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Jimmer's future uncertain heading into his third NBA season

Jimmer's future uncertain heading into his third NBA season



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — "I saw him in July," Sacramento Kings beat writer Jason Jones (Sacramento Bee) told me on SportsBeat Sunday. "I asked him what's up with his situation — with the Kings' new ownership, GM and head coach. He responded 'I don't know, I was hoping you could tell me something!'"

Jimmer Fredette, the 2011 National Player of the Year, is well removed from "Jimmermania." Make no mistake, the Kings coveted the hype as much as the skill set when they drafted him with the #10 pick — ahead of other talents like Golden State's Klay Thompson and San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard, the budding star in San Antonio, where second-year players usually sit and watch.

When he entered the league, Jimmer walked wide-eyed into a perfect storm of terrible NBA rookie experiences. Almost right away, talented but undisciplined center DeMarcus Cousins quit the team early in the 2011 season, returning a few days later. Disagreements with management on how to deal with Cousins cost Paul Westphal his job. Assistant Keith Smart took over for the rest of that season and the next, 2012-13, but that was the end of the Smart Era.

Meanwhile, the Kings kept losing — a lot. Occasionally they were exciting, but Jimmer was mostly just a bit player. "By his second season, Smart knew Jimmer wasn't a point guard," Jones said. "His coaching staff implored Fredette to 'be aggressive.' NBA code for... SHOOT"

The problem was the numbers game. The Kings had more guards than cheerleaders. Smart was losing his grip on the team. Even when Fredette showed glimpses of BYU-Jimmer — knocking down 3's, scoring 12 points in the second quarter — he still rarely played in the second half. "Jimmer is the consummate pro," Jones said. "He would never publicly complain, but he'd tell me how frustrated he was."

What does Jimmer's future hold? Jones says it looks bleak in Sacramento. The Maloof family finally sold the team to a new ownership group, giving the team some stability, but the front office couldn't resist drafting more guards. The Kings drafted a point guard and another 2-guard earlier this summer and then traded for pass-first point Grevais Vasquez. In addition, it looks like Isaiah Thomas (60th pick in '11 draft, 50 spots below Jimmer) is a big part of the team's future.

"The Kings are not actively shopping Jimmer, but they have had calls and apparently will move him if the deals makes sense," said Jones.

According to hoopshype.com, Fredette will make just more than $2.5 million in the 2013-14 season. Jones predicts the Kings will exercise its option on the fourth year of Fredette's deal before the season starts on Oct. 30, bringing Fredette an additional $3.1 million for the 2014-15 season.

"The Kings still believe Jimmer has value to teams in the league," Jones said. As the February trade deadline approaches, that's when the Kings will likely push harder to move him — hopefully to a team that actually has an idea of how to use him. Then we'll find out whether or not Jimmer can contribute meaningful minutes for an NBA team.

It's clear to anyone who watched his college career, Jimmer is a shooter! He may be gifted in some of the game's other areas and nuances, but his ticket to longevity in the NBA is to fire away. Take shots and make shots! If the Kings can't find room on the roster for Fredette's unique skill set, there's another former Cougar running the Celtics named Danny Ainge who might need a lights-out shooter to help out with the rebuilding effort in Boston. Jimmer turns 25 on Feb. 25, right around the time of the trade deadline! Hmmm, maybe Jimmer has an enormous Maine lobster dinner with Ainge in Boston in his future?? Hmmm, just sayin.'

Jimmer will join us on SportsBeat Sunday when Kings training camp begins and he has a better idea of how/where the Kings plan to use him.

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Tom Kirkland

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