Kings

Buddy Hield returns to Kings practice with sense of humor still intact

Buddy Hield returns to Kings practice with sense of humor still intact

Buddy Hield is back.

The Kings’ 3-point marksman has joined the team in the Orlando bubble, and even a bout with the coronavirus hasn’t taken away his sense of humor.

“I’ve been trying to find ways to get out, something like 'El Chapo' with a tunnel under the hotel so I can sneak my a-- out of here,” Hield said Tuesday on a video call with reporters.

Hield said he had minor symptoms early on, but nothing severe. More than anything else, he was worried about the people around him.

“I wasn’t scared or nothing like that,” Hield said. “I tested positive and I was just concerned for the people around me like my daughter and my girl and my family.”

“I didn’t want nobody getting infected by it,” Hield added. “I didn’t want my carelessness causing someone to lose their life or something like that. So, I was warning people I was around.”

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According to Hield, he does not believe that he picked up COVID-19 playing in an exhibition game in Oklahoma in the Skinz League on June 11 because he is the only one to test positive from the game. Either way, he put himself at risk by entering a gym packed with fans, most of whom weren't wearing masks or face coverings.

“I wouldn’t do nothing differently,” Hield said. “I’ve just got to be more careful with where I’ve been. Know my surroundings better.”

Coach Luke Walton confirmed that both Hield and Jabari Parker were back at practice on Tuesday after clearing NBA protocol. They didn’t participate in the contact portion of the festivities, but Walton said it was nice to have them back in the fold.

“It was great having those guys back, good energy with them, they’re excited to be on the court around the guys again,” Walton said.

[RELATED: Harrison Barnes has coronavirus, fourth Kings player to test positive]

If the Kings have a chance to make the play-in series for the No. 8 seed, they need to be as healthy as possible. Getting Hield back, the team’s second-leading scorer, is huge.

Here's hoping Hield has studied up on "El Chapo" enough to know that the drug kingpin always gets caught, even after escaping the tunnel on a motorcycle. What happens in the bubble, stays in the bubble. Or maybe, what happens in the bubble better be in the bubble.

Harrison Barnes places Kings' flameout in Orlando on himself, veterans

Harrison Barnes places Kings' flameout in Orlando on himself, veterans

The team that began the Orlando bubble saying “we want all of that smoke” just learned that smoke usually is accompanied by fire.

At 1-4 in the NBA restart, the Kings have shown they aren’t ready for the fire and they might not be ready for prime time.

“I think it starts with individual accountability, just in terms of the effort we are putting out there on a consistent basis,” veteran Harrison Barnes said following the Kings’ 119-106 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. “It’s hard to win in this league and to be consistent, you have to do that every single night.”

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The Kings have talent. But rarely is that enough at the NBA level.

You have to play together. You have to play for one another. In the end, you have to bring energy and effort every night or a team of no-names, like the squad the Nets threw on the court Friday, will embarrass you.

It’s a common theme with the Kings. They played a tremendous game in a 140-125 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, scoring 49 points in the first quarter

Just over 24 hours later, they looked like a collection of players that had never played together. There was no chemistry. No passing. No rotations on defense.

Just forced and ineffective basketball.

“Frustration is high,” Barnes admitted. “I don’t know if it’s disappointing, but it’s frustrating. Coming into this game, we knew it was more mental than physical. It was meeting force with force. It was being disciplined. It didn’t matter what scheme we had or what game plan we had if we didn’t have any effort.”

Who's to blame for the Kings’ flame out in Orlando? Coach Luke Walton has already drawn plenty of criticism, but at some point the players themselves have to take ownership for the things they can control on the court.

Following the loss to the Nets, Barnes fell on his sword as one of the leaders of the team. He placed the blame on himself and the rest of the veterans.

“I’ll be the first to say it’s definitely on us as veteran players -- guys like myself," Barnes said. "I’ll take responsibility for that because I’ve been to the playoffs, I’ve been to the Finals. I know the energy and effort it takes to win games and if you don’t bring that, you lose.”

“As a group, we have to learn that you can’t just turn it on,” he added.

[RELATED: NBA puts money where its mouth is for racial, social justice]

The Kings have a choice. They can pout and get their lunch handed to them for the next three games. They can also play spoiler and leave the bubble on as high of a note as possible.

Either way, this isn’t the outcome the Kings were hoping for. They have had a few bright spots, like the play of De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic, so the experience isn’t a total wash. But after five games, any talk of playoffs is over and changes likely are coming during the abbreviated offseason.

Kings takeaways: What you might've missed in 119-106 loss vs. Nets

Kings takeaways: What you might've missed in 119-106 loss vs. Nets

BOX SCORE

Consistently inconsistent.

After coming away with a huge win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, the Kings failed to show up Friday on the second night of a back-to-back against the completely depleted Brooklyn Nets.

Sacramento looked stagnant on offense and a step slow in its rotations on the defensive end. The result was an embarrassing 119-106 loss that all but extinguished the Kings' remaining playoff hopes.

Here are three takeaways from the Kings getting out-hustled and fell to 1-4 in the Orlando bubble.

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Loud Thud

The Kings came into the restarted NBA season talking a big game. They played well enough to win against the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks, but couldn’t close out games. Their win over the Pelicans gave folks a glimmer of hope, but blowout losses to the Orlando Magic and Nets were completely unacceptable.

With Friday's loss, Sacramento has completely fallen out of the race for the No. 8 seed and would need a miracle to finish ninth and force a play-in series.

The Kings still have three games remaining in the restart, but general manager Vlade Divac has to take a long look at his roster this summer and make some difficult decisions. Everything outside of trading De’Aaron Fox should be on the table.

Bogi puts up a fight

Bogdan Bogdanovic posted a career-high 35 points in the Kings’ win over the Pelicans, and he was back at it again against the Nets.

One of the few Kings players to stand out, Bogdanovic finished with a team-high 27 points on 11-for-19 shooting, including 4-of-8 on 3-pointers.

A restricted free agent at the end of the season, Bogdanovic has been really solid in four of the Kings’ five games. Unfortunately for Sacramento, it just wasn't enough Friday.

[RELATED: NBA puts money where its mouth is for racial, social justice]

Star still shining

Since the beginning of the restart, De'Aaron Fox has come out aggressive and put on a show. He didn’t match his 27.5 points per game average from the first four games on Friday, but he was effective in his time on the court.

The Kings' starting point guard finished with 21 points and seven assists. There is the outline of a star, but he needs another really strong offseason to take that next step.