Kings

Kings, NBA announce joint investigation into Luke Walton allegations

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USATSI

Kings, NBA announce joint investigation into Luke Walton allegations

SACRAMENTO -- The Luke Walton situation isn’t going away anytime soon.

After two days of back and forth between accuser Kelli Tennant and her attorney and Walton’s representation, the Sacramento Kings and the NBA have announced a joint investigation into Tennant's allegations of sexual assault against Walton.

KINGS AND NBA ANNOUNCE JOINT INVESTIGATION
-- Team Hires Independent Investigator --

 

Sacramento, CA – The Sacramento Kings and the National Basketball Association announced today that they have commenced a joint investigation into the allegations contained in a civil lawsuit filed Monday against Kings Head Coach Luke Walton.
 
The Kings have hired Sue Ann Van Dermyden, founding partner of Sacramento law firm Van Dermyden Maddux, who is an expert on employment law with decades of experience in conducting investigations, and Jennifer Doughty, a veteran investigator and senior associate attorney at Van Dermyden Maddux. They will lead the Kings investigatory team.
 
The NBA's investigatory team will be led by Elizabeth Maringer, Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, Integrity and Investigations. Prior to joining the NBA, Ms. Maringer served 12 years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, including three as Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division.
 
The Kings and the NBA take these allegations very seriously and will collaborate to conduct a complete and thorough investigation.

It appears that the Kings are ready to wait out the process. Walton signed a four-year contract to become the team’s new head coach on April 15. A week later, Tennant, a former broadcaster for Spectrum SportsNet, filed a civil suit against Walton in a Southern California court.

The initial incident, which allegedly took place in 2014, occurred while Walton was an assistant coach on the Golden State Warriors staff. During Tennant's press conference on Tuesday, she alleged Walton engaged in continued inappropriate behavior all the way up to 2017, while he served as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

According to a league source, it is too early to give an estimation on how long this may last, but the investigation has already commenced.

Kings finalize deal to bring in Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver

Kings finalize deal to bring in Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver

The deal is done.

After a 72-hour delay, the Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers officially have completed a trade to swap Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan for Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver and two second-round draft picks.

Due to Gabriel’s signing date, he couldn’t be traded until Jan. 21, which is why the trade was put on ice for a few days.

Gabriel, an undrafted combo forward out of the Sudan via the University of Kentucky, spent last season as a two-way player for the Kings. He played his way onto the roster through hard work over the summer and training camp.

Like Gabriel, Swanigan put in extra time with the team’s training staff during the offseason. He completely reshaped his body during his time with the Kings, losing massive amounts of weight and building muscle.

This pair worked together, along with second-rounder Justin James and big man Harry Giles, playing pickup games after practice. They were instrumental in helping Giles get back on the floor after a rough start to the season.

“They both work extremely hard and they’ve been with me through my process of getting back to where I need to be,” Giles told NBC Sports California. “I got nothing but love for them the whole way and I know they are going to be successful wherever they go.”

Swanigan and Giles were both part of the 2017 NBA Draft class. Giles was selected by the Kings at No. 20- overall, and Swanigan went six selections behind him at No. 26 to the Blazers. But the prep basketball circuit is a much smaller world than you would expect, especially when you are dealing with NBA prospects.

“Those are my boys, I’ve known them from before we got in the league so I have a special relationship with them,” Giles said. “I’m happy for them to get a new opportunity. They’re still in the NBA, so it’s a blessing for them.”

The players joining the Kings both have ties to Sacramento as well. Tolliver played with the Kings during the 2016-17 season, before being waived during the summer of '17. He averaged 7.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in 65 games for the Kings in his lone season and shot an impressive 39.1 percent from 3-point range.

Bazemore played with Dewayne Dedmon over the last few seasons in Atlanta before he was traded to Portland during the offseason. In addition, he broke into the league as part of the Golden State Warriors' 2012-13 rookie class that included Festus Ezili, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes.

“Coming into the league, I think Kent really worked hard to establish himself as a good two-way player -- a guy who can knock down shots and defend at a high level,” Harrison Barnes told NBC Sports California.

Undrafted out of Old Dominion, Bazemore bounced back and forth between the Warriors and the D-League during his first two seasons, but he still managed to suit up and play 61 games alongside Barnes in his rookie season.

The two forged a friendship and have stayed in contact over the years despite no longer playing for the same team.

“We spent a lot of time together, developed a great friendship and we still have that,” Barnes said.

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

There is no word on how coach Luke Walton will use either Bazemore or Tolliver. Of the two, Bazemore should be able to find a role in the Kings’ wing rotation. He is an energy player that can defend multiple positions and he can eat some of the minutes that Ariza was receiving.

Tolliver is lost in a sea of bigs on the front line, although Sacramento has struggled with injury woes all season long and there always is a chance the 12-year NBA vet will be needed at some point.

Both players are on their way to Detroit to meet up with the Kings. There is a good chance they will be eligible to play Wednesday night when Sacramento faces off with the Pistons.

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.