Kings

Gameday: Kings will be without two starters as they play north of the border

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AP

Gameday: Kings will be without two starters as they play north of the border

For the second time in seven days, the Sacramento Kings face the Toronto Raptors for an early Sunday matinee. This time around, they’ll have to go to battle without their leading scorer and their starting point guard.

Zach Randolph has carried a tremendous load for the Kings over the last few weeks. The 36-year-old big has logged 30 or more minutes for the Kings seven times over the past 11 games. He’s posted huge numbers over that stretch, including a 35-point, 13-rebound performance in a win over the Pelicans.

In his 17th NBA season, Randolph is leading the Kings in scoring at 15.2 points and rebounding with 7.0. With a short break in the schedule, the team is giving Z-Bo an opportunity to catch his breath with a day off to rest. He’ll return to action when Sacramento travels to Philly and Brooklyn for back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In addition to Z-Bo sitting, rookie De’Aaron Fox will sit on Sunday with a quad contusion. He is listed as day-to-day moving forward and the injury is not considered serious.

BETTING LINE:
Raptors by 12.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
George Hill vs. Kyle Lowry -- With De’Aaron Fox out, the Kings need Hill to continue his recent surge. He’ll draw a three-time All-Star in Lowry that has the Raptors machine running smoothly. If Sacramento has any chance of upsetting Toronto, they’ll need their veteran point guard to come up big.

WHERE THEY STAND:
Kings: 9-19, fourth place in Pacific

Raptors: 19-8, second place in Atlantic

INJURY REPORT:
Kings: C/PF Zach Randolph (rest) out, PG De’Aaron Fox (right quad contusion) out, SG/SF Malachi Richardson (sprained ankle) probable, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January at the earliest.

Raptors: C Lucas Nogueira (calf) out.

SERIES HISTORY:
After four straight losses to the Kings, the Raptors picked up a win at Golden 1 Center last Sunday, giving them a 1-0 advantage in the season series. Sacramento holds a 26-16 lead in the all-time series between these two clubs.  

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Replacing Z-Bo -- Randolph has been spectacular for Sacramento in the early season, but he’s played more minutes than expected. The team last played Thursday in Minnesota. By giving Randolph Sunday off, the Kings are effectively giving the veteran a four day break from basketball activities.  Someone has to step up and fill the void or it’s going to be a long day for the Kings.  

Second Team Magic -- With the team shorthanded, Dave Joerger is going to need the second unit to continue their strong play. Two reserves will slide into the starting lineup, opening up an opportunity for the end of the bench to get some run.

Air Canada -- After 20 seasons of NBA action, this might be Vince Carter’s last trip to the city where it all began. The 40-year-old wing has played sparingly this season for Sacramento, but with the roster depleted, he’ll likely see action. Carter helped put Toronto on the map as an NBA city. It’s hard to imagine the fans not reacting to him in a positive way.

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.