Kings

Breaking down Kings' roster heading into NBA restart in Orlando bubble

Breaking down Kings' roster heading into NBA restart in Orlando bubble

The NBA restart is quickly approaching. For the Sacramento Kings, they are scheduled to leave the friendly confines of their practice facility at Golden 1 Center on July 8 and make the cross-country flight to the Orlando bubble.

From there, it’s more quarantine and a build-up to an eight-game schedule beginning on July 31 against the San Antonio Spurs.

The Kings currently have three confirmed cases of coronavirus amongst their players. Alex Len and Buddy Hield currently are quarantined in Sacramento. Jabari Parker stayed in Chicago due to a positive test, although he was seen out and about over the weekend.

Normally we wouldn’t hit a full primer for an eight-game stretch, but it’s been almost four months since the Kings and the league as a whole shut everything down on March 11. There was an evolving rotation at the time that had just added Richaun Holmes back to the mix, but Marvin Bagley was still out of action for Sacramento.

Now with a full roster of 17 players, the Kings are ready to hit stage three of the restart. Beginning Wednesday, the team will conduct mandatory individual workouts and there is even hope for a Zoom call with coach Luke Walton and a player or two this week.

Walton’s crew can’t begin practicing as a team until July 9 or 10 in Orlando, but they are moving closer to putting it all back together. Here is a look at what to expect once the Kings take the floor for their first game.

Starters

De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Harrison Barnes, Nemanja Bjelica, Richaun Holmes

Fox is the straw that stirs the drink for the Kings. The speedy third-year guard was taking a tremendous leap forward in production at the time of the shutdown and the added layoff likely did wonders for his left ankle that he injured early in the season.

Walton made a move to Bogdanovic in late January and the team responded with a 13-7 record. When the season went on hiatus, Bogdanovic had started to settle into his role, averaging 17.0 points on 52.5 percent shooting from the field and 41.0 percent from 3-point range over the last five games.

Barnes spends much of his time on the court moving back and forth between the two forward positions. The team’s leader in minutes played, he’s reliable and his versatility has helped Walton create mismatches on the court.

For the second straight season, Bjelica has stepped in and helped stabilize the Kings. The 31-year-old out of Serbia leads Sacramento in 3-point percentage at 42.4 percent and he’s averaging career highs across the stat sheet.

Holmes is the best free-agent find the Kings have stumbled upon in years. The 26-year-old plays hard on both ends of the court and the break is just what his ailing shoulder needed.

Second Unit

Cory Joseph, Buddy Hield, Kent Bazemore, Harry Giles, Alex Len

Joseph kept the Kings from completely falling apart when Fox went down with an ankle injury. He is a steady hand that plays defense and rarely makes a mistake.

There has to be at least a small amount of concern regarding Hield after the coronavirus diagnosis. The Kings’ leading scorer from a season ago, Hield has begrudgingly moved to the bench and flourished. One of the great 3-point shooters in the game, the Kings need Hield at 100 percent if they have a shot at making the postseason.

From the moment Kent Bazemore walked into the Sacramento locker room, he started making an impact. A versatile defender and streaky scorer, Baze is the type of catalyst player the Kings needed to turn their season around.

When Holmes went down with a shoulder injury, Giles and Len stepped in and became a nice two-headed monster. Giles is a gifted passer and Len is the big defender and rebounder. The Kings aren’t going to need both of them every night, but they provide nice depth for Walton to work with.

Wild Cards

Marvin Bagley, Corey Brewer

Bagley’s season was completely derailed by injury. First, a broken thumb slowed him down and then a foot issue lingered. Now healthy, Bagley can provide a scoring punch and rebounding, but he has missed a ton of development time. Will Walton turn to the former No. 2 overall pick or make him watch from the sidelines?

Sacramento was the first team to sign a free agent when the league opened back up. Brewer finished last season with the Kings and provides defense, energy and the ability to create chaos on the court. He’s also a veteran that can step on the floor and fit into any system.

Barring injury, Walton won’t play 11 or 12 players on a nightly basis. Bagley is the future, but the addition of Brewer allows the Kings’ head coach to use Barnes for more minutes at the four with Bazemore, Hield, Bogdanovic and Brewer filling time at the wing.

Depth

Yogi Ferrell, Justin James, Jabari Parker, Kyle Guy, DaQuan Jeffries

Ferrell played in 71 games last season for Sacramento and can score in bunches. With the addition of Joseph, Ferrell’s minutes have been limited, but he keeps himself in great shape and should be ready to step in if the moment calls for it.

General manager Vlade Divac found James deep in the second round last season, but he has instantly become a favorite inside the walls of Golden 1. He has a ton of energy and projects as a young Bazemore/Brewer-type player.

Parker came over with Len in a midseason trade. He played in a single game before finding his way to the end of the Kings’ bench. As of Saturday, the Kings were looking into reports that he was both out at a local Chicago restaurant on Friday and that he was photographed playing tennis on Saturday, all while he was supposed to be under quarantine with the coronavirus.

Guy and Jeffries are both two-way players who will be needed for practice and emergency bodies. Guy is the scorer and Jeffries is a physical perimeter defender. Neither is expected to break into the rotation in Orlando.

[RELATED: NBA did Kings no favors with one tweak to Orlando schedule]

Overview

Sacramento was on a roll when we last saw it, but that was a long time ago. There is hope that Hield, Len and Parker all will be ready when the game action starts in late July.

Walton has a deep and versatile roster to work with. The Kings were playing a much slower pace than expected, but they were launching 34.7 3-pointers per game and their 3-point percentage (.364) ranked 11th in the league.

The Kings were showing improvements on both ends of the court in March, but they currently rank 19th overall in both offensive and defensive rating on the season.

