Kings

Emotions across the board as Kings process Cousins' departure

Emotions across the board as Kings process Cousins' departure

SACRAMENTO -- The emotions were raw Tuesday night at the Sacramento Kings practice facility. One by one, the Kings brought out representation, each with a unique point of view of the team's massive roster shakeup over the weekend.

Dave Joerger not only lost his star center, but also a veteran player that came with him from Memphis. Darren Collison watched his two best friends on the team leave on a plane for New Orleans. Anthony Tolliver went from a veteran on a club fighting for a playoff spot to a starter on a rebuild. And Willie Cauley-Stein went from 10-15 minutes of playing time each night to a player with a real chance to show what he can do.

This is what a blockbuster trade does to a team. There is no standard reaction. Every coach, every player, every front office executive has a different level of attachment to the people around them. What is abundantly clear is Sunday’s trade of DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi, as well as the release of Matt Barnes, changes everything in Sacramento.

Dave Joerger signed a four-year deal to coach the Kings over the summer, leaving the safe haven of Memphis where he had spent the last nine years of his career, for the uncertainty of Sacramento. He did so with full knowledge that changes might come much sooner than some might expect.

“I’ll miss DeMarcus, I’ll miss Matt, big time, and yet, I’m a member of another team that is the organization,” Joerger told media members. “I fully support the organization in going forward to making decisions that are sometimes difficult.

“We’re all in this together. We want to make this city proud and I want to be here a long time. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with these guys closely.”

The moves that were made over the weekend has Joerger rethinking his three-year plan with the team. This is now year zero, not year one according to the Kings’ head coach. He no longer has a franchise cornerstone. Instead, he has a group of role players and four rookies that have hardly gotten their feet wet in the NBA.

Collison is now the second longest tenured Kings player behind Ben McLemore. He couldn’t hide the emotion on his face as he described the last two days in Sacramento.

“It’s been tough, I’m not even going to lie to you guys, it’s been really emotional the last couple of days, not just watching them leave, but for myself included,” Collison said. “I got a chance to talk to Cuz last night and I’ve been talking to Casspi as well. It’s just tough, those are my two closest friends on the team and to see them go like that, it’s unfortunate.

“Everybody was shocked, nobody knew it was happening."

To add to the confusion, Collison’s name has been thrown around in trade rumors. For a veteran with a young family at home, this is a difficult time of year, especially when your team is clearly going a new direction.

“There’s really nothing you can do about anything,” Collison said. “If your franchise player gets traded, what does that say about everybody else?"

Tolliver is always the level-headed thinker. There is no place for emotion when you’ve played for nine different NBA franchises, three separate D-League teams and made stops in Germany and Turkey in your career. Trades are part of the game, regardless of what name is on the back of your jersey.

“I just come to work, man, I just come to work - nothing changes for me,” Tolliver said.

Tolliver said he was just sitting down to watch a movie with his wife when his phone started to blow up Sunday night.

This is the NBA life. It’s what you sign up for. Tolliver isn’t expecting to become a focal point in a new redesigned offense. He will play defense, grab rebounds, hit 3-pointers and hammer home an occasional dunk.

“I don’t think anybody's role is going to drastically change,” Tolliver added. “Everybody’s just going to have to do a little bit more of what they do and just be a little bit better at what they do.”

With Cousins gone, the Kings’ frontcourt just freed up 34.4 minutes of playing time for a player like Cauley-Stein. He is young, energetic and ready to prove that he is so much more than what he has put forth in his first season and a half in the league.

“You might see a different spark from me, I’m trying to win,” Cauley-Stein said. “Before, playing 10 minutes, 15 minutes, I didn’t have a lot of saying in what we do. Now, we just lost two verbal leaders, somebody else got to step up and be a verbal leader. So I think, why not me.”

Joerger did his best to show the calm and collective demeanor of a leader. Collison looked stunned nearly 48 hours later and with good cause. Tolliver handled his business like a man who has seen it all and Cauley-Stein had the glimmer in his eye of a kid who was about to jump the Grand Canyon on a BMX bike.

It’s been a tough few days in Sacramento. With 25 games remaining, this team is a game and a half out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff race and that fact seems so far from anyone’s mind. More changes may be in store between now and Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.

Hold onto your hats Kings fans, it’s going to be a wild ride.

De'Aaron Fox roasts Fran Fraschilla over Zion Williamson, Duke tweet

De'Aaron Fox roasts Fran Fraschilla over Zion Williamson, Duke tweet

De'Aaron Fox isn't here for Fran Fraschilla's college basketball takes.

After Zion Williamson thanked the program in a video announcing his intention to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft, Fraschilla sent out a tweet noting how much he believed playing for Duke helped the phenom build his brand and profile.

