Kings

Cauley-Stein gets rare opportunity, delivers in Kings' win

Cauley-Stein gets rare opportunity, delivers in Kings' win

There was a Willie Cauley-Stein sighting Monday in Detroit. It’s become a rarity this season to see the Sacramento Kings’ 2015 first-round draft pick play substantial minutes in coach Dave Joerger’s rotation. But the bench is getting lean and Cauley-Stein answered the bell.

“He’s putting in his work and had an opportunity,” Joerger told media members following the Kings’ 109-104 win over the Pistons. “He went and got balls out of his area, which is important for a guy that athletic.”

The former 6th overall selection has played in just 37 games this season, sitting out seven contests as a healthy scratch. He’s posting 4.2 points and 2.1 rebounds in 11 minutes a night, but with both Rudy Gay and Omri Casspi sidelined, Cauley-Stein is getting a look.

It’s been difficult for the former Kentucky star. He knows he’s on a short a leash. He doesn’t have time to settle into the game, it’s zero-60 in five seconds or the bench is calling.

“I just try to maintain a mentality of just going in, going really hard, making sure I’m talking to the guards on different plays,” Cauley-Stein told reporters in Detroit. “Just trying to stay mentally right on it.”

After playing in multiple variations of the “dribble-drive motion offense,” both in college and in his rookie season in Sacramento under George Karl, the 7-footer has had to relearn the game of basketball under Joerger. It’s a difficult path to minutes, but Cauley-Stein can be seen working overtime almost everyday.

“The amount of work I’ve been putting in, it’s starting to show, it’s starting to pay off,” Cauley-Stein said. “I’m starting to get the trust of my teammates and my coaches behind me and that’s everything in this game.”

Following practice, Cauley-Stein can be seen working with big man coach Bob Thornton. When he is done there, he goes to assistant Larry Lewis for more skill work and then there are the 3-on-3 games with Ben McLemore and the rookies.

He can be seen in pregame working on his handles alongside McLemore and the coaching staff and he spent plenty of time over the summer working on his shooting stroke with Peja Stojakovic.

“It’s a great feeling to know when you put it down, you’ve got complete control where it’s going,” Cauley-Stein said. “It’s the same thing with your shot. The more and more you work on it, the more and more it just comes second hand. Right now it all feels good for me.”

Cauley-Stein had a breakout 12 points and five rebounds against the Pistons on Monday. He was active and even took All-Star center Andre Drummond off the dribble for a huge two-handed dunk.

A defensive specialist by nature, Cauley-Stein still has a long way to go before he is ready to be a major cog in Joerger’s high-post offense. But at 23 years old and under team control for at least another two seasons, there is still time to salvage the quirky big man.

The Kings need Cauley-Stein to develop into a tireless worker on the glass and a player that does the little things. He still has plenty of upside and tremendous length and athleticism. He’s doing the work and earned another shot at playing minutes on the frontline next to DeMarcus Cousins and Kosta Koufos.

More nights like the one in Detroit would go a long way towards earning the trust of Joerger and his staff.

Kings' 2018-19 schedule has fewer back-to-backs, but start is road heavy

Kings' 2018-19 schedule has fewer back-to-backs, but start is road heavy

Basketball season is just around the corner. Well, maybe not. We’re still nearly five weeks away from the opening of training camp for the 2018-19 season, and the regular season doesn’t begin until mid-October. 

On Friday, the NBA announced the 82 game schedule for all 30 teams, including the Sacramento Kings, who will open the season at home Oct. 17 against Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz.

Here are some of the nuts and bolts from this season’s campaign.

•    For the second season in a row, the Kings will play only one set of five-games-in-seven-nights, and that comes at the tail end of March and into early April. This is part of the NBA’s new plan of allowing players more time to rest. The league has eliminated the dreaded four-games-in-five-nights grouping from the schedule as well.

•    Sacramento will have 14 sets of back-to-backs, two shy of last season’s total of 16 sets. Of those 14 sets, one is home-and-home, seven are away-and-away, two are away-and-home and four are home-and-away.

•    After a balanced November and December schedule, the Kings will hit the road for their longest trip away from home in mid-January, stopping in Charlotte, Detroit, Brooklyn, Toronto, Memphis and Los Angeles (Clippers) from Jan. 17 to Jan. 27. 

•    The Kings’ longest homestand will be six games and come on the heels of their longest road trip. From Jan. 30 through Feb. 10, Sacramento will host the Hawks, 76ers, Spurs, Rockets, Heat and Suns at Golden 1 Center. 

•    Sacramento will play seven of its first 10 games away from Golden 1 Center. With plenty of new faces expected to see time in the rotation, the young Kings will have to learn on the fly while traveling around the NBA landscape.   

[RELATED: Five most intriguing games on Kings' 2018-19 schedule]

There are plenty of games to look forward to as well, beginning with opening night. There are old faces in new places and plenty of intrigue.

•    Sacramento will match up with the two-time reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors four times this season. The initial battle is set for Nov. 24 at Oracle, with a follow-up three weeks on Dec. 14 at Golden 1 Center. The teams will meet again Jan. 5 at Golden 1 and then finish the series in the first game coming out of the All-Star break on Feb. 21. It likely won’t happen early in the season, but at some point, former Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins will make his debut as a member of the Warriors, which should be fun to watch.

•    The Kings will face off with the new-look Los Angeles Lakers four times as well, beginning on Nov. 11 at home. The Lakers have made substantial changes to their roster, including the addition of LeBron James. These teams will play each other again twice in late December before completing the series March 24 in L.A. 

•    Isaiah Thomas joined forces during the offseason with former Kings coach Michael Malone in Denver. Sacramento will play the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on Oct. 23 and then again on Jan. 3 at Golden 1 Center and Feb. 13 back in Denver.

•    The Kings will have to wait until Dec. 4 to get their first look at No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton when they travel to Talking Stick Resort Arena to face the Suns. They’ll see No. 3 overall selection Luka Doncic on Dec. 16 when they stop over in Dallas for a game against the Mavs.

Below is the complete Kings 2018-19 schedule, with all times local to where the game is played:

Report: Lil Wayne is suing Kings guard Frank Mason III

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AP/USATSI

Report: Lil Wayne is suing Kings guard Frank Mason III

Second-year Sacramento Kings pro Frank Mason III is being sued by rap star Lil Wayne. Seriously. 

The 24-year-old guard is being sued for $92,000 and must give back his Young Money diamond chain, according to TMZ Sports.

Before the Kings selected Mason in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft, Lil Wayne's agency, Young Money APAA Sports Group, signed the former Kansas star. The agency reportedly gave Mason $40,000 in advance, paid his pre-draft expenses which totaled $52,000 and gave him an $11,000 diamond chain. 

However, Mason's contract reportedly stated if he left the agency, Mason would have to repay the money and give back the chain. This past April, Mason left the agency. 

Mason signed a three-year, $4,181,147 contract with the Kings after the 2017 draft. He is guaranteed $2,562,627.