Out of Kings' rotation, unhappy Casspi to speak with Divac

Out of Kings' rotation, unhappy Casspi to speak with Divac

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings can’t shake the drama. It follows them around like a shadow, always just a small step away.

Rumors swirled on Saturday afternoon that veteran small forward Omri Casspi had demanded a trade from the Kings after a major reduction in minutes through the first 11 games of the season. Casspi was quick to refute those rumors, telling CSN California that, “Zero truth to that. Zero.”

While he hasn’t demanded a trade, it is clear that Casspi is unhappy in his role with the Kings, which got a little bit worse on Sunday when he was informed that he was out of the rotation.

“I didn’t think this season would start the way it did for me, minutes wise,” Casspi told reporters following practice on Monday. “Now it’s up to me to work hard in practice like I’ve been doing and try to get back in the rotation, because obviously, I’m out of it now.”

New head coach Dave Joerger alluded to setting his rotation on Sunday afternoon, but didn’t give specifics regarding individual players.

“It’s impossible, but it just is what it is,” Joerger said when asked about the difficulty of managing a roster of 12 veteran NBA players. “We’ve kind of decided in the direction we’re going to go for a while and I think that helps guys know if they are in or they are out.”

Joerger has used Casspi primarily as a reserve stretch four this season and sprinkled in some minutes at the three as well. But a hip injury and an illness put him out of action for more than a week of training camp and he fell behind 36-year-old Matt Barnes in rotation, who played last season for Joerger.  

“It’s part of being in the NBA,” Casspi said. “I didn’t think from the organization standpoint that I would go that far back, from playing 27 minutes to taking me out of the rotation so quick. It is what it is. I’ve got to be a pro about it.”

The Kings have struggled early in Joerger’s high post system as plenty of them try to adjust from George Karl’s uptempo, free flowing style from last season.

“I don’t feel like this system is ideal for me, but I don’t think it’s bad for me,” Casspi said.

Casspi said that Joerger’s system is similar to the one that Michael Malone ran a few seasons ago in Sacramento. He went on to say that he felt great in that system under Malone, but he just needs playing time to get comfortable.

The 28-year-old wing is in his second tour of duty in Sacramento. He was drafted by the Kings with the 23rd overall selection in the 2009 NBA Draft. After playing two seasons in Sacramento, he was traded to Cavaliers and spent a season in Houston as well.

The Israeli-born wing signed a league minimum one-year deal before the 2014-15 to return to Sacramento and then a two-year, $6 million contract two summers ago to remain with the Kings. He is a free agent following the season and was hopeful of staying with the club on a long-term deal.

But he’s appeared in just six of the Kings’ 11 contests, averaging 4.3 points and 3.2  rebounds in 15.3 minutes per game after posting 11.8 points and 5.9 rebounds in 27.2 minutes per night last season.  

Casspi said he plans to speak to general manager Vlade Divac later on Monday. He is hoping for some sort of resolution, even if that means moving on.

“What goes through my mind is I can help this team win,” Casspi said. “It might be here today, I’ve got to stay ready. It might be somewhere else.”

Bogdanovic, Kings look to beat Warriors at Oracle for second time this season


Bogdanovic, Kings look to beat Warriors at Oracle for second time this season

No rest for the weary. The Kings hit game four of their five games in seven nights stretch. They’ll draw a beat up, but dangerous Golden State Warriors team Friday night at Oracle Arena.

Sacramento is coming off a wild overtime win against the playoff bound Miami Heat on Wednesday. De’Aaron Fox hit a floater as time expired to push the game to overtime and fellow rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic drilled a late 3-pointer to put the game away late in the extra session.

Golden State trails the Houston Rockets by two games for the top overall seed in the Western Conference playoff chase. They’ve already clinched another Pacific division title, but they are at risk for missing out on the top seed. Every game counts as they hit the stretch run.


Warriors by 12


Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Zaza Pachulia -- It might not be the matchup people bought tickets to see, but it’s the matchup they’re going to get. With the Warriors banged up, Pachulia has stepped up and filled a valuable role in the middle. He’s strong as an ox and does all the dirty work. Cauley-Stein is getting his legs back under him after missing 10 days with a back strain. He’s improved in year four, but still needs to work on his consistency.  


Kings: 22-47, fourth place in Pacific

Warriors: 52-16, first place in Pacific


Kings: PF Skal Labissiere (hip contusion) questionable, SF/SG Iman Shumpert (knee rehab/plantar fasciitis) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January.

