Kings overwhelmed by last-minute trades, unrelenting Rockets in loss

Kings overwhelmed by last-minute trades, unrelenting Rockets in loss

SACRAMENTO -- Stunned. Shellshocked. Overwhelmed.

The Kings looked broken after their 127-101 blowout loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, and it had nothing to do with the final score. It’s a young squad, and the two transactions that changed the look of their rotation seem to have taken a toll on the group.

Iman Shumpert? Gone. Justin Jackson? Gone. All within two hours of tipoff.

For point guard De’Aaron Fox, losing Jackson as a teammate was especially difficult. The two played high school basketball together, and Jackson served as a big brother of sorts to the Kings star.

“I’ve got to get through it myself,” Fox said. “We’re off tomorrow and we’ve got to just let this roll off our back, especially this game. We’re not going to let this become the norm, but it’s just one of those days.”

Fox went through the deadline last season. He watched guards George Hill and Malachi Richardson walk out the door and not come back. He also saw Garrett Temple, the team’s leader, leave over the summer.

While Harry Giles was with the team last season, he didn’t play or travel with the group full time. This experience was new, and he gave a heartfelt answer when asked about what Jackson and Shumpert meant to the Kings.

“You can’t put a enough appreciation on those two,”  Giles said. “The energy they brought was priceless in a way, very priceless. Something that shakes and you feel it when they leave.”

Fox was emotional. Giles was emotional. The entire room felt different. The vibe was off and the group knows that it’s still not over. The deadline doesn’t hit until Thursday at noon PT. There is time for another move or two.

Maybe it takes being traded to gain the necessary perspective.

Buddy Hield compared the feeling to switching schools and having to get used to a new environment, make new friends and figure out all the rules. After three trade deadlines, Hield knows what to expect.

"This is professional business and you've got to move on,” Hield said. “You can't dwell on it. If you dwell on it, you know, you get lost in the sauce."

Shumpert’s locker was next to Hield’s for the last year. They spent plenty of time together, and the banter between the two was comical at times. Saying goodbye to a friend like this just moments before a game is difficult.

“Today leaves a bad taste in your mouth,” Hield added. “Everybody’s mind is all messed up. It happened so quick. We lost some guys we’ve been to battle with.”

[RELATED: Latest 2019 NBA trade deadline news, rumors, updates]

To add insult to injury, the Rockets came in and thumped the Kings. Houston was the agressor from the opening tip, and Sacramento looked lost.

Thursday should be a day to regroup. The Shumpert trade is not official through the league yet, although it is expected to go through the league office early on Thursday.

There is no early word as to whether Harrison Barnes or Alec Burks will be available to play Friday against the Miami Heat. All players from both trades have 48 hours to report and take physicals before the transaction can be finalized.

Team USA 'understands' why Kings' De'Aaron Fox opted out of World Cup

Team USA 'understands' why Kings' De'Aaron Fox opted out of World Cup

It appears USA Basketball isn’t holding grudges against every player who withdrew from the program's roster prior to the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

On ESPN’s “The Jump” last week, analyst Amin Elhassan suggested that De’Aaron Fox would not be welcomed back to the program for future competitions, adding that he wasn’t sure what the Kings guard was “saving himself for.”

USA Basketball communications director Craig Miller took exception to the notion, telling The Sacramento Bee on Saturday that the program “understands De’Aaron’s decision” to withdraw. 

“Given De’Aaron was added into consideration for the World Cup team after originally being part of the USA Select Team in Las Vegas, USA Basketball understands De’Aaron’s decision,” Miller said.

Fox and Kings teammate Marvin Bagley originally were members of the USA Select Team, which was scheduled to practice against the national team as it prepared for the World Cup.

The duo was called up to the national team roster following a litany of player withdrawals, but ultimately, the Kings duo decided to withdraw from consideration to focus on preparation for the 2019-20 NBA season.

Skipping the event made sense for Sacramento’s players, as the team will play two preseason games in Mumbai, India, adding a significant amount of travel to what's already a grueling schedule for West Coast NBA teams. 

