James Ham

Kings look to get healthy with opener just days away

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USATSI

Kings look to get healthy with opener just days away

SACRAMENTO - All hands on deck. The Sacramento Kings open the 2017-18 schedule Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets at Golden 1 Center and it looks like they might do so with a full arsenal of players at their disposal.

Point guard De’Aaron Fox returned to practice on Sunday and then participated in the team’s annual Fanfest. If his dance moves are any indication, the 19-year-old’s back is feeling just fine.

Veteran George Hill tweaked his groin Friday against the Golden State Warriors, leaving his availability for opening night in question. Hill, 31, who has a history of groin injuries, was on the court Monday practicing and said he is ready to play.

“Everything is feeling good right now,” Hill said Monday following practice.

The only player who didn’t practice on Monday is rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic, who sprained his right ankle against the Warriors. According to head coach Dave Joerger,  the team is hopeful that the Serbian sharpshooter will return in time for Game 1.

“We’re still shooting for Wednesday for both of them,” Joerger said of Hill and Bogdanovic.

New look Rockets

The Rockets went 55-27 last season under head coach Mike D’Antoni, but that didn’t stop them from going all in during the offseason. With MVP runner-up James Harden already manning the backcourt, Houston added nine-time All-Star Chris Paul as their new starting point guard.

“Leadership, he’s a floor general,” Hill said about Paul. “Anywhere he goes, he’ll make a team better. We know they were already a good team without him, coming in with him is going to be a bigger task.”

It’s a new look roster and the expectations are huge for the Rockets. Houston averaged 115.3 points per game last season and led the league in both 3-point attempts and makes. This season, they also added two strong perimeter defenders in P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute.

It’s a huge test coming out of the gate for Sacramento. Following the contest against the Rockets, the Kings hit the road for three straight before returning to Golden 1 next Thursday to face DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans.


Camp notes

With the season just around the corner, the Sacramento Kings made their final roster cuts on Sunday afternoon. David Stockton, Matt Jones and Reggie Hearn were waived, leaving the Kings with 15 rostered players and two two-way players in Jack Cooley and JaKarr Sampson.

Stockton, Jones and Hearn are all expected to join the Reno Bighorns of the NBA’s G-League.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Kings' preseason loss to Warriors

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AP

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Kings' preseason loss to Warriors

BOX SCORE

The Sacramento Kings traveled the 90 minutes down highway 80 to face off with the Championship Golden State Warriors Friday evening. Missing three of their rotational guards, the Kings fought hard, but couldn’t stay with their closest geographical rivals late, falling to the Warriors by a final of 117-106. With the loss, Sacramento finished the preseason 1-5.

1- David Stockton, AAAA player. The Warriors couldn’t figure out who the speedy point guard was running circles around them. No, it wasn’t Frank Mason, it was former Gonzaga star and son of NBA legend John Stockton, David Stockton. Sacramento inked the undersized guard midweek and he took advantage of his opportunity. Stockton lit the Warriors up for 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting and eight assists in 28 minutes off the Kings’ bench.

2- Welcome to the competition Malachi Richardson. The second-year wing out of Syracuse has been the forgotten man in Sacramento. Against the Warriors, he came out confident and firing from all over the floor. Richardson finished the evening with 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting and showed some defensive prowess against Klay Thompson.

3- Who is this Papagiannis guy? After looking completely uncomfortable in limited playing time, Papagiannis looked like someone fed him a Red Bull in pregame. The 7-footer was all over the floor, even banking in a 3-pointer in the first half. He finished the night with 13 points, seven rebounds and a block in 23 minutes of action. He’s showing signs of improvement as the preseason comes to a close.

4- An aggressive Skal Labissiere is a good Skal Labissiere. Starting in place of Zach Randolph, the second-year big looked comfortable from the opening tip. If this is the Labissiere that shows up in the regular season, the Kings are going to have quite a few interesting nights. Labissiere posted nine points, eight rebounds and four assists as the Kings kept the Warriors within striking distance for much of the game.

5- There is no quit in Frank Mason. The season is just a few days away and Mason continues to make his case for a spot in the rotation. With George Hill’s status in question, Mason has proven that he is ready for game action. Sacramento wanted Mason bad during draft season and now fans are seeing why. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and there hasn’t been a moment too big.

Kings' Hill and Bogdanovic leave preseason game early

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AP

Kings' Hill and Bogdanovic leave preseason game early

The Sacramento Kings came into Thursday night’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Clippers with a mild injury report that included a lower back bruise for De’Aaron Fox and a long-term rehab assignment for Harry Giles. They came out of the game with a depleted roster.

Veteran point guard George Hill tweaked his right groin in the first half and played just nine minutes for Sacramento. There is no word further word on the injury, but Hill struggled with groin and toe ailments last season in Utah, playing just 49 games for the Jazz.

Adding to the injury woes, rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic stepped on Kosta Koufos’ foot as time expired in the third quarter and did not return. The initial diagnosis from the team’s medical staff is a sprained right ankle.

The Kings have depth at both positions, but with opening night just a week away, there is a possibility they will start the season short-handed.