Kings

Instant Replay: Late first-half burst propels Kings past Pelicans

Instant Replay: Late first-half burst propels Kings past Pelicans

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings survived drama, a low blow and a charging New Orleans Pelicans team Sunday night at Golden 1 Center. It wasn’t pretty, but the Kings improved to 4-2 on the homestand and have now won three straight after taking down New Orleans by a final of 105-99.

DeMarcus Cousins drew his 17th technical foul of the season on an inadvertent shot to the face of Donatas Motiejunas in the first quarter. He headed to the locker room to clear his thoughts and came back out to put up big numbers for Sacramento. The three-time All-Star finished the night with 28 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in the win.

Darren Collison continued his hot play, scoring 20 points on 7-for-16 shooting. He also chipped in eight assists and four rebounds. With Ty Lawson unavailable, Collison logged 40 minutes for the second straight game for Dave Joerger.

Ben McLemore called for the ball coming out of the intermission and hit back-to-back 3-balls to start the half. The red hot shooting McLemore knocked down 3-for-5 from deep to finish the night with 11 points and two steals.

Matt Barnes provided a spark off the bench, scoring 12 points and grabbing five rebounds. Arron Afflalo went for 10 points and Anthony Tolliver added nine points and six rebounds.

Anthony Davis went off for 21 points in the first half, but the Kings made adjustments. The star big still managed to post 32 points and 10 rebounds, but Sacramento made him work for his buckets.

Jrue Holiday went at Collison, his former teammate at UCLA. The veteran point guard stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points, 10 assists, six rebounds, and five steals.

Dante Cunningham added 14 points and six rebounds, while Solomon Hill dropped in 3-for-4 from deep on his way to nine points.

Rookie Buddy Hield hit the showers early after drawing a Flagrant 2 for grabbing Cousins in the privates during the second quarter.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Cousins overcame the early technical foul call to have a huge night. The Kings’ superstar big needed a quick trip to the locker room to take a breath, but he returned to the court and played out of his mind in a huge win for Sacramento.

TURNING POINT

Sacramento didn’t make things easy on themselves down the stretch with turnovers and an eight second call. But in the end, Cousins hit his free throws and led the Kings to the much needed victory.

INJURY UPDATE

Ty Lawson missed his second straight game with a strained left adductor muscle. Garrett Temple is out until after the All-Star break with a torn left hamstring. Omri Casspi missed his 15th straight contest with a right plantaris tendon strain. Rudy Gay is out for the season with a torn left Achilles.

WHAT'S NEXT

The Kings hit the road for a back-to-back set against the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors on Tuesday and Wednesday. Following the matchup with the Warriors, the Kings are off for a week for All-Star festivities in New Orleans.

NBA trade deadline: Kings have cap space, assets to be major players

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USATSI

NBA trade deadline: Kings have cap space, assets to be major players

The build up to the NBA’s Feb. 7 trade deadline has already begun. If fact, it started for the Kings coming into opening night, when they walked into the season as the only team in the league with any real cap space.

The rumor mill is churning, but NBC Sports California continues to hear that the Kings have no intention of taking on any long-term deals, unless it helps the team win today and down the road. They also aren't in the mood to help another franchise save money, unless assets are attached.

Sacramento’s front office has worked hard to create the financial freedom they currently possess. They understand the power of their position in the market and they have a list of needs.

According to sources, high on the Kings’ priority list is adding more length and size at the small forward position, as well as a veteran point guard to bring off the bench.

The team is high on their young core, and would like to find a piece or two that fits with the style of play and direction the franchise is heading.

[RELATED: Marvin Bagley, Harry Giles give Kings fans glimpse into bright future]

Cap

The NBA’s cap is set at $101.869 million for this season, with the luxury tax threshold of  $123.733 million. Sacramento has $90.844 million on the books, including $10.8 million in dead money from Matt Barnes, Georgios Papagiannis, Deyonta Davis and Caron Butler.

Outside of the Kings and their $11 million in available cap space, no other team in the league is under the cap.

With available space, the Kings can act as a conduit to reduce other clubs’ cap space, potentially saving them millions in luxury tax. They can also accept more incoming money than they send out in a potential trade.

