Kings' Harrison Barnes looks back on India trip, shares funny cricket story

Josh Pierce / Sacramento Kings

Kings' Harrison Barnes looks back on India trip, shares funny cricket story

SACRAMENTO -- Harrison Barnes went to India and got confused for a cricket evaluator.

No, we're not kidding.

Earlier this month, the Sacramento Kings small forward traveled to the country that will host his team and the Indiana Pacers for two preseason games in October and stopped in the Mumbai suburb of Dharavi to play the game of cricket with a few kids. Before Barnes knew it, the group grew from five kids to 20 to 45.

"As soon as I started making contact, it's like 45 kids now," Barnes told NBC Sports California at Golden 1 Center on Wednesday. "And they are lined up in a perfect line, and I'm like 'This is an end-of-the-game free throw, this is a lot of pressure right now.' And so we play and the kids are having fun and having a great time, and I was like 'That was really dope, all those kids kind of came and just wanted to hang out.' And one of the guys was like 'Well, they actually thought you were a cricket evaluator, so they were trying to get picked up for the Mumbai Indians, they were trying to further their career.'"

In case you're wondering, the Mumbai Indians are the recently crowned champions of the Indian Premiere League.

Barnes, as you know, is not a cricket talent evaluator. He's an NBA champion who is now, at the age of 26, one of the elder statesmen on the up-and-coming Kings squad.

Before the Kings head to Mumbai for a few days in October, Barnes got a sneak peek of India, taking in the sights, sounds, culture and food during a seven-day trip.

While Barnes flew into the Indian capital of Delhi and spent time at the Jr. NBA Academy in Noida, he also traveled to Mumbai and Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.

"I had a chance to do sightseeing, did the Jr. NBA camp in Delhi," Barnes said, "had a chance to go to Mumbai, experience some of the culture there and then got a chance to see the Taj Mahal, so it was a lot packed into a week, but it was good."

Barnes has traveled all over the world, but he had never been to India. While experiencing a new culture was important to him, lending a hand at the Jr. NBA camp in Noida was a big draw for Barnes. He's worked with the Jr. NBA camp in Iowa, where he's from, so doing this work fell in line with what he was already doing.

But for any American, spending time in India can be a culture shock.

"I kind of just went with an open mind," Barnes said. "I didn't have any expectations. I knew it was going to be different from anything I'd experienced before, so you know, just going there and riding in a rickshaw, doing things like that, it was pretty fun to try things differently and we actually had a lot of fun."

Barnes admitted that the biggest culture shock for him was when his group went to India Gate in Delhi on a Sunday night. They weren't expecting much of a crowd since it was a working night.

Boy, were they wrong. The crowd was overwhelming and Barnes' guides wanted to turn back. But he persisted and said he wanted to experience it.

"You hear about a billion people and you’re like, ‘What does that look like?’" Barnes said. "And it was just so many people that it was like a sea. We got through there and we get to India Gate, we take the pictures, we chill out a little bit and just seeing stuff like that, you’re like, ‘Wow, it’s crazy seeing this many people here on a Sunday night.’ It’s a work night, people are going to work tomorrow, it’s not a holiday, there’s just so many people there, I was like ‘Wow, this is pretty crazy.’"

Barnes said that he has been in communication with his Kings teammates about what they can expect in October and offered some advice to help them adjust once they step foot in India.

"For me, what made the trip very easy, I love Indian food, I’ve had it many times here in the States," Barnes said. "So for me, it was very easy, I was able to go over there and order, I didn’t even need a menu, I could just order different things. I’m kind of comparing the taste of what I’ve had here, what I’ve had there. For the guys that haven’t had Indian food, I’m like ‘You should probably try it here so you get an idea, you get familiar with things. You can go there and compare.’"

The two October preseason games are the brainchild of Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, who is from Mumbai. So before Barnes embarked on his trip, he touched base with his boss for tips on how to best experience the country.

"He was like ‘It’s going to be a great experience, you like to travel, so that’s a good thing. It’ll give you a perspective on everything that’s going on,’" Barnes said. "But he was like ‘But, it might be different for you. It’s going to be an assault on the senses, so just be aware of that, be ready to embrace that. As long as you welcome India with open arms, they’ll welcome you back.’ Everything he said was right on point."

[RELATED: Kings-Pacers critical for India]

For someone that grew up in Ames, Iowa and went to college in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, traveling to India expand the game of basketball is pretty surreal.

