Kings

Harrison Barnes, two more Kings make preliminary FIBA World Cup squads

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USATSI

Harrison Barnes, two more Kings make preliminary FIBA World Cup squads

The Kings could have a pretty big presence in China later this summer. 

Harrison Barnes (USA), Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica (both of Serbia) recently were named to their respective countries' premliminary rosters for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Bogdanovic and Bjelica are two of 34 players competing for a spot on the Serbian team, and Barnes and 19 other Americans will try to impress legendary coach Gregg Popovich for one of 12 spots on Team USA.

[RELATED: Cauley-Stein's future in Sacramento remains undecided]

All three have (at least) a decent chance of representing their countries when the World Cup tips off in late August.

Bogdanovic helped lead the Serbs to a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, while Bjelica won't have much NBA competition at his position. Barnes will face a stiffer challenge on Team USA, but his experience winning a gold medal as a reserve in Rio could give him a leg up, as USA Basketball tends to value players who have national-team experience. If -- or how -- that changes under Popovich remains to be seen.

Barnes might not the only King at USA Basketball's Aug. 5-9 training camp in Las Vegas. Young big man Marvin Bagley III reportedly is expected to be there as a member of the Select Team.

After four seasons in Sacramento, Kosta Koufos re-enters free agent pool

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AP

After four seasons in Sacramento, Kosta Koufos re-enters free agent pool

A pro’s pro. After four seasons in Sacramento, center Kosta Koufos is about to enter the free agent pool for the first time in a while.

The veteran center took a back seat to the Kings’ youth movement over the last two seasons, but at 30-years-old, he still has plenty to give, whether it’s in Sacramento or somewhere else.

“I’ve been in the league for 11 years, I’ve started a numerous amount of games and when given time, I can put up numbers,” Koufos told NBC Sports California on the Kings Insider Podcast.

Sacramento undertook a major facelift during Koufos’ time with the team. He had to adapt and more that anything else, he had to accept a role as the team started from scratch.

From a starter on a 57-win Denver Nuggets team to a role player with the Kings, Koufos has done it all. He takes everything in stride and has never complained, be it to the media or the front office.

“From my perspective, knowing your role, knowing your situation and maximizing your role, whatever time is given to you,” Koufos said. “Whether it’s playing well on the defensive end or getting guys open with screens or scoring when the opportunity is there, it’s just being the best player you can be in whatever time is given to you.”

With the Kings continuing their youth movement, minutes weren’t easy to come by this past season for the 7-footer out of Ohio State. But when he didn’t see the floor or he played less than 15 minutes, Koufos would hit the practice facility floor and the weight room after games to stay in shape.

“Have your mindset that you’re going to play 25 minutes a game, even if you’re not, just to be ready and keep your body ready,” Koufos said of his approach to this last season. “If you don’t play, then after the game you get your conditioning in, get your lifting in, get your shots up so you can stay sharp for the next opportune moment.”

For the first time in eight seasons, Koufos failed to register a positive in the offensive/defensive rating, but it had nothing to do with his effort. He played just 502 minutes with the Kings and played with countless teammates on the second unit. It’s hard to find a rhythm as a player when you’re playing half the games.

Circumstances have changed almost every year in Sacramento. Koufos has rolled with the punches and been a team player every step of the way. While he wants to play, he also knows the NBA business. The veteran center hasn’t ruled out a return to Sacramento.

“You keep your options open no matter what, I believe in that,” Koufos said.

Sacramento is looking for a major piece to drop into the center of their lineup and Koufos will have to use a wait and see approach. It’s very possible that there is a club on the open market looking for a veteran big that understands his role and is willing to do all of the dirty work.

Although he didn’t get the best opportunity over the last year or two with the team, he enjoyed the fanbase and would recommend the city to potential free agents.

“Honestly, there are a lot of friendly people in Sacramento,” Koufos said. “It’s more of a midwest vibe, in California, which I like. The city is growing, the real estate market is booming, obviously, and I had a great time.”

According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the Kings haven’t closed the door on a reunion with the team’s longest tenured player. The Kings hope to improve their frontline in free agency, but that doesn’t exclude a return.

Both sides will let the market dictate the next course of action. If they meet back up after the initial burrage of signings and a deal make sense for both the team and the player, they will talk.

If not, Koufos should be remembered in Sacramento as the consummate professional that brought his hard hat to work every day and helped bring along the next generation of Kings players.

De'Aaron Fox finishes third in NBA's Most Improved Player Award voting

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USATSI

De'Aaron Fox finishes third in NBA's Most Improved Player Award voting

After a breakout second season with the Sacramento Kings, De’Aaron Fox finished in third place in his bid for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award Monday evening as part of the league’s postseason award show.

The Kings' starting point guard was one of three finalists for the award, but Toronto's Pascal Siakam took home the trophy after posting a big season for the Raptors. Nets' All-Star point guard D'Angelo Russell finished second in voting.

Fox, 21, turned heads not just with his numbers, but with his ability to win with the Kings. Sacramento showed a 10-game improvement over the previous season and picked up their most victories since the 2005-06 season. It wasn't enough for Fox to take home the trophy.

The Kings missed the playoffs for a thirteenth consecutive season, but they are a team on the rise and Fox is the centerpiece of their rebuild.

After posting 11.6 points, 4.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds in his rookie campaign, Fox improved to 17.3 points, 7.9 assists and 3.8 rebounds in his sophomore season.

Selected with the No. 5 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Fox improved in almost every facet of the game, including his 3-point shooting. He jumped from 30.7 percent in Year 1 to 37.1 percent in Year 2.

[RELATED: Examining Kings' roster before free agency]

Sacramento has designed their entire offense around Fox and they intend to continue that trend in the coming seasons.

Siakam had a great season for the Raptors, finishing the year averaging 16.9 points and 6.9 rebounds in his third NBA season. He was a huge part of Toronto's success this season, which culminated in the team's first NBA Championship.