Kings

Kings make tough, but correct decisions at the trade deadline

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AP

Kings make tough, but correct decisions at the trade deadline

SACRAMENTO -- And then there were eight. The Sacramento Kings walked into the 2017-18 season with 10 young players on rookie scale contracts. That number was reduced by two at the trade deadline with former first-round selections Georgios Papagiannis and Malachi Richardson leaving the franchise.

It was a bold move by Vlade Divac and assistant general manager Brandon Williams. Giving up on two young players that you invested picks and nearly two years in development isn’t easy. It was also the right move. 

“We wish both kids nothing but the best,” Vlade Divac said Friday morning. “I think it was a plan to develop the group that we have, moving forward and creating a little bit more flexibility.”

Not every player taken in an NBA Draft develops at the right pace. Not every player taken in the NBA Draft is an NBA player. 

By moving away from two young players, the Kings acknowledged that they are willing to make difficult moves. They also acknowledged that they are willing to take the criticism that goes comes with that decision. 

“It was a tough decision, but as a GM, you have to sometimes make tough decisions,” Divac added.

Taken with the 13th overall selection in the 2016 draft, Papagiannis struggled to earn any rotational minutes with the Kings. At 7-foot-1, 240-pounds, the 20-year-old out of Greece might have come into the league in the wrong era. 

While he has passing skills, a soft touch and can set a mean screen, the pace of the game appeared too much for Papagiannis. He may one day develop, but with so many other young players on the team, the Kings can’t eat up roster spots and valuable coaching time with a project that might be another year or two out.

Richardson earned a look last season before a hamstring tear set him back. From that moment on, the 22-year-old has struggled to gain traction in Sacramento. He tweaked the hamstring again in Las Vegas Summer League and quickly fell behind rookie Justin Jackson on the depth chart. 

When given brief opportunities this season, Richardson failed to produce. He’s worked hard to reinvent his body and his 3-point shot looks clean in practice, but translating his skills to an NBA court proved difficult.

Neither of the moves were all that surprising, nor is this an indictment on a coaching staff that has worked tirelessly on player development this season. Both Papagiannis and Richardson were buried on depth chart behind both veterans and young players. With two draft picks in the 2018 NBA Draft, the roster needed reshaping.

“As you know, development projects can be challenging,” assistant general manager Brandon Williams said. “Our coach has done a fantastic job in trying to manage and disperse minutes and opportunity knowing that it’s difficult for young guys that have some talent, have some upside to not have as many minutes.”

The focus will now turn to De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Justin Jackson, Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Frank Mason, Harry Giles and possibly even Bruno Caboclo, who was acquired in the Richardson deal. With 28 games remaining, there is still plenty of time to continue the development of the young core.

“This is like another college season in a lot of ways,” Williams said. “So, how much more progress do we make by not dividing minutes up among more players.”

It wasn’t a banner trade deadline for Sacramento, but the Kings made important moves for their future. They now have roster and financial flexibility that they didn’t have before. It came at a cost, but that’s part of the NBA business. 

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

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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.