Kings

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Kings' erratic second summer loss

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Kings' erratic second summer loss

LAS VEGAS, NV. -- The Sacramento Kings braved the sweltering Las Vegas heat Sunday evening when they faced off against the Memphis Grizzlies. For the second straight game, they looked every bit the part of a young team trying to figure things out. Memphis used a mixed group of young players and D-League vets to come away with the 81-75 victory and drop Sacramento to 0-2 for the tournament.

-- The Kings featured Skal Labissiere early and he responded with a solid performance. A lot is riding on the development of the second-year big. He was quiet in game one, but posted 13 points on 6-for-12 shooting and chipped in eight rebounds in Sunday's loss to Memphis. Labissiere needs to stay aggressive and demand the ball from his teammates.

-- De’Aaron Fox has some work to do on his free throw stroke. The rookie point guard turned on the jets on numerous occasions and while he didn’t finish on many of them, he drew plenty of fouls. Fox hit just 6-for-12 from the stripe on his way to 17 points, four assists and three steals. He shot 73.9 percent from the line at Kentucky last season, so there is a better free throw shooter hiding in there somewhere.

-- There is no room for Jack Cooley on the big club, but the former Notre Dame banger is fun to watch. He scored an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double in the Kings’ opener and then backed it up with an 11-point, five-rebound performance against Memphis. Certain players have a knack for the ball and Cooley is one of those guys.

-- Justin Jackson struggled. After a big opener, the rookie wing came back to earth Sunday. The 22-year-old out of North Carolina missed all eight of his 3-point attempts, finishing with just four points on 2-for-13 shooting. With Malachi Richardson sitting with a sore hamstring, Jackson is going to get a shot to play big minutes.

-- Frank Mason is adjusting to the speed and size of NBA players. The second-round guard played 19 minutes off the bench for coach Jason March, managing to post up six points on 2-of-10 from the field. Mason broke down the defense and got open looks for his perimeter shooters, but Jackson and Buddy Hield combined to hit just 1-for-13 from long range.

Luke Walton's lawyer responds to assault allegations from Kelli Tennant

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AP

Luke Walton's lawyer responds to assault allegations from Kelli Tennant

On Tuesday afternoon, sports broadcaster Kelli Tennant and her attorney Garo Mardirossian laid out sexual assault allegations against Kings head coach Luke Walton.

In a statement obtained by NBC Sports California, Walton’s attorney, Mark Baute, responded Wednesday with a strongly worded statement of his own:

“These claims are false and Luke’s innocence will be proven in court. Yesterday's press conference was a poorly staged attempt to portray the accuser as a viable spokesperson for an important movement. Her lawyers want to create a public circus to distract from their complete lack of evidence to support their outrageous claims. We will not try this case in the media or pay them a dime.”

The Kings have been quiet on the subject of Tennant's accusations against Walton since releasing a short statement on Monday after the initial news broke:

“We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information. We have no further comment at this time,” the Kings said in an official statement.

The NBA released a similar statement on Wednesday:

“We are coordinating with the Kings organization and are in the process of gathering more information.”

Kelli Tennant, lawyer publicly allege Luke Walton sexually assaulted her

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USATSI

Kelli Tennant, lawyer publicly allege Luke Walton sexually assaulted her

Sports broadcaster Kelli Tennant, one day after filing a lawsuit alleging Luke Walton sexually assaulted her in 2014, sat alongside attorney Garo Mardirossian on Tuesday afternoon and held a press conference to further state her allegations against the Sacramento Kings coach.

“I am no longer comfortable being silent about the things that have happened to me," Tennant told an assembly of reporters in Los Angeles, "and although this may come as a shock to many of you in this community, this is a reality that I have been living in for years, and I can no longer stand to not tell the story of what has profoundly affected my life in all of the events that we have alleged in our complaint."

According to Tennant, she has known Walton and his wife, Bre Ladd, for many years through ties with volleyball. In 2013, Tennant and Walton became colleagues at Spectrum SportsNet and developed a friendship. She also looked to him as a mentor.

Tennant was writing a book and asked Walton to write the foreword for her, which he agreed to do. They met and worked together on the book, and when she eventually published it, she wanted to give him a copy of the finished work. 

Tennant alleges the two agreed to meet up at his hotel in 2014, when Walton was in town to face the Lakers as part of the Warriors' coaching staff. But when she arrived at the hotel to give him a copy of the book, Walton told her that he didn’t want to hang out in the lobby because the players were around.

He then brought her up to his room, where Tennant claims an aggressive attack occurred.

“Out of nowhere, he got on top of me and pinned me down to the bed and held my arms down with all of his weight,” Tennant said. “He kissed my neck and my face and my chest. As I kept asking him to please stop and get off, he laughed at me.”

After the initial encounter, Walton allegedly grabbed her a second time from behind and started kissing Tennant’s neck. 

“I thought he was going to rape me,” Tennant said.

During the press conference, Tennant explained how she eventually was able to leave the hotel room, but that wasn’t the last encounter she had with Walton. 

Walton joined the Lakers as head coach in 2016, which resulted in Tennant working with him on a daily basis. According to Tennant, Walton was inappropriate with her on multiple occasions, including unwanted hugs and kisses.

“Every interaction with him that I had over that time made me incredibly uncomfortable and feel unsafe,” Tennant said.

Their last encounter was at a charity event in 2017, when Walton allegedly made a comment about her dress, followed by an uncomfortable hug. 

“Every feeling I had from that first experience of feeling disgusted and betrayed, came back,” Tennant said.

According to Tennant, she had been working for Spectrum SportsNet for just under one year when the initial incident occurred with Walton at his hotel. She was 25 years old at the time and feared for her job.

“I was scared,” Tennant said. “When someone assaults you and you think you’re going to be raped, coming forward is a scary thing. I have spent years now dealing with this. Trying to forget about it. Hoping I could push it to the side and bury it, and hoping that time would heal. That was not the case.”

According to Mardirossian, they haven’t taken the case to law enforcement, and outside of Tennant’s account, they have no other further evidence to support the claim. Tennant told family members of the event but did not discuss it with anyone in human resources at Spectrum or with either the Warriors or the Lakers.

The Kings, who hired Walton as their coach last week, have not released anything other than their initial statement, “We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information. We have no further comment at this time.”

The NBA added this statement, per multiple reports: “We are coordinating with the Kings organization and are in the process of gathering more information.”

According to league sources, Kings general manager Vlade Divac did not know of pending allegations when he signed the 39-year-old coach to a four-year contract.