Kings anticipating a 'healthy competition' at crowded center position

Kings anticipating a 'healthy competition' at crowded center position

SACRAMENTO — 48 minutes. Three players vying for time.

The Sacramento Kings aggressively chased Dewayne Dedmon on the opening day of free agency to fill the void at their center position. A day later, they continued their spending spree, signing Richaun Holmes to a 2-year, $10 million deal.

Dedmon and Holmes will join second-year big man Harry Giles in what should be a spirited battle for who plays and who sits at the center position.

“We can go with Dedmon who can space the floor for us, which can allow De’Aaron (Fox) to have that funnel right to the paint as often as we need him to,” Walton told NBC Sports California. “We’ve got Holmes, who is one of the most dynamic rollers in-game to play at the five. We have Harry, who is one of the best playmakers on our team from what I can tell from last year.”

Dedmon is the seasoned veteran. He’s bounced around the league over his six seasons in the NBA, but his ability to stretch the floor with the 3-point shot played heavily into the 3-year, $40 million contract he signed with Sacramento.

“Before Atlanta, coach didn’t want me to shoot threes,” Dedmon said during the Kings’ annual media day. “That didn’t stop me from working on it. Just working on craft every summer, every opportunity I had, and when the opportunity came, I was ready for it.”

The former USC star pivot 38.2 percent from long range with the Hawks last season and on paper, he looks like a perfect fit next to power forward Marvin Bagley. He’s also excited about the pace the Kings’ play at.

“This definitely fits my style of play,” Dedmon said of the Kings. “Fast, get up and down, run, it’s going to be fun.”

While Dedmon is known for his ability to shoot from downtown, Homes is a pick-n-roll specialist that loves to finish above the rim. An exceptional athlete, Holmes also posted tremendous defensive statistics last season in Phoenix.

“It’s going to be fun, we’re going to get better, we’re going to push each other every day,” Holmes said. “We’re a deep team and we knew that coming into it. There’s a lot of talented guys and I’m looking forward to throwing my hat in the ring and just getting a chance to compete.”

In addition to the two newcomers, Walton is going to have to evaluate Giles as well. He overcame a series of injuries to play 58 games in his rookie season last year.

“I’m just confident in my game and I know how I play,” Giles said. “I do what I do and I don’t think anybody else does it, so it just depends on what you want for whatever situation it is.”

A favorite of the front office, the former Duke Blue Devil has tons of potential and began to settle into his role with Sacramento last season before a quad injury shut him down late in the season.

Dedmon is the shooter, Holmes is the rim runner and Giles is an enforcer with soft hands and advanced passing skills.

“I think we all just bring different things to the table,” Giles said. “I’m ready to compete. That’s what it’s all about. You’ve got to bring different guys in, it’s the NBA, so it can’t be easy. At the same time, you have to keep it a challenge and you have to have depth too.”

When opening night tips off on Oct. 23, it’s likely one of these players is going to be out of the rotation, at least initially. Both Dedmon and Giles have a history of injuries, so depth at the position is welcome.

With only three days of training camp before the team ventures to India to open the preseason, Walton has his hands full trying to see who deserves time and which player combinations work best.

“Healthy competition, healthy competition,” Walton said. “I’ve been on great teams that are deep and they support each other. You try to go at each other every single day in practice. By doing that, you make the team better, you make yourself better and then at the end of the day, it’s up to me to make the choice on who’s earned those minutes.”

[RELATED: Four rotation battles to watch during Kings camp]

Walton said position battles will likely run all the way through the preseason schedule and they might even spill into the regular season.

The Kings paid Dedmon big money to be the starter, but he played 25 minutes last season in Atlanta and is likely going to see something similar in Sacramento early in the year. Holmes and Giles will battle for the backup spot, but they are a hungry duo and Walton is going to have a tough time keeping them off the court.

Kings' narrow overtime loss to Heat all too familiar in trying season

Kings' narrow overtime loss to Heat all too familiar in trying season

The Miami Heat are the best home team in the NBA. They came into Martin Luther King Jr. day with an 18-1 record at AmericanAirlines Arena, and they picked up their 19th win in 20 chances with a nail-biting 118-113 overtime win against the Kings.

It’s another tough pill to swallow for Sacramento. After trailing late in the fourth quarter, Heat big man Bam Adebayo appeared to push off of Kings point guard Cory Joseph at the rim. Adebayo made a bucket with 0.8 seconds remaining that likely will show up on Tuesday’s Last Two Minute Report. 

