Buddy Hield fired up for Bogdan Bogdanovic's big night in World Cup tuneup


Buddy Hield fired up for Bogdan Bogdanovic's big night in World Cup tuneup

With so much focus on De’Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes and Marvin Bagley trying to make the Team USA roster, it’s often overlooked that the Sacramento Kings have players all over the globe preparing for the FIBA World Cup in China later this month.

Fox and Barnes still are in the running for Team USA and they'll be joined in the tournament by Cory Joseph, who is playing for Team Canada, Isaiah Pineiro who accepted an invitation to play for Puerto Rico and both Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica, who both are part of a powerhouse Serbian national team.

At 4:25 a.m. on Tuesday morning, a video was posted of Bogdanovic dropping a cool 27 points in Serbia’s friendly matchup against Lithuania on Monday evening and it didn’t take long for Buddy Hield to chime in.

Bogdanovic responded to his Kings teammate and of course, Hield never is one to allow someone else to have the last word.

This was the second of two matchups between Serbia and Lithuania this week, with the Serbs taking home victories in both.

Bogdanovic led the way with 18 points and Bjelica chipped 15 in the team’s 72-68 win on Aug. 10. Bogdanovic’s 27 points were tops again in Serbia’s 95-91 win Monday, with Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic chipping in 14.

Serbia is considered one of the favorites to challenge Team USA during the World Cup, although they recently lost Milos Teodosic to injury. In addition to Bogdanovic, Bjelica and Jokic, they also have 7-foot-3 giant Boban Majanovic and 2019 Kings second-round draft pick Vanja Marinkovic on their squad.

"Let’s let [Team USA] play their basketball and we will play ours and if we meet, may God help them," Serbian head coach Sasha Djordjevic said on Serbian National television over the weekend.

Lithuania is stacked as well. They have a big frontline, including the Pacers’ Domantas Sabonis and Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas. In addition, they have Arturas Gudaitis, a 6-foot-10 banger that played for the Kings' summer league team during the 2016-17 season.

[RELATED: Lowry withdraws from Team USA, opens door for Kings' Fox]

Team USA is in Group E with the Czech Republic, Japan and Turkey, so we won't see a Bogdanovic vs. Fox battle early in the tournament. Serbia is part of Group D with Angola, Italy and the Philippines. Team USA opens the tournament against the Czech Republic on Sept. 1, while Serbia and Angola are the first game of the event on Aug. 31.

Blazers' Damian Lillard vouches for play-in tournament when NBA resumes

Blazers' Damian Lillard vouches for play-in tournament when NBA resumes

It remains unclear and unknown when or how the NBA season will resume. One thing is clear, though: Damian Lillard won't play games amid the coronavirus pandemic if his Portland Trail Blazers aren't given a true shot at the playoffs. 

"If we come back and they're just like, 'We're adding a few games to finish the regular season,' and they're throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don't have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I'm going to be with my team because I'm a part of the team," Lillard said to Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes. "But I'm not going to be participating. I'm telling you that right now.

"If we come back and I don't have an opportunity to make the playoffs, I will show up to work, I'll be at practice and I'll be with my team. I'm going to do all that and then I'm going to be sitting right on that bench during the games.

The Blazers have played 66 games so far this season. Lillard refuses to be a part of a ploy to get to 70 games, which is the minimum to fulfill regional television deals. But if there's a chance to win a ring, he's all-in.

"If they come back and say it's something like a tournament, play-in style, between the No. 7 and No. 12 seeds, if we're playing for playoff spots, then I think that's perfect," Lillard said.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

There are a number of ways the NBA can go to continue the season. Will all teams be involved? Will there be a play-in tournament that Lillard suggested or a 16-team tournament regardless of conferences. What about the teams on the outside looking in?

That includes Portland and the Kings. The Blazers (29-37) currently are the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference while the Kings (28-36) are the No. 11 seed. 

Sacramento hasn't made the playoffs since the 2005-06 season. Circumstances be damned, the Kings would love a crack at the postseason.

[RELATED: How NBA's Orlando scenarios impact Kings' playoff hopes]

The Kings are 2-2 against Lillard and the Blazers this season, and last played Portland on March 7 when Bogdan Bogdanovic's 27 points led Sacramento to a 123-111 win on the road.

All remains a mystery right now. The only way Lillard is playing games, however, is if they can't. It's easy to see other players around the league sharing his same feelings, too.

Kings' 10 best NBA draft picks since team moved to Sacramento in 1985

Kings' 10 best NBA draft picks since team moved to Sacramento in 1985

Two weeks ago we looked at 10 of the biggest blunders in Sacramento Kings draft history. There were plenty to choose from over the 35 years the team has been in Sacramento, but it hasn’t been all bad for the Kings.

Despite having poor luck in the NBA draft lottery, the Kings have mined for talent and come up huge a few times during their three and half decades in Sacramento.

In no particular order, here is a look at 10 of the biggest draft successes during the Sacramento era of Kings basketball.


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