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.

With De'Aaron Fox out long term, who should Luke Walton start at point?

With De'Aaron Fox out long term, who should Luke Walton start at point?

SACRAMENTO --  Nine games in and the 2019-20 season feels like it’s on the brink of disaster for the Sacramento Kings. Injuries are part of the game, but the first month of the season has dealt Sacramento two game-altering blows.

Marvin Bagley continues to rehab from a broken thumb. He’s out another week and a half to two weeks at a minimum, although he’s on the court keeping in shape and should be able to step in once cleared.

The De’Aaron Fox situation is much direr. Fox is going to miss a quarter of the season, perhaps more after Monday’s injury at practice.  

A Grade 3 ankle sprain is a full tear of the ankle ligament. Recovery times vary, but barring a change in the diagnosis or a miraculous recovery, Fox is likely out until after the New Year and possibly longer.

It’s not how the Kings scripted this season. Bagley and Fox are being counted on to become the cornerstones of the franchise. Bagley’s injury is a blip on the radar. Fox’s will have the 21-year-old playing plenty of Call of Duty on his couch over the next month or two.

Coach Luke Walton has options to replace Fox, but this isn’t a temporary situation. He doesn’t have another dynamic attacking threat like Fox, but neither does any other team in the league.

Walton needs to change the direction of the season by installing a player who can at least come close to matching Fox’s production on the offensive end. He has three options to mull over, but no one is a perfect fit.

Cory Joseph is the most logical choice on paper. General manager Vlade Divac invested heavily in the veteran point guard in free agency for a moment just like this. Unfortunately, Joseph is more of a defensive specialist that gives Walton a change of pace.

Throughout his nine-year NBA career, Joseph has posted just 6.9 points per game, with a high of 9.3 points per game during the 2016-17 season as a member of the Toronto Raptors. He’s a game manager that rarely makes mistakes, but he’s also scored 21 points or more just once in his career and crested the 20-point mark three times in total over 537 games.

Yogi Ferrell came into the season as the Kings’ third point guard. He’s a dynamic scorer and a fan favorite, but he’s the anti-Cory Joseph in many respects. He’s a player that might fit alongside Joseph with the second unit, but inserting into the starting lineup might be an issue. He's more or a score-first guard than a natural point and putting him next to Buddy Hield might not work at all.

A luxury to start the season, Ferrell is now needed. After averaging just five minutes over five games this season, he’ll be an instant add to the rotation and has the potential to instantly add an offensive punch. Fans should dust off their “Yo-gi ... Fer-rell” chants.

Lastly, Walton’s ace in the hole might be Bogdan Bogdanovic. The most versatile player on the Kings' roster, Bogdanovic is on a tear over his last few games. He’s played both guard positions, as well as small forward and he works well as a primary ball-handler. 

Bogdanovic isn’t the defender that Joseph is and he also isn’t lightning in a bottle like Ferrell, but he’s the most balanced player the Kings have on their roster and he’s capable of not only picking up the scoring void left by Fox’s absence but also running the offense.

Losing Fox’s playmaking should be the primary focus with the starting unit and Bogdanovic gives the team the best option. He’s currently second on the team in assist percentage and he has a 3.3-to-1.4 assists-to-turnover ratio so far this season.

Bogdanovic is also one of the longest-tenured Kings players and has chemistry with Hield and Harrison Barnes, as well as Nemanja Bjelica, who he plays with during the summer with the Serbian national team.

Moving a player from the bench will also have a trickle-down effect, but this is a long term injury situation and Walton needs stability. Bogdanovic would be missed from the second unit, but some of that loss could be mitigated by Ferrell and his scoring ability.

[RELATED: What Fox's injury means for Kings]

There is no perfect solution. Fox is extremely important to the Kings’ entire game plan and losing him is a crushing blow for a group searching for their identity.

Walton has a tough decision, but the Kings aren’t the first team to lose a star player and they certainly won’t be the last. They need more than a stop-gap. They need a solution for the next 25-plus games and perhaps longer.

What De'Aaron Fox's ankle injury means for young, snake-bitten Kings

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USATI

What De'Aaron Fox's ankle injury means for young, snake-bitten Kings

SACRAMENTO -- The hits keep on coming for the Sacramento Kings. First Marvin Bagley broke his right thumb during the season opener against the Phoenix Suns. Now De’Aaron Fox is going to miss time as well.

Fox injured his left ankle Monday during practice. An MRI at the team’s practice facility revealed that the Kings’ starting point guard has an ankle sprain and will be re-evaluated by the team in 3-4 weeks by the team's medical staff. According to a league source, Fox has a Grade 3 left ankle sprain.

Durable through his first two seasons in the league, Fox has missed a total of 10 games as a pro, including just one last season for Sacramento.

After a breakout second season, Fox is off to another good start in Year Three. The 21-year-old is averaging 18.2 points, seven assists and four rebounds in 32 minutes per game for coach Luke Walton this season.

His turnover numbers are up in the Kings’ new system, but the Kings rely heavily on his speed and quickness to breakdown opposing defenses.

The Kings dropped the first five games of the season, but they’ve won three out of their last four games heading into Tuesday’s matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers, and they currently stand at 3-6 on the year. Losing Fox for an extended period of time is a huge blow to the team, but Walton has other options at the position.

General manager Vlade Divac loaded up on point guards over the summer, adding veteran Cory Joseph to the mix on a three-year, $37 million deal. They also picked up a team option on Yogi Ferrell, which gives them additional depth.

During the preseason schedule, Walton also turned to shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic to eat some of the minutes at the point. The Kings' sixth-man is capable of stepping into a primary ball handler role alongside Buddy Hield if need be.

[RELATED: Why Hield thinks Fox can be one of NBA's best]

In addition to Joseph, Ferrell and Bogdanovic, Sacramento has a pair of rookies they can use in the backcourt in Justin James and Kyle Guy. James is on the regular roster and Kyle Guy is currently playing for the Stockton Kings on a two-way contract. Guy can be recalled and spend up to 45 days with the parent club if they feel they need more guard depth.

Injuries are part of the game, but the Kings have certainly started off the year with some bad luck.