How Tracy McGrady credits Kings' Doug Christie for success as rookie


How Tracy McGrady credits Kings' Doug Christie for success as rookie

Tracy McGrady leaves behind an illustrious 14-season career with accolades including seven NBA All-Star and seven All-NBA selections, a two-time scoring champion as well as a Hall of Fame induction.

McGrady turned 41 on Sunday which was the perfect time to take a trip down memory lane to when he was just a rookie. He talked about how Kings legend Doug Christie played an instrumental role during the infancy of his run.

During a recent interview on “All the Smoke,” McGrady said a big part of his hot start as a rookie with the Toronto Raptors was all thanks in part of the matchups he had with former teammate Christie.

“I love Doug,” McGrady said. “I played Doug on one-on-one every day -- we were just going at each other -- and that’s how I was working on my one-on-one game and building my confidence up because I know he was a great defender, he was a hell of a defender.”

He was.

Christie earned three All-Defensive Second Team honors and was part of the First Team in 2003. McGrady was also one of the most difficult guys to cover -- he owes part of that to Christie. 

He's part of many who recently shouted him out.

[RELATED: Mike Bibby describes tenure with Kings as best time of his life]

For McGrady, he knew going up against one of the best in the game, he would be able to handle anything.

Appears that worked out beautifully. 

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How Kings' rough start to season could be advantage during NBA restart

How Kings' rough start to season could be advantage during NBA restart

The 2019-20 season did not start as planned for the Sacramento Kings. Before they could get out of Phoenix on opening night, Marvin Bagley broke his right thumb. De’Aaron Fox severely sprained his ankle during practice before the Kings could get through the first 10 games of the season and the team completely stumbled out of the blocks.

No one wants to begin a season that way, but the Kings were forced to scramble and it might have prepared them for what lies ahead with the Orlando restart.

“It helps in a sense that we’ve had to play different styles of basketball,” Walton said. “When you lose Marvin and you lose De’Aaron, you know you’re not going to play as fast, you’ve got to rely on execution to win games and defense.”

After leading the NBA in pace during the 2018-19 season, the Kings were a more methodical team this season, especially with Fox and Bagley on the shelf. One of the ways they can earn an advantage in the restart is to focus on pushing the tempo.

“Look, we’re going to win games by being a fast team and we’re going to win games by being able to execute in the fourth quarter,” Walton said. “We’ve played both styles so far this season and because of what we’ve gone through as a team, we know what that looks like and now it’s just about getting sharp with those things again.”

Walton, and every other NBA coach in the bubble, understands that this is not a normal situation. There is a higher risk for injury due to a lack of preparation time and the potential for the coronavirus finding its way into the bubble is always going to be hanging out there.

“We’re going to go through a lot,” Walton said. “Players are going to be joining us. Players are going to be leaving us. There is just going to be so many unknowns that we have to be ready to react and adjust to everything.”

One of the biggest obstacles facing Walton and the Kings is the loss of Harrison Barnes. Barnes announced on Tuesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and he is part of the NBA’s protocol.

“There’s a lot of tricky parts about losing Harrison, but one of them is he plays a lot of three and four for us,” Walton said.

Barnes spoke to the media on July 3, before testing positive on either the fourth or the fifth of July. He could make it back in time for the action, but it depends on how his body reacts to the virus.

At this point, veterans Kent Bazemore and Corey Brewer are getting a lot of time at small forward. Two-way player DaQuan Jeffires also has gotten a look and, according to Walton, is playing well.

Once Buddy Hield is completely cleared for action, Walton also will have the ability to use Bogdan Bogdanovic for stretches at the wing.

“Now that we have Buddy back, we’ll see some more of Buddy and Bogi on the floor together, but it’s by committee right now,” Walton said.

The small forward spot isn’t the only issue that Walton is dealing with at the moment. Alex Len is still in the NBA’s protocol back in Sacramento and Richaun Holmes has been quarantined to his room for 10 days for violating the bubble rules.

That leaves a small group of players at the four and the five, including Nemanja Bjelica, Bagley and Harry Giles. Jabari Parker also can play some minutes at the power spot, but he has played in just one game since joining the Kings via trade in February.

“The only two bigs we have right now are Marvin and Harry,” Walton said. “So they’re both getting a lot of reps and they’re both playing great. They’ve looked good, they’re moving well and they’re getting 100 percent of the reps right now.”

Len is getting closer to a return. According to Walton, he is feeling better and just waiting to clear protocol. Barnes also is doing well, but he’s likely a week or more behind where Len is in clearing the NBA’s hurdles.

“We need those guys -- Harrison and Alex especially,” Hield said. “I feel like we have to take it one day at a time, one practice at a time. Whoever is out there to go to war with us, we have to be ready.”

[RELATED: Kings' Hield returns to practice with sense of humor intact]

The bubble is proving to be one giant scramble for teams. The Kings have been one of the more impacted teams by the virus and protocol early on, but it’s still early in the process.

There is a chance Sacramento will walk into the action with a complete roster ready to compete for the playoffs. Then again, nothing has gone as planned this season for the Kings.

Buddy Hield returns to Kings practice with sense of humor still intact

Buddy Hield returns to Kings practice with sense of humor still intact

Buddy Hield is back.

The Kings’ 3-point marksman has joined the team in the Orlando bubble, and even a bout with the coronavirus hasn’t taken away his sense of humor.

“I’ve been trying to find ways to get out, something like 'El Chapo' with a tunnel under the hotel so I can sneak my a-- out of here,” Hield said Tuesday on a video call with reporters.

Hield said he had minor symptoms early on, but nothing severe. More than anything else, he was worried about the people around him.

“I wasn’t scared or nothing like that,” Hield said. “I tested positive and I was just concerned for the people around me like my daughter and my girl and my family.”

“I didn’t want nobody getting infected by it,” Hield added. “I didn’t want my carelessness causing someone to lose their life or something like that. So, I was warning people I was around.”

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According to Hield, he does not believe that he picked up COVID-19 playing in an exhibition game in Oklahoma in the Skinz League on June 11 because he is the only one to test positive from the game. Either way, he put himself at risk by entering a gym packed with fans, most of whom weren't wearing masks or face coverings.

“I wouldn’t do nothing differently,” Hield said. “I’ve just got to be more careful with where I’ve been. Know my surroundings better.”

Coach Luke Walton confirmed that both Hield and Jabari Parker were back at practice on Tuesday after clearing NBA protocol. They didn’t participate in the contact portion of the festivities, but Walton said it was nice to have them back in the fold.

“It was great having those guys back, good energy with them, they’re excited to be on the court around the guys again,” Walton said.

[RELATED: Harrison Barnes has coronavirus, fourth Kings player to test positive]

If the Kings have a chance to make the play-in series for the No. 8 seed, they need to be as healthy as possible. Getting Hield back, the team’s second-leading scorer, is huge.

Here's hoping Hield has studied up on "El Chapo" enough to know that the drug kingpin always gets caught, even after escaping the tunnel on a motorcycle. What happens in the bubble, stays in the bubble. Or maybe, what happens in the bubble better be in the bubble.