SACRAMENTO -- Dewayne Dedmon signed a three-year, $40 million contract with the Sacramento Kings with the hopes that he had found a home in the league after bouncing around during his first six seasons in the league.
The 30-year-old 7-footer didn’t expect to lose his starting job after four games. He also didn’t expect to be out of the rotation or chatting with media members about his wishes to leave the Kings before the midway point of the season.
Coming into Tuesday’s matchup with the Phoenix Suns, Dedmon had played a total of 6 minutes and 58 seconds over the Kings’ previous 16 games. In 14 of those games he didn’t see a second of action and in the three games leading up to Tuesday, he had been inactive in favor of Caleb Swanigan.
“It’s tough, but at the end of the day, you’re a professional athlete, so just like anybody else that’s a professional at their job, you have to show up to work every day, make sure your body is tone, you’ve got to make sure you’re mentally ready to do whatever is asked of you when it’s asked of you,” Dedmon said Thursday after practice.
Dedmon talking: pic.twitter.com/dnfLWbW1P8— James Ham (@James_HamNBCS) January 9, 2020
With Richaun Holmes nursing a shoulder strain and Marvin Bagley still out of action with a left foot sprain, coach Luke Walton started Harry Giles at the center position, but he turned to Dedmon in the first quarter to help out.
In the third quarter, the Kings were being run off the court and Walton turned back to Dedmon, along with Cory Joseph and Trevor Ariza, in an attempt to stabilize the game. It worked and Walton rewarded the group by sticking with them the remainder of the game.
“That’s why I tell guys, ‘whether you’re in or out, you’re opportunity will come again’ and he was out of the rotation and he got his chance, he stayed ready and he played great,” Walton said of Dedmon.
In total, Dedmon played a total of 32 minutes, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds in the Kings' 114-103 come-from-behind victory. He played solid defense and was vocal on both ends of the court. After weeks of inactivity, the veteran center was a little beat up, but happy about getting another shot to play.
“It’s pretty sore, I came in a day early and got some treatment done on it, got a little stretch right now,” Dedmon said. “Just getting a little body work, I’ll be alright.”
Dedmon said that during the game, Nemanja Bjelica came up to him and told him to stay engaged and keep playing. The encouragement from his teammate meant a lot after a tough stretch of inactivity.
“It’s just basketball at the end of the day,” Dedmon said. “You show up to a team and whatever the coaching staff decides to do or whatever is working for the team - that’s what’s best for the team. I’m just trying to be ready, no matter what may come my way.”
After a two-day break in the schedule, the Kings face the team with the best record in the NBA when the Milwaukee Bucks roll through Sacramento on Friday evening. Walton’s squad will likely be short-handed again and Dedmon proved he is ready if his team needs him to step in a play major minutes.
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“Going into tomorrow, I have him penciled in to be playing again,” Walton said. “He earned that with his play last game and we’ll take it from there.”
A little over a week ago Dedmon demanded a trade and received a $50,000 fine from the league for doing so. He may still get moved between now and the Feb. 7 NBA trade deadline, but there is still time for reconciliation and redemption for the veteran big. Tuesday’s showing against the Suns was a good place to start.