The Sacramento Kings finish their three game road trip Monday in Phoenix. Waiting for them is a team in complete disarray. After dropping the first three games of the season, Phoenix dumped head coach Earl Watson Sunday afternoon and are reportedly in trade talks to deal starting point guard Eric Bledsoe. Jay Triano will act as the interim head coach, but he’s taking over a runaway train.
Sacramento lost to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday evening to drop to 1-2 on the season. De’Aaron Fox and Skal Labissiere came to play, but the rest of the roster struggled with their shot as the Kings finished with just 79 points on 36.5 percent shooting.
The Suns have been outscored by more than 30 points per game in their three contests this season. They have lost games by 48 and 42 points already and almost every player on the roster has underperformed.
Kings by 2
WHERE THEY STAND
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Skal Labissiere vs. Marquese Chriss -- Labissiere has been a breath of fresh air early in the season, posting solid numbers across the board as Zach Randolph’s backup. He posted a career-high 32-point, 11-rebound game against Chriss last season, which left a lasting impression. Chriss is off to a slow start, but he has plenty of potential. The Sacramento-native gets up and down the floor and loves the over the top block.
Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) probable, PF Harry Giles (bi-lateral knee rehab) out.
Suns: PG Eric Bledsoe (team decision) out, SF Jared Dudley (toe) questionable, PG Brandon Knight (ACL tear) out for the season, G Davon Reed (knee) out, PF Alan Williams (knee) out.
Sacramento dominated the season-series 3-1 last season, including a 129-104 win over the Suns in the finale. Phoenix leads the all-time series 131-90 and they hold an 84-51 advantage during the Sacramento-era.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
BOGDAN’S DEBUT -- The Kings have used the cautious approach to Bogdan Bogdanovic’s ankle injury. He’s played a ton of basketball between league play and EuroBasket overseas and there is no reason to rush him into action. He’ll likely suit up to play Monday against the team that drafted him in the 2014 NBA Draft. Expect to see lots of the 25-year-old Serbian over the next few months. Word around the team is that he is one of the best players on the squad.
MORE FOX -- Sacramento hit a homerun with the addition of De’Aaron Fox on draft night. The rookie has put on a show in his first three games and is pushing coach Dave Joerger for more playing time. The Kings have plenty of guards and wings, but there hasn’t been a player that can stay in front of Fox.
REBOUND FROM A STINKER -- The Kings couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat against the Nuggets. Playing at elevation is tough, but scoring 79 points is unacceptable. Sacramento has a chance to improve to 2-2 on the season in Phoenix before returning home to face DeMarcus Cousins. A 2-1 road trip would go a long ways towards building the confidence of a young squad.
“Whatever coach wants me to do, that’s what I’m going to do out there. I’m just going to go out there and play hard and help this team get a win.” --Skal Labissiere
Drama. The Sacramento Kings have done their best to avoid the non-basketball related issues that often come with the NBA game, but they’ll walk into someone else’s firestorm Monday night in Phoenix.
The Suns have fired head coach Earl Watson just three games into the 2017-18 season, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Phoenix has dropped all three contests, including a 48-point loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on opening night and a 42-point defeat at the hands of the Clippers on Saturday.
Phoenix coach Earl Watson has been fired, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 22, 2017
Before the firing, veteran point guard tweeted out a message that has since gone viral.
Whether Bledsoe was referring to Watson or his impending release is unknown at this time.
Watson leaves with a 33-85 record in parts of three seasons with the Suns. He took over for Jeff Hornacek midway through the 2015-16 season. According to Wojnarowski, Suns ownership and management is currently meeting with the team’s assistant coaches and Jay Triano is likely to be named interim head coach.