Kings

Kings praise departing Iman Shumpert's leadership after Rockets trade

Kings praise departing Iman Shumpert's leadership after Rockets trade

SACRAMENTO -- #PurpleTalk just got a lot quieter in Sacramento. Veteran wing Iman Shumpert, was dealt to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night in a three-team, six-player swap, a source confirmed to NBC Sports California.

It’s a jarring move for a young locker room that had relied heavily on the 28-year-old to both lighten the mood, and help build a winning foundation.

"He was great, especially for the culture he helped create,” De’Aaron Fox told NBC Sports California. “It was great chemistry, but in this business, a lot of things happen. Guys get traded, guys get moved around, but you still have to go out and perform."

The timing of the trade couldn’t have been worse for the Kings. News broke around 5 p.m. as players were arriving at Golden 1 Center to take on the Rockets. Against a team like Houston, focus is a must and the team looked distracted early.

While he’d struggled on the offensive end as of late, Shumpert was a big part of Sacramento’s perimeter defense and his mentorship behind the scenes was extremely valuable.

“He was a big part of the team, he brought the energy every night - night in and night out,” rookie big man Marvin Bagley said. “When things weren’t going to well for us, he was always being positive and picking us up. He was a big part of the team. It was sad to see him go. It was like family.”

Head coach Dave Joerger wasn’t allowed to address the trade directly during his pregame comments since it had not yet been announced, but he did speak on what Shumpert has meant to the team this season.

“He’s been a terrific pro for us,” Joerger said. “He’s also given us some personality. We have a lot of nice guys that are young and still developing who they are as a player and who they are personality wise.”

Knowing he was going into the game short handed against James Harden, the best scorer in the league, Joerger said he was well aware of what was happening and what his team was up against.

“Obviously, Vlade and I are lock in step so I’ve been informed the whole way in this process,” Joerger said. “The next guy has to step up.”

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

Following the Shumpert news, the Kings front office was at it again just hours later. Zach Randolph and Justin Jackson were sent to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for forward Harrison Barnes.

This is the reality of the NBA. It’s a business. In case the young Kings didn’t know that before, they do now.

Kings in position to redeem themselves after playoff stumble last year

Kings in position to redeem themselves after playoff stumble last year

SACRAMENTO -- Is it too early to scoreboard watch? Not if you’ve missed the playoffs 13 consecutive seasons like the Sacramento Kings.

After an emotional road trip that included a brutal overtime loss followed by two incredible wins in the final seconds of games in Dallas and Houston, the Kings looked tired Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center.

And then they looked like someone reminded them what a win would do for the team in the standings.

Behind a lively crowd, the Kings stormed back against the Oklahoma City Thunder and pulled off a come-from-behind 94-93 victory to move to 11-13 on the season.

With the Phoenix Suns losing on Wednesday, the Kings caught them in the standings. After an 0-5 start to the season, Luke Walton’s squad is now locked in a three-way for the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings with the Suns and the Thunder.

“It was hard, the first five games, especially after the Charlotte game at home,” Bogdan Bogdanovic said after hitting the game-winning 3-pointer with 17.3 seconds remaining. “It was really, really hard and we should never forget that feeling, especially right now when we feel good.”

Sacramento fans booed the Kings off the court following the team’s 118-111 loss to the Hornets on Oct. 30. There was confusion and anguish in the locker room, but the players accepted responsibility and came back out two days later and beat the Utah Jazz.

“We should use that as an experience, as an advantage and motivation,” Bogdanovic said of the dark times the team has already gone through this season.

The Kings aren’t counting their chickens before they hatch. They learned that lesson the hard way last year when they faded down the stretch in a season filled with promise.

After moving into the seventh and eighth positions on multiple occasions throughout the 82-game schedule, they dropped seven of their final 10 contests and finished nine games out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

“Now we know how hard it is and how every game is important and we have to be locked in,” Bogdanovic insisted. “First game after a road trip was sloppy, like this one and we have to be locked in to play a much better game against New York.”

[RELATED: Fox feeling better, believes he's close to Kings return]

This is an important stretch of games for the Kings. They have climbed within two games of the .500 mark with games against the Knicks and Warriors on the docket. New York and Golden State have a combined 10-41 record on the season, but Sacramento is not in a position to look past anyone.

It’s really early to scoreboard watch. It was also really early when the Kings went winless to start the season.

Sacramento is motivated by the chase for the postseason. The Kings have a little taste of it now and a soft spot in the schedule. Let’s see how they react to the opportunity this time around.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 94-93 last-minute win over Thunder

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 94-93 last-minute win over Thunder

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- After two stunning road victories over the Mavs and Rockets, the Kings looked tired and disinterested for the better part of three quarters against the Thunder on Wednesday evening at Golden 1 Center. 

And then they woke up.

In another barnburner, Bogdan Bogdanovic knocked down a 3-pointer with 13.4 seconds remaining to give the Kings the 94-93 lead.

Oklahoma City isolated Chris Paul on Richaun Holmes on the final play and the Kings’ center locked down the future Hall of Fame guard as Sacramento escaped with its third straight win in dramatic fashion.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings shook off the rough start to stun the Thunder late to move to 11-13 on the season.  

Keep shooting

Hield has been streaky all season long and it was no different against the Thunder. The Kings’ leading scorer missed his first six shots before finally knocking down a triple to get things started.

He was spotty throughout the game until late when he kept Sacramento in it with one big shot after another.

Hield finished the night with 23 points, six assists and six rebounds. He shot just 9-for-24 from the field and 5-of-14 from long range, but the Kings needed a scoring punch and Hield kept firing until he found it.

A shot and a stop

Bogdanovic watched his fellow countryman Nemanja Bjelica drop in a 33-footer for the win Monday in Houston. He had a little magic of his own against a veteran OKC team. 

With the shot clock winding down, Bogi got his defender in the air, took a dribble and knocked down a huge shot from the left wing to give his team a one-point lead.

Moments later, it was the defense by Holmes that sealed the victory for Sacramento. Holmes finished the night with 10 points and seven rebounds, but he made his money with the stop to win it. 

[RELATED: Fox feeling better, believes he's close to Kings return]

Bagley back

After a 22-game absence with a broken thumb, power forward Marvin Bagley returned to action and played with energy. 

It wasn’t the performance the second-year big was looking for, but he managed to score 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in 23 minutes of action. 

One of the highlights for the former No. 2 overall pick was a play in the second quarter where he took the inbounds pass on one end, went coast-to-coast and scored over Steven Adams for the And-1. 

The Kings need Bagley to quickly integrate into the system and find his game after the extended layoff.