Kings

Gameday: Kings look stay hot, build off monster win with Suns in town

kings-gameday-temple-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

Gameday: Kings look stay hot, build off monster win with Suns in town

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings started their six game homestand with a bang Wednesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. They’ll get an opportunity to make it two in a row Friday evening when the Phoenix Suns roll into Golden 1 Center.

Vince Carter was the man of the evening against the Cavs, scoring a season-high 24 points off the bench for Sacramento. Willie Cauley-Stein and Bogdan Bogdanovic put up big numbers with the second unit as well, helping to the Kings’ bench mob to score 68 of the team’s 109 points.

The Suns have four of their last six games, including a victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday. Phoenix averages 105.6 points per game, which is good enough for 13th best in the league. But they are the league’s worst defensive team, yielding 112.4 points a night.

LINE

Kings by 2.5

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 12-22 fourth in Pacific

Suns: 13-23 third in Pacific

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Frank Mason III vs. Tyler Ulis -- Mason started the first game of his career versus the Cavs on Wednesday night. He might get a second start against Ulis on Friday as Dave Joerger mixes and matches his lineups. Mason has struggled with his shot as of late, but it could just be a case of hitting the rookie wall. Ulis has started the last 23 games for the Suns after starting the season as a reserve. Eric Bledsoe is gone, as is Mike James. For now, it’s Ulis’ show in Phoenix.

INJURY REPORT

Kings:  PG De’Aaron Fox (thigh tear) out, PF Harry Giles (bi-lateral knee rehab) is out until January at the earliest.

Suns:  PG Brandon Knight (ACL tear) out for the season, G Davon Reed (knee) out, PF Alan Williams (knee) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Bogi the Point -- The Suns tried to get Bogdanovic to come over from Europe multiple times before dealing him to the Kings on draft night 2016. The Serbian rookie is finding his game and playing a lot of point guard for the Kings with Fox on the shelf with a thigh injury. He posted 16 points and eight assists against Cleveland. He creates open looks for his teammates and has an incredible basketball IQ.   

Free Buddy -- Buddy Hield has found a niche with the Kings, but he’s struggled to get to the free throw line. Hield has failed to shoot a single free throw in eight of his last 10 contests. He hasn’t gotten to the line in 17-of-32 games this season. If he wants to be an elite scorer, he has to figure out how to draw contact and get to the stripe.   

Time for Skal? -- Skal Labissiere has been the forgotten man over the last three games, drawing the dreaded DNP-CD (did not play - coach’s decision). The 21-year-old big hasn’t crested the 15 minute plateau since late November, but he’s played well against the Suns in the past. Will Joerger give him a shot or keep the second-year power forward on the bench?

SERIES HISTORY

After a 99-92 Kings win at Golden 1 Center on Dec. 12, these two teams are all knotted at 1-1 in the season series. Phoenix leads the all-time series 132-91 and they hold an 85-52 advantage during the Sacramento-era.

QUOTE

“I feel great. I prepare myself for it.” -Vince Carter after playing 30 minutes Wednesday against the Cavs

Bobby Jackson hired to Kings' staff as assistant player development coach

bobbyap.jpg
AP

Bobby Jackson hired to Kings' staff as assistant player development coach

Dave Joerger is making changes to his Sacramento Kings coaching staff.

After Jenny Boucek's departure earlier this offseason -- she joined Rick Carlisle’s staff in Dallas -- the Kings had a vacancy. On Thursday afternoon, they filled the spot with fan favorite Bobby Jackson.

Jackson will work as an assistant player development coach after spending the last three seasons as a collegiate scout for the team. 

This is the second go-around on Sacramento’s staff for Jackson, who spent two seasons as an assistant coach for Paul Westphal from 2010 to 2012 after retiring as a player in 2009. 

Jackson spent 12 seasons in the NBA, including two stops in Sacramento. He averaged 9.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists for his career. In 2002-03, Jackson was named NBA Sixth Man of the Year with Sacramento when he averaged 15.2 points per game. 

Source: Kings in recruiting phase with forward Nemanja Bjelica

nemanjaus.jpg
USATSI

Source: Kings in recruiting phase with forward Nemanja Bjelica

After a slow start to free agency, a source has confirmed to NBC Sports California that the Kings are in the recruiting phase with unrestricted free agent Nemanja Bjelica. 

No contract has been discussed, but the team is attempting to convince the Serbian forward that there is value in staying in the NBA.

News of potential interest between the parties first broke Wednesday afternoon.

Bjelica agreed to a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Philadelphia 76ers on July 5, but he never signed on the dotted line and informed the team earlier this week of his decision to return to Europe this season.

The 6-foot-10 combo forward spent the last three seasons coming off the bench for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He posted 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game under coach Tom Thibodeau, but his opportunities were limited in the T-Wolves' system.

At 30, Bjelica is older than most of the Kings’ recent targets, but he potentially could fill a glaring hole in the roster as a shooter at both the three and the four. Bjelica split his minutes between both forward positions in Minnesota last season, knocking down a career-best 41.5 percent on 2.7 attempts per game from behind the arc. 

There is no word yet on the exact dollar figure offered by the Kings. Sacramento has a whopping $20.5 million in salary-cap space to work with, and the free agent market is nearly dried up. 

While four years older, Bjelica compares favorably as a player to the Spurs’ Davis Bertans, who signed a two-year, $14.5 million contract to return to San Antonio earlier this month as a restricted free agent. 

According to a source, Sacramento likes Bjelica’s versatility and believes he can eat minutes at small forward this season, as well as shifting over to play the four.