Kings

Gameday: De'Aaron Fox may be primed for big game vs Spurs

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USATSI

Gameday: De'Aaron Fox may be primed for big game vs Spurs

SACRAMENTO -- Back to the grind. After a big win over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday evening, the Sacramento Kings finish their six-game homestand Monday against the San Antonio Spurs at Golden 1 Center.

The Kings stand at 2-3 over the first five games of the stretch. They’ve shown that they can take down the heavyweights of the league with wins over the Cavs and the Nuggets, but they’ve struggled against the lower tier of the league, dropping games to the Suns, Grizzlies and Hornets.

San Antonio rolls through Sacramento for the second time in a month and like the previous visit, they’ll play short-handed. Four regulars will sit with various ailments, but that hasn’t slowed the Spurs in the past.

BETTING LINE

Spurs by 5.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

De’Aaron Fox vs. Tony Parker -- With George Hill out for a second straight game and Frank Mason down with a heel injury, Fox is primed to play substantial minutes. The rookie point guard has averaged 17.5 points and 5.5 assists in two games since returning from injury. In his 17th NBA season, Parker is no longer the speedster he once was, but he can still take a young player to school.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 13-25, fourth place in Pacific

Spurs: 27-14, second place in Southwest

INJURY REPORT

Kings: PG George Hill (personal) out, PF/C Zach Randolph (oral surgery) probable, PG Frank Mason (heel) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out.

Spurs: SF Kawhi Leonard (shoulder) out, SF Rudy Gay (heel) out, SG Manu Ginobili (rest) out, SG Danny Green (groin) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Finish the Homestand Strong -- The Kings have proven time and time again that they beat anyone and also lose to anyone. The Spurs are missing a ton of veterans, but they still have Popovich at the helm and Aldridge and Pau Gasol running around in the post. With Fox running the show, the Kings need to get out and run and put on a good show for their hometown crowd.

Defensive Intensity -- Against the Nuggets, the Kings flew all over the court, notching 34 deflections and a season-high 16 steals as a team. Cauley-Stein picked up a career-best seven steals in the win, showing a new level of activity on the defensive end. If the Kings allow the Spurs to run their offense, it could be a long night. If they bring the same energy, they have a chance.

Take Advantage of the Schedule -- The Kings are fresh off a three day break, followed by a game, followed by another day off. San Antonio lost in Portland on Sunday and is playing their fifth game in seven nights. This game is prime for the taking.

SERIES HISTORY

The Spurs beat Sacramento on Dec. 23 and currently own an 11-game win streak over the Kings. San Antonio holds an 89-39 lead during the Sacramento-era and a 117-55 advantage all-time.

Hill to the Cavs? The best and biggest deal for the Kings is...

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USATSI

Hill to the Cavs? The best and biggest deal for the Kings is...

Is the George Hill era in Sacramento coming to and end? According to Shams Charania, the Kings might have an interested party in the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Hill signed a massive three-year, $57 million deal with Sacramento over the summer, but has yet to live up to the contract. Through 37 games, Hill is posting 10.5 points and 2.7 assists per game for Sacramento. Those numbers are down from 16.9 points and 4.2 assists he averaged last season as a member of the Utah Jazz.

If a deal between the two teams is going to happen, it might be more complex than just shipping the 31-year-old to Cleveland on the next flight. Here is a look at a couple of possibilities without going into potential 3-way deals.

BEST DEAL FOR KINGS

Kings receive: Jae Crowder (3-years, $22 million), Iman Shumpert (2-year, $21.4 million - year-two a player option at $11 million)

Cavs receive: George Hill (3-year, $57 million), Malachi Richardson (2-year, $3 million with team option for third year)

Why Kings make deal: They land a very serviceable forward that instantly fills the team’s biggest need. At 27-years-old, Crowder is affordable and under contract for another two seasons, although he’s really struggled in his first season in Cleveland. Shumpert is coming off an injury and would likely opt out of his final year.

