Kings

Big names veterans coming to Sacramento, but will the wins follow?

Big names veterans coming to Sacramento, but will the wins follow?

LAS VEGAS, NV -- It’s a busy day in Kingsland. With a big crowd expected for Monday night’s Kings vs. Lakers matchup, both in Sacramento at the team’s viewing party and in Las Vegas at the Thomas and Mack Center, the team took care of more paperwork.

Vince Carter, Zach Randolph and George Hill officially signed on the dotted line and became the newest members of the Sacramento Kings. Following signatures, the trio of veterans held a press conference that felt more like a symposium on building a winning culture than an introduction.

Big names are walking in the door, but wins aren’t a sure bet. Building a successful franchise is a process, especially when you bring so many young players in over a span of two seasons. 

General manager Vlade Divac measured his club and saw a missing ingredient. He used his cap space wisely and came away with known leaders for his stable of young players.  

“It’s very hard to develop guys if you create a losing mentality,” general manager Vlade Divac said following the press conference. “I just want to compete. And those kids need support for that.”

Carter made an appearance Sunday night at Cox Pavilion as the Kings fell to the Memphis Grizzlies. The 8-time All-Star drew a crowd everywhere he went as he signed autographs, took pictures and hugged former teammates around the arena.

The 40-year-old wing signed a one-year, $8 million deal to join his former Grizzlies head coach, Dave Joerger. The 19-year NBA vet ranks 27th all-time in scoring with 24,555 points, just 260 points behind Patrick Ewing for 26th place on the list.

“I definitely didn’t see myself playing to 40, more than anything, it’s not what I do, it’s what I’m willing to do,” Carter said follow the press conference. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to still be here today.”

Carter finished last season averaging 8.0 points and 3.1 rebounds in 24.6 minutes a night for Memphis. With Sacramento, he’ll play, but he’ll also be asked to take on the role of mentor with the Kings, as they enter the season with a bevy of young talent.

“They’re listening, they’re asking questions and that’s all you can ask from young guys,” Carter said about teaching the young players. “When you’ve got guys like us that have been around and are willing to share our knowledge, what we want is young guys that are willing to listen and willing to put in the work and learn. Everything else is easy after that.”

After spending the last eight seasons with the Grizzlies, Randolph inked a two-year, $24 million deal with the Kings. Like Carter, he spent plenty of time with coach Joerger and looks forward to playing for his former head coach again.

The 16-year NBA veteran turns 36 on July 16, but age didn’t stop him from having a very productive season last year. Z-Bo came off the bench for new head coach David Fizdale in Memphis, averaging 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds in 24.5 minutes per game.

In Sacramento, he’ll play solid minutes at the power forward spot. He’ll also be asked to take the Kings stack of young bigs under his wing and teach them the ropes. Randolph brings a physicality that the team lacks and there is hope that it rubs off on the young guys. According to the veteran big, it’s more than just strength or pushing opponents around.

“It’s not about toughness, it’s about playing for each other,” Randolph said of teaching the young guys. “I’m going hard for George, I’m going hard for Vince, and vise versa. That’s what it’s all about - giving all you’ve got for your teammates.”

Both players confirmed that Joerger was a big reasons they joined the Kings. Despite offers to play for winning franchises, they liked the opportunity to try to turn things around with their former coach. Joerger couldn’t be happier with the additions.

“It’s fantastic, their good human beings and they’re pros,” Joerger told NBC Sports California. “Obviously, having history of competition and playoffs and going through the battles, but even more than that, you’re supporting each other's family, you’re watching each other’s kids, you’re going to weddings together. That kind of stuff that  runs pretty deep.”

While Hill hasn’t played for Joerger in the past, he was needed to support a very young backcourt. With both De’Aaron Fox and Frank Mason entering their rookie season’s, Divac and his team looked for a veteran leader to help solidify the point guard position. They inked one of the better free agents lead guards.

“You don’t look at it as competing for minutes, you look at it as what’s the best opportunity for us to win the game,” Hill said of working with Fox. “If the front office and coaches or whatever think it’s best that he plays more minutes, then he plays more minutes. At the end of the day, we have to develop him and I know that. My job here is to help develop him.”

After five seasons with the Indiana Pacers, Hill, 31, spent last year posting career numbers with the Utah Jazz. He landed in Sacramento on a 3-year, $57 million deal, although the third year is only partially guaranteed. He brings nine-years of NBA experience to the table, including averages of 16.9 points and 4.2 assists over 31.5 minutes per game last season.

It was just a press conference, but the vets said all the right things. They’ll join Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos as a core group of leaders. Temple briefly played with Hill during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons and Koufos paired with Randolph and Carter during the 2014-15 season in Memphis.

It’s a solid group, but they have a tall task in front of them. Outside of the group of five, Willie Cauley-Stein is the only other player on the Kings with two years of NBA experience. Joerger has the difficult job of balancing competing on a nightly basis with developing his young players. At least he has some familiar faces to help in the process.

