Kings

Gameday: Kings can cash in or go for broke in last game before All-Star break

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USATSI

Gameday: Kings can cash in or go for broke in last game before All-Star break

Cash it in or go for broke. With two games remaining before the All-Star break, the Sacramento Kings travel to Dallas to take on the Mavericks at AmericanAirlines Arena. Will they come out swinging or look like a team already one foot out the door on vacation?

The Kings have lost two straight and four of their last five, but they’re beat up and fresh off a roster shakeup. De’Aaron Fox led Sacramento last time out, scoring 23 points against the T-Wolves. He was one of six Kings to score in double-figures, but the Kings couldn’t close out Minny late.

Dallas is 3-11 over their last 14 games, but one of those wins came over the Kings at Golden 1 Center. They are an interesting mix of young and old. Dirk Nowitzki is still roaming the perimeter and Harrison Barnes has developed into a quality scoring option in his second season in Dallas.

BETTING LINE

Mavs by 6.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Justin Jackson vs. Doug McDermott -- Jackson has posted double-digit scoring in four of his last seven games and shot 50 percent from the field or better in all but one of those opportunities.  He’s quietly improved his per game numbers across the board, including rebounding, assists and points. Dougie McBuckets is getting another new lease on life after joining the Mavs at the deadline. He can shoot the rock, but so far in his career, that’s about it.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 17-38

Mavs: 18-39

INJURY REPORT

Kings: SG/SF Iman Shumpert (plantar fasciitis) out, SF Bruno Caboclo (personal) status unknown at this time, PF Skal Labissiere (shoulder strain) out, PG Frank Mason (plantar fascia tear right heel) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season.

Mavs: G Seth Curry (leg) out for the season, C Nerlens Noel (thumb) out, PF Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Rookie Point Guard Battle - De’Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith are going to battle for the next decade in the Western Conference. Fox won the last matchup between these two, but Smith’s team came away with the win. Fox is the faster of the two, but Smith touts a 48-inch vertical.  

Stay Focused - The Kings are 9-21 away from Golden 1 Center this season, compared to 8-17 at home. They’ve had shocking wins over the Warriors, Pelicans and Heat on the road this season, showing that they can rise to the occasion. With the All-Star break just two days away, Sacramento needs to remain focused on task at hand.

Get to the Line -- Sacramento continues to rank last in the league in free throw attempts at 17.5 freebies per game. Willie Cauley-Stein ranks first on the team with 3.3 attempts and Fox is second at 2.9, but the team needs more out of players like Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Zach Randolph.

SERIES HISTORY

The Kings and Mavs are all tied up at 1-1 this season, with each team winning on the road. Dallas hold a 93-68 advantage over the Kings all-time, and a 76-55 lead during the Sacramento-era.

Bogdan Bogdanovic to undergo left knee surgery

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AP

Bogdan Bogdanovic to undergo left knee surgery

After jumping straight from European competition to the NBA last summer, Bogdan Bogdanovic is scheduled to undergo a minor procedure on Tuesday.

A postseason MRI picked up on a slight tear in the meniscus of Bogdanovic’s left knee.

Playing for a year and a half straight without a break takes a toll on a player’s body.

According to the Kings, he will undergo a minimally invasive meniscus debridement procedure at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

The arthroscopic procedure is being performed by Dr. Riley Williams. With the cleanout, he is expected to make a full recovery in time for the team’s training camp schedule.

Bogdanovic, 25, joined the Kings on a three-year, $27 million contract last summer after playing the year before for Fenerbahce of the Turkish Super League.

The Serbian-born guard averaged 11.8 points, 3.3 assists and 2.9 rebound in 27.9 minutes per game for Sacramento in his rookie NBA season.

Kawhi Leonard is not the answer for the Kings

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USATSI

Kawhi Leonard is not the answer for the Kings

The murmurs have already started. Teams are lining up for a potential run at one of the game’s best players. We aren’t talking about LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Paul George, who all have early termination clauses in their contracts this summer. That trio will dominate the news July 1 when the NBA’s free agency period begins. 

There is another player who has an ability to change the course of a franchise and the way things are heading, who might become one of the biggest trade targets in recent league history. 

No one really knows the entire story about what is going on with Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs have their side and Leonard’s team likely has a different version. What is known is that the 26-year-old small forward was cleared by San Antonio’s medical staff to resume game action a few months back. 