Why Cavs make deal: Hill instantly improves their backcourt. He can play the one of the two either as a starter or off the bench. Giving up tow wings might not be the best option, but Sacramento is going to want something of value back. Richardson is thrown into the deal to make salaries match.

BEST DEAL FOR CAVS

Kings receive: Channing Frye (1-year, $7.4 million) Iman Shumpert (2-year, $21.4 million - 2018-19 contract a player option at $11 million)

Cavs Receive: George Hill (3-year, $57 million), Malachi Richardson (2-year, $3 million with team option for third year)

Why Kings make deal: Kings give up an asset in Richardson, but they shed Hill’s $19 million owed for 2018-19 season. If Shumpert opts in, the Kings still save $8 million off the books for next season.

Why Cavs make deal: Basically, they land Hill for a couple of spare parts. Richardson is

BIG DEAL

Kings receive: Jae Crowder (3-years, $22 million), Channing Frye (1-year, $7.4 million) Iman Shumpert (2-year, $21.4 million - 2018-19 contract a player option at $11 million)

Cavs receive: George Hill (3-year, $57 million), Kosta Koufos (2-year, $17 million with player option for second year), Malachi Richardson (2-year, $3 million with team option for third year)

Why Kings make deal: They land Crowder and a get out of jail free card on Hill’s contract. Koufos can opt out of his deal at the end of the season and the Kings get nothing. Throwing in Richardson isn’t ideal, but the Kings are deep at the two and they have to match roster spots.

Why Cavs make deal: They get an upgrade in the backcourt in Hill. They are also rumored to be in the market for a big and Koufos is a much more affordable option than DeAndre Jordan.

Bogdan Bogdanovic breaks his shell early in 2018, 'he’s able to do everything'

Bogdan Bogdanovic breaks his shell early in 2018, 'he’s able to do everything'

He’s not really a rookie. After playing for years overseas, Bogdan Bogdanovic has proven very quickly that he is an NBA player. Midway through his first season in the league, the 25-year-old Serb is finding his stride. 

From the moment he stepped on the floor in Sacramento, Bogdanovic showed flashes of something special. You could see early on that he was trying to fit in and make nice with his teammates, but the honeymoon phase is over. Bogdanovic is no longer holding back.

For the third time in the new calendar year, Bogdanovic set a career-high in scoring on Wednesday evening. He dropped in 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including a perfect 6-of-6 from long range. 

“I’ve said it all year, he’s not really a rookie, he’s been playing pro ball for so many years,” De’Aaron Fox said of his backcourt mate. “He definitely doesn’t play like a rookie. He brings the intelligence, the savvy, the shooting - defensively, he gets after it. He’s able to do everything for us.” 

He’s pushed his season numbers up to 11.5 points, 2.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 26.6 minutes per game. Bogdanovic has also raised his shooting percentages drastically as the season has progressed, knocking down 48.8 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from behind the 3-point line. 

In eight games in January, Bogdanovic has taken his game to another level. He’s hit the opposition for 16.3 points, 3.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 30.6 minutes a game. Dave Joerger has come to rely on the former Fenerbahce star, even giving him starts in the last two games since the youth movement was officially put into motion.

“I’m working every single day as hard as I can, I’m trying to be the best version of (myself).” Bogdanovic said following the team’s loss to Utah on Wednesday.

It’s a small sample size, but Bogdanovic’s shooting numbers in 2018 are off the charts. He’s hitting 54.8 percent from the floor, a stunning 58.3 percent on the 3-ball and 92.3 percent from the line.

With All-Star weekend on the horizon, Bogdanovic has likely earned his way into an invitation for the Rising Stars Challenge. Amongst rookies, he’s currently seventh in scoring, fourth in 3-point percentage, eighth in field goal percentage and sixth in steals. 

Sacramento’s 2017-18 season is about sifting through the young players and figuring out what they have. It appears the Kings have found a keeper in Bogdanovic.