Lawson survives cut day, ready to help Kings: 'Go hard or go home'

Lawson survives cut day, ready to help Kings: 'Go hard or go home'

SACRAMENTO -- Cut day came and went in Sacramento without any major surprises. That is, unless you consider veteran point guard Ty Lawson’s inclusion as a shock. Lawson is packed with talent, but he’s struggled to stay out of his own way over the last few seasons, including a missed flight to Kentucky earlier in the preseason.

It was fitting that the seven-year NBA vet joined the media for a chat after practice on Monday. While it was a forgone conclusion that Lawson would make the roster for the better part of two weeks, he came into camp in a fight with four other players for the 15th and final spot.

“It’s tough, it’s been a month, we’ve grown a bond with each other,” Lawson said of cut day. “We’ve been playing with each, practicing with each other, just getting to know everybody. Cut day is always the toughest.”

Now that he’s assured a roster spot, it’s go time for Lawson. The 28-year-old lead guard is trying to resurrect his career in Sacramento. He’ll get an 8-game run as the starter while Darren Collison sits out.

“I’m ready to go, games start tomorrow, our first game is Wednesday, you know, the season’s here,” Lawson said. “Go hard or go home, I’m excited.”

After playing sparingly down the stretch last season for the Indiana Pacers, Lawson will be counted on to play huge minutes early on. He’ll have Garrett Temple backing him up, but the focus will be on the speedy guard out of North Carolina.

“I’m going hard in practice to get my wind up,” Lawson said. “Coach is telling me I’m going to play a lot of minutes - 30 to 40.”

With Lawson in, that means that three other players are out. Jordan Farmar, Isaiah Cousins and Lamar Patterson received pink slips on Monday. It’s never an easy time in the NBA world as players of all ages are faced with their NBA mortality.

“We have a full roster, it’s pretty difficult (to make the team),” coach Joerger said. “Guys are doing it for different reasons - to get experience, to get exposure back to the league, to get familiarity with our organization and with what we’re doing here.”

It appears that Farmar came into camp as Plan B, incase Lawson wasn’t up for the task. He performed well in his limited time off the Kings’ bench and he could become an option down the road if Sacramento is in the market for a seasoned NBA guard with 3-point shooting skills.

As for the Kings’ two young players, both Isaiah Cousins and Lamar Patterson are eligible to join Sacramento’s D-League affiliate in Reno if they choose to join the NBA’s minor league program.

Taken with the 59th pick in the second round of the 2016 NBA Draft, Cousins is a big physical guard that might find success with the Bighorns under head coach Darrick Martin. He can play both the one and the two, but it was clear early on that he was lost in a numbers game.

After four seasons at Oklahoma, Cousins has the physical maturity to play at the NBA level, but he needs more seasoning. When Sacramento waived him, they gave up his rights after signed him to a partially guaranteed deal over the summer. If he goes unclaimed over the next 48 hours, he will decide between playing overseas or joining the D-League.

Patterson is an interesting player. The 25-year-old wing has already experienced the D-League, playing 19 games last season between the Austin Spurs and the Canton Charge. Patterson posted 12.8 points, 4.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 26.9 minutes per game in his two stops.

He was waived on Wednesday by Sacramento, but resigned on Friday afternoon, which helped the Kings retain his D-League rights moving forward.  

The Kings will practice one more time on Tuesday before boarding a plane for Phoenix in the afternoon. They’ll face a young Suns team on Wednesday night in their opener, followed by a the first official game in the Golden 1 Center against the Spurs on Thursday night. Preseason is officially over and now it gets real for a newly formed team looking to get off to a fast start.

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. 

Kings find themselves in middle of protest as sports, politics collide: 'It has to stop'

Kings find themselves in middle of protest as sports, politics collide: 'It has to stop'

SACRAMENTO -- Basketball took a backseat Thursday evening at Golden 1 Center. Protesters surrounded the Sacramento Kings’ facility, locking arms and blocking the entrance to an estimated 15,000 fans. The game was delayed by nearly 15 minutes and the limited number of ticket holders that made it into the building were basically put on lock down and supplied with free food for the evening.

This issue at hand was the officer involved shooting death of Stephon Clark, a local South Sacramento man that was killed Sunday evening.

Video of the shooting was released by the Sacramento Police Department Wednesday afternoon, setting off community outcry in Sacramento.

In perhaps his finest moment as owner and chairman of the Sacramento Kings, Vivek Ranadivé took center court surrounded by his players to address the undersized crowd.

“On Sunday, we had a horrific, horrific tragedy in our community and on behalf of the players, the executives, ownership and the entire Kings family, I first of all want to express our deepest sympathies to the family. What happened was absolutely horrific and we are so very sorry for your loss.

I also want to say that we at the Kings recognize your people’s ability to protest peacefully and we respect that. 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.

We recognize that it’s not just business as usual and we are going to work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place, starting in our own community. We are going to work hard to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.”

Protests continued throughout the night in the courtyard adjacent to Golden 1 Center. Security and police stood guard at each entrance, trying to keep the events outside the building from spilling into the team’s two-year-old facility.

The locker room was quiet. Despite the 105-90 victory by the Kings, basketball was the last thing on anyone’s mind.

"I just want to say I 100 percent agree with the protest outside,” Garrett Temple said following the game. “If I didn't have a job to do, I probably would have been out there with them peacefully protesting, because what's going on has to stop. It has to stop.”

Sacramento’s leader behind the scenes, Temple has been active in reaching out in the community and fostering conversation with local youth. He wasn’t able to play in Thursday evening’s game due to a left ankle sprain, but that didn’t stop him from waiting around to field questions.

“I think the protest did what it was supposed to do, it brought a light to what’s going on, I think that’s what protests are for,” Temple added. “After that, something has to change. Us not playing a basketball game isn’t going to change the fact that police unfortunately view black and brown men as a threat, when they are certainly not.”

Temple said that he had viewed the video and admitted that it was dark. A split second decision by a police officer cost Clark, a 22-year-old African American, his life. According to published reports, Clark was holding his mobile phone and not a weapon as officers believed.

The tragic events played out in seconds, but it’s storyline that many communities around the country have had to face on countless occasions.

Temple isn’t one to sit by idly by and bite his tongue. He may have addressed the shooting on his own with or without the protest going on outside the arena. But with the events of the night, politics and sports intersected at 500 David J. Stern Walk, opening a door for Temple to express himself.

“To those that say politics and sports don’t intertwine, this is a democracy, people have a voice and we’re people at the end of the day,” Temple said. “Obviously, sports and politics definitely intertwined tonight. The protesters did what they wanted to do in terms of bring light to the situation.”

In addition to Ranadivé’s comments following then contest, the Kings put out two separate press releases. The first came out around 7 pm to update fans of the current status of the game.

"Tonight's game began with a delay. Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remains closed and we ask fans outside to travel home. We will issue further information soon regarding a refund."

The second press release came later to insure fans that they would receive a refund.

“Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remained closed as tonight’s game proceeded with a delay. In the coming days, guests who purchased tickets for tonight’s game directly through the Sacramento Kings or Ticketmaster will receive detailed instructions to facilitate a full refund.”

The Kings return to the court Sunday afternoon for a 3pm matinee game.