Kings

How Alex Len's trade to Kings has been 'pleasant surprise' this season

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How Alex Len's trade to Kings has been 'pleasant surprise' this season

Alex Len didn't expect to be traded, let alone to the Kings.

He wanted to sign an extension with the Atlanta Hawks after the season, but the Hawks rebuilt their roster on the fly at the NBA trade deadline. Len, along with Jabari Parker, was traded to the Kings in exchange for center Dewayne Dedmon and a pair of second-round picks.

What awaited him in Sacramento caught Len off guard.

"Once I got there, it was a pleasant surprise," Len told The Athletic's Chris Kirschner earlier this week. "I like the team. We were winning games, and I could just do my part. My role is more defined over there.” 

Len quickly fit in with his new teammates. The Kings went 6-3 in Len's first nine games before the NBA season was suspended following Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert's positive coronavirus test, and the 2013 draft's No. 5 overall pick averaged 6.6 points and 7.1 rebounds in just over 16 minutes per night.

Sacramento had the NBA's fifth-best net rating (plus-4.8) and the league's 10th-best defensive rating (107.6) following Len's arrival. The Kings were 21st (minus-2.7) and tied for 20th (109.1), respectively, in the first 55 games of the season.

The NBA entered its indefinite hiatus with the Kings just 3 1/2 games back of the Western Conference's last playoff spot, and Len's play off the bench was a big reason why. He told Kirschner that Sacramento's postseason pursuit reinvigorated him.

“There was a whole different mood and vibe around the team because we were going for the eighth spot,” Len said. “When I was (in Atlanta), it’s tough to play knowing you’re not making the playoffs. You go into the game, and guys are thinking about their points and themselves. (In Sacramento), it’s all about team and winning. Guys don’t care how many points they score; it’s all about winning. Everybody was playing a lot harder. We were playing all five guys on a string. It makes your job easier because everybody else is a lot better.” 

[RELATED: Five things to remember from wild Kings '19 win over Grizz]

Len will play a big role in the Kings' playoff chase, assuming the NBA season resumes with Sacramento still in contention.

That isn't where Len imagined he would be coming into the season, but he's thriving amid unexpected circumstances.

Harry Giles surprises Kings fan upset by coronavirus game postponement

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Harry Giles surprises Kings fan upset by coronavirus game postponement

On March 11, the Kings suspended their upcoming game at Golden 1 Center against the New Orleans Pelicans due to precautionary measures from the coronavirus pandemic.

This was right after the NBA announced the season would be suspended indefinitely after Jazz center Rudy Gobert's positive coronavirus test earlier that night. Still, it made an immediate impact, especially on one young fan.

Cameras caught a devastated girl crying in the stands after the announcement. The Kings, and Harry Giles wanted to apologize for the cancellation of the game with a heartfelt message to Sophie and her brother.

“I just wanted to tell you guys we apologize for the unfortunate situation that happened on March 11 with the game getting canceled, but I have a surprise for you,” Giles said. 

Sophie and her brother were sitting on the couch watching the video from Giles and were invited personally by the Kings’ forward whenever the season was to come back.

Sophie said thank you to Giles as she jumped on the couch sporting Kings gear. 

This isn’t the first time Giles paid back to Kings fans.

[RELATED: De'Aaron Fox cuts hair during NBA hiatus]

He also helped a couple plan a wedding. Well, he certainly played a big part. The groom actually sported a Giles’ jersey at the altar after a Twitter request of 10,000 retweets

Giles continues to be a man of the people. 

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Why Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic is prepared for NBA games without fans

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Why Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic is prepared for NBA games without fans

There is no guarantee that the NBA will be able to finish the 2019-20 season amidst the coronavirus pandemic. If they are able to pull off the tall task, there is a very good chance that the league will start out playing in empty buildings to ensure player and fan safety.

It is a difficult thought. The sound of sneakers squeaking and the ball bouncing, but nothing else. A referee’s whistle could be heard blocks away without 17,000-plus cheering bodies to dampen the noise. 

From the shot clock buzzer to the sound of Luke Walton’s baritone voice bellowing out commands, it’s all very strange to imagine. 

While the experience would be different for people on the outside looking in, this is how many NBA players grew up with the game. They started playing in front of parents at rec league games, but the real work came in their driveways, at local parks and in gymnasiums where they practice in front of a coach with a whistle.

On the latest edition of the Purple Talk Podcast, we caught up with Kings starting shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, and one of the topics of discussion was the idea of playing without fans. 

“I played in Serbia without fans and we were fighting,” Bogdanovic said. “So I got used to it a little bit.”

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Serbia or New Orleans or the Bahamas, it doesn’t really matter. It wasn’t until college that most of these players truly had the experience of playing in front of a packed house. It might take a game or two to get used to, but that might be the reality facing all professional sports in the near future. 

“It will be weird for sure,” Bogdanovic added. “It will feel like a practice game, not a real game.”

While the Kings are in the middle of a 13-season playoff drought, that doesn’t mean that fans aren’t still flooding into Golden 1 Center every game. Known as one of the most loyal and loud fanbases, Kings fans have an ability to energize the building. 

[RELATED: Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic shooting on neighbor's hoop during NBA shutdown]

For Bogdanovic, he equated the feeling to being in a battle. 

“The fans are something that brings that feeling like you are in a gladiator arena,” Bogdanovic said. “Imagine two gladiators fighting, or more, without fans. It would be boring.”

Bogdanovic is hoping to return to the court as soon as the league allows it, but he also has a strong perspective. He wants the fans to stay safe and if that means they have to watch the game through the television set while the team plays in an empty arena, then he understands.

We still are at least a month or more away from knowing what might happen this season, but all options are on the table. With any luck, there will be basketball, but what that might look like is a long way from being determined.