Leonard returned to the court for a nine-game stretch during December and early January. And then he shut it down again. 

The two-time All-Star and former NBA Defensive Players of the Year has been diagnosed with tendinopathy in his right quadricep. He’s bounced back and forth between San Antonio and New York City all season, having his injury evaluated and re-evaluated by both the Spurs and his own medical team.

Where the Spurs go from here is anyone’s guess. They have the best two-way player in the game and he has made the decision on his own not to play. 

A season ago, San Antonio rattled off a 61-win season before falling to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. They made additions in the summer to make another run, but without Leonard, they didn’t stand a chance.

To make matters worse, the Spurs roster is aging quickly. Manu Ginobili turns 41 in July. Pau Gasol is almost 38 and Tony Parker will be 36 soon and in the last year of his contract. Six players in their rotation are 30 or older and the clock is ticking.

Leonard’s decision wiped out any chance of winning a ring for the Spurs. It also threw away one of the few seasons left for a couple of his teammates.

For the last four decades, San Antonio has been the model NBA franchise. They don’t get into situations like this. And now they have to make one of the most difficult decisions a team has to make. 

To complicate matters, Leonard has two years left on his five-year, $94 million deal he signed in 2015. The final year is a player option worth $21.3 million and it’s very unlikely that Leonard will exercise that option.

Why is this of interest to the Sacramento Kings? It might not be, but that won’t stop fans from turning to the trade machine to find a way to land Leonard in purple and black.

Anytime a player of this ilk comes available, it’s within every team’s best interest to at least make a call. It’s possible the Spurs would turn the Kings down three seconds into the conversation. Then again, they might listen.

While San Antonio is going to want a star in return for Leonard, that isn’t the way these things usually work out. The question then becomes, do the Kings have the assets to acquire Leonard?

It’s very possible that the Spurs can get more than what the Kings would be willing to offer. Sacramento has a group of young players, two or three of which might draw interest. They also have a top seven pick in the upcoming draft.

Due to the Stepien Rule, the Kings can’t trade their draft pick prior to the 2018 NBA Draft. League rules prohibit teams from trading draft picks in back-to-back seasons and Sacramento has already given up their 2019 pick in a salary dump in the summer of 2015. 

The Kings can make a selection for another team and consummate a deal once the new season begins in July, so there is still an opportunity to include the pick in player form. 

San Antonio would likely ask for multiple young players, as well as the Kings’ 2018 selection. Sacramento also has cap space and a few veterans on expiring contracts to make the dollars and cents work. 

Whether the Kings could come up with the pieces to make a deal work is debatable. The real question is, should they try and chase Leonard if he becomes available? 

The simple answer is no. 

No, the Kings shouldn’t offer up a top 10 pick and two or three of their young core to acquire one of the game’s best players. 

Take all of the issues that Leonard has had this season and throw them out the window. At 100 percent health, the risk is still too much for a team like the Kings to take.

It’s about the contract and it’s about the talent that you would have to give up. The Los Angeles Lakers might be able to absorb the risk of trading for Leonard. They would likely have to give up Kyle Kuzma and plenty more to make something happen. But they would also have a fighting chance of retaining Leonard once he opts out of his current deal and becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Kings fans will reach deep on this, bringing up that Chris Webber made the decision to stick around in Sacramento back in 2001, inking a seven-year, $122 million deal. 

Not only were those different times, but the Kings’ franchise was on a roll. Webber was the best player on one of the best teams in the league. He was also surrounded by quality teammates, many of who remain extremely close more than a decade later.

Leonard would come to a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2006. It is also a franchise that would have to give up plenty of assets to acquire him. He wouldn’t make the Kings an instant success and although the team would have plenty of money in the summer of 2019 to not only pay Leonard, but add a few more pieces, the risk would never be worth the reward.

If the team truly believes that Leonard is an option, they might as well draft a high quality player in 2018, develop the current talent base, make a move or two to improve the roster and then chase the All-Star wing a summer later when they have upwards of $70 million to throw around.

It’s a fun conversation, but one that can only lead to ruin for a team like the Kings. The best chance to turn things around for Sacramento is to stay the current course and continue to develop the players on the roster. 

If the team can begin to build something, landing the right player and then keeping them around will happen for the Kings.