Kings

Buddy Hield contract extension talks cast momentary dark cloud over Kings

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USATSI

Buddy Hield contract extension talks cast momentary dark cloud over Kings

SACRAMENTO -- "Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again."

Whether it’s the soothing harmonies of Simon and Garfunkel or the powerful bellowing of Disturbed frontman David Draiman, the opening lines of the "Sound of Silence" are ringing in my ears.

For more than a decade, drama finds the Sacramento Kings, whether they are looking for it or not. Often times the wounds are self-inflicted. Every once in a while, the issues are nothing more than the complexities of the NBA playing out in real-time.

Buddy Hield wants his money. His agent says so. He says so. Twitter says so.

Hield’s team has gone on the record with the number of $110 million over four-years to seal the deal. The Kings will not confirm whether the reported four-year, $90 million figure that has been put out there is top end for the team.

Sacramento had a similar situation last season when big man Willie Cauley-Stein went public with his wishes to get paid. Again, the two situations are similar ... but really they aren’t.

Hield accomplished last season what Cauley-Stein never could in purple and black. He lived up to his lottery billing and became a consistent impact player on the court for the Kings.

Part of the team’s exciting young core, Hield has made it his offseason mission to get locked up long term. In doing so, he is making things as uncomfortable as possible for general manager Vlade Divac and his staff.

Will it work? Will slaying the drama mean more to the franchise than the long term financial flexibility they have worked so hard to build? That is the $110 million question.

The Kings are on the clock and Hield has started to get personal.

The talented shooting guard has asked for what he believes is fair, but the value is in the eye of the beholder. During his post-game comments on Wednesday evening, he invoked two separate ideas that take aim at not only the franchise but his standing amongst his teammates as well.

"Name one big free agent that came to Sacramento," Hield told the larger media scrum. "I've been here three years trying to grow the program, grow the organization and I feel like I could be rewarded close to that. But that's just me. That's my gut feeling."

Long an NBA outpost, the good people of Sacramento, regardless of who is running the franchise, know where they stand in the tall pecking order of the league. Landing an 'A list' free agent has never been on the table.

While it’s a matter for some debate, Divac himself is likely the top free agent the team has brought in during the team’s 35 years in Sacramento. The franchise has found success bringing back their own big-name free agents, like Mitch Richmond, Chris Webber and Mike Bibby. But they haven’t been able to crack into the superstar free-agent market.

That leaves the franchise with two options: Draft potential stars and hope for the best or acquire talent via trade and hope for the best.

Hield is a combination of both. Sacramento didn’t draft him, but they traded for him during his rookie season and spent the last three seasons helping to develop him into the player he is today.

In addition to taking a shot at a sensitive issue for the franchise he plays for, Hield went where most players don’t want to go. He compared himself to his teammates and what might happen for them in the near future.

“It’s all about value and where they see me as a player and of course, if another young player comes up and they give them what they want, it shows how much they value me,” Hield told NBC Sports California following the main media scrum.

Hield is pointing directly at the franchise and how they might value De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley. Creating a list of who mom and dad like the best doesn’t work for siblings. In the NBA world, it’s a good way to get your feelings hurt.

Speaking to people within the walls of the Golden 1 Center, they understand that all of this is part of the process.

They still love Buddy Hield. They still view him as a big part of the franchise. This is just another day out of many in the history of the Kings and it too shall pass.

It should also be noted that Hield is fighting to stay in a Kings' uniform. He is asking the team to lock him up for the next five seasons in Sacramento so he can put permanent roots. He has visions of buying a house in the area and making this his NBA home. 

Between now and Oct. 21, Hield will either get an extension or he won’t. He is emotional about the process. He wants financial stability. He wants respect. He wants to know that he is just as important to the recent success of the franchise as anyone else. All of this is understandable.

[RELATED: Kings, Hield $20M apart in contract extension talks]

At the end of the day, this is a negotiation. The NBA is a business and it shouldn’t get personal. If a deal doesn’t get done now, the two sides have another bite at the apple at the end of the season.

The next few days building to the deadline could get wild, but like so many other situations with the Kings, the darkness will pass soon enough. A resolution, one way or another, will happen and the focus will shift to basketball and the task at hand.

Kings' accumulated depth paying dividends as team creeps back to .500

Kings' accumulated depth paying dividends as team creeps back to .500

SACRAMENTO -- Coming out of a busy summer of additions, the Kings looked like one of the deeper teams in the Western Conference. 13 games into the 2019-20 season, that depth is paying dividends and Sacramento is scrambling back towards the .500 mark.

In a 120-116 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday evening, head coach Luke Walton’s crew almost blew a 26-point lead, but it somehow managed to pull together and win as a team in the final minute.

“That’s what Luke says -- a lot of teams, they lose these games and then maybe they learn,” Bogdan Bogdanovic said. “We are lucky enough to learn and smart enough to learn from this game and get a win.”

Players stepping up is a trend in Sacramento, and it’s a big reason the team has bounced back after a brutal 0-5 start.

