Kings rookies, Houston natives get involved in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts

Kings rookies, Houston natives get involved in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts

You don’t have to search long to find someone affected by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. While their family members are safe, the natural disaster destroying large portions of Texas has hit home for Sacramento Kings rookies and Houston natives, De’Aaron Fox and Justin Jackson. 

“To see highways that I know both of us have drove a ton of times, to see those under water and to see houses and streets that we’ve been around growing up all the time, to see those under water, it’s pretty unbelievable,” Jackson told reporters Wednesday afternoon during a press conference at Golden 1 Center. 

Fox and Jackson played AAU ball together in the Houston area. They know each other well, which has been a comfort as they watch the devastation that is unfolding in their hometown, nearly 2000 miles away. 

“It’s good just having someone around that’s from the same area kind of going through the same things as you,” Fox said. “(The disaster) is not a good thing, but it’s good that we’re together and we’re able to talk about it.”

According to Fox, he has been in contact with his former high school coach in the Houston area and the two are planning a charity basketball game in the area to help with the relief efforts. The details are still being hashed out, but the hope is to draw in professional players from the Houston area to a location sometime in September. 

In support of their young players, the Sacramento Kings reallocated their ticket sales staff on Tuesday, converting the group into a Red Cross call center. The sales team went through lists of season ticket holders and contacts trying to raise funds for the relief effort and Kings fans responded with nearly $25,000 in donations. 

According to the Kings’ new president of business operations, John Rinehart, the team has matched the fans donations and was able to gather another $50,000 in aid from their business partners for a total of $100,000 in just over 24 hours. 

“It’s very important to give back to our communities and it’s something that our ownership group has instilled in us,” Rinehart said. “It’s also important to include those communities that our players are from. We don’t want to forget them and we want to support them.” 

Sacramento will host the Houston Rockets Oct. 18 at Golden 1 Center for opening night. They have already pledged the proceeds of the team’s 50/50 raffle to the victims of Hurricane Harvey and plan on giving fans other avenues of donating to the relief effort. 

The Kings have also set up a site through ticketmaster to help raise donations for the relief efforts.  

Skal Labissiere showing signs of growth: 'The NBA is still super new to me'


Skal Labissiere showing signs of growth: 'The NBA is still super new to me'

The 2017-18 Sacramento Kings season is about development and finding a core to build around. De’Aaron Fox is already showing signs that he is the long-term answer at the point guard position, but the Kings need more than an army of one.

Buddy Hield, Justin Jackson and Willie Cauley-Stein are being given a chance to play rotational minutes early in the season, and flying under the radar is second-year big, Skal Labissiere.

Early in the season, Dave Joerger has relied heavily on veteran Zach Randolph for big minutes at the power forward position, but Labissiere is quietly building momentum. Three games is an extremely small sample size by any standard, but Labissiere is heading in the right direction.

“Whatever coach wants me to do, that’s what I’m going to do out there,” Labissiere told NBC Sports California’s Kayte Christensen after the game. “I’m just going to go out there and play hard and help this team get a win.”

In 23.7 minutes per game so far this season, Labissiere is averaging 11 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, .7 steals and .7 blocks. If he were playing starter minutes, those numbers project substantially higher.

Labissiere burst on the scene in Sacramento after the DeMarcus Cousins trade during All-Star weekend last season. Before getting an opportunity in the rotation, he spent plenty of time in Reno and behind the scenes working on his game with the Kings’ coaching staff. He played 33 total games during the 2016-17 season, including 26 straight to finish the year.

“I’m still trying to get comfortable, I’m still learning,” Labissiere said. “The NBA is still super new to me, I haven’t even played a full season yet. As a group, we’re still learning each other. I think by mid-year, we’ll be fine.”

The 21-year-old Haitian-born big came into the league with a sweet jumper, but he’s added more range in year two. He hit his first 3-pointer Saturday night against the Denver Nuggets, but throughout camp you could see him shooting with the guards and there are plenty of sets where he’ll get opportunities as the season pushes forward.

In addition to adding the long ball to his arsenal, Labissiere has also worked to improve his playmaking ability. He’s averaging 3.7 assists per 36 minutes and that number has a chance to improve as the team’s chemistry on the court improves.

“The offense runs through the bigs, so we have to be able to make plays for the guards,” Labissiere said. “I’ve been watching a lot of tape trying to figure out where the help is coming from, where I can pass the ball, who I can pass the ball to. That’s one thing I’ve been working on.”

Labissiere still has plenty to learn. He’s struggled with turnovers early in the season and he needs to add strength to hold his position in the post. But his offensive game is advanced and it won’t be long before the Kings turn to him more and more as a weapon.

Sacramento has plenty of young breakout candidates entering the season, but few have the ceiling of Labissiere. The early returns are promising.

NBA fines Pelicans C DeMarcus Cousins for incident with fan


NBA fines Pelicans C DeMarcus Cousins for incident with fan

Former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins is in trouble with the league office again.

The NBA fined the Pelicans big man $25,000 for "directing inappropriate language towards a fan" during the final minutes of the team's season opener on Wednesday night against the Grizzlies.

The referee's heard the exchange between Cousins and the fan, and assessed a technical foul to Cousins. That technical foul was rescinded as part of the league's announcement Saturday.

After Wednesday's game, Cousins offered this explanation of the incident:

"That was pretty bogus, man. The ref, he sat there and heard (the fan) speaking to me in a very nasty way. I shouldn't have responded to it, but I'm a human being and I'm also a grown man. I'm not going to let another person just disrespect me. I felt (the ref) should have handled it, he decided not to, but he handled my end of it. I look forward to speaking to the league," Cousins told reporters, according to USA Today.

Cousins makes his first trip back to Sacramento since being traded by the Kings on Thursday, Oct. 26.