Kings

Gameday: Will soul-searching pay off for Kings against Nuggets?

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AP

Gameday: Will soul-searching pay off for Kings against Nuggets?

SACRAMENTO -- After three days of practice and soul searching, the struggling Sacramento Kings return to their homecourt Saturday with the hopes of snapping their three-game skid. Standing in the Kings’ way are the Denver Nuggets, who find themselves in the thick of a Western Conference playoff chase 38 games into the 2017-18 season.

Sacramento hasn’t played since Tuesday’s 131-111 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. Zach Randolph and Skal Labissiere both finished with double-doubles, but the Kings turned the ball over and allowed the Hornets to shoot 57.3 percent from the field.

Denver is coming off a big win Friday evening in Utah, but they’ll have to face a well rested Kings team on the second night of a back-to-back. Jamal Murray and Trey Liles each finished with 26 points in the Nuggets win victory over the Jazz to help the team improve to 21-17 on the season..

BETTING LINE:
Nuggets by 4

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Bogdan Bogdanovic vs. Gary Harris -- Bogdanovic is quickly adjusting to the NBA world. There is a versatility to his game that the Kings sorely need, especially on the defensive end. In his fourth season in the league, Harris is developing into a bigtime scorer. He can hit the three ball or break you down off the dribble. Whether Bogdanovic starts or comes off the bench, he’ll have his hands full with Haris.

WHERE THEY STAND:
Kings: 12-25, fourth place in Pacific

Nuggets: 21-17, third place in Northwest

INJURY REPORT:
Kings: PG Frank Mason (heel) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out, PF Zach Randolph (oral surgery) out, G George Hill (personal) out. Small forward Justin Jackson and big man Georgios Papagiannis are currently with the Reno Bighorns of the G-League. Two-way players JaKarr Sampson and Jack Cooley will suit up for Sacramento.

Nuggets: PF Paul Millsap (left wrist) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
Guard the Arc -- The Nuggets love to shoot the 3-pointer, attempting 30.6 triples per game. They hit on 36.5 percent of those shots, which ranks 15th in the league. On the flip side, the Kings rank 29th in the league in 3-point attempts by an opponent and opponent 3-point percentage. Sacramento’s had three days of practice to sure up their defense and prepare for the Nuggets.

Guarding Wilson Chandler -- Chandler isn’t an NBA All-Star, but you would think so if you watch him play against Sacramento. The Kings typically don’t have a player to throw out against the 6-foot-8, 225-pound Chandler. If the veteran forward gets going, don’t be shocked to see JaKarr Sampson get a few minutes.

Do Right by the Home Crowd -- After starting the homestand with huge win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Kings haven’t been competitive over the last three games at Golden 1 Center. The boo birds have come out in all three lopsided losses. Fans understand the rebuild process, but they want to see energy and effort every game.

SERIES HISTORY:
Denver leads the season series 2-0, with wins coming at both the Pepsi Center and Golden 1. The Nuggets hold a slim 90-88 lead the all-time series and the series is all tied up at 65-65 during the Sacramento-era 88-47.

QUOTE:
“We’ve just been getting after it. The spirits been good here in practice and we’ve just been getting better, making each other better. It’s been fun, it’s been good.” -Skal Labissiere on the three day break in the Kings’ schedule.

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.