Kings

Kings hire VP of professional development

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AP

Kings hire VP of professional development

It’s been a summer of change for the Sacramento Kings. A roster upheaval has 10 new players vying for minutes once training camp opens on Tuesday. The coaching staff has been bolstered and fresh blood was added to the front office in the form of analytics guru Luke Bornn and assistant general manager Brandon Williams. On Thursday, one more piece to the puzzle was brought in to help develop the team’s young core.

With the hiring of Galen Duncan as the franchise’s new Vice President of the Kings Academy and Professional Development, Sacramento is making a major investment in the future of their team.

According to the team’s official press release, “Duncan is responsible for implementation of the Kings Academy program, a developmental, player-centric curriculum aligning multi-faceted organizational philosophies and ideals to help athletes mature into well-rounded professionals. Under Duncan’s oversight, Kings Academy will augment on-court progress with access to practical material and experiences that help balance on-court priorities and personal responsibilities with opportunities to become impactful contributors in the community.”

After 10 years with the Detroit Lions, Duncan is making the jump to the NBA game. He’s already had a taste of the league, working with the league office as part of the NBA Rookie Transition Program.

With five rookies and another four sophomores on the roster, the Kings are investing in a seasoned mentor and life coach. Armed with a Ph.D. in health psychology from Walden University, Duncan will aid the players in everything from finding an apartment to dealing with the stress of life as a 19-year-old millionaire with no experience paying a bill.

“My passion has always been sports,” Duncan told NBC Sports California. “Sports has done wonderful things for me. I don’t care what level they’re at or how much money they make, I think there is something to learn and I have something to teach.”

With the Lions, he brought incoming rookie classes through everything from etiquette courses to teaching them how to tie ties. His goal is to transform a group of young men into professionals, who just happen to be professional athletes.

It’s not just about making a polished product for the media and general public. Duncan will work with players on a variety of personal issues, including money management, dealing with family and professional on-court performance.

“Unfortunately, sometimes family can be your worst enemy,” Duncan said. “But if structured correctly and if nurtured, I think the education goes beyond just the player. I think you have to educate the family as well about what they’re doing.”

The transition to the NBA game will be interesting for Duncan. He comes from a game where the incoming rookie class can be anywhere from 10-15 players. He hasn’t dealt with 19-year-olds at the NFL level and guaranteed contracts are new as well, but the job is very similar.

Sacramento has always had a support staff to help with the transition to the NBA game, but the addition of Duncan is a new level of commitment by the team. They have a huge group of young players and they are making an investment into their futures and the future of the franchise. It’s a clear step in the right direction.

Gameday: Kings look to keep impressive streak against Raptors going

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USATSI

Gameday: Kings look to keep impressive streak against Raptors going

For a young team like the Sacramento Kings, a 2-2 road trip is a huge success. An overtime victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday has the Kings at 7-9 over their last 16 games, which is a big improvement over their 1-8 start to the season. They’ll host another quality playoff team in the Toronto Raptors for a Sunday matinee.

Zach Randolph is earning his $12.5 million this season. The 36-year-old big matched DeMarcus Cousins blow-for-blow in New Orleans, finishing with a season-high 35 points. He’s averaging 25 points and almost 11 rebounds per game over his previous four games. Dave Joerger received plenty of help from the young core, but without Z-Bo, the Kings would be stuck in reverse.

Toronto is in game two of a four-game road trip. They’ve won five straight and nine of their previous 11. Guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry continue to pace a Raptors team that currently sits in second place in the Eastern Conference.

OPENING LINE:
Raptors by 7

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Garrett Temple vs. DeMar DeRozan -- Temple usually guards the toughest perimeter scorer for Sacramento and he’ll face a high-end wing on Sunday. DeRozan’s scoring is down nearly four points per game from his career-best 27.3 last seasons. He’s not a great 3-point shooter, but he can take you off the dribble and he lives in the mid-range. If Temple can limit DeRozan, the Kings have a shot to make it five in a row against the Raptors.  

WHERE THEY STAND:
Kings: 8-17, fifth place in Pacific

Raptors: 16-7, second place in Atlantic

INJURY REPORT:
Kings: G George Hill (personal reasons( is out, C Willie Cauley-Stein (lower back strain) status unknown, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January. Justin Jackson, Malachi Richardson and Skal Labissiere were recalled from the Reno Bighorns on Saturday.

Raptors: C Lucas Nogueira (calf) out, G Delon Wright (shoulder) out.