Expiring Contracts

In addition to $11 million in cap space, the Kings also have a bevy of expiring contracts to work with. Veteran big man Zach Randolph has yet to play a minute this season in Sacramento, and is in the final year of a deal that pays him $11.7 million this season.

Kosta Koufos is a valuable big on an affordable $8.7 million deal. At 29 years old, he is a veteran defensive presence and keeps himself in spectacular shape. With the Kings going young up front over the last two weeks, Koufos gets in a full workout following games to make sure he’s ready to play, either for Sacramento or elsewhere.

Ben McLemore, 25, is owed $5.5 million this season before becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s found it difficult to get on the court with the Kings loaded at the wing, but he’s had a few moments when given an opportunity.

Iman Shumpert is in the final year of a long term contract he signed back in 2015 with the Cavs that pays him $11 million this season. Shumpert has started 32 games at the small forward position for the Kings and has provided a nice bump both on and off the court. He’s a defensive-minded wing and he’s shooting 38.6 percent from long range this season.

Lastly, starting center Willie Cauley-Stein is in the final year of his rookie-scale deal. He makes $4.7 million this season, and will enter the summer as a restricted free agent if the Kings extend a qualifying offer. Cauley-Stein has reached the NBA’s “starter criteria,” which means his qualifying offer has jumped from $4.5 million to $6.3 million this summer.

Not including Cauley-Stein, the Kings have roughly $37 million in expiring contracts. Shumpert is playing rotational minutes, and Koufos is a nice insurance policy for the team.

If the right deal were to come along, the Kings would have no problem taking back long-term money in exchange for a combination of expiring deals. Again, any deal would need to check the right boxes of improving the team in the short-term as well as down the road.

Picks

One of Vlade Divac’s first moves was to trade his 2019 first-round pick. That move really comes into play right now. Due to the Stepien Rule, Divac cannot trade back-to-back picks, so his first round selection in 2020 is off the table.

Sacramento can trade a first round pick further off in the future, like in 2021 or 2022.

Without a first-rounder to work with, the Kings have loaded up on second-rounders. The team doesn’t have their own second-rounder in 2019, but they have two incoming picks (second-most favorable from the Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets, plus the most favorable between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers).

The Kings also have their own second-round selection in 2020, as well as the Detroit Pistons' and Miami Heat's. In 2021, they have Miami’s second round pick again, as well as their own selection and the Memphis Grizzlies' pick.

Values of second-round picks vary, but the Kings have a total six second-rounders over the next three seasons. They have no restrictions, and can be used as sweeteners in a larger deal if necessary.

[RELATED: What went right, what went wrong in Kings' win over Blazers]

Assets

Sacramento has a lot of young and talented players, but they aren’t going to move any of them unless it means the team is making a massive long-term investment in a star-level player. Even then, there is a core group that is close to untouchable.

It’s an interesting roster. The Kings have nine players on rookie scale-contracts. Nemanja Bjelica is the only veteran with a guaranteed deal that extends beyond the 2018-19 season. They have plenty of expiring contracts, and a few young players that are out of the rotation.

What to Expect

Divac and Co. should be incredibly active. They’ve worked hard to be a player in the trade market, and they are the only team with available space. They can also change the look of the roster using open money and expiring contracts from players that aren’t part of the rotation.

The Kings have the ability to pull off multiple trades that could yield not only players to help with a playoff push, but add future assets as well.

Sacramento should be weary of taking on long-term salary that bites into their available cap space this summer, unless the player fits the age and salary trajectory of the team.

It would be shocking if they stand pat at the deadline.There will likely be a deal or two that could help change the course of the franchise for the better. At 23-21, this team has done their job on the court, but they could use a few reinforcements.

Marvin Bagley, Harry Giles give Kings fans glimpse into bright future

Marvin Bagley, Harry Giles give Kings fans glimpse into bright future

SACRAMENTO -- Marvin Bagley shot to the post, pinned his man down and raised his hand to call for an entry pass. He was too late. Harry Giles had already established his footing in the high post, taken the ball and began assessing his options.

