Kings

JaKarr Sampson shines light on huge hole with Kings' roster

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AP

JaKarr Sampson shines light on huge hole with Kings' roster

The NBA game is about mismatches. Good teams know how to exploit their advantages. Teams like the Sacramento Kings look for ways to hide their deficiencies. 

Sacramento came out of the offseason knowing they had an issue in their roster make up. The team lacked a combo forward that could handle bigger wings and also slide over to the power spot to challenge stretch fours. 

Rookie Justin Jackson was the only small forward on the roster listed above 6-foot-6 and he is slight of frame at 6-foot-8, 200 pounds. At the power spot, Skal Labissiere and Zach Randolph have plenty of skill, but guarding the perimeter is an issue.

Enter JaKarr Sampson.

Sampson signed a two-way contract with the Kings during the offseason, giving Sacramento the ability to call on the 24-year-old forward for up to 45 days during the season. Listed at 6-foot-9, 215 pounds, Sampson stepped up against 13-time All-Star and four-time league MVP LeBron James on Wednesday evening and made a tremendous contribution.

He finished the night with a modest six points, but his 16 rebounds and physical defense against James shined a light on the Kings' glaring hole in the roster. 

“JaKarr had been playing me tough all game,” James said of Sampson following the game. “I know him, he knows me from our summertime workouts back at St. V. But you know, big brother’s always going to have the last laugh.”

James came away the win. His Cavs team is fresh off two straight NBA Finals trips and they were riding a 12-game winning streak. They came into the night favored by 12.5 over Sacramento and barely escaped with the 101-95 victory. 

After playing for the Reno Bighorns earlier in the week, Sampson started and played 32 minutes for Dave Joerger. The argument could be made that the athletic forward didn’t play enough. 

When Sampson went to the bench at the 3:29 mark of the third quarter, the Kings held a five-point lead. He returned to a tie game with 6:34 remaining in the fourth. James scored 10 of his game-high 32 during that stretch and he found his range from the perimeter.

“I’m just happy to see him back at this level,” James said. “Works extremely hard, is a great competitor. I’m happy Sacramento is giving him an opportunity.”

There is something to be said about knowing your role. Sampson came into the night knowing that he needed to bring energy and physicality when going against James. His incredible rebounding night was just icing on the cake. 

“He was excited and he was up for the challenge,” Vince Carter said. “He’s aggressive, he has a high motor, he loves to play and he’s not really afraid.”

Sacramento doesn’t have another player like Sampson. He fits an immediate need for the ball club, but his contract status limits the way they can use him moving forward. With 15 players already on standard roster, the Kings would have to either trade or waive a player if they wanted to make a permanent spot for the St. John’s product. 

With only five veterans on the roster and commitments to 10 young players, nine of which were first-round selections, the Kings are in a difficult position.

Expect Sacramento to pick and choose their spots with Sampson. They have plenty of time to make a decision on his future with the team. For one night, he was the designated LeBron James stopper.

After getting stitched up, De'Aaron Fox cleared to play in Rising Stars Game

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USATSI

After getting stitched up, De'Aaron Fox cleared to play in Rising Stars Game

De’Aaron Fox ran the gamut of emotions Wednesday. He got the call early in the day that he was added to the Rising Stars Game as an injury replacement for the Los Angeles Lakers point guard, Lonzo Ball. But a spill late in Houston in front of his hometown crowd put everything on hold.

After being evaluated by the Kings medical staff this morning in Sacramento, the team has tentatively cleared their young guard for action in this weekend’s All-Star festivities. 

“Barring any changes in his condition, Fox is expected to play in the Risings Stars Game in L.A. on Friday evening,” the team said via text.  

With 34.3 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Fox hit the floor hard, banging both his chin and forehead on the Toyota Center floor. The Kings starting point guard required stitches above his right eye and on his chin. 

The 20-year-old out of Kentucky is posting 11.3 points, 4.3 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 27.2 minutes per game for Sacramento. 

He, along with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield are scheduled to play in the Rising Stars Game together, giving the team three players in the event for the first time in franchise history.

De'Aaron Fox's All-Star weekend plans in limbo after late spill in Kings' loss

fox-us.jpg
USATSI

De'Aaron Fox's All-Star weekend plans in limbo after late spill in Kings' loss

Good news, bad news. De’Aaron Fox ran the gamut of emotions Wednesday. He got the call early in the day that he was added to the Rising Stars Game as an injury replacement for the Los Angeles Lakers point guard, Lonzo Ball. But a spill late in Houston has everything on hold.

With 34.3 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Fox hit the floor hard, banging both his chin and forehead on the Toyota Center floor. The Kings starting point guard required stitches above his right eye and on his chin. 

There is no word yet from the team on his availability going forward, including Friday’s Rising Stars game in LA. 

The 20-year-old out of Kentucky is posting 11.3 points, 4.3 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 27.2 minutes per game for Sacramento. 

He, along with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield are all scheduled to play in the Rising Stars game, giving the team three players in the event for the first time in franchise history.