Kings

Big names veterans coming to Sacramento, but will the wins follow?

Big names veterans coming to Sacramento, but will the wins follow?

LAS VEGAS, NV -- It’s a busy day in Kingsland. With a big crowd expected for Monday night’s Kings vs. Lakers matchup, both in Sacramento at the team’s viewing party and in Las Vegas at the Thomas and Mack Center, the team took care of more paperwork.

Vince Carter, Zach Randolph and George Hill officially signed on the dotted line and became the newest members of the Sacramento Kings. Following signatures, the trio of veterans held a press conference that felt more like a symposium on building a winning culture than an introduction.

Big names are walking in the door, but wins aren’t a sure bet. Building a successful franchise is a process, especially when you bring so many young players in over a span of two seasons. 

General manager Vlade Divac measured his club and saw a missing ingredient. He used his cap space wisely and came away with known leaders for his stable of young players.  

“It’s very hard to develop guys if you create a losing mentality,” general manager Vlade Divac said following the press conference. “I just want to compete. And those kids need support for that.”

Carter made an appearance Sunday night at Cox Pavilion as the Kings fell to the Memphis Grizzlies. The 8-time All-Star drew a crowd everywhere he went as he signed autographs, took pictures and hugged former teammates around the arena.

The 40-year-old wing signed a one-year, $8 million deal to join his former Grizzlies head coach, Dave Joerger. The 19-year NBA vet ranks 27th all-time in scoring with 24,555 points, just 260 points behind Patrick Ewing for 26th place on the list.

“I definitely didn’t see myself playing to 40, more than anything, it’s not what I do, it’s what I’m willing to do,” Carter said follow the press conference. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to still be here today.”

Carter finished last season averaging 8.0 points and 3.1 rebounds in 24.6 minutes a night for Memphis. With Sacramento, he’ll play, but he’ll also be asked to take on the role of mentor with the Kings, as they enter the season with a bevy of young talent.

“They’re listening, they’re asking questions and that’s all you can ask from young guys,” Carter said about teaching the young players. “When you’ve got guys like us that have been around and are willing to share our knowledge, what we want is young guys that are willing to listen and willing to put in the work and learn. Everything else is easy after that.”

After spending the last eight seasons with the Grizzlies, Randolph inked a two-year, $24 million deal with the Kings. Like Carter, he spent plenty of time with coach Joerger and looks forward to playing for his former head coach again.

The 16-year NBA veteran turns 36 on July 16, but age didn’t stop him from having a very productive season last year. Z-Bo came off the bench for new head coach David Fizdale in Memphis, averaging 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds in 24.5 minutes per game.

In Sacramento, he’ll play solid minutes at the power forward spot. He’ll also be asked to take the Kings stack of young bigs under his wing and teach them the ropes. Randolph brings a physicality that the team lacks and there is hope that it rubs off on the young guys. According to the veteran big, it’s more than just strength or pushing opponents around.

“It’s not about toughness, it’s about playing for each other,” Randolph said of teaching the young guys. “I’m going hard for George, I’m going hard for Vince, and vise versa. That’s what it’s all about - giving all you’ve got for your teammates.”

Both players confirmed that Joerger was a big reasons they joined the Kings. Despite offers to play for winning franchises, they liked the opportunity to try to turn things around with their former coach. Joerger couldn’t be happier with the additions.

“It’s fantastic, their good human beings and they’re pros,” Joerger told NBC Sports California. “Obviously, having history of competition and playoffs and going through the battles, but even more than that, you’re supporting each other's family, you’re watching each other’s kids, you’re going to weddings together. That kind of stuff that  runs pretty deep.”

While Hill hasn’t played for Joerger in the past, he was needed to support a very young backcourt. With both De’Aaron Fox and Frank Mason entering their rookie season’s, Divac and his team looked for a veteran leader to help solidify the point guard position. They inked one of the better free agents lead guards.

“You don’t look at it as competing for minutes, you look at it as what’s the best opportunity for us to win the game,” Hill said of working with Fox. “If the front office and coaches or whatever think it’s best that he plays more minutes, then he plays more minutes. At the end of the day, we have to develop him and I know that. My job here is to help develop him.”

After five seasons with the Indiana Pacers, Hill, 31, spent last year posting career numbers with the Utah Jazz. He landed in Sacramento on a 3-year, $57 million deal, although the third year is only partially guaranteed. He brings nine-years of NBA experience to the table, including averages of 16.9 points and 4.2 assists over 31.5 minutes per game last season.

It was just a press conference, but the vets said all the right things. They’ll join Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos as a core group of leaders. Temple briefly played with Hill during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons and Koufos paired with Randolph and Carter during the 2014-15 season in Memphis.

It’s a solid group, but they have a tall task in front of them. Outside of the group of five, Willie Cauley-Stein is the only other player on the Kings with two years of NBA experience. Joerger has the difficult job of balancing competing on a nightly basis with developing his young players. At least he has some familiar faces to help in the process.

