Kings

Kings 'have a couple All-Stars,' fired assistant Larry Lewis believes

Kings 'have a couple All-Stars,' fired assistant Larry Lewis believes

Amidst all the reshuffling in the Western Conference over the last few weeks, it's easy to forget that the Sacramento Kings are one of the up-and-coming teams in the NBA.

Led by De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles, the Kings won 39 games last season and have a promising future.

But the group of coaches that helped get those players to where they are won't get to see the job through to the finish line. The Kings fired head coach Dave Joerger after the season and let all of his assistants go.

Two of those coaches, Elston Turner and Larry Lewis, recently spoke to the Sacramento Bee about their departure and what they are leaving behind.

“They have a couple All-Stars,” Lewis told The Bee. “I saw a lot of potential in that young, core group. These players have a learning curve, but they were adapting very, very quickly to what was going on. Do they have a lot to learn? Of course, but at the same time, these guys are for real. I would have loved to have been a part of that going forward, but their decision is their decision and I’m at peace with it."

Fox and Hield made the biggest jumps this past season. It's clear the work with Lewis, who was a player development coach, paid off.

“It was a great experience,” Lewis told The Bee. “The players really grew. They really matured a lot. We had a great season. The team got a lot better. The players got a lot better. That’s what it’s all about.”

From Year 1 to Year 2, Fox went from averaging 11.6 points per game to 17.3. His field goal percentage improved from 41.2 percent to 45.8 percent, and his 3-point shooting improved from 30.7 percent to 37.1 percent. Those numbers combined with the highlight-reel plays he made were good enough to help him finish third in the NBA's Most Improved Player voting.

As for Hield, he blossomed from a spot-starter to a guy that started all 82 games for the Kings this past season. He entered the year shrouded in questions, but answered every single one of them by averaging a career-high 20.7 points per game and sinking a Kings' single-season record 278 3-pointers.

Bagley and Giles, both rookies, showed that they have the potential to be difference-making bigs in the NBA.

[RELATED: Barkley: Kings won't make playoffs]

“You could see the improvement,” Turner told The Bee. “A lot of guys got better and Larry was head of the player development department, so he did a hell of a job.”

Now it will be up to new head coach Luke Walton and his staff to help the Kings' young core continue their development. If they do, Sacramento will be a force in the Western Conference for years to come.

Kings' De'Aaron Fox to miss final preseason game with sore lower back

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USATSI

Kings' De'Aaron Fox to miss final preseason game with sore lower back

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings held their breath Monday evening in Utah when young star point guard De’Aaron Fox went to the bench with 10:20 remaining in the third quarter. 

Already shorthanded at point guard with Cory Joseph nursing a sore calf muscle, Kings coach Luke Walton turned to Bogdan Bogdanovic to run the show.

The initial diagnosis given during the game was a sore lower back for Fox. On Tuesday afternoon, the team updated the 21-year-old’s status.

Fox will miss the team’s preseason game Wednesday against Melbourne United, but just as a precaution. He is expected to be ready when the regular season opens next week in Phoenix against the Suns. 

[RELATED: Kings guards Fox, Hield relive scoring first NBA baskets]

After posting 17.3 points and 7.3 assists per game last season, Fox has shown plenty of growth in the early preseason. Through four games, he’s averaging 14.5 points and six assists in 26.8 minutes per game in Walton’s system.

Fox played in 81 of the Sacramento’s 82 games last season. 

Kings guards De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield relive scoring first NBA baskets

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USATSI

Kings guards De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield relive scoring first NBA baskets

You don't often forget your firsts. 

For some NBA players, the memory of when they made their basket on the big stage sticks with them.

ESPN interviewed a number of marquee NBA players, who discussed how they remember their first bucket.

For Kings guard De'Aaron Fox, he remembers every detail.

"I checked in. It was actually on Trevor [Ariza], who's with us now. I did my little move, went by him, he did a back-tap, missed it and I had a layup. Yeah, I remember that. It was great. It was cool. For me, playing against the Rockets, growing up in Houston and then playing them for my first regular-season game in the NBA, it was definitely fun. It was a great experience."

For his teammate Buddy Hield, his experience was filled with much more anxiety.

"It was at New Orleans," he said. "We played against the Denver Nuggets. It was an isolation play and I got a left-handed layup going down the lane. It was wide open, and it was one of the hardest layups I've ever made. I don't know how I made it, but I made it, because it was wide open. It was one of those things. Your first NBA basket [comes with] all the anxiety, all the pressure, but it was fun, it was cool."

ESPN also interviewed Lakers wing Kyle Kuzma, veteran guard JJ Redick, and others. The verdict across the board appears to be synonymous: Anxious, high-pressure moments that they wouldn't trade anything for.

[RELATED: Hield doesn't want 'insult' contract offers]

Fox recently spoke out about wanting the Kings to keep Hield on the team with a long-term contract after a season where the two developed strong chemistry on the court. To keep that core group together is something Fox wants -- and he's making sure the negotiations have started to get that process going.