With help from an unlikely source, Buddy Hield rescues Kings in win over OKC

With help from an unlikely source, Buddy Hield rescues Kings in win over OKC

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings have struggled to hit shots early in the 2017-18 season. They came into Tuesday night’s game against the Thunder averaging just 93.8 points per game, good enough for 29th in the NBA.

Through the first quarter it looked like the team might set a new NBA record for the least points scored in a game.

And then Buddy Hield showed up.

“I’ve been trying to find a rhythm for the whole season,” Hield said following the Kings win over the Thunder on Tuesday evening. “Thank god I finally got some to fall down. Just trusting what I do, trusting what got me here. It was good to see the ball go in.”

Hield came in off the bench to drop in a pair of buckets in the late first quarter to cut the Thunder’s lead to 25-10. He came out hot in the second quarter, launching and hitting 6-of-7 from the field, including a perfect 3-of-3 from long range.

After shooting just 39.4 percent from the field and 26.3 percent from deep through nine games, Hield finished the night with a team-high 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting.

“Buddy gave everyone confidence by his shots falling,” coach Dave Joerger said. “What I really liked about Buddy in the first half is I think he was 6-for-7 but he got six or seven wide open looks for his teammates by penetrating and finding the open guy and making the right play. That is my ‘atta boy’ for Buddy.”

Hield credited an unlikely source for his improvement. Rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic has been in his ear, helping him pick up some subtle nuances to the game in hopes of opening the floor for his teammates.

“Guys know I love to score, but I’ve been talking to Bogi too,” Hield added. “Bogi’s been helping me a lot through this. We sit next to each other on the plane and he’s like, ‘If you make this pass right here, that makes the ball move.’ I just really took to that.”

It’s one game, but for a young player who’s struggled early in the season, it’s a place to start for Hield. He hit the glass hard again, coming away with seven rebounds in 28 minutes of action. The assists totals aren’t there yet, but the ball moved more freely around the court for Sacramento while the 23-year-old guard was on the floor.

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.