Harry Giles making impact on Kings, and coach Dave Joerger is thrilled


Harry Giles making impact on Kings, and coach Dave Joerger is thrilled

SACRAMENTO -- Bigs, beware. Harry Giles III is coming for your minutes.

The 20-year-old rookie is starting to make an impact on a nightly basis, which was evident Thursday night in his 23-minute stint in the Kings' 112-102 win over the Detroit Pistons.

“I feel like I’m just at the point where I can just be free and have some fun out there and compete at a level I feel like I’m comfortable [with] out there,” Giles said. “I’m in it now, so I’m playing and just having fun and competing and doing what I do.”

Kings coach Dave Joerger pulled Giles over after the game, and had a few words with his young center.

“I grabbed him after the game and told him, ‘I feel like you're getting better and the work that you put in, you’re getting better,’ ” Joerger said.

It was a big moment for Giles. After being in and out of Sacramento's rotation through the first half of the season, he seems to be building momentum, and his coach is rewarding him for his efforts.

“He embraced me, he encouraged me, it felt amazing,” Giles said of the encounter with Joerger. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Against the Pistons, Giles went toe-to-toe with All-Star center Andre Drummond, who has a huge weight advantage over the Kings reserve. Giving up a minimum of 30 pounds to the 7-footer, Giles did his work early and kept his body on Drummond as much as he could.

“Everybody outweighs me at my position, so it’s great,” Giles said. “It’s all about that heart anyway.”

Giles stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting and 4 of 4 from the free-throw line. He added four rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals to help the Kings improve to 21-21 on the season.

“He’s not afraid to make mistakes, and I think he understands that, ultimately, you have to make mistakes to learn and you only get that by playing,” Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein said.

The mistakes Cauley-Stein mentioned came in the form of turnovers. Giles gave away the ball a team-high five times in this game.

“He’s able to do everything,” Kings guard De'Aaron Fox said. “He’s just working on his turnovers. A couple of turnovers he had can be prevented, but it’s just because he’s trying to make a play. He’s getting a lot more comfortable on the floor.”

The comfort level might be everything for the former top prospect. After sitting out most of his senior year in high school, playing 300 total minutes at Duke and then watching from the sideline last season with the Kings, Giles needs time on the court to develop a rhythm. That’s not an easy task for Joerger when his team is playing better than expected. As the season became equal parts winning and development, Giles often has had to watch from the bench.

[RELATED: Would Enes Kanter be a fit in Sacramento?]

Sacramento’s front office even has sent the talented big to the G League on multiple occasions in an attempt to give him court time. Somewhere along the way, the game started clicking for Giles.

“I thought he did some good things around the rim,” Joerger said. “I thought he contested some shots and he caught some passes that might have ended up in the second row; he has some great hands.”

Like the rest of the Kings' young core, Giles is a work in progress. He has incredible potential, and the more he plays, the better he gets. If he continues on this pace, he’ll be in line for a major role in the rotation sooner rather than later.

NBA trade deadline 2019: Six early targets for playoff-hungry Kings


NBA trade deadline 2019: Six early targets for playoff-hungry Kings

The Kings have a wad of cash and it’s burning a hole in their pocket. Armed with $11 million in available cap space and another $37 million in expiring contracts, the Kings are surfing the market looking for long term, as well as short term upgrades.

Sacramento has needs, like every team in the league. High on the priority list is size at the wing and possibly a backup point guard. They are open to adding talent, as long as the move makes sense both now and in the future. 

Here is an early list of players that the Kings have either been linked to in the past or are available on the open market and fit the team’s needs:


Kings 'got smoked' in opener of season-defining six-game road trip

Kings 'got smoked' in opener of season-defining six-game road trip

There’s an issue with winning. It doesn’t take long before the expectations begin to change.

The Sacramento Kings were estimated to win around 25 games this season. They came into Thursday evening at 23-21, completely blowing away an prediction around the league.

And then they laid an egg in the first game of their season-long six-game road trip.

After being handled by the Kings at Golden 1 Center over the weekend, the Hornets got their revenge Thursday day night at the Spectrum Center, dropping Sacramento by a final of 114-95.

“We’ve got to play better, but it’s a lot of young guys at the same time,” coach Dave Joerger told cameras following the loss. “It’s going to take a while to gel and find a rhythm, especially on the road it’s not easy for young guys.”

Joerger and his team better get used to playing away from Golden 1 Center. They play five more away from home over the next week and a half. It’s a stretch that very well could decide their fate of their season.

After yielding a 3-pointer to open the scoring, the Kings rattled off a 15-0 run to take a big lead early. Joerger went to his second unit early and they didn’t respond well in their first look.

At the end of the first, the Kings held a 25-20 advantage and then the wheels fell of the bus.

Charlotte found a way to disrupt the Kings offensive flow in the second quarter and ran the visiting team off the court.

“I think right at the end of the second, they went on their run, it’s a game of runs,” rookie Marvin Bagley told reporters in the locker room. “We tried to come back and go on ours, but they continued to make shots. We just had to find some way to win, but it just didn’t go our way tonight.”

Charlotte dropped a 43-point quarter on the Kings to take a 63-50 advantage to the intermission. Sacramento cut the Hornets' lead down to six in the late third, but the home team finished the quarter out with another run to take a double-digit lead to the fourth.

Sacramento pulled within nine in the early fourth, but then the Hornets took control. The Kings over dribbled, turned the ball over 18 times, missed their free throws and played lackadaisical defense in the loss.

Buddy Hield led the way with 24 points on 6-of-11 from behind the arc, but Joerger was in no mood to break down his performance following the loss.

“We just got smoked, I do not want to talk about any individual’s shooting,” Joerger told media members.

It sounds like Joerger’s expectations are shifting as well. He knows the importance of the road trip and how it can impact the remainder of the season. Getting off to a start like this was not what the Kings’ coach hoped for.

The Kings make their way to Detroit for leg two of their journey. Like the Hornets, this is the second time in a week that these two teams will do battle.

Blake Griffin missed the previous matchup between the two teams, but is expected to play. The Pistons will also being playing on the second night of a back-to-back after hosting the Miami Heat the night before.

After a loss in Charlotte, the Kings need every advantage they can get to avoid an 0-2 start to the trip.