Buddy Hield leads Kings over Suns, sets new franchise mark for 3-pointers

Buddy Hield leads Kings over Suns, sets new franchise mark for 3-pointers

SACRAMENTO -- Buddy Hield opened as the starting shooting guard for the Sacramento Kings this season as a replacement for the injured Bogdan Bogdanovic. 72 games later, Hield has not only cemented himself as team’s starter, but he’s the Kings’ leading scorer and now a record breaker.

It’s not often you see a player seize an opportunity like Hield has. He hit a 3-pointer less than five seconds into the the Kings’ win over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday to move within one of Peja Stojakovic’s franchise record for most makes from behind the arc in a single season.

After heading to the bench to finish the first quarter, Hield returned in the second and in a span of 30 seconds tied and then surpassed Stojakovic’s mark of 240 makes.

“Getting the record from Peja, he left a mark on this franchise, it’s pretty big,” Hield said. “It’s something special. Hope I can keep it for many years, but who knows. There’s always going to be some other kid that’s going to come up and break records.”

Stojakovic works in the Kings front office as an assistant general manager supporting Vlade Divac. He’s also taken a vested interest in Hield and worked behind the scenes as a mentor to the 26-year-old shooting.

“He’s just calm and collect and I didn’t see it coming this year, but that’s how God works, when you don’t expect things, it just happens,” Hield said. “He’s been a big part of my success this year and hats off to him. He’s still going to continue to help me grow.”

A notorious trash talker, Hield will likely never let Stojakovic live down him passing his record. And with 10 games remaining in the season, Hield has a chance to push the record considerably higher.

“He finds them. We’re looking for him. He’s getting them up," head coach Dave Joerger said. "We’re happy about it and maybe the best part is, that everyday we all come to the gym, Buddy’s going to give it to Peja from now until never. I couldn’t be happier for him and he deserves to have that big smile that he has. That’s quite an accomplishment.”

Hield finished the game with 25 points and seven rebounds in the win. He knocked down 7-of-14 from deep and now has 245 makes on the year.

Following his record breaker, Bogdanovic fouled Devin Booker in the act of shooting, allowing the game to stop for a moment and the fans to show their appreciation.

Hield received a standing ovation from the Golden 1 Center crowd and then play resumed.

“It’s definitely cool to see what he was able to do for the team this year and to break a record like that,” rookie Marvin Bagley said. “It was definitely cool, to see the reaction of the fans and everything. I was happy for him.”

With the win, the Kings moved back to the .500 mark on the season at 36-36. This is a team that was predicted to win just 25.5 games this year by the Vegas oddsmakers and Hield is a huge reason the Kings were in the playoff race until recently.

“He’s having a terrific year and a large part of our success has been his ability at different points in games when we’re struggling to score, he can just go and create his own offense,” Joerger said.

Hield has another mark to focus on now. With 245 makes this year, he now has 569 makes through his first three season in the league. Damian Lillard owns the NBA record for most makes over the first three seasons of a players career with 599. If Hield continues on his current pace, he has a chance to crest the 600 mark.

Kings takeaways: What we learned from Kings' strong win over Suns

Kings takeaways: What we learned from Kings' strong win over Suns

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- Needing a victory to finish the road trip strong and move back to .500 on the season, the Kings struggled with their shot and it almost cost them.

A big finish by rookie Marvin Bagley gave Sacramento some breathing room late, and an emphatic windmill dunk from De’Aaron Fox put the Phoenix Suns away.

Devin Booker put up a game-high 32-points and 10 assists and Deandre Ayton notched a double-double, but it wasn’t enough to shift the outcome in the Suns direction.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings pick up the 112-103 win to move to 36-36 on the season. 

Record Breaker

Buddy Hield loves to shoot the 3-ball. He loves it so much, he set a record doing it Saturday evening at Golden 1 Center.

Hield came into the night trailing Peja Stojakovic by two 3-pointer for the Kings’ all-time record for most makes in a single season. It took him just five seconds to knockdown his first triple and then he hit a pair in the second quarter to surpass the Kings legend.

Sacramento’s leading scorer didn’t stop there. He finished the night 7-for-14 from long range for 25 points on the evening.

The starting forwards

Harrison Barnes and Nemanja Bjelica are starting to figure out how to play together. Against the Suns, they both made major contributions.

Barnes got hot from long range, hitting 5-of-8 from behind the arc for 25 points. He added six rebounds and was responsible for slowing Booker for stretches.

Bjelica always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He struggles with quickler fours, but he seems to find a way to help the team. The veteran finished the evening with 13 points, a career-high 17 rebounds and five assists on the evening. 

Shooting woes

Sacramento pulled out the win, but it wasn’t easy. A big reason why was because of their shooting percentage. 

Bogdan Bogdanovic went 2-of-11 from the floor, with both makes coming from 3-point range.  Fox hit just 3-of-12, although he still managed to score 13 points and dish out nine assists.

As a team, the Kings recovered late to shoot 42.4 percent on the evening. They let the Suns hang around and it almost cost them.