Kings

Harrison Barnes praises Luke Walton's ability to connect with players

Harrison Barnes praises Luke Walton's ability to connect with players

The Sacramento Kings worked quickly to make Luke Walton their new head coach. At the end of a season filled with turmoil, the Lakers' front office left Walton hanging for several days, as management disagreed over whether he should return as the Lakers' coach.

Eventually, the Lakers and Walton parted ways, and the Kings snapped up the former Warriors assistant.

Jason Jones of The Athletic spoke with several members of Walton's new team who have previous ties to the 39-year-old, including Harrison Barnes, who played under Walton from 2014-16 with the Warriors. Barnes spoke very highly of his new head coach, in particular praising how he can relate to players in a unique way.

"One of the greatest attributes as a coach is the ability to relate and connect with his players,” Barnes said. “If you can’t reach a locker room, no matter who you’ve got out there, this league has shown you that will not work. So I think his ability to have guys’ respect, to be able to coach in a way, like I said, gives everyone the opportunity to thrive, but also promotes a winning style of basketball."

Barnes also appreciates Walton's strategic mind when it comes to basketball. 

“It’s just not a free-for-all, a ‘Hey, let’s just go out there and gun for yourself,'" said Barnes. "I think that can really help us.”

Trevor Ariza was the other subject of the story. The veteran forward was a teammate of Walton with the Lakers between 2007-09, including winning the 2009 NBA Finals over the Orlando Magic.

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The swingman also is a big fan of Walton's ability to communicate, something that was a problem for the Kings with former head coach Dave Joerger.

“Straightforward, very honest,” the 16-year veteran explained. “It’s easy to get his word across because you know he’s not coming with ill intention. It’s all positive, for the betterment of the team.”

Walton gets a fresh start after a rocky four years as the head coach in Los Angeles, and with a roster that features former champions like Ariza and Barnes, along with three players who were named to the Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star weekend, the future is getting brighter and brighter in the state capital.

Report: Woman who accused Luke Walton of sexual assault drops lawsuit

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USATSI

Report: Woman who accused Luke Walton of sexual assault drops lawsuit

Kelli Tennant, the woman who accused Luke Walton of sexually assaulting her in a hotel room in 2014, is dropping her lawsuit against the Kings coach, TMZ Sports reported Thursday morning.

Tennant sued Walton after claiming he forced himself on her in a Santa Monica, Calif., hotel when she was a sports reporter. Walton was a Warriors assistant coach at the time.

TMZ reported that Tennant now has filed new court documents calling off the suit, asking a judge to dismiss with prejudice, which means she can't refile.

TMZ reached out to Tennant's attorney for comment but did not receive a response.

In August, the Kings and the NBA concluded their joint investigation into Tennant's allegations. The investigation found insufficient evidence to support the claims against Walton. 

The Kings said that Tennant, through her counsel, chose not to participate in the investigation, despite numerous attempts.

"Based on this and the available evidence, the investigators determined that there was not a sufficient basis to support the allegations made against Coach Walton," a statement by the Kings and NBA read. 

Kings' season being defined by injuries but they're not making excuses

Kings' season being defined by injuries but they're not making excuses

PORTLAND -- No one is making excuses. The Sacramento Kings expect to win basketball games. When they don’t there is a lot of frustration to go around.

After a difficult 127-116 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers where the Kings were forced to play without Bogdan Bogdanovic, the team is limping through the early schedule and looking for some kind of boost.

“It’s difficult, we’re banged up,” Cory Joseph told NBC Sports California as he sat in his locker with an ice wrap on his back. “We are all banged up, but it’s the NBA, it happens. It’s a next man up mentality, we just got to figure out how to put a couple of wins together.”

Coach Luke Walton’s group has done a nice job of playing the next man up game, but losing Bogdanovic might be a tipping point for this team.

It’s not just that the Kings have lost three players. They’ve lost their starting point guard in De’Aaron Fox, their best interior scorer in Marvin Bagley and now their sixth man who has helped hold everything together.

“You don’t want any of your guys to get hurt, but a lot of what we built, we built around having certain guys, and they haven’t been with us,” Walton said. “Again, that’s why I go back to giving our guys credit, they’ve adjusted, adapted, continued to work. The NBA is tough, and the West is a monster, and even with that our guys are out there giving everything they have most nights.”

It’s become the theme of the season. Bagley broke his thumb in the first game of the season and has yet to make it back on the court. He wasn’t with the team in Portland as he prepared for another re-evaluation. It’s possible that he joins the team on the current trip, but nothing is certain.

Fox severely sprained his left ankle in practice a little over three weeks ago. He stayed back in Sacramento to continue his rehab and is still 2-3 weeks away from suiting up.

Nemanja Bjelica and Cory Joseph have stepped up to fill in, but neither player fits the mold of the one they are replacing. Bjelica is shooter and a high-basketball IQ player, but he doesn’t have Bagley’s post game or rebound ability.

Fox is an offensive weapon and the fastest player in the league. Replacing him with the defensive-minded Joseph is a difficult transition and that’s not a knock on Joseph.

“The biggest thing is, the people who are out there, we’ve got to get it done,” Harrison Barnes told NBC Sports California. “Tonight wasn’t a great performance on either side of the ball for myself and I know I can be better, but for everybody. We just have to find a way and we’ve done that this season and we’ll continue to do that. Hopefully at some point, we’ll all be healthy and on the court at the same time.”

Outside of Fox, Bogdanovic is the team’s best playmaker. Walton used Yogi Ferrell and Trevor Ariza to eat the minutes, but the second unit combined for five assists, which is really close to what Bogdanovic averages for the season on his own.

Bogdanovic is confident he’ll be ready to play on Friday when the Kings fly to San Antonio to take on the Spurs. He’s struggled with left hamstring tightness for the last week, but he told NBC Sports California during pregame that he was feeling much better. He had ice on his right knee, which has a contusion, but he’s a gamer that rarely sits out.

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At 8-12, the Kings are still in the thick of things in the Western Conference. If they can get healthy, there will be an adjustment period, but the added pieces are exactly what the team needs.

The key is to continue to play hard, regardless of who steps on the floor, with the hopes of keeping within striking distance. It’s not the script the Kings hoped for this season, but this is the reality of their situation.