Kings

Kings coach Luke Walton reportedly sued over alleged sexual assault

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Kings coach Luke Walton reportedly sued over alleged sexual assault

Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton is being accused of sexual assault in a lawsuit filed by sports broadcaster Kelli Tennant, according to court documents first obtained Monday by TMZ and confirmed by the Los Angeles Times.

TMZ, which originally reported that the incident occurred in May 2017, later corrected the timing to "sometime before Walton became head coach of the Lakers." The Times' Tania Ganguli reported the alleged assault happened when Walton was a Warriors assistant coach, a position he held from 2014 to 2016 before leaving for LA.

Walton's lawyer denied the allegations against his client in a statement released late Monday night.

"Luke Walton retained me to defend him against these baseless allegations," said Mark Baute, whom the Times noted also represented Minnesota Timberwolves star Derrick Rose in a lawsuit in which he was accused of raping a woman. "The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom."

KCRA-TV's Michelle Dapper tweeted four pages from the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, which outlined Tennant's relationship with Walton and detailed the alleged sexual assault, although it didn't provide the exact date of the incident.

According to the suit, Tennant knew Walton and his wife through the competitive volleyball circuit, as both women played in college. Tennant also worked with Walton when he was a Lakers analyst on Spectrum SportsNet and later covered him when he started coaching. Tennant, according to the suit, received "mentorship and advice" from Walton, whom she viewed as "a trusted colleague, mentor and even friend."

Tennant asked Walton to write the foreword to her book, "The Transition: Every Athlete's Guide to Life After Sports," which he did. The book was published July 8, 2014, just before Walton's first season as a Warriors assistant coach, and she later wanted to give him a copy when he was in Los Angeles for a Warriors-Lakers game.

Tennant met Walton at his Santa Monica hotel, where he told her to park her car so they could "catch up." Tennant did, but she was surprised, the suit says, when Walton went to the elevators to the rooms instead of the lobby, and told her: "It's fine. Come on up. It's me." 

Once in Walton's hotel room, Tennant and Walton talked about the book, his job with the Warriors and their families (Tennant knew Walton was married and had children). Then, the suit alleges, Walton "suddenly and out-of-nowhere" assaulted Tennant, pinning her to the bed, groping her and forcibly kissing her.

Tennant told Walton to stop, but he "laughed at her pleas," the suit alleges. Walton eventually let go, and after being restrained again, Tennant left the room once he finally released his grasp.

Tennant did not report the incident, though "she confided in certain people," the suit says. She also still had to interact with Walton because of her job, and he "would impose him" on Tennant with "with a big hug or kiss," instead of a handshake, according to the document.

Ganguli and ESPN's Ramona Shelburne confirmed via sources that Tennant's allegations never were reported to the Lakers. The team later said in a statement that the incident occurred before Walton was an employee and it indeed wasn't reported to them.

Tennant worked for Spectrum SportsNet in Los Angeles for five years, and covering the Lakers was among her many duties. An August 2018 profile of Tennant in The Press-Enterprise noted she had left Spectrum after the Dodgers' 2017 season ended and "shut down her social media accounts for a few months, and regrouped even as viewers wonder[ed] where she went."

The Times cites a second incident, months before Tennant's departure from the TV network, in the suit. According to the paper, Tennant spoke at a May 24, 2017, charity event in which Walton and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss were honored, and the then-LA coach "made lewd noises and looked at her suggestively before hugging her in an unwanted way." The Times said the suit used that incident as an example of a “pattern of mistreatment.”

[RELATED: Kings reportedly didn't know about accusations against Walton]

The Kings, who hired Walton last weekissued a statement after the news broke: "We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information. We have no further comment at this time."

The Warriors also provided a statement: "We became aware of the alleged incident and story this evening and are in the process of seeking more information. We’ll have no further comment at this time."

ESPN cited sources in reporting that the NBA opened an investigation into the case, although the league hasn't officially commented.

