Two weeks from NBA draft, Kings continue to workout top tier talent

Two weeks from NBA draft, Kings continue to workout top tier talent

SACRAMENTO -- Fourteen days before the 2017 NBA Draft and prospects continue to roll through Sacramento. Justin Jackson was the first player slated to go in the top 20 to drop by the Kings’ practice facility a little over a week ago, but the parade hasn’t stopped there.

Published reports had agents steering their top tier clients away from Sacramento, but Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, snuck into the practice facility over the weekend for a workout and meet and greet. Fox is expected to fall no lower than the Kings at five and he’s been mentioned as high as two in one of the best drafts in the last decade.

Duke’s Harry Giles, another top 20 talent, swung by Sacramento on Tuesday and Wednesday’s prospect workout featured combo guard Donovan Mitchell (currently ranked 12th on the Draft Express big board), as well as Purdue’s big man Caleb Swanigan, who by all accounts put on a show against Grant High School alum Cameron Oliver.

The Kings have yet to announce the athletes that plan to drop in over the weekend, but workouts are expected on both Saturday and Sunday. There is still plenty of time to interview elite prospects and the Kings’ front office has been seen circling the globe watching potential picks at their pre draft home bases.

Mitchell, 20, is an intriguing prospect. Considered one of the best two-way players in the draft, the 6-foot-3 guard boasts a 6-foot-10 wingspan and an incredible 40.5 inch vertical. He has plenty to prove if he hopes to convince teams that he can play the point guard at the NBA level, but he should be able to earn minutes early in his rookie season at both guard positions.

The sophomore out of Louisville was confident in his time with the media. He compared his game to the Boston Celtics’ Avery Bradley, especially in his ability to defend elite guards in the NBA.

“My willingness to lead and my willingness to play defense, because a lot of guys don’t really like to do that,” Mitchell said when asked about what impression he hoped stood out in his workout with the Kings. “A lot of guys will score 50, but they won’t hold their opponent to 10 points. I take pride in that as opposed to scoring 50.”

Mitchell admits to being terrified of flying, but he was very excited about the draft process and even the prospect of landing in Sacramento. Mitchell also raved about Swanigan after getting to see the big man up close and personal.

“Caleb was...I don’t even know how to put it in words, I don’t think you guys saw it, but left hand, right hook, left hook,” Mitchell said of Swanigan. “He was dominant the whole workout. I’m really impressed with him. He had that at Purdue this year, but you could tell he definitely worked on it.”

Sacramento has plenty of needs, specifically at the point guard and small forward position. They also have secondary needs, like a defensive banger and rebounder off the bench. Swanigan might fit the role the Kings are looking for if he last until the second round where the Kings hold the 34th pick.

Swanigan’s road to the NBA is an incredible story. He weighed over 360 pounds entering the eighth grade and spent time as a youth bouncing around homeless shelters and different schools. The 6-foot-9, 247-pound power player has worked hard to earn his place in the NBA and it’s not hard to see a situation where a team in the mid-20’s pulls the trigger on the versatile post player that averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Boilermakers in his sophomore season.

“The biggest thing with the NBA is play your game, play what you do, play to your strengths,” Swanigan said. “You don’t want to do or show something that you’re not quite there with.”

For a player that has struggled with weight issues in the past, Swanigan came into Sacramento in great shape. He’s known for his post play, but he also shot 44.7 percent from behind the 3-point line this season and has plenty of room to grow at the next level.

While media wasn’t allowed in to see the action, there was a buzz around the team about Oliver’s monster dunk over Swanigan in the workout. The big out of the University of Nevada Reno has an NBA body. Listed at 6-foot-8, 239 pounds, Oliver posted a 39.5 inch vertical at the combine and he would love nothing more than to play with his hometown team.

“It’s a home for me, so it would be a dream come true,” Oliver said of the possibility of the possibility of being drafted Sacramento.

At this point, Oliver is listed as an early-to-mid second round prospect on most mock drafts, but he has a lot of talent and upside.

Be it local talent or players coming from across the country, the Kings have a steady flow of traffic coming through the building. As the draft nears and more is known about the landscape of the top 10, expect Sacramento to host plenty more players.

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.

Start of Hawks-Kings game delayed due to protests outside arena

Start of Hawks-Kings game delayed due to protests outside arena

SACRAMENTO -- Giving new meaning to playing under protest, the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks game at Golden 1 Center was delayed 13 minutes Thursday evening due to an actual protest outside the building.

Protesters locked arms in front of the entrance to the building, blocking ticket holders from entering the arena.

The Kings released the following prepared statement.

“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.”

Minutes before the 7:10 game start time, the Kings invited what few fans made their way into the building to sit in the lower bowl. A couple of thousand fans moved as close to the court as possible, while the doors remained closed to the outside.

The protest stems from the release of police body cam footage of the officer involved shooting death of South Sacramento resident, Stephon Clark, on Sunday evening. The video was released on Wednesday.

As of 8pm PST, the Golden 1 Center remains surrounded by protesters with security and police officers stationed insider every entrance and exit door.