Jason Thompson is staying in Sacramento.The Kings and their starting power forward agreed inprinciple to a new contract on Wednesday, locking down the restricted freeagent on the first day free agents could sign contracts.We are all very excited about Jasons return, Kingspresident of basketball operations Geoff Petrie said in a statement. He is avery important young veteran for our team and style of play going forward.Jason brings experience, energy and an improving all-around game to the floorevery night.The Kings did not disclose the length of the deal nor howmuch money Thompson will receive, but the Sacramento Bee reported that Thompsonwill likely receive an average of 6 million per season.The Kings had extended a qualifying offer to Thompson tomake him a restricted free agent. Petrie said Thompson was the Kings toppriority of the free agency period before it began.The 6-foot, 11-inch power forward contributed 9.1 pointsand 6.9 rebounds per game for the Kings last year.With Thompson re-signed, Sacramento now has three dynamic big men.Center DeMarcus Cousins averaged 18.1 points and 10.9 rebounds in his sophomoreseason and has spent the summer practice against the Olympic mens basketballteam as a member of the USA Mens Select Team. Thomas Robinson, thefifth-overall pick in this years NBA Draft, scored 17.7 points and grabbed11.9 boards per game for Kansaslast year.With 15 million in cap space entering the offseason, theKings likely still have some money throw around in free agency after bringingback Thompson and signing Robinson.That money might be useful to address three-point shootingwoes. The Kings 31.6-shooting percentage was second-to-last in the NBA last season.
Sacramento rebooted the franchise at the trade deadline last season and begin anew this season with veteran additions Vince Carter, George Hill and Zach Randolph to compliment a bevy of young players.
Houston reloaded in the offseason, adding nine-time All-Star Chris Paul and a veteran defenders P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute. They put on a show against the Warriors and look like one of the best the Western Conference has to offer once again.
Rockets by 8
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Kings defense vs. The 3-pointer -- Houston launched an incredible 180 3-point attempts versus Sacramento last season, hitting a robust 75 (41.7 percent) of those shots. It’s a new-look roster for the Kings, but they’ve had very little time to develop defensive chemistry. Dave Joerger and his staff will game plan to slow the Rockets perimeter game, but Mike D’Antoni has a deep group that comes at you in waves.
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) out, PF Zach Randolph (tooth) out
Rockets: PG Chris Paul (bruised right knee) questionable
The Rockets swept the Kings last season 4-0, including a 135-128 victory in the final week of the season. Houston leads the all-time series 124-88 and they hold an 83-42 advantage during the Sacramento-era.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
THE ROOKIES - The Kings walk into the 2017-18 campaign with five rookies on the roster, four of which should see time early in the season. De’Aaron Fox is the headliner, but don’t be shocked if Justin Jackson, Frank Mason and Bogdan Bogdanovic play important roles on this team.
ROTATIONS - With 10 new faces on the roster, Joerger needed more than an abbreviated training camp and six preseason contests. Expect the coaching staff to try different looks throughout the first 20 games of the season as they search for answers.
BALANCING THE ROSTER - Joerger has five veterans and 10 players with two years of experience or less. If he goes with the vets, fans will call for the rookies. If he plays the rookies and the losses stack up, fans will call for his head. It’s an unenviable position that will require patience and a little faith.
“I’m expecting a high-paced game. I feel like our fans are going to come out, they’re going to give us a lot of energy, playing a team as good as Houston is.” -De’Aaron Fox
SACRAMENTO - All hands on deck. The Sacramento Kings open the 2017-18 schedule Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets at Golden 1 Center and it looks like they might do so with a full arsenal of players at their disposal.
Point guard De’Aaron Fox returned to practice on Sunday and then participated in the team’s annual Fanfest. If his dance moves are any indication, the 19-year-old’s back is feeling just fine.
Veteran George Hill tweaked his groin Friday against the Golden State Warriors, leaving his availability for opening night in question. Hill, 31, who has a history of groin injuries, was on the court Monday practicing and said he is ready to play.
“Everything is feeling good right now,” Hill said Monday following practice.
The only player who didn’t practice on Monday is rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic, who sprained his right ankle against the Warriors. According to head coach Dave Joerger, the team is hopeful that the Serbian sharpshooter will return in time for Game 1.
“We’re still shooting for Wednesday for both of them,” Joerger said of Hill and Bogdanovic.
New look Rockets
The Rockets went 55-27 last season under head coach Mike D’Antoni, but that didn’t stop them from going all in during the offseason. With MVP runner-up James Harden already manning the backcourt, Houston added nine-time All-Star Chris Paul as their new starting point guard.
“Leadership, he’s a floor general,” Hill said about Paul. “Anywhere he goes, he’ll make a team better. We know they were already a good team without him, coming in with him is going to be a bigger task.”
It’s a new look roster and the expectations are huge for the Rockets. Houston averaged 115.3 points per game last season and led the league in both 3-point attempts and makes. This season, they also added two strong perimeter defenders in P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute.
It’s a huge test coming out of the gate for Sacramento. Following the contest against the Rockets, the Kings hit the road for three straight before returning to Golden 1 next Thursday to face DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans.
With the season just around the corner, the Sacramento Kings made their final roster cuts on Sunday afternoon. David Stockton, Matt Jones and Reggie Hearn were waived, leaving the Kings with 15 rostered players and two two-way players in Jack Cooley and JaKarr Sampson.
Stockton, Jones and Hearn are all expected to join the Reno Bighorns of the NBA’s G-League.