After emotional night at home, Kings head to LA to begin final road trip


After emotional night at home, Kings head to LA to begin final road trip

The Sacramento Kings open their final road trip of the season Easter Sunday in Los Angeles. They’ll face a Lakers team that has posted a solid second half of the season, but is struggling down the stretch.

After an emotional night at Golden 1 Center on Saturday, that included a jarring injury to Warriors shooting guard Patrick McCaw, the Kings return to the action on the second night of a back-to-back. The news coming out of Golden State is that McCaw is doing much better after taking a huge fall and being wheeled off the court on a stretcher.

The Lakers have lost six out of eight games, but they are one of the surprise teams in the Western Conference. They have seven players averaging in double-figures, including a team-high 16.3 points and eight rebounds per game from breakout big man Julius Randle.

Lakers by 7.5

Skal Labissiere vs. Kyle Kuzma -- Kuzma is having a strong rookie campaign for Los Angeles, but he’s struggled against Labissiere. The Kings have held Kuzma to just 12 points and 3.7 rebounds per game in three matchups this season, well below his season averages. Labissiere hasn’t had the break out many had hoped for, but he’s showing signs of improvement down the stretch.

Kings: 24-53, fourth place in Pacific

Lakers: 33-42, third place in Pacific

Kings: SG/SF Garrett Temple (sprained left ankle) out, SG/SF Iman Shumpert (knee rehab/plantar fasciitis) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season.

Lakers: PG Lonzo Ball (knee) doubtful, Brandon Ingram (concussion protocol) out, PG Isaiah Thomas (hip) out.

Slow the Bull-- Randle has become a player. He uses his strength and power to get into the post and do major damage. He’s a restricted free agent after the season and likely in for a major payday.

Keep Up-- The Lakers are beat up, but they love to get out and run. They rank first in the league in pace and have a a whole squad of young athletes. The Kings can slow it down or they try to match speed with speed.  

Focus on the Future -- Temple continues to miss games with an ankle injury. Zach Randolph has sat out four straight. Kosta Koufos was a DNP-CD last time out. The Kings are going young to finish the season. Five games might not seem like a lot of time, but it’s an opportunity to make a lasting  impression.

The Lakers lead the season series 2-1, including the last two. Los Angeles owns a huge 272-154 lead in the all-time series and a 94-45 advantage during the Sacramento-era.

What does Nemanja Bjelica bring to the Kings?


What does Nemanja Bjelica bring to the Kings?

The Sacramento Kings had cash burning holes in their pockets. After nearly three weeks of inactivity in free agency, the team signed a second player in less than eight hours Friday afternoon.

Yogi Ferrell inked a two-year, $6.2 million deal to start the spending spree and, according to a source, Sacramento added Nemanja Bjelica to a three-year, $20.5 million deal just as most people were settling in for dinner. The final year of his deal is non-guaranteed.

The Bjelica transaction has been rumored for the last few days, although the exact dollars figures were unknown. The 30-year-old combo forward posted 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

He initially agreed to a one-year, $4.4 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, but backed out of the deal earlier this week with the thought that he would return to Europe to play. According to reports, Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic reached out to the Serbian-born forward in an attempt to keep him in the NBA and talk him into joining the Kings.

How does he fit with the Kings?

Bjelica split his time between the small forward and power forward positions last season with the T-Wolves, and will likely do the same in Sacramento. Listed at 6-foot-10, 230 pounds, Bjelica is known for his long range shooting touch, knocking down a career-best 41.5 percent from behind the arc last season.

The Kings have an overload at the power forward and center position, so it’s likely that Bjelica will play plenty of minutes at the small forward spot. He's a potential defensive liability against smaller wings, but he'll help to open running and passing lanes for De’Aaron Fox and the rest of Sacramento’s guards.

Who loses time?

There is a lot that can happen between now and the start of training camp. If the roster looks the same in mid-September as it does now, expect Bjelica to steal time from Justin Jackson at the small forward position and Skal Labissiere and Zach Randolph at the four.

His ability to stretch the floor will keep him on the court for plenty of minutes in Dave Joerger’s rotation.

Financial Impact

While we don’t have exact year-by-year numbers, Bjelica should eat up roughly $7 million a year in each of his guaranteed seasons. When combined with Ferrell’s $3 million salary for this season, the Kings still have more than $9 million of cap room and they will have to waive one player before making the signing official.

Source: Kings agree to three-year deal with Nemanja Bjelica


Source: Kings agree to three-year deal with Nemanja Bjelica

Europe can wait for free-agent forward Nemanja Bjelica.

The 30-year-old agreed to a three-year, $20.5 million deal with the Sacramento Kings on Friday, a source confirmed to NBC Sports California's James Ham. The third year is not guaranteed. 

Yahoo! Sports' Shams Charania first reported the news. 

The 6-foot-10 Serbian averaged 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game last season. A source told NBC Sports California's James Ham on Wednesday that the Kings like the Serbian forward's versatility, and believe he can play minutes at the small forward and power forward postions. 

Bjelica previously agreed to a one-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers this summer. He told the team on Monday that he planned on staying in Europe this season, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.