Bagley, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA draft is a walking double-double. Taken with the 20th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Giles is the brash, jack of all trades. This is 40 percent of your new Sacramento Kings second unit.

The tandem is turning heads with their play and giving the team a glimpse into what the future might look like.

“They are amazing, they are doing a great job and they are learning. They keep improving, they keep getting better,” Bogdan Bogdanovic said. “Both of them are hard workers and that’s what we need from them. They are doing a tremendous job.”

It’s a bold move to play the two rookies together. After playing limited minutes over the past three years due to a series of knee issues, Giles is just 20 years old. Bagley, 19, could still be a freshman in college if he didn’t petition the NCAA to enter a year early.

“They’ve got to learn somehow and they’re getting the time to experiment with their game and learn, and to see how this league operates,” Willie Cauley-Stein said.

Both former Duke Blue Devils, the plan is to let the pair grow together and build chemistry. Their contrast in style complements each other and they are quickly learning how to work together on the court.

“They’re both getting better individually, but they both look great playing together,” De’Aaron Fox said. “They know each other's tendencies.”

Since returning from a injury that cost him 11 straight games, Bagley is working himself back into shape. He’s averaging 10.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game over the four-game stretch, including a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double Monday against the Trail Blazers.

A top flight athlete, Bagley continues to show signs of star potential. His ability to rise up and shoot over the opposition in the lane is elite, as is his capacity to rebound in a crowd. He’s becoming a go-to scorer in the post, which gives the Kings an element they sorely need.

Giles is back in the rotation after a couple of stints in the G League. He’s adjusting to the speed of the game and finally finding a way to stay out of foul trouble. Giles had a breakout game in the team’s win over Detroit, which showed a lot of the improvements he is making.

“I told him, you’re still setting hard screens, now you’re setting more legal screens that are still hard and you’re not moving,” coach Dave Joerger said. “You’re in a stance defensively and your IQ is going up and your experience is going up so your communication is more effective.”

Where Bagley is an offensive force, Giles is equipped with elite court vision and a flare for the highlight reel pass. Giles is also active and physical on both ends of the court.

“When you add Harry and you add that vision at the high post, as well as the finishes in low post, I think it just calms us down,” Iman Shumpert said.

He can hit a jumper, take his opponent off the dribble and his jump hook is coming along nicely. Like Bagley, he can rebound at a high clip, but their contrasting styles are easy to spot.

“We’re going to need each other moving forward,” Bagley said. “It’s great having somebody who’s passionate like that, wants to win, who plays hard out there on the court at the same time as you.”

The two have started competing for rebounds, which is fun to watch. Bagley goes high for the boards, while Giles outpositions his opponent and snares the ball with his oversized hands.

For a team that ranks in the middle of the league in rebounding, the young duo is adding an ingredient that was missing before.

Both have a confidence level that comes from being elite prep prospects. They want to be on the court and they expect to succeed.

Joerger is slowly giving the pair a longer leash. He likes the early returns, but also has a vision for where they could be in a year or two. It takes patience and a lot of coaching to develop players, and bigs usually take a little longer than guards and wings.

In the modern NBA, you have to space the floor. Neither Bagley nor Giles have fully developed their 3-point shot, which makes things complicated for the coaching staff.

“Marvin’s a post up threat, Harry’s a post up threat, both of them are pretty good at the elbows,” Joerger said. “But if you kick them out to the perimeter, their dude ain’t running out with them at this point. That’s one of those, ‘not yet’ deals.”

There are stretches in the game where the coaching staff is running completely different play sets to help compliment the strengths of the young duo. The versatility of players like Bogdanovic, Yogi Ferrell and Justin Jackson helps out during these times.

Joerger, like most people, sees the talent level of the two and the team has a plan for how to get them to the next level. But patience is needed, not only from the team, but from the fanbase and the players themselves.

“Both of them are capable and both of them are improving their skills on the perimeter,” Joerger said. “I think that’s one of the things that everybody likes about their talent.”

It’s a long journey and Bagley and Giles are just starting to write their NBA stories. They are giving the league a small taste of what is to come.