"This is probably the biggest surprise and one of the biggest things I’ve really enjoyed about being in the NBA," Barnes said. "Basketball has taken me all over the world, places I never thought I’d go. My first time getting on a plane was for basketball purposes, my first time traveling out of the country was for basketball purposes. So, now to be able to go see all these different places because of the game of basketball, because the game is growing, because there are NBA fans all around the world who want to hope to someday play in the NBA or just enjoy watching the sport, it’s bucket list after bucket list experience."

Now that Barnes has a leg up on his teammates, don't be surprised if he gets confused for a tour guide in October.

What Lakers' Anthony Davis trade could mean for Kings' offseason plans


What Lakers' Anthony Davis trade could mean for Kings' offseason plans

The wild, wild West.

With the strong smell of the Warriors’ blood fresh in the water, at least one Western Conference team is shooting its shot, and that definitely will impact the Sacramento Kings.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday that the Los Angeles Lakers have agreed to acquire star center Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans for a package of Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall selection in the 2019 NBA Draft.

It’s an interesting trade for Davis, who has missed plenty of time over his NBA career because of myriad physical ailments. The six-time All-Star played in just 55 games this past season, although it was more a precautionary move by the Pelicans after Davis’ representation made a trade demand prior to the All-Star break.

Ball has yet to establish himself in the league after being selected No. 2 overall by the Lakers in the 2017 NBA Draft. He’s missed 63 total games in two seasons, and his shooting woes are monumental.

Hart is a solid rotational player with upside, but he’ll likely be lost in a crowded New Orleans backcourt with Ball, Ingram and veteran Jrue Holiday. His addition in the deal also puts Elfrid Payton’s return in question after his solid season for the Pelicans.

Ingram is a wild card. He had a breakout 2018-19 season, posting 18.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game for the Lakers. But a late-season blood clot cost him time and is a concern moving forward.

So, what does this all mean for the Kings, their standing in the West and what they should do this offseason?

The Pelicans likely won’t be an immediate threat, since they’re starting over with a young core, which should include Zion Williamson, the expected No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft. They’ve lost a star, but they could quickly reload, especially if they can move the No. 4 pick acquired in the Davis deal for another major piece.

The Lakers, meanwhile, are swinging for the fences, and at 34, LeBron James is getting long in the tooth by NBA standards. By adding Davis while retaining Kyle Kuzma, the Lakers put themselves back on the map and considerably changed their age arc.

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka also has somewhere between $27 million and 32 million to play with in free agency, which is a good thing because his roster is filled with holes.

So, expect LA to add substantial pieces around James, Davis and Kuzma. Then the Lakers should come into the season as championship contenders and a tough matchup for the Kings.

The Pacific Division just became a lot more difficult, which isn’t good news for Sacramento, although Golden State likely will slip from its perch with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson both entering free agency and having just suffered major injuries.

The Kings, however, have a young core in place and $38 million to spend in free agency. That gives them an opportunity to greatly improve their roster with the right moves this summer, but their rise in the standings still will depend on the growth of players such as De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley.

This group needs more help, and this isn’t an offseason for the Kings to sit on their hands. Even before the Davis trade, general manager Vlade Divac hoped to upgrade at center, with a decision to make on Willie Cauley-Stein.

Now that the Kings will play against the Lakers and their new star big four times per season, whomever mans the position for Sacramento will become even more important. The team has been linked to Nikola Vucevic, DeAndre Jordan and Dewayne Dedmon in free agency rumor mills, and they could be a better fit against Davis.

[RELATED: Kings troll Warriors over Finals loss]

The Kings have high hopes for next season, including playoff aspirations. They can’t completely base their summer plans off what happens with the Warriors, Lakers or any other team, but it’s clear that one team in the Pacific just became a major player, and Sacramento needs to do the same with player development and smart free-agent signings.

Former NBA player turned Kings scout Predrag Drobnjak stops by Sacramento


Former NBA player turned Kings scout Predrag Drobnjak stops by Sacramento

SACRAMENTO -- The NBA draft process is entering its final week, and that means it’s time for the Kings to call all of their scouts back from afar and whittle the list to a handful of prospects for pick Nos. 40, 47 and 60.

During Wednesday’s workout, former player-turned-European scout Predrag Drobnjak was seated courtside next to longtime friends Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic. Following the workout, he hit the floor, took some shots and showed off some of his old moves.

In his playing days, Drobnjak was known for his ability to knock down a long-range shot, and in Seattle, he became a bit of a cult hero for his television ads, which still can be found hidden deep on the internet.

There used to be an entire website devoted to Drobnjak and the Drobnjak Manjaks. Unfortunately, it no longer is available.