SERIES HISTORY:
The Kings swept the season series over the Raptors last season and have a four-game win streak against the perennial playoff contender. Sacramento holds a 26-15 lead in the all-time series between these two clubs.  

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
Labissiere a Changed Man? -- The Kings shocked everyone when they sent Skal Labissiere to the Reno Bighorns earlier this week. The second-year big took the demotion in stride, averaging 28 points, 15.5 rebounds, five blocks and two assists in 35 minutes a night against G-League team competition. Sacramento is hoping the 21-year-old found some confidence with extended minutes.    

Give Z-Bo a Break -- At 36, Randolph is showing no signs of slowing on the offensive end. But if the Kings’ fleet of bigs don’t find a way to step up, the 17-year NBA veteran is going to wear down over time. A healthy Willie Cauley-Stein would help, but Labissiere and Kosta Koufos have the ability to take some of the pressure off as well.

More Frank Mason III -- Sacramento’s second-round pick is putting on a show since earning rotational minutes. Mason’s scored in double-figures in three straight and seven of his last 10 games. Joerger let him finish the overtime win in New Orleans and he made some of the biggest plays of the game.

QUOTE

“Where we’re from, bullies get bullied. In my hood, bullies get bullied.” -Zach Randolph to DeMarcus Cousins in the Kings’ overtime win over the Pelicans

Randolph makes statement to Cousins as Kings' leader: 'Bullies get bullied'

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USATSI

Randolph makes statement to Cousins as Kings' leader: 'Bullies get bullied'

It’s a new day in Sacramento. With five rookies, four second-year players and a lone third-year guy, the Kings are going the route of building through the draft on nitro. 

Despite hitting a hard reset button at the trade deadline last season, the Kings are only one game off their pace from a season ago. An 8-17 record is nothing to brag about, but it’s a better start than anyone should have expected.

Friday night’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans shows growth in a youthful team. The Kings competed well in their previous two games against the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers, only to come up short in crunch time. 

First compete, then learn how to win. That is the mantra for any young team. Sacramento is slowly grasping the concept.

The victory over the Pelicans was a stark reminder of the world the Kings once lived in. DeMarcus Cousins, the team’s former All-Star big, put on a show. He punished Sacramento’s depleted front line for 38 points and 11 rebounds, but like so many nights with the Kings, he came up short. 

Where the Kings were and where they are heading was captured in one moment in the fourth quarter. With 3:19 remaining and Sacramento trailing 100-91, Frank Mason III went to the rack and was fouled. When his teammates went to pick him up off the floor, Cousins started chirping.

Always ready to talk, Cousins said something to Buddy Hield and tempers started to flair. 

During his last few seasons in Sacramento, Cousins was Sacramento’s de facto leader. On more than one occasion, this exact scene played out and it rarely worked out for the Kings.

But the climate has changed in Kingsland. Hield didn’t even need to say a word. Veteran Zach Randolph stepped in and handled the situation. No one in the league wants a piece of Z-Bo, including DeMarcus Cousins. 

Randolph fielded questions following the game, but the real meat was hidden in the NBC Sports California television broadcast.

Following the dust up in the fourth quarter, Randolph and Cousins lined up while Mason shot free throws. With cameras rolling, Z-Bo defined the new direction of the Sacramento Kings franchise. 

“Where we’re from, bullies get bullied,” Randolph said to the official. Then looking directly at Cousins, Randolph continued, “In my hood, bullies get bullied.”

Sacramento outscored the Pelicans 11-2 in the final minutes of the fourth. Hield scored eight of those 11 points, including a 3-pointer to tie the game with 36.3 seconds remaining. 

On a team filled with players under the age of 24, the 36-year-old Randolph has quickly become the Kings’ rock. On the court, he’s strung together an incredible run of games, including a 35-point, 13-rebound performance against New Orleans. 

Over his last four games, Randolph is averaging 25 points and just under 11 rebounds per game. More importantly, the Kings are 2-2 over the stretch and they’ve competed with NBA heavyweights. 

“We just came out and played hard, it was a team win,” Randolph told NBC Sports California’s Kayte Christensen following the game. “My young fellas, hey, they’re amazing.” 

The 17-year NBA vet hit two huge 3-pointers in overtime and the young guys finished off the win. Randolph’s output on the floor carried the Kings, but his handling of Cousins made a statement to everyone on the team. When he’s on the floor, he is big brother and the team’s enforcer.