Kings

Homecoming King: Cousins embraces the moment back in Sacramento

Homecoming King: Cousins embraces the moment back in Sacramento

SACRAMENTO -- DeMarcus Cousins made the media wait Thursday night at Golden 1 Center. The visiting locker didn’t even open until nearly an hour after the Pelicans 114-106 win over the Kings and then it filled to the brim with media members from all over the country.

And then the wait continued. The extra bodies in the room helped raise the temperature to sweltering. New Orleans' locker room was close to unbearable.

Cousins poked his head out and surveyed the room. He’s used to doing media following every game, but this was different. The whole night was different.

After six-plus seasons and 470 games in Kings purple, Cousins played for the first in Sacramento as an opposing player. It took very little time for him to remind fans why he was the face of the franchise.  

“I was super nervous coming in,” Cousins said from his locker with sweat still dripping from his beard. “The anticipation was through the roof.”

Baseline cut, two-handed jam. That’s how the night began for Cousins, but the first half was all Kings. 

Ball movement, cuts, defensive pressure - Sacramento jumped all over the Pelicans, leading by as many as 19 in the first half. For a moment, it looked like they might be able to spoil Cousins big return.

“We knew they would be juiced, we knew they’d come out swinging,” Cousins said. “And that’s exactly what they did. They’re a young, energetic team. With that being said, we knew we just had to stay poised and fight the game out.”

Through all of his ups and downs with the Kings, the term poised was very seldom used to describe Cousins. He’s a player that plays angry. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he has plenty of NBA fines to show for it. 

But this wasn’t the same Cousins. He fought back the scowl and for one of the few times in his career, he seemed to embrace the moment. 

“The fans we’re beautiful, they were into the game,” Cousins said. “They let it be well known they hated every shot I made. Now I see how other players feel.”  

The 27-year-old center went for a game-high 41 points. He added 23 rebounds and six assists while leading his team to victory. It was the first 40-point, 20-rebound performance of his career and Cousins became the first NBA player since Chris Webber in 2001 to finish a game with 40 points, 20 rebounds and five assists. 

A sellout crowd gave their former star big man a standing ovation, both during introductions and again when the Kings played a short video tribute in the early first quarter. While he was nervous and his team struggled early, it was Cousins' night, regardless of what uniform he was wearing. 

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.