When Walton’s crew is on, it is a high-powered, fun team to watch. When Sacramento is off, however, it usually snowballs and leads to poor play on both ends.

At 28-36, the Kings are lucky to still be in the race. They are mostly healthy and plenty of players have been in Sacramento working out for a while. Whether that translates to victories is anyone’s guess, but they have eight games to prove they are worthy of a play-in game or two. If they hit the ground running in Game 1 of the restart, they have a shot.

NBA rumors: Kings' Vlade Divac rejected shared role with Joe Dumars

NBA rumors: Kings' Vlade Divac rejected shared role with Joe Dumars

Kings owner Vivek Ranadive reportedly wanted a new voice to help Vlade Divac make roster decisions.

The now-former Kings general manager didn't like that idea, so he resigned from the position Friday.

The Athletic's Sam Amick reported Friday, citing sources, that Ranadive told Divac he wanted advisor Joe Dumars to share in the responsibilities of roster decisions for the Kings.

Divac, according to Amick's sources, had "zero interest" in a power share. He wanted full control of the roster decisions.

So, a day after the Kings returned from a disappointing eight-game NBA restart in Orlando, Fla., Divac stepped down.

Dumars will step in as the interim executive vice president of basketball operations, and spearhead the search for a new general manager of the Kings.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

But Dumars might not hire a new general manager right away.

Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill reported Friday, citing sources, that Dumars could use the 2020-21 NBA season to evaluate prospective candidates, meaning the Kings would go one year without an official GM.

The Kings, led by Dumars, now head into an offseason of uncertainty. Bogdan Bogdanovic is a restricted free agent. Kent Bazemore, Harry Giles, Alex Len, Yogi Ferrell and Corey Brewer are unrestricted free agents. Marvin Bagley just finished off an injury-riddled second NBA season. Buddy Hield signed a lucrative contract last year, but was moved to the second unit before the season was shut down in March.

[RELATED: Source: Walton safe as Kings coach for 2020-21 season]

And the Kings also have a lottery pick in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft.

So with no new GM reportedly coming for a while, all these decisions rest on Dumars, who Ranadivé wanted to have a voice in the room anyway.

Vlade Divac's Luka Doncic miss not only reason he's out as Kings GM

Vlade Divac's Luka Doncic miss not only reason he's out as Kings GM

Did the decision to not draft Luke Doncic in 2018 cost Vlade Divac his job as the Sacramento Kings' general manager?

The easy answer might be yes. But it’s a lot more complex than that.

There was a list of missteps and mistakes, dating to his first few months on the job, that Divac had been able to overcome until Friday, when he resigned.

His initial trade that sent Nik Stauskas, Jason Thompson and Carl Landry to the Philadelphia 76ers cost the Kings two draft swaps and their 2019 first-round pick. The payoff was a one-season rental of Rajon Rondo.

From that moment on, Divac made a series of decisions, most of which did not work out in his favor. His free-agent signings of players such as George Hill, Zach Randolph, Dewayne Dedmon and Trevor Ariza all were busts, but Divac was able to Houdini his way out of each of those deals.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Divac picking De’Aaron Fox No. 5 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft provided the Kings with a young star to build around, but he also selected Willie Cauley-Stein, Georgious Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson, Skal Labissiere, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles in the first round.

The only player remaining on the team from that group is Giles, and even his time with the team likely is up after Divac decided not to pick up the big man's fourth-year option for next season.

For a small-market team like the Kings to succeed, it needs to hit home runs in the draft, make savvy moves in free agency and get lucky.

Divac found success in free agency with undervalued players such as Nemanja Bjelica and Richaun Holmes. His trades that landed players like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Iman Shumpert, Kent Bazemore and Alex Len all worked out to some degree.

And even with all of these issues, the Kings, under Divac and coach Dave Joerger, were better than they'd been in over a decade last season. They ran teams off the court and were a joy to watch.

The Kings missed the playoffs, but their 39-43 record had them on the right path, although personality conflicts between Joerger and assistant GM Brandon Williams caused a rift behind the scenes.

Known for his ability to bring people together, Divac wasn’t able to mend fences. Instead of making a midseason move to separate one or the other, Divac allowed the situation to become cantankerous.

By season’s end, Divac decided to fire both, but in doing so, he set himself up for the situation the Kings are in now. Divac hired Luke Walton to replace Joerger without interviewing another candidate.

Walton might be a very good coach, but in having him teach a new system, with new terminology, the Kings lost their momentum from the previous season, and the identity of the team went out the window.

Now the Kings sit in a situation where the Memphis Grizzlies have passed them in the incredibly tough Western Conference. The Phoenix Suns also went 8-0 in the NBA bubble this month and look like a team on the rise.

It’s possible that the Kings will improve next season and take a leap in standings, but the road to snapping a 14-year NBA playoff drought looks even more difficult than ever.

All of these items added up, but at the end of the day, there's still that issue that Divac passed on Doncic.

Allowing Doncic to slip through the franchise’s fingers -- regardless of whom the Kings selected instead -- was a catastrophic move for a team that's always had a difficult time bringing in top-tier talent.

Divac had concerns about Doncic’s ability to play with Fox and also his position in the NBA.

His position doesn’t matter: Doncic is a flat-out superstar. Also, Fox would have figured out how to work with him, and the Kings would've had two young stars to build around.

[RELATED: Divac kept his word after Cousins trade, give or take 18 months]

The Kings still don’t know what they have in Marvin Bagley, the player Divac selected over Doncic, but that doesn’t matter. Doncic is a generational talent who just destroyed team after team in the bubble, and has his Dallas Mavericks set for a deep playoff run.

Divac is an exceptional human being. He’s funny and gregarious. He meant well, and there's no question the Kings are in a better place than when Divac took over five years ago.

in the end, that wasn’t enough.