Buddy Hield looks to shake off cold stretch as Kings hit the road


Buddy Hield looks to shake off cold stretch as Kings hit the road

SACRAMENTO -- For one of the few times this month, the Kings were able to practice Saturday afternoon before hopping a flight for Los Angeles for a rematch with the Lakers on Sunday.

Marvin Bagley III, who is out for another two weeks at a minimum, worked on one end of the court with assistant coach Larry Lewis. He hit jumper after jumper as he moved around the perimeter.

Ben McLemore finished off the session with his customary half-court shot. Bogdan Bogdanovic played one-on-one against former NBA Sixth Man of the Year Bobby Jackson, and Buddy Hield trash-talked player development coach Akachi Okugo.

Following the session, both Hield and coach Dave Joerger swung by to chat as the team prepared for an early afternoon flight.

Hield, the Kings’ leading scorer at 19.7 points per game, is coming off his worst two-game stretch of the season. One of the league’s best 3-point shooters this year, Hield went cold in Thursday's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, shooting just 4-of-18 from the field while missing all six of his long range attempts.

The 26-year-old guard posted just six points the following night against the Lakers, as the Kings escaped with a buzzer-beating win.

“The Clippers game, they didn’t take me out of anything, the Lakers game, they were denying me,” Hield told NBC Sports California. “I just missed shots in the Clippers game and in the Lakers game, I was in a funk. I’m a scorer, man. We all have those games.”

Neither Hield nor Joerger seemed concerned with the two-game stretch. Joerger pointed to the team struggling with their shot overall, and also on the defensive end. Without stops and rebounds, their transition game suffers and that is where Hield gets a lot of open looks.

“A little bit is a scheme thing,” Joerger said. “Today was a good opportunity for us. We haven’t practiced in a while. We needed to clean up a lot of things on defense and also we had an opportunity for the first time in several weeks to practice what the other team is going to do.”

If the Kings hope to continue their hot start, they need Hield at his best. They'll hope the last two games were a hiccup, and not a developing trend.

[RELATED: Kings lift veteran Iman Shumpert's playing limitations]

Yo-Yo Harry

Rookie big man Harry Giles returned to the Kings after spending Friday night on assignment in Stockton with the team’s G League affiliate. The 20-year-old posted 20 points on 6-of-13 shooting and tossed in seven rebounds, five assists and three blocks in 23 minutes of action.

“He played, I thought his best game there last night, he was terrific,” Joerger said. “His motor is going, he’s running hard. There’s definitely a talent there. I thought he played really well last night.”

The Kings haven’t shied away from using their G League team as a way to get young players minutes. Two years ago, Skal Labissiere spent time with the team and Justin Jackson made a trip up last season during his rookie campaign.

“It’s a positive tool for us,” Joerger said. “Our team has a good vibe in Stockton. We’ve got good coaches and good players and we’re seeing development from the guys that are spending time there.”

With playing time scarce at the parent club, this is the third time Giles has joined Stockton -- and it might not be the last.

“You may see some more of it, I think it’s a good development tool,” Joerger added.

Giles was back at practice working with the Kings, and he was part of the squad that boarded a flight to LA.

Kings 'have a couple All-Stars,' fired assistant Larry Lewis believes

Kings 'have a couple All-Stars,' fired assistant Larry Lewis believes

Amidst all the reshuffling in the Western Conference over the last few weeks, it's easy to forget that the Sacramento Kings are one of the up-and-coming teams in the NBA.

Led by De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles, the Kings won 39 games last season and have a promising future.

But the group of coaches that helped get those players to where they are won't get to see the job through to the finish line. The Kings fired head coach Dave Joerger after the season and let all of his assistants go.

Two of those coaches, Elston Turner and Larry Lewis, recently spoke to the Sacramento Bee about their departure and what they are leaving behind.

“They have a couple All-Stars,” Lewis told The Bee. “I saw a lot of potential in that young, core group. These players have a learning curve, but they were adapting very, very quickly to what was going on. Do they have a lot to learn? Of course, but at the same time, these guys are for real. I would have loved to have been a part of that going forward, but their decision is their decision and I’m at peace with it."

Fox and Hield made the biggest jumps this past season. It's clear the work with Lewis, who was a player development coach, paid off.

“It was a great experience,” Lewis told The Bee. “The players really grew. They really matured a lot. We had a great season. The team got a lot better. The players got a lot better. That’s what it’s all about.”

From Year 1 to Year 2, Fox went from averaging 11.6 points per game to 17.3. His field goal percentage improved from 41.2 percent to 45.8 percent, and his 3-point shooting improved from 30.7 percent to 37.1 percent. Those numbers combined with the highlight-reel plays he made were good enough to help him finish third in the NBA's Most Improved Player voting.

As for Hield, he blossomed from a spot-starter to a guy that started all 82 games for the Kings this past season. He entered the year shrouded in questions, but answered every single one of them by averaging a career-high 20.7 points per game and sinking a Kings' single-season record 278 3-pointers.

Bagley and Giles, both rookies, showed that they have the potential to be difference-making bigs in the NBA.

[RELATED: Barkley: Kings won't make playoffs]

“You could see the improvement,” Turner told The Bee. “A lot of guys got better and Larry was head of the player development department, so he did a hell of a job.”

Now it will be up to new head coach Luke Walton and his staff to help the Kings' young core continue their development. If they do, Sacramento will be a force in the Western Conference for years to come.

Kings agree to contract with forward Tyler Lydon, agency confirms


Kings agree to contract with forward Tyler Lydon, agency confirms

The Sacramento Kings are taking a flier on a former first-round draft pick.

Forward Tyler Lydon and the Kings have agreed on a two-year contract, Priority Sports tweeted on Sunday afternoon.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, citing a league source, first reported the agreement.

Lydon all but confirmed the agreement by quote-tweeting Wojnarowski's tweet with crown emojis.

The Kings now have 18 players on the roster, according to ESPN's Bobby Marks.

Back in 2017, the Denver Nuggets used the No. 24 overall draft pick on the Syracuse product. But things didn't work out for Lydon in the Mile High City.

The 23-year-old appeared in just 26 games over two seasons with Denver and averaged 0.9 points and 0.7 rebounds.

[RELATED: Kings have 'preliminary interest' in Koufos]

Despite using a first-round draft pick on Lydon, the Nuggets declined Lydon's 2019 option, making him a free agent.

Now, the Kings are hoping they can unlock the potential that made Lydon worthy of being a first-round draft pick.