Kings

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. 

Kings already back at team's practice facility early in NBA offseason

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USATSI

Kings already back at team's practice facility early in NBA offseason

SACRAMENTO -- The bounce of a ball is a siren's call for true hoopers. With the offseason fewer than six weeks old, Kings players have already descended on the team’s practice facility floor.

A few players took a quick break before jumping right back into the action. But, with the NBA draft still a month away, it’s already time to get the band back together.

De’Aaron Fox has been hitting the weight room hard for the last three weeks. He’s ready to back up his sophomore jump with another step forward in year three.

Frank Mason and Willie Cauley-Stein were in the gym shooting jumpers following Thursday’s draft prospect workout. Mason is getting a fresh start with a new head coach. The team has a third-year option on the former second round pick that becomes guaranteed in October, so he’s not wasting any time auditioning for Luke Walton and the Kings brass.

Cauley-Stein is a King until he’s not. The 25-year-old big can become a restricted free agent on June 30. It is unknown at this time if general manager Vlade Divac will extend a $6 million qualifying offer to the team’s starting center and make him an RFA, or if they will allow him to walk away for nothing.

Harry Giles continues to rehab his quad, and he’s getting stronger. He’s trying to show that he is part of the young core moving forward and he needs to bulk up if he’s going to play primarily at the center position.

After a quick trip to India with the NBA, Harrison Barnes is also back in Sacramento. The veteran forward has a player option for next season at $25 million that he’s likely to pick up. He has openly talked about the Kings’ trip to play in Mumbai during the preseason and it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.

Nemanja Bjelica has spent time in the gym, too, as has two-way player Wenyen Gabriel. Gabriel finished the season in a walking boot after a foot injury, and he’s just now starting to get up shots. Like most of the young Kings, his focus this summer is on getting stronger -- whether it’s for a second season with the Stockton Kings of the G League or with the parent club.

Stockton head coach Ty Ellis is in town helping run prospect workouts, as is player development coach Bobby Jackson.

Luke Walton is working to fill out his coaching staff and has not been made available to the media. The team has yet to place a timetable on the investigation into sexual assault allegations made against the 39-year-old and they have no plans to comment publicly on the situation until a joint investigation with the NBA is completed.

While no additions to Walton’s staff have been announced, Jesse Mermuys -- who was an assistant with Walton in Los Angeles with the Lakers -- has been at the workouts as well, and is expected to join the staff in Sacramento.

[RELATED: Warriors, Kings games could start earlier in near future]

Assistant general managers Peja Stojakovic and Ken Catanella, and the team’s scouting staff, have been in attendance for the prospect workouts with Divac in Europe for the EuroLeague Final Four.  

More prospect workouts are expected this week as the Kings continue search for players worthy of the No. 40, 47 and 60 picks in the upcoming draft.  

Tacko Fall highlights six NBA draft prospects to roll through Sacramento

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AP

Tacko Fall highlights six NBA draft prospects to roll through Sacramento

SACRAMENTO -- Cat stuck in a tree? Smoke alarm battery running low? Need someone to wash the middle of the roof of your car? Tacko Fall has you covered.

Imagine walking through life never needing a step stool and having to watch out for ceiling fans in every room you visit. At 7-foot-7 with an 8-foot-2.25 wingspan, Fall grasps the rim standing flat footed.

One of the largest prospects to ever measure at the NBA combine, the 23-year-old center out of the University of Central Florida dropped by Sacramento as part of the Kings’ fourth six -man work out of the week.

“I feel like teams already have an identity of what I can do, they have seen me a lot,” Fall said. “It’s just me being more consistent with what I do, running up and down the floor, being great defensively and that’s what I can bring to any team.”

Fall put up solid numbers in his four years with the Knights. He finished his senior season averaging 11.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 24.9 minutes per game under head coach Johnny Dawkins.

The giant out of Dekar, Senegal shot an incredible 74.8 percent from the field in his final, collegiate season, although he struggled from the free throw line, knocking down just 36.2 percent from the stripe.

“Big dude, big physical presence,” Duke big man Marques Bolden said. “I kind of knew what to expect coming in today.”

Fall and Bolden faced off in the NCAA tournament, with Duke coming away with a narrow 77-76 victory to advance to the Sweet 16. Fall out performed Bolden in the contest, posting 15 points, six rebounds and three blocks.

Bolden is still deciding whether he will stay in school for another year. He played with both Harry Giles and Marvin Bagley during his time at Duke and there’s a chance he’ll return for his senior year with Coach K.

For the rest of the players at the workout, playing with Fall was a new experience.

“Fun, Fun, I’ve never played with someone 7-7 or 7-6,” Amir Hinton out of Shaw University said. “He’s huge. All you have to do is throw the ball to the rim and he’s going to catch it. I had fun, I enjoyed that.”

Playing at a Division II college, Hinton is a rarity in the workout process. He skipped the AAU experience, instead choosing to earn his stripes as a street baller in Philadelphia. He posted huge numbers at Shaw, earning DII All-American honors while averaging 29.4 points per game for the Bears.

Iowa State’s Nick Weiler-Babb is an experienced player after four seasons at the NCAA level. He’s a big guard that held his own in the Big 12 and he had a unique take on playing against Fall.

“In the league, everybody is tall, everybody is athletic,” guard Iowa State Nick Weiler-Babb said of playing against Fall. “It just gives you a little preview of what you’re going up against. Tacko’s a good player. He’s not clumsy, nothing like that. He knows what he’s doing. He’s good with his feet. It’s good to go against a guy like that.”

Myles Powell from Seton Hall had the honor of following Fall in the media sessions. While the camera guys adjusted their tripods back to normal level, the junior point guard showed a maturity and confidence that you don’t often see during the interview process.

“You’ve never really been around someone that big, let alone on the basketball court with them,” Powell said. “Going through this process, about ready to be in the NBA, it’s always good to get a good body like that on the floor with you.”

After posting 23.1 points per game last season in the Big East, Powell has a huge decision in front of him. With just days to choose whether to return for his senior season or stay in the draft, workouts like the one in Sacramento are extremely important to gain valuable feedback.

Senior Jalen Hudson doesn’t have the option of going back to school before the May 29 deadline. Coming off a rough shooting season at Florida, he was looking to impress NBA scouts with the hopes of continuing his basketball career.

“I’m just trying to show people that I can shoot it really well, that I have confidence that I can really play at this level,” Hudson said. “Obviously numbers are kind of a big thing, but really when you can come in here and show off, that says a lot too.”

[RELATED: How NCAA rules change Kings' evaluation process]

Of all the players that came through Sacramento on Thursday, Fall is the lone player that is listed on some draft boards and even he is expected to go in then late second round.

The Kings have picks No. 40, 47 and 60 to work with and are looking for a few diamonds in the rough. They’ve hosted 24 prospects this week, many of which will return to the college level next season.