Malachi Richardson, the Kings' forgotten man


Malachi Richardson, the Kings' forgotten man

Before Buddy Hield was acquired from the New Orleans Pelicans in the DeMarcus Cousins deal, another rookie shooting guard had already earned a spot in the Kings' rotation. Before Skal Labissiere put the NBA on notice with a 32-point, 11-rebound performance against the Phoenix Suns or Georgios Papagiannis managed three double-doubles in the last month of the season, another 2017 draft pick had already begun to make a name for himself. 

Malachi Richardson is the Kings’ forgotten man. Taken with the 22nd pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the wing out of Syracuse dazzled in his short stint with the Reno Bighorns and quietly earned the trust of Dave Joerger once he saw minutes in Sacramento. If not for a torn hamstring in the final game before the All-Star break, Richardson would be a player firmly on the Kings’ radar for this season.

But injuries happen. And a partial thickness tear of the hamstring is not something to take lightly. After trying to return late in the season, the Kings shut Richardson down with the hopes of him having a full recovery leading into the summer. 

Those hopes were dashed when Richardson tweaked his hamstring again during Summer League in Las Vegas and was forced to miss most of the competition. His absence opened the door for 2017 15th overall pick, Justin Jackson, to earn minutes and the rookie didn’t disappoint.

“It was tough,” Richardson said Friday from the Kings practice floor. “I had worked so hard to get ready for Summer League. To get out there and play pretty well. I played okay in the first half and then to re aggravate it in the second half, towards the end of the game again, it was very frustrating.”

Now fully healthy, Richardson is ready to fight for his rotational spot again, but the road to playing time won’t be easy. 

“My body feels good, I’m a little sore from the two-a-days and just long practices, but my body feels great,” Richardson said. “I’m ready to roll into the season.”

During his absence, Hield played starter minutes down the stretch at the shooting guard position. Hield earned a shot to compete for the starting job after averaging 15.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in the final 25 games of the season.

You can also add Serbian sharpshooter Bogdan Bogdanovic to the equation, who came over from Europe on a three-year, $27 million deal over the summer. Neither Hield, nor Bogdanovic have the size to slide to the small forward position for long stints, making the competition for minutes at the shooting guard spot fierce. 

Garrett Temple is also in the mix at the two. He’s the Kings’ best defensive player and the coaching staff love his leadership. He can play both wing positions, but his natural spot on the floor is at the shooting guard spot. 

Following Friday’s training camp session, coach Dave Joerger mentioned that he might even steal some minutes at the two for veteran guard George Hill to help get more time for top prospect De’Aaron Fox at the point. 

The path to playing time might not be so simple at the three either for Richardson. Jackson has turned heads with his mature play. Veteran Vince Carter will play minutes off the bench for Joerger and Temple will shift over, possibly even starting at the three. 

“Competition, there’s nothing wrong with that. You’ve got to compete every day, that’s the plan, go and compete and get better,” Richardson said.

There are six players and possibly more vying for time on the wing. Someone is going to get the short end of the stick. 

Richardson is just 21 years old. He spent most of the summer in Sacramento working with the training staff and he’s 100 percent healthy. He’s also reworked his body, going from 200 pounds last summer to a muscular 220 coming into camp. 

“I didn’t plan on playing the three at all, I just knew I wanted to get my body a lot stronger that it was coming into the NBA,” Richardson said. 

At 6-foot-6 with a 7-foot wingspan, Richardson has the size to man either wing position. Having a year under his belt might help him as well. He knows the terminology of the coaching staff and what is expected of him.

It’s way too early to speculate on the rotation, but Richardson is in a dogfight for playing time. He needs to improve every day and earn the trust of the coaching staff like he had last season. 


Report: After starting 0-3, Suns fire head coach Watson on eve of Kings game


Report: After starting 0-3, Suns fire head coach Watson on eve of Kings game

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.

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.

Day before facing Kings, Suns guard tweets ‘I don’t wanna be here’


Day before facing Kings, Suns guard tweets ‘I don’t wanna be here’

The Kings head to Phoenix Monday to take on the Suns. It looks like If it were up to Suns guard Eric Bledsoe, he wouldn't be playing the Kings or anyone else with his current team. 

On Sunday, Bledsoe let out his frustration with the following tweet:

The Suns fell to 0-3 on Saturday after getting crushed by the Clippers, 130-88, Sunday in Los Angeles. They are losing by an average of 30.7 points as their defense is allowing 128.7 points per game. 

With the ball in their hands, the Suns' offense isn't much better, averaging a pedestrian 98 points per game. 

Former teammate DeAndre Jordan chimed in on Twitter after Bledsoe's tweet too. Bledsoe spent his first three years in the NBA with Jordan on the Clippers.

Bledsoe, 28, is averaging 15.7 points and 3.0 assists per game in the young season. Over his eight-year career, Bledsoe has put up averages of 13.1 points and 4.6 assists per game.