Warriors: PF Jordan Bell (ankle) probable, PG Quinn Cook (hand contusion) probable, PF David West (arm cyst) probable, SF Kevin Durant (ribs soreness) out, PG Steph Curry (ankle) out, SG Klay Thompson (thumb) out, SG Patrick McGaw (wrist) out.


Wounded Warriors -- Golden State will play without three of their four All-Stars. The Kings took advantage of the Warriors early in the season when they were the similar situation of missing All-Stars. Sacramento needs to stay the course and continue to play with effort as they finish the schedule, regardless of who suits up for their opponent.

Big Moments -- If there is one thing that stands out in the 2017-18 season for Sacramento, it’s the clutch plays by the young players. Fox has four shots in his rookie season that either won or tied a game in the final seconds. Bogdanovic, Skal Labissiere and Buddy Hield have come through with big shots as well.  

Come Out Firing -- The best way to beat the Warriors is to make them work for their shots. The best way to make them work for their shots is to score baskets and set up the defense. If the Kings can put up an efficient offensive night, they have a shot of dethroning the shorthanded champs.


The Kings and Warriors are all knotted at one game apiece in the season series. Golden State holds a 201-187 lead in the all-time series and a 73-66 advantage during the Sacramento-era.

After another clutch shot, De'Aaron Fox pulls back curtain on mindset in big moments


After another clutch shot, De'Aaron Fox pulls back curtain on mindset in big moments

SACRAMENTO -- You can’t teach clutch. Either you got it or you don’t. De’Aaron Fox has it.

In his rookie season in the NBA, the 20-year-old out of Kentucky has found himself in plenty of big moments already.

Who can forget his 18-foot game-winning jumper over the outstretched arms of the Sixers Robert Covington back in November that gave the Kings a 109-108 win.

On the road in Miami on January 25, he went over the top of the Heat defense with a putback dunk to snap the Kings’ 15-game losing streak at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Two weeks ago against the Brooklyn Nets, Fox went baseline and hit a high arching floater over the top of a defender as time expired to push the game into overtime.

Wednesday at Golden 1 Center, the Kings blew a 16-point lead to the Heat, but again, it was Fox that saved the day.

With just three seconds remaining, Fox took the inbounds pass from fellow rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic. He instantly got into the body of veteran Goran Dragic, riding the All-Star guard right down the middle of the lane.

With four defenders converging on the play, Fox used his left hand to maneuver through a sea of arms and hit a 9-foot floater. The replay shows the ball leaving the 6-foot-3 guard’s hand just before the clock hits zero. The ball cut through the net and Golden 1 Center exploded.

“I feel like guys that want those moments, want to play in those close games, those guys are the ones who thrive,” Fox told media members following the Kings’ 123-119 overtime win. “You don’t usually see the guys that want the shot, miss the shot a lot. It’s the basketball gods just rewarding us for wanting to do it.”

Fox’s jumper extended the game by five minutes and the young Kings kept charging forward. The speedy guard came through with two big stops on Dragic down the stretch, showing that he is more than just an offensive weapon.

“I feel like I can be one of the best two-way players in this league in some time,” Fox said. “That guy, he’s an All-Star. He’s good. You just try to get him out of rhythm, try to make it tough. He had a great game, but down the stretch, I just tried to make it tough on him.”

Dragic finished the night with a game-high 33 points, but he shot just 1-of-3 from the field in the extra frame as Fox put the clamps on him.

Fox wasn’t the only player to come up big for Sacramento. Buddy Hield chipped in 12 of his team-high 24 points in the fourth quarter and he added four points in the overtime session. Zach Randolph chipped in 22 points and nine rebounds in 33 minutes and Bogdanovic hit a huge 3-pointer with 1:03 remaining in the extra session to put the game away.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that aren’t scared,” Fox said. “Once we sent it to overtime, it’s pretty much crunch time the whole five minutes and we have a whole bunch of guys that can make plays and make shots.”

Injuries to Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere have forced Randolph back into action full-time for Sacramento. Despite a 22-47 record, the 36-year-old big sees major improvement in the team’s young core.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in my young guys,” Randolph said. “They play hard and they put the time in and they work hard. When we get on the court, it applies on the court and that’s what they’re doing. I’m proud of them.”

Fox isn’t the only young player to come up clutch for the Kings this season. Skal Labissiere drilled a 3-pointer against the New York Knicks on March 4 to give Sacramento a win and both Bogdanovic and Hield have come through plenty of times with the big shots.

The Kings return to the floor Friday in Oakland where they face the Golden State Warriors on the first night of a back-to-back. While out of the hunt in the Western Conference playoff race, they continue to play hard, posting a 4-4 over their last eight games.