Kings

Gameday: LeBron, Cavs look to extend Kings' post Christmas woes

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AP

Gameday: LeBron, Cavs look to extend Kings' post Christmas woes

SACRAMENTO -- While the Sacramento Kings were being handed their second straight loss in Los Angeles Tuesday evening at the Staples Center, the Cleveland Cavaliers were hanging out back in Sacramento. The Kings flew home following the Clippers game where they’ll face the Cavs on the second night of a back-to-back.

Outside of Willie Cauley-Stein’s 17-point, seven-rebound, four-steal performance, there wasn’t a lot to like from the Kings loss to the Clippers. They were doomed in the second quarter when they went flat and were outscored 41-23.

Cleveland is coming off a lost to the Warriors in Oakland on Christmas day and have been relaxing in Sacramento since. Kevin Love dropped in 31 points and 18 rebounds against Golden State, but the Cavs managed to shoot just 31.8 percent from the field in the 99-92 defeat.

BETTING LINE

Cavs by 9.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Who Slows King James? -- The last time these two teams faced off, Dave Joerger turned to two-way forward JaKarr Sampson to guard LeBron James. As of Tuesday night, Sampson was still playing for the Reno Bighorns, leaving the Kings without a player with the physical size and strength to slow the first ballot Hall of Famer. It could be a long night at Golden 1 Center.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 11-22, fifth place in Pacific

Cavs: 24-10, first place in Central

INJURY REPORT

Kings: PG De’Aaron Fox (slight tear of the right quad) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January.

Cavs: PG Isaiah Thomas (hip) out, PG Derrick Rose (ankle) out, SF Iman Shumpert (knee) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

No Love Lost -- Love torched the Warriors for 6-of-11 shooting from behind the arc. The Kings don’t have a big that likes to defend the perimeter and they also don’t have one that can keep Love off the glass. It’s not just LeBron James you have to worry about when Cleveland rolls through town.

New Mix -- Joerger has turned to Cauley-Stein and Buddy Hield in his starting lineup over the last few games and the results have been mixed. Hield went off for 24 point in his first game, but struggled against the Clippers. Cauley-Stein has put up big numbers, but the second unit has struggled without his presence. The coaching staff is still looking for the right combinations 33 games into the season.

Fresh Blood -- With Cauley-Stein and Hield elevated to the starting group, Joerger has turned to Malachi Richardson and Justin Jackson with the reserves and left Skal Labissiere on the bench. The two young wings combined to score 19 points, grab nine rebounds and dish out four assists in 53 total minutes on the floor. It’s an interesting experiment.

SERIES HISTORY

The Cavs held on to beat the Kings 101-95 earlier this month to take a 1-0 advantage in the season series. The Cavs hold a slight 59-57 lead in the all-time series and 39-23 advantage during the Sacramento-era.

What does Nemanja Bjelica bring to the Kings?

What does Nemanja Bjelica bring to the Kings?

The Sacramento Kings had cash burning holes in their pockets. After nearly three weeks of inactivity in free agency, the team signed a second player in less than eight hours Friday afternoon.

Yogi Ferrell inked a two-year, $6.2 million deal to start the spending spree and, according to a source, Sacramento added Nemanja Bjelica to a three-year, $20.5 million deal just as most people were settling in for dinner. The final year of his deal is non-guaranteed.

The Bjelica transaction has been rumored for the last few days, although the exact dollars figures were unknown. The 30-year-old combo forward posted 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

He initially agreed to a one-year, $4.4 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, but backed out of the deal earlier this week with the thought that he would return to Europe to play. According to reports, Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic reached out to the Serbian-born forward in an attempt to keep him in the NBA and talk him into joining the Kings.

How does he fit with the Kings?

Bjelica split his time between the small forward and power forward positions last season with the T-Wolves, and will likely do the same in Sacramento. Listed at 6-foot-10, 230 pounds, Bjelica is known for his long range shooting touch, knocking down a career-best 41.5 percent from behind the arc last season.

The Kings have an overload at the power forward and center position, so it’s likely that Bjelica will play plenty of minutes at the small forward spot. He's a potential defensive liability against smaller wings, but he'll help to open running and passing lanes for De’Aaron Fox and the rest of Sacramento’s guards.

Who loses time?

There is a lot that can happen between now and the start of training camp. If the roster looks the same in mid-September as it does now, expect Bjelica to steal time from Justin Jackson at the small forward position and Skal Labissiere and Zach Randolph at the four.

His ability to stretch the floor will keep him on the court for plenty of minutes in Dave Joerger’s rotation.

Financial Impact

While we don’t have exact year-by-year numbers, Bjelica should eat up roughly $7 million a year in each of his guaranteed seasons. When combined with Ferrell’s $3 million salary for this season, the Kings still have more than $9 million of cap room and they will have to waive one player before making the signing official.

Source: Kings agree to three-year deal with Nemanja Bjelica

Source: Kings agree to three-year deal with Nemanja Bjelica

Europe can wait for free-agent forward Nemanja Bjelica.

The 30-year-old agreed to a three-year, $20.5 million deal with the Sacramento Kings on Friday, a source confirmed to NBC Sports California's James Ham. The third year is not guaranteed. 

Yahoo! Sports' Shams Charania first reported the news. 

The 6-foot-10 Serbian averaged 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game last season. A source told NBC Sports California's James Ham on Wednesday that the Kings like the Serbian forward's versatility, and believe he can play minutes at the small forward and power forward postions. 

Bjelica previously agreed to a one-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers this summer. He told the team on Monday that he planned on staying in Europe this season, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.