Kings add former WNBA head coach Jenny Boucek to coaching staff

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AP

Kings add former WNBA head coach Jenny Boucek to coaching staff

Dave Joerger likes to think outside the box. He’s a coach that loves to talk hoops and he’s always looking for a fresh approach. In preparation for the 2017-18 season, he reached out to friends in the college and high school ranks with the hopes of gleaning a some small bit of information about coaching an extremely young roster. 
 
When it came time to assemble his staff, Joerger brought back his entire coaching group from last season and even added local product Phil Ricci to the mix to aid in the development of the team’s 10 players with two years of NBA experience or less.
 
It’s a deep bench of basketball lifers, including Elston Turner, Bryan Gates, Duane Ticknor, Bob Thornton, Jason March and Larry Lewis. On Friday, that staff grew by one with the announcement that former WNBA player and coach, Jenny Boucek, is coming aboard as an assistant player development coach.
 
Boucek visited the team multiple times last season and has been a fixture in the Kings practice facility for most of training camp. With a young an inexperienced roster, Joerger and the front office made the decision to bring her on full-time.
 
“We have a lot of really good young talent that is really hungry to learn and be in the gym,” Boucek told NBC Sports California. “I know a big part of my role is going to be helping to develop this talent, to just work with this staff and to fill in wherever is needed.”
 
Joerger and Boucek have known each other for years and share a similar passion for game. Over time, they have used each other as sounding boards for ideas and have a strong respect for one another.
 
Boucek is no stranger to Sacramento. She coached the Monarchs from 2007-2009, compiling a 40-41 record over her two plus seasons with the team and she spent the last three seasons at the helm of the Seattle Storm. 
 
“I couldn’t be more excited to get back in this basketball city that just loves and lives for basketball and try to bring an exciting team to this fanbase,” Boucek said.
 
With the hiring, Boucek becomes the third female assistant coach in NBA history, joining Becky Hammon and Nancy Lieberman. Hammon currently works as an assistant on Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio and Lieberman spent the 2015-16 season as an assistant for George Karl in Sacramento before taking leave for family reasons last season. 

Gameday: First of many battles between De'Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr

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USATI

Gameday: First of many battles between De'Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr

After falling to the Houston Rockets in the home opener, the Sacramento Kings hit the road for a three game trip beginning Friday night in Dallas. They’ll face a Mavericks team that is also looking for their first win of the season following a loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday evening.

Dave Joerger’s Kings gave the Rockets all they could handle at Golden 1 Center before an error by the officiating crew cost them a valuable possession late. The effort and intensity was present, but Sacramento’s lack of experience makes late game situations an adventure.

Coach Rick Carlisle is trying to balance the old with the new in Dallas, starting veterans Dirk Nowitzki and Wes Matthews alongside Yogi Ferrell, Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes. Seven players scored in double-figures in the Mavs opener as they enter the season without a true number one scoring option.

BETTING LINE

Mavs by 5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

De’Aaron Fox vs. Dennis Smith Jr. -- Fox worked his way up the draft board, hearing his name called with the fifth overall selection by Sacramento. He’s the future and maybe even the present for a Kings team looking to rebuild. Smith had to wait a little longer for his moment on draft night. Taken with the ninth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the former NC State guard is an incredible athlete and may have found the perfect landing spot for his skill set. Smith sports a 48-inch vertical leap and he plays with a chip on his shoulder. This is the first of many battles between these two top-tier talents.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 0-1

Mavs: 0-1

INJURY REPORT

Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) is out, PF Zach Randolph (oral surgery) is probable, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out

Mavs: G Seth Curry (leg) out, F Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) out

SERIES HISTORY

The Kings took the season series over the Mavs last year 2-1. Dallas hold a 92-66 advantage over the Kings all-time, and a 75-54 lead during the Sacramento-era.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

ALL HANDS ON DECK? - Zach Randolph and Bogdan Bogdanovic missed the opener due to injury. Randolph has had a few days to recover from oral surgery and might be ready in time to retake his starting power forward spot. Bogdanovic is nursing an ankle injury, but is getting close to a return. If Bogdanovic is healthy, he’ll play and possibly even start for Joerger.

WILLIE FIND CONSISTENCY? - Willie Cauley-Stein put up 21 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in the opener. If Randolph returns, Cauley-Stein’s role will change slightly, but the Kings need the same effort and energy every night from their third-year big.

TEMPLE TIME - Garrett Temple struggled with his shot, hitting just 1-of-7 from the field off Joerger’s bench on Wednesday. That didn’t stop the veteran wing from putting on a defensive show. He finished the night with four steals and countless deflections as he faced off with James Harden and Eric Gordon. The young players could learn a lot from the eight-year vet.

QUOTE

“These young guys play hard, they want to be good, they want to win and they want to learn.” -Vince Carter on the Kings’ young core