The Kings fell behind early in overtime, but a couple of huge three-pointers from Buddy Hield gave them a late lead. Miami didn't give in, though, eventually handing Sacramento a fifth straight loss. 

“That’s more of our team that I’m used to seeing as far as how hard we competed,” Kings coach Luke Walton told reporters in Miami. “That kind of has to get back to being the standard of how we play each and every night. All guys giving everything they have. Unfortunate loss. Give Miami credit, they had a lot of big shots.”

In a season filled with bad beats and last-second misses, this one felt familiar. The Kings now have played 20 games decided by five points or fewer, and they are just 7-13 in those contests.

It’s not one player or one reason for the record, but an assortment of issues that always seem to pop up at the wrong moment. 

Nemanja Bjelica put up big numbers for the Kings in Miami, finishing Monday with 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting. His rebound and putback with 1.9 seconds remaining in regulation looked like the game-winner for the Kings.

Marvin Bagley put in a strong game as well, scoring 15 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in 38 minutes in just his fourth game back from injury. 

“I thought he gave a winning effort tonight,” Walton said of Bagley. “It’s unfortunate it didn’t turn into a win for us.” 

Hield gave the Kings a late lead in overtime, but the Heat kept charging back once again.  

“He’s always a constant threat to score quickly and he’s evolving as an all-around player too, taking more responsibility on defense and the other things that we ask him to do,” Walton said. 

Hield finished the night with 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, but he also shot just 5-of-17 from 3-point range in 43 minutes of action.

“I don’t necessarily consider ourselves a bad team, we just can’t figure it out,” Hield said. “Guys hurt, in and out of the lineup. We’re trying to figure out coverages.”

[RELATED: What will Kings' plan be as NBA trade deadline approaches?]

The Kings have been in a tailspin since mid-December, and it could continue. 

They are 3-13 over their last 16 contests, and they currently sit a season-worst 13 games under .500 at 15-28. The Kings also are in the middle of their longest road trip of the season with stops in Detroit, Chicago and Minnesota on the schedule before their next home game on Feb. 7.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 118-113 overtime loss to Heat

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 118-113 overtime loss to Heat


The best way to avoid the South Beach flu? Spend an extra day in Utah.

After a blowout loss to the Jazz in Salt Lake City on Saturday, the Kings (15-28) took their time getting to Miami. They looked fresh and focused from the opening tip Monday night against the Heat (30-13) and put up a strong showing against one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.

Unfortunately for the Kings, it wasn’t quite enough to come away with a win.

Playing without All-Star Jimmy Butler, veterans Goran Dragic and James Johnson stepped up to combine for 40 points off the Heat bench. Rookie Kenrick Nunn scored 25 and Duncan Robinson hit some huge threes to give Miami a boost in a 118-113 win over Sacramento. 

Here are three takeaways from the Kings' fifth straight loss. 

From Serbia with love

Nemanja Bjelica and Bogdan Bogdanovic have plenty of chemistry from their time playing together on the Serbian National team. Against the Heat, the two looked completely in sync. 

Bjelica hit his first five shots and finished the game with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting. He added six rebounds, three assists and a steal in 36 minutes of action.

In his second game back from injury, Bogdanovic came off the bench to score 14 points for Sacramento. He had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but Johnson blocked the 3-point attempt.

Battling Bagley

Marvin Bagley struggled with his pick-and-roll defense against Rudy Gobert on Saturday. That wasn’t the case Monday against the Heat. 

Bagley scored 15 points on 7-of-13 shooting and grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds. He was active on the defensive end and even had a couple of big hustle plays. 

This is the type of game the Kings need from their second-year centerpiece. Bagley held Bam Adebayo in check, and he was opportunistic on the offensive end. 

In the final minutes of regulation, Bagley attacked the glass and came up with a pair of huge putbacks to help the Kings keep it close.

[RELATED: What will Kings' plan be as NBA trade deadline approaches?]

Stuff the stat sheet

Buddy Hield is known for his scoring, but he did a little bit of everything against the Heat.

With his 3-pointer on the fritz, Hield became a distributor for Sacramento and dished out seven assists. He hit the glass for seven rebounds and even picked up three steals and a pair of blocks. 

When the shot isn’t falling, this is the type of outing the Kings need from Hield. He was active on the defensive end and made an impact on the game.

After hitting just 3-of-14 from deep through the first 48 minutes of the game, Hield finally got a pair of triples to drop in the overtime session and finished the game with 20 points.