When Marvin Bagley broke his right thumb on opening night, Nemanja Bjelica stepped back into a starting role and he has flourished. When Dewayne Dedmon struggled with his shot, Richaun Holmes took over the starting center job, and he is making a huge difference for the Kings. And after De’Aaron Fox severely sprained his ankle, Cory Joseph has come to the rescue.

Balancing out the roster once everyone is healthy and playing to their potential won’t be easy for Walton, but on Tuesday night at Golden 1 Center, his team picked up its sixth win in eight games and did it with a rotation that has constantly been in flux.

With Buddy Hield under the weather and missing his 3-point attempts, Bogdanovic was the star of the evening. The reserve shooting guard notched a career-high 31 points on 7-of-9 shooting from long range to lead all scorers.

The seven makes from distance also a career-high for Bogdanovic, but he wasn’t the only difference-maker for the Kings.

“Bogi is crazy, he’s good,” Hield said of Bogdanovic. “You never know who’s going to go on a run. It could be Bjeli, it could be me, it could be Bogi. Those are guys that can hurt you at any second.”

[RELATED: How Kings' Serbian connections help make Bogi feel at home]

Joseph hasn’t looked for his own shot since taking over for Fox at point guard, but he has played spectacular defense and managed the game like a pro against Phoenix.

In his ninth NBA season and first in Sacramento, the veteran guard set a new personal best with 14 assists to go with six points, five rebounds and just two turnovers in 39 minutes of action.

“Obviously we have a couple of guys down, which is unfortunate,” Joseph said. “It’s the next man up mentality. Everybody that stepped up played good.”

After playing with the Suns a season ago, Holmes looked like a man possessed. He attacked a depleted Phoenix front line, scoring 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go with a career-high 15 rebounds.

“Every time I’ve coached against him, he’s killed us.” Walton said of his experience with Holmes before this season. “But he’s never really played major minutes, at least from what I’ve seen. We were excited to get him. He’s been as solid and steady as anyone that we’ve had on our team.”

Bjelica continued his strong play for the Kings as well. The 31-year-old veteran finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, a block and a steal. His 28-foot 3-pointer with 1:42 remaining in the fourth momentarily helped stem the tide and put the Kings back up by 12.

“He's able to stretch the floor so we've got more of a lane when I'm going down the lane on the rolls," Holmes said of Bjelica. "He can pass the ball, he can play-make, he can just do so many different things. He's very important to this team.”

The Kings still are developing an identity, but they were solid on defense again and there always seems to be someone new stepping up to help carry the load.

“That’s what’s so fun about us -- we enjoy everybody’s success and we love that about everybody,” Hield added. “We love to share the ball, we love to play together. That’s great for us and that’s going to help us keep growing and help us win ball games down the stretch.”

Sacramento flies out to New York on Wednesday afternoon in preparation for a Friday matchup with the Brooklyn Nets. The Kings will play a tough four-game road trip heading into Thanksgiving, but after a rough start to the season, they seem to be back on the right track.

Injury Note

After posting a career-high in scoring, Bogdanovic was forced to leave the game with 1:22 remaining. Following the win, Bogdanovic said he had a cramp in his left hamstring and thought that he would be okay for Friday's game against the Nets. We will have an update on his hamstring as more information becomes available.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in high-scoring 120-116 win vs. Suns

Kings takeaways: What we learned in high-scoring 120-116 win vs. Suns

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- It wasn’t always pretty, but the Kings moved one step closer to the .500 mark Tuesday evening with a 120-116 win over the Phoenix Suns.

Sacramento led by as many as 26 in the third quarter, but the Suns kept playing hard and made it a game, cutting the Kings’ lead to just three points in the final minute of the fourth.

Devin Booker led Phoenix with 30 points and eight assists. Mikal Bridges and Kelly Oubre each dropped in 20, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the early deficit.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings continued their hot streak to improve to 6-7 on the season.  

King of the Day

NBC Sports California mic’d up Bogdan Bogdanovic before the game as part of the "King of the Day" celebration. Once the contest tipped off, Bogdanovic let his game speak for him.

The third-year guard caught fire from long range in the final 6:15 of the second quarter for 16 of his career-high 31 points. 

In addition to the hot shooting, Bogdanovic added seven assists, four rebounds and two steals as the Kings survived a late run by the Suns. 

Over his last six games, Bogdanovic is averaging 21.3 points and 6.7 assists while shooting 26-for-46 (56.5 percent) from 3-point range. 

[RELATED: How Kings' Serbian connections help make Bogi feel at home]

Bogdanovic left the game late with an apparent injury and watched the end from the bench.

Bring it Holmes

Richaun Holmes looked extremely comfortable against his former Phoenix teammates Tuesday evening at Golden 1 Center.

With DeAndre Ayton and Aron Baynes sidelined, the Kings attacked the soft middle of the Suns' defense for 20 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks. 

Whatever led the Suns to move on from Holmes is fine by the Kings. The 26-year-old big has been a breath of fresh air for Sacramento and a dynamic force in the middle.

Rollin’

After an abysmal 0-5 start to the season, the Kings have won two straight and six of their last eight to move to within a game of .500.

A big reason for the improvement is on the defensive end, as the Suns were made well aware on Tuesday. Phoenix shot just 42.7 percent from the field, including a rough 12-for-36 shooting from long range.