Harrison Barnes ended up being the only King who competed for the U.S. team in China, as the 27-year-old scored just under 12 points per game in 26.5 minutes through eight contests.

[RELATED: Team USA's cloak of invincibility has all but vanished on world stage]

Managing Director Jerry Colangelo voiced his frustration with the team's seventh-place finish this past week, and said he would remember all those who decided to withdraw.

Still, look for both Fox and Bagley to be in the mix for spots on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics roster.

Can Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic bring World Cup stardom back to Sacramento?

Can Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic bring World Cup stardom back to Sacramento?

Serbia finished off their 2019 FIBA World Cup run Saturday morning with a 90-81 victory over the Czech Republic. A fifth-place finish is not what the Serbs were hoping for when they entered the field in China. It was a disappointing showing for a team that came into the tournament with visions of gold.

Losses to perennial international powerhouses in Spain and Argentina proved to be the undoing of Serbia, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Sacramento Kings wing Bogdan Bogdanovic. In fact, the 27-year-old has been the talk of the tournament, despite his team’s early exit.

For the tournament, the smooth shooting guard averaged 22.9 points, 4.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds in 28 minutes per game. During his team’s eight contests, Bogdanovic knocked down 35-of-66 (53 percent) attempts from behind the arc and ran an incredible +100 overall in the plus/minus category.

Bogdanovic was the star of his team and possibly even the MVP of the tournament. He took ownership of his team and put on a show. More importantly for his team back in the NBA, he escaped the tournament without injury and looks ready to take another big step forward in his third season in the league.

It’s possible Bogdanovic will need to take it easy through training camp and the preseason schedule as he recovers not only from the World Cup, but the extreme travel schedule. He’ll fly to Sacramento and then back to India in the first week of October for the Kings’ preseason matchups against the Indiana Pacers.

The Kings have undoubtedly kept a close eye on Bogdanovic throughout the tournament to ensure that he returns to the States in good health, and they have to love what they are seeing on the court. Luke Walton is still learning his players, but like everyone else in Sacramento, he has to wonder if Bogdanovic can translate his international success to another step forward with the Kings.

This is the third straight summer Bogdnaovic has come to the Kings after playing in international competition. His rookie season in the league, Bogdanovic looked worn out early in the year as he adjusted to a new league. In his sophomore season, Bogdanovic missed 11 of the first 12 games after sustaining an injury during the EuroBasket tournament, undergoing knee surgery at the start of camp.

Now fully healthy, Bogdanovic will enter camp competing for minutes in a crowded rotation in Sacramento. The early plan is likely for Bogdanovic to be a key component in the second unit. He’ll have an opportunity to be an offensive leader of the group with veterans like Cory Joseph, Trevor Ariza and Nemanja Bjelcia flanking him.

How good can Bogdanovic be? It’s a question the Kings are anxious to learn.

He’s often drawn comparisons to former San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobili, who spent years coming off the bench for Gregg Popovich’s club. Like Bogdanovic, Ginobili continued to star in international play as well as with his team in the NBA.

Prior to his third NBA season, a 27-year-old Ginobili led Argentina to a gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. That experience appeared to work as a catalyst for the player Ginobili became in the NBA. 

He would go on to make the All-Star team for the first time during the 2004-05 season and he became a vital member of a perennial championship contender in San Antonio.

The Kings can only hope that Bogdanovic will have a similar career trajectory to Ginobili’s. With any luck, his latest experience in World Cup play will give him the confidence to be a more assertive NBA player and to take ownership of the Kings like he has with the Serbian national team.

[RELATED: How Luke Walton could use Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield this year]

Sacramento could use a player that can score at will and makes his teammates better. They have seen flashes of this from Bogdanovic, but they need more.

There is an outline of what Bogdanovic can be. He’s a long way away from a real comparison to Ginobili, but if he can be the player he was for Serbia, he can be a difference-maker for the Kings.