Kings

Gameday: Kings look stay hot, build off monster win with Suns in town

kings-gameday-temple-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

Gameday: Kings look stay hot, build off monster win with Suns in town

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings started their six game homestand with a bang Wednesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. They’ll get an opportunity to make it two in a row Friday evening when the Phoenix Suns roll into Golden 1 Center.

Vince Carter was the man of the evening against the Cavs, scoring a season-high 24 points off the bench for Sacramento. Willie Cauley-Stein and Bogdan Bogdanovic put up big numbers with the second unit as well, helping to the Kings’ bench mob to score 68 of the team’s 109 points.

The Suns have four of their last six games, including a victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday. Phoenix averages 105.6 points per game, which is good enough for 13th best in the league. But they are the league’s worst defensive team, yielding 112.4 points a night.

LINE

Kings by 2.5

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 12-22 fourth in Pacific

Suns: 13-23 third in Pacific

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Frank Mason III vs. Tyler Ulis -- Mason started the first game of his career versus the Cavs on Wednesday night. He might get a second start against Ulis on Friday as Dave Joerger mixes and matches his lineups. Mason has struggled with his shot as of late, but it could just be a case of hitting the rookie wall. Ulis has started the last 23 games for the Suns after starting the season as a reserve. Eric Bledsoe is gone, as is Mike James. For now, it’s Ulis’ show in Phoenix.

INJURY REPORT

Kings:  PG De’Aaron Fox (thigh tear) out, PF Harry Giles (bi-lateral knee rehab) is out until January at the earliest.

Suns:  PG Brandon Knight (ACL tear) out for the season, G Davon Reed (knee) out, PF Alan Williams (knee) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Bogi the Point -- The Suns tried to get Bogdanovic to come over from Europe multiple times before dealing him to the Kings on draft night 2016. The Serbian rookie is finding his game and playing a lot of point guard for the Kings with Fox on the shelf with a thigh injury. He posted 16 points and eight assists against Cleveland. He creates open looks for his teammates and has an incredible basketball IQ.   

Free Buddy -- Buddy Hield has found a niche with the Kings, but he’s struggled to get to the free throw line. Hield has failed to shoot a single free throw in eight of his last 10 contests. He hasn’t gotten to the line in 17-of-32 games this season. If he wants to be an elite scorer, he has to figure out how to draw contact and get to the stripe.   

Time for Skal? -- Skal Labissiere has been the forgotten man over the last three games, drawing the dreaded DNP-CD (did not play - coach’s decision). The 21-year-old big hasn’t crested the 15 minute plateau since late November, but he’s played well against the Suns in the past. Will Joerger give him a shot or keep the second-year power forward on the bench?

SERIES HISTORY

After a 99-92 Kings win at Golden 1 Center on Dec. 12, these two teams are all knotted at 1-1 in the season series. Phoenix leads the all-time series 132-91 and they hold an 85-52 advantage during the Sacramento-era.

QUOTE

“I feel great. I prepare myself for it.” -Vince Carter after playing 30 minutes Wednesday against the Cavs

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

kings-trade-hill-usatsi.jpg
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.