be a wet dream.
If TD goes, Kings could use 2/3 shooter.
If HB is renounced, Kings have quite a bit of FA money.
Getting Sasha takes pressure off draft- can take a reach.

My preferences for off season:
sign Sasha-part of MLE
move Holmes
sign HB for less money
sign Reid with FA money or do a sign and trade with HB for some large PF who can rebound and shoot.
get a third PG in the total team scramble that will occur end of training camp (that’s where Heat got Gabe Vincent)
take a flyer on Yuta Watanabe
get someone like Prosper or Vukevic in second round.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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May 22, 2023 6:37 pm
Reply to  murraytant

Moving Holmes is the linchpin this summer. His contract and inability to get on the floor is holding the Kings from making a move for a contributor. If he can be packaged for someone that gives even the most contributions, it’s a win. I’d be knocking on the doors of teams in the tax that want to dump a long term contract.

TheGrantNapear
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May 22, 2023 8:36 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

 I’d be knocking on the doors of teams in the tax that want to dump a long term contract.

you rang?!

IMG_1740.jpeg
Jack
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May 22, 2023 7:52 pm
Reply to  murraytant

I read that a possible trade would be Holmes and a second for Terrance Mann. Great defender at all positions. Can also play 4 positions including point guard. He has done that for the Clippers. With Plumlee a free agentthe Clips really need a backup center.

TheGrantNapear
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May 22, 2023 8:38 pm
Reply to  Jack

I think they’ll be a market for Holmes and a trade like this would be awesome.
My hope is both Holmes and Barnes are on other teams. I think the duds if they’re running it back another year may have interest in a HB sign and trade. I’d try and pry Kuminga from them.

murraytant
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May 22, 2023 9:11 pm
Reply to  Jack

I would do this in a nanosecond.
Solves the third PG issue and solves the baggage issue.

TheGrantNapear
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May 22, 2023 8:25 pm

Lovely seeing lebron and the fakers get swept, the Celtics getting swept will be the icing on the cake.

murraytant
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May 22, 2023 9:12 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

ice, ice, icing

Klam
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May 22, 2023 8:27 pm

Wooooooooo!!!! Congratulations Nuggets/Coach Malone! Always more than happy to see the L*kers get eliminated from the postseason, but it’s even better that they got swept!

Hoping this will be the Nuggets year to win it all. Jokic is insane.

Despite us losing in the first round in a hard fought 7-game series, seeing

1) The Dubs get eliminated in round 2
2) The Lakers get SWEPT in the WCF
3) Former Kings Coach Malone on the verge of winning a championship as head coach

Makes me really happy as a Kings fan.

Last edited 1 year ago by Klam
RikSmits
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May 22, 2023 10:10 pm
Reply to  Klam

Happy for the Nuggets and coach Malone, and basketball in general.

I just don’t understand that Malone can keep spitting out his sour grapes towards the Kings almost a decade later with impunity and Tyrese has to stop his whining after a year.

TheGrantNapear
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May 23, 2023 6:38 am
Reply to  Klam

You encapsulated my thoughts on these playoffs very well. This is the first year I’ve watched the playoffs in a long time, it’s been entertaining this year.
Watching an all timer like Joker has been great and I’d also throw in watching Jimmy go into Kobe/MJ/Wade mode down the stretch of games. It’s been a fun playoffs and it’ll be refreshing to not have to see the duds, lebron or KD in the Finals.

cloudyeyes
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May 22, 2023 9:47 pm

Load the team up with a bunch of long dudes who can shoot the 3 – Murray, Lyles, Sasha, then try to trade down enough to pick up Kris Murray. Then use the free agent space to either pick up another long dude who can hit the three, or worst case, re-sign Barnes. There you go – 5 SF/PF combos that can hit the 3.

TheGrantNapear
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May 23, 2023 6:39 am
Reply to  cloudyeyes

You mean “trade up” for Kris Murray? He’s projected to go higher than where we’re picking.

Mike120
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May 24, 2023 1:15 pm

If he can split the talent difference between the Bogdanoviches (Bojan and Bogdan), I’d be very happy. I put Bojan above Bogdan.

49taylaners
May 24, 2023 3:34 pm

Winning attracts free agents. Again, I love Cam Johnson for startingPF and Naz Reid for backup center, hopefully, without breaking the bank. Why not swing for the fences, and if Celtics lose, Jaylen Brown might want out. Not a popular stance, but trade Keegan Murray, Huerter, Holmes, and the 24the pick for this All star. Would that be enough?
Fox, Monk, JB, Cam, Domas as starters. Davion,Keon Ellis,Sasha,lyles, and Naz reid as 2nd unit. or pick up vets like Seth Curry or Terrence Ross as backup shooting guard…

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