Kings rookie SG Richardson expected to see expanded role

Kings rookie SG Richardson expected to see expanded role

SACRAMENTO -- Malachi Richardson is the next man up. 

According to head coach Dave Joerger, he’s seen enough from the Sacramento Kings’ shooting guards and he’s going to give the rookie first-round pick an opportunity. 

“I think that it’s time for Malachi to get into the rotation, especially with Rudy (Gay) out,” Joerger said. “That’s something that you’ll see, probably, going forward.”

His first look came in the third quarter of Sacramento’s 112-98 loss to the Grizzlies on New Year’s Eve. Richardson, 21, finished the night with seven points on 2-of-4 shooting in 10 minutes of action.

“I’ve just got to get in and be aggressive,” Richardson said. “I just want to help my team. If he’s going to play me, I want to get out there and play as hard as I can.”

Richardson, like the Kings’ other first-round picks - Skal Labissiere and Georgios Papagiannis - has been commuting back and forth between Sacramento and the Reno Bighorns all season long. None of the three have been playing meaningful minutes for the Kings since training camp.

With the Bighorns, Richardson has shined, averaging 21.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in 35 minutes per game. He’s shot 42.9 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range in 11 games playing under head coach Darrick Martin.

“I think it helped a lot,” Richardson said of his experience with the Bighorns. “It gave me more confidence, got me back in the flow of actually playing. I’ve just got to be aggressive.”

Taken out of Syracuse with the 22nd overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft, Richardson has the prototypical size of an NBA shooting guard. He stands 6-foot-6, 205-pounds with a 7-foot wingspan and he posted a 38-inch vertical leap at the combine, but there were concerns about his defense coming out of college.

“I think I’m pretty good defensively,” Richardson said. “Get down in a stance and guard - it’s either that or get scored on.”

Joerger didn’t mention what Richardson’s promotion means for the remainder of the Kings’ shooting guards. He said in pregame Saturday afternoon that he intends to keep veteran Garrett Temple with the second unit. 

Both Ben McLemore and Arron Afflalo have been given an opportunity to start, but neither have flourished in the role. McLemore is averaging 6.1 points on 40.7 percent shooting in 16.9 minutes and Afflalo was posting 7.2 points on 40.7 percent shooting in 23.8 minutes per game before going down with an elbow strain. 

The coaching staff has raved about Richardson’s demeanor dating all the way back to training camp. He has a confidence about him that they hope translates to the NBA. It sounds like Joerger is ready to test and see what the rookie can bring to the table. 

Response to adversity opens Kings, Golden 1 Center to national conversation

Response to adversity opens Kings, Golden 1 Center to national conversation

SACRAMENTO -- Gavin Maloof once described a potential downtown Sacramento arena as “a beacon of light, shining bright.” Vivek Ranadivé likened the idea of Golden 1 Center as the modern town square, cathedral or communal hearth.

On Friday, Ranadivé might have finally found the best way to describe his $500-plus million arena in the center of Sacramento’s downtown core. Speaking to the Sacramento Bee, Ranadivé said, "you can't always dictate what the stories are that are being told around the fireplace."

Thousands of protesters surrounded Ranadivé’s fireplace on Thursday evening. They locked arms and barred fans from coming in the building as the Kings faced the Atlanta Hawks.

In one night, Golden 1 Center was transformed from the home of the Kings, to something much more. It became the meeting place for the protesters to vent their frustrations after the officer-involved shooting death of Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old African American from South Sacramento.

The Kings’ first reaction was to protect the fans that had entered the building. They locked down the arena and cleared everyone from the massive windows that highlight the grand entrance. The limited number of fans allowed in the building were treated to seat upgrades and unlimited free food.

After securing the safety of the fans inside, the team chose a specific course of action. Instead of pointing fingers at protesters who likely cost the franchise hundreds of thousands of dollars, they allowed Golden 1 Center to become the heart of Sacramento.

It’s not always going to be about basketball or concerts or Disney on Ice. For Golden 1 Center to become what Ranadivé envisions, it has to be a place for everyone.

Instead of shunning the protest and turning their ire towards the thousands outside, Ranadivé had his defining moment, not just as an owner, but as a leader in the Sacramento community.

“The Kings recognize your people’s ability to protest peacefully and we respect that,” Ranadivé said from center court. “We here at the Kings recognize that we have a big platform. It’s a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously and we stand before you; old, young, black, white, brown and we are all united in our commitment.”

His postgame speech was humble and showed a different side of the Kings’ Chairman. It was also a moment for the franchise to become part of a larger conversation that is facing nearly every community in America.

To turn a blind eye to social injustice and civil unrest would violate the spirit of what Golden 1 Center was created for. If it is truly the fireplace of Sacramento, then there has to be an open invitation - not just for basketball, and not just for protests, but for all that a community has to give.

The Kings aren’t asking for games to be interrupted on a regular basis. But the team’s handling of the situation has opened the door for Golden 1 Center to become the communal meeting place they hoped it would be when they broke ground.

Report: Former Kings star offers to pay for Stephon Clark's funeral

Report: Former Kings star offers to pay for Stephon Clark's funeral

Former Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins reportedly reached out to Stephon Clark's family and offered to cover the cost of his a funeral, according to The Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones

Sacramento police shot and killed Clark, a 22-year-old African-American father of two, on Sunday while he was holding a cellphone in the backyard of his grandmother's home. Clark was unarmed. 

During his six-and-a-half year tenure in Sacramento, Cousins was not only the face of the Kings on the court, but the face of outreach efforts off of it. He paid for the funeral of Sacramento-area high school football player Jaulon "JJ" Clavo, who was shot in 2015, and ran free children's basketball camps for the city's children during the summer.

He continued to run a camp last summer following a midseason trade to the New Orleans Pelicans, and has spoken at length about how much he treasures maintaining strong ties to Sacramento. He told The Sacramento Bee last February that he "still consider[s Sacramento] a home."

“It’s very important to me,” Cousins told The New Orleans Advocate in October. “I’ve built relationships in a lot of the different places I’ve been. My biggest thing is helping those kids and helping families in need. I was once in their position, and it would’ve done wonders if I could’ve had a little bit of help coming up. I’m just doing my part.”

Bodycam footage from the officer-involved shooting was released on Wednesday, setting off protests on Thursday. Protestors blocked traffic on Interstate 5 both ways, according to NPR, before locking arms and surrounding the Golden 1 Center ahead of Hawks-Kings that night. Those protests delayed the start of the game by 15 minutes, and an estimated 15,000 fans were unable to enter the arena.