Kings begin search for 2019 NBA Draft steal, work out six prospects

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Kings begin search for 2019 NBA Draft steal, work out six prospects

The search for a diamond in the rough has begun in Sacramento. With head coach Luke Walton looking on, the Kings held their first predraft workout Monday.

It won’t be an easy search for Kings general manager Vlade Divac. Sacramento doesn’t have a first round pick in this year’s draft, although the Kings own three second-round selections: Nos. 40, 47 and 60 overall.

NBC Sports California confirmed that Stockton Kings head coach Ty Ellis and player development coach Bobby Jackson helped run the six-man workout. On Monday, ABC 10's Sean Cunningham reported that no new staff members conducted the workout.

Houston guard Armoni Brooks was a late addition to the group Monday, as he most likely tests the draft waters prior returning to college for his senior season. At 6-foot-3, 196 pounds, Brooks improved in each of his first three seasons at the NCAA level. He posted 13.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game and made 39 percent of his 3-point shots this season.

“Everytime you come to one of these workouts, we’re all really good players,” Brooks told reporters at the Kings facility (via ABC 10). “You’ve just got to find a way to impact the game in little ways - defense, rebounding, just doing the little things to separate yourself.”

Icelandic guard Jon Axel Gudmundsson is an intriguing prospect. Standing 6-foot-5, 190 pounds, he stuffed the stat sheet in his junior season at Davidson and posted 16.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. He had a down shooting year from distance, hitting just 35.3 percent from 3-point range. But he shot 40.6 percent a year prior, so there is room for growth.

Despite growing up overseas, Gudmundsson has watched plenty of NBA games and even knows a little about the Kings.

“This year I feel like it was kind of their rising year,” Gudmundsson told reporters Monday. “I feel like they’re coming up, and I feel like next year is going to be a playoff team and they’ve got a bright future ahead of them.”

Kansas State small forward Xavier Sneed matched up with BYU's Yoeli Childs in the workout. Sneed posted modest numbers as a junior and is undersized for a three. Childs, meanwhile, averaged 21.2 points and 9.7 rebounds in his third college season.

“It’s awesome,” Childs told reporters Monday in Sacramento about the pre-draft process. “It’s so much fun. You’re so close to living the dream that you’ve had your whole life. I really try to not take a single moment for granted. I’m really feel just blessed to be here.”

Reggie Perry from Mississippi State and Kevin Samuels out of TCU provided the post play. Perry is the youngest of the lot at just 19 years old. He averaged 9.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in his lone NCAA season.

Samuels, 21, was the big body. Measuring in at 6-foot-11, 250 pounds, the Horned Frogs center posted a modest 7.4 points and 6.9 rebounds in 24.9 minutes per game this season.

[RELATED: Ex-King Labissiere learning from bench in Blazers' run]

Perry is the only player from the current group who was invited to the NBA Combine in Chicago. None of the six prospects are currently listed on most two-round mock drafts, but plenty can change in the next few weeks.

This is only the beginning for Sacramento. The Kings likely will hold multiple workouts like this over the next month while they build up to the NBA draft June 20 at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. 

NBA odds: Kings' 2019-20 title odds increase following 39-43 season

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NBA odds: Kings' 2019-20 title odds increase following 39-43 season

For the first time in a long time, the Sacramento Kings are moving in the right direction.

Coming off a 27-win season in 2017-18, the Kings made a push to finish at the .500 mark this past season, but fell short, ending up with a 39-43 record.

The Kings missed the playoffs for a 13th straight season, but considering most projections have them winning 25 games, it was a successful year.

With the emergence of point guard De'Aaron Fox, shooting guard Buddy Hield, forward Marvin Bagley III, and the addition of forward Harrison Barnes, Las Vegas has increased the Kings' chances of winning the NBA title to +7500 during the 2019-20 season.

[RELATED: Labissiere learning on Blazers' bench]

Now, granted, their odds aren't great, but they are better than what they entered the 2018-19 season with, when Caesers had them at +100000, according to Kings.com.

The Kings have high hopes entering next season. They desperately want to end their playoff drought and believe they have the team that can do it.