Kings

Gameday: LeBron, Cavs look to extend Kings' post Christmas woes

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AP

Gameday: LeBron, Cavs look to extend Kings' post Christmas woes

SACRAMENTO -- While the Sacramento Kings were being handed their second straight loss in Los Angeles Tuesday evening at the Staples Center, the Cleveland Cavaliers were hanging out back in Sacramento. The Kings flew home following the Clippers game where they’ll face the Cavs on the second night of a back-to-back.

Outside of Willie Cauley-Stein’s 17-point, seven-rebound, four-steal performance, there wasn’t a lot to like from the Kings loss to the Clippers. They were doomed in the second quarter when they went flat and were outscored 41-23.

Cleveland is coming off a lost to the Warriors in Oakland on Christmas day and have been relaxing in Sacramento since. Kevin Love dropped in 31 points and 18 rebounds against Golden State, but the Cavs managed to shoot just 31.8 percent from the field in the 99-92 defeat.

BETTING LINE

Cavs by 9.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Who Slows King James? -- The last time these two teams faced off, Dave Joerger turned to two-way forward JaKarr Sampson to guard LeBron James. As of Tuesday night, Sampson was still playing for the Reno Bighorns, leaving the Kings without a player with the physical size and strength to slow the first ballot Hall of Famer. It could be a long night at Golden 1 Center.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 11-22, fifth place in Pacific

Cavs: 24-10, first place in Central

INJURY REPORT

Kings: PG De’Aaron Fox (slight tear of the right quad) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January.

Cavs: PG Isaiah Thomas (hip) out, PG Derrick Rose (ankle) out, SF Iman Shumpert (knee) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

No Love Lost -- Love torched the Warriors for 6-of-11 shooting from behind the arc. The Kings don’t have a big that likes to defend the perimeter and they also don’t have one that can keep Love off the glass. It’s not just LeBron James you have to worry about when Cleveland rolls through town.

New Mix -- Joerger has turned to Cauley-Stein and Buddy Hield in his starting lineup over the last few games and the results have been mixed. Hield went off for 24 point in his first game, but struggled against the Clippers. Cauley-Stein has put up big numbers, but the second unit has struggled without his presence. The coaching staff is still looking for the right combinations 33 games into the season.

Fresh Blood -- With Cauley-Stein and Hield elevated to the starting group, Joerger has turned to Malachi Richardson and Justin Jackson with the reserves and left Skal Labissiere on the bench. The two young wings combined to score 19 points, grab nine rebounds and dish out four assists in 53 total minutes on the floor. It’s an interesting experiment.

SERIES HISTORY

The Cavs held on to beat the Kings 101-95 earlier this month to take a 1-0 advantage in the season series. The Cavs hold a slight 59-57 lead in the all-time series and 39-23 advantage during the Sacramento-era.

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.