Well, Fox didn't agree with the notion that Duke had a lot to do with boosting Zion's worth, and he threw some shade at Fraschilla in a NSFW tweet.

In fairness, both sides have a point to make.

A year ago, Williamson was a YouTube dunking sensation, but questions about his overall skill level remained. But during his lone season in the spotlight at Duke, Williamson showed he was more than just a highlight-reel dunker, and has all the skills necessary to be the No. 1 overall pick.

However, Williamson should've had the ability to go straight to the NBA out of high school if he wanted. He still would have been a top-10 pick, and a lucrative shoe contract would have followed shortly after his name was called by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

[RELATED: Fox responds to comments about MIP candidacy]

We'll give the win to Swipa.

Kings awards: Handing out end-of-year accolades for 2018-19 season

Kings awards: Handing out end-of-year accolades for 2018-19 season

The Sacramento Kings failed in their ultimate goal of making the postseason, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have a very good year. The Kings finished the season at a surprising 39-43 and they stayed in playoff contention much longer than anyone expected.

Perhaps more important than the final outcome of the season, many of the young Kings players took major strides forward in their development. The core turning potential into production, making the future bright in Sacramento.

With the season in the books, here is NBC Sports California’s take on the end of year accolades for the team.

MVP -- Buddy Hield

Coming into training camp, Hield wasn’t expected to start. A late summer knee injury cost Bogdan Bogdanovic time, opening the door for a breakout season from the former Oklahoma star.

Known for his work ethic, Hield became more than just a scorer in his third NBA season. He improved as a defender, posted a career-high in assists and rebounds, and showed an ability to hit big shots.

Hield also led the team in scoring, finishing the year averaging 20.7 points, five rebounds and 2.5 assists in 31.9 minutes per game. He flourished from behind the arc, posting the seventh most made 3-pointers in a single season in NBA history with 276 makes.

The 26-year-old shooting guard took a leap from potential sixth man to near All-Star and his energy on the court was infectious.

De’Aaron Fox is in the running for this award as well, but Hield gets the nod for his consistency throughout the entire season.

Most Improved Player -- De’Aaron Fox

Fox and Hield should both draw votes for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. As far as the Kings’ team goes, it’s close, but with Hield taking home the MVP, Fox gets the MIP.

Statistical jumps from year one to year two is expected in the NBA, but Fox’s leap stands out. He bumped his points per game from 11.6 to 17.3. He increased his assists from 4.4 to 7.3, with just a .4 increase in turnovers per game. He also shored up one of his biggest weaknesses, improving his 3-point percentage from 30.7 to 37.1 percent.

In addition to all of his statistical achievements, Fox became a leader in year two and appears ready to expand his game even farther in year three.

Defensive Player of the Year -- De’Aaron Fox

Fox wasn’t just a force leading the Kings’ uptempo offense. He showed incredible improvement as a defender in year two, especially in late-game situations.

The 21-year-old point guard has tremendous upside as a two-way player. He finished the season in the top 10 in the league in steals at 1.6 per game and as he gets stronger and more mature, there is plenty of room for growth.

Willie Cauley-Stein gets an honorable mention here. He led the team in defensive real plus/minus and defensive win shares. He put up a solid season, posting career-highs in both rebounds and blocks.

Biggest Surprise -- Nemanja Bjelica

A late addition to the roster, Bjelica stepped into the starting lineup and made a tremendous impact on the Kings, especially early in the season.

The 30-year-old out of Serbia almost went back overseas before signing a three-year deal with the Kings. He posted career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and minutes played, and shot over 40 percent from behind the arc.

Bjelica struggled for a stretch in the middle of the season, but he finished strong. His ability to help space the floor was a major bonus for the team and he was a better rebounder and defensive player than expected.

[RELATED: Fox responds to comments about his most improved candidacy]

Rookie of the Year -- Marvin Bagley

This isn’t exactly a fair category. Marvin Bagley was the second overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft and his only competition for the award was a redshirt freshman who had played a total of 300 minutes over a three-year period.

Don’t get me wrong, Harry Giles was very impressive, especially in the month of March after he got his sea legs. Giles looks like a rotational player at a minimum, with the possibility to jump into the starting lineup down the road. But he’ll need time to develop after missing crucial development years.

Bagley jumped off the page from the moment he stepped foot on the floor. He needs to get stronger and build his overall skill base, but the 20-year-old power forward averaged 14.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and a block in 25.3 minutes per game.

A pair of knee injuries cost Bagley 20 games and plenty of momentum. A summer to work out the kinks should do wonders for the former Duke star.