Kings

Back in Sacramento, Rudy Gay reflects on time with Kings: 'A lot of learning'

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AP

Back in Sacramento, Rudy Gay reflects on time with Kings: 'A lot of learning'

SACRAMENTO -- The last time Kings fans saw Rudy Gay in a basketball uniform, he was pounding the floor of the Golden 1 Center in frustration after tearing his right Achilles tendon. It was the dramatic conclusion of Gay’s career in Sacramento, one that left even the most hardened fan filled with emotion.

The veteran forward left Sacramento over the summer, turning down a $14.3 million player option. He’s now a member of the San Antonio Spurs who are in town to face off with the Kings in the preseason opener.

“I’ve never even been in the other side of this building, so I’m learning,” Gay said following shootaround. “Little bit of emotions. I’m looking at the spot where I hurt myself and I’m just glad to be back out here and healthy.”

Gay, 31, spent three and a half seasons in Sacramento uniform, playing Robin to DeMarcus Cousins’ Batman. He finished his Kings career averaging 19.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists over 223 games.

“It was a learning experience,” Gay said of his time in Sacramento. “I met a lot of great people. Some of the best fans I’ve ever played for. A lot of learning. I’ve been through a lot here and it’s going to mold and shape the rest of my career.”

Despite the injury, Gay has been cleared for basketball duties. He’s spent the week training with his teammates in preparation for the 2017-18 season. He’s chomping at the bit to get his first game action, but coach Gregg Popovich is going to err on the side of caution when it comes to early season playing time.

“They say not, I say yes, that’s just what I do, I’m more conservative,” Popovich said as to whether Gay’s playing time should be limited. “I’ll probably bring him along more slowly than he’s going to want to. When he gets after me like Manu (Ginobili) or Timmy (Duncan) does, then I’ll lighten up.”

Gay will not play Monday night in Sacramento. Popovich will let him get stronger and more comfortable in the Spurs system. He’ll be asked to play both forward positions this season in San Antonio and he looked noticeably bigger as he fielded questions sitting courtside.

The Kings open their 2017-18 preseason against the Spurs Monday night at Golden 1 Center. Sacramento travels to San Antonio later in the week where they’ll see Gay and his teammates at the AT&T Center on Friday evening.

Fox bangs knees with Towns, ruled out with quad contusion

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USATSI

Fox bangs knees with Towns, ruled out with quad contusion

Rookie down. De’Aaron Fox banged knees with Minnesota Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns in the first quarter Thursday evening at the Target Center. The Kings’ 19-year-old point guard was diagnosed with a right quadricep contusion and was ruled out.

Fox has played in all 28 games for Sacramento this season, posting 10 points and 3.9 assists in 26.3 minutes per game coming into Thursday evening. He left the game after just seven minutes of action, finishing with two points, two assists and two turnovers.

The fifth overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft will likely be listed as day-to-day moving forward.

Gameday: Kings start four-game road trip against T'Wolves

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USATSI

Gameday: Kings start four-game road trip against T'Wolves

The Sacramento Kings hit the road for another trip across the country beginning Thursday in Minnesota. They’ll face a Timberwolves team that is finally living up to their talent level after a couple of disappointing seasons. 

Sacramento is coming off a home win against the Suns on Tuesday, but the road has been unkind this season. Veteran George Hill stepped up big against Phoenix after missing the previous game due to personal reasons. The Kings need more from their big free agent signing. 

Minnesota is coming off an overtime loss to the 76ers on Tuesday, but they have a formidable starting lineup and a chance to snap their 13-season playoff drought this year. The offseason additions of Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague have made a huge impact for the T-Wolves, who currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference standings.

LINE 

Timberwolves by 10

WHERE THEY STAND 

Kings: 9-18 fourth in the Pacific

T-Wolves: 16-12 first in the Northwest

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Karl-Anthony Towns -- These two know each other well from their season together at Kentucky. Towns has developed into a perennial 20 and 10 guy for Minnesota. Cauley-Stein is finding another gear with the Kings. They’ll see plenty of time against one another Thursday at the Target Center.

INJURY REPORT 

Kings:  PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) is out until January at the earliest.

T-Wolves:  PF Nemanja Bjelica (foot) out, C Justin Patton (toe) out. 

SERIES HISTORY 

Sacramento won the season-series 3-1 last season, including an April 1 victory over the Timberwolves at the Target Center. Minnesota holds a slight lead in the all-time series 54-53.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

More George -- George Hill has struggled both on and off the court early in the 2017-18 campaign, but he came alive against the Suns. Sacramento needs the 31-year-old point guard to find some consistency and start leading the starting unit. 

Bench Dominance -- Sacramento leads the NBA in bench scoring at 49.7 points per game and they’ll need the second unit to come up big if they hope to knock off the Wolves. Minnesota’s reserves score just 25.7 points per game which ranks 28th in the league. If the Kings starters can keep it close, the bench might be enough to put them over the top.

Make the T-Wolves Work -- Minnesota has improved on the defensive end, but they still allow 106.7 points per game. If the Kings can push the tempo and make the Wolves work on the defensive end, they can make life difficult.