Kings rookie SG Richardson expected to see expanded role

Kings rookie SG Richardson expected to see expanded role

SACRAMENTO -- Malachi Richardson is the next man up. 

According to head coach Dave Joerger, he’s seen enough from the Sacramento Kings’ shooting guards and he’s going to give the rookie first-round pick an opportunity. 

“I think that it’s time for Malachi to get into the rotation, especially with Rudy (Gay) out,” Joerger said. “That’s something that you’ll see, probably, going forward.”

His first look came in the third quarter of Sacramento’s 112-98 loss to the Grizzlies on New Year’s Eve. Richardson, 21, finished the night with seven points on 2-of-4 shooting in 10 minutes of action.

“I’ve just got to get in and be aggressive,” Richardson said. “I just want to help my team. If he’s going to play me, I want to get out there and play as hard as I can.”

Richardson, like the Kings’ other first-round picks - Skal Labissiere and Georgios Papagiannis - has been commuting back and forth between Sacramento and the Reno Bighorns all season long. None of the three have been playing meaningful minutes for the Kings since training camp.

With the Bighorns, Richardson has shined, averaging 21.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in 35 minutes per game. He’s shot 42.9 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range in 11 games playing under head coach Darrick Martin.

“I think it helped a lot,” Richardson said of his experience with the Bighorns. “It gave me more confidence, got me back in the flow of actually playing. I’ve just got to be aggressive.”

Taken out of Syracuse with the 22nd overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft, Richardson has the prototypical size of an NBA shooting guard. He stands 6-foot-6, 205-pounds with a 7-foot wingspan and he posted a 38-inch vertical leap at the combine, but there were concerns about his defense coming out of college.

“I think I’m pretty good defensively,” Richardson said. “Get down in a stance and guard - it’s either that or get scored on.”

Joerger didn’t mention what Richardson’s promotion means for the remainder of the Kings’ shooting guards. He said in pregame Saturday afternoon that he intends to keep veteran Garrett Temple with the second unit. 

Both Ben McLemore and Arron Afflalo have been given an opportunity to start, but neither have flourished in the role. McLemore is averaging 6.1 points on 40.7 percent shooting in 16.9 minutes and Afflalo was posting 7.2 points on 40.7 percent shooting in 23.8 minutes per game before going down with an elbow strain. 

The coaching staff has raved about Richardson’s demeanor dating all the way back to training camp. He has a confidence about him that they hope translates to the NBA. It sounds like Joerger is ready to test and see what the rookie can bring to the table. 

Kings coach Dave Joerger sidesteps Yahoo report about his job status


Kings coach Dave Joerger sidesteps Yahoo report about his job status

Dave Joerger wasn't in a mood to talk about his job status moments after his Kings lost to the Rockets on Saturday night.

Asked by reporters about a Yahoo Sports story claiming "substantial disconnect" between him and the Kings' front office, Joerger tried to deflect the question back to basketball.

"Well, usually, I would say, 'I'd be happy to answer all your questions about tonight's game,' but in this case, I'm going to tell you that my focus is with our team," Joerger said. "And coaching our team and getting better every single night. And we've got young guys, and they're mixed with older guys, and go in there and rally them up.

“This is a tough five-game stretch for us, so I want to make sure we stick together, grab onto each other ..."

Pressed on the reported disconnect, Joerger refused to address it.

"I'm not going to get into that stuff," the coach said before exiting the scrum after no other questions were asked.

The Yahoo story came out about 30 minutes before the Kings and Rockets tipped off in Houston. During the game, Kings general manager Vlade Divac issued a statement to NBC Sports California's James Ham and denied there was any issues between Joerger and the front office.

"Dave has our full support and confidence,” Divac said in the statement. “We continue to work together to develop our young core and compete.”

Kings takeaways: What we learned from 132-112 loss to Rockets

Kings takeaways: What we learned from 132-112 loss to Rockets


Never get in a shootout with the Houston Rockets.

The Sacramento Kings learned this fact the hard way Saturday night at Toyota Center, dropping their second consecutive game, this one by a final of 132-112.

Chris Paul, James Harden and Clint Capela all posted huge numbers for the Rockets, who they pushed their record over .500 for the first time this season. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings dropped back-to-back games on the road and fell to 8-8 on the season.   

Offensive defense

The Kings left their defense somewhere between Memphis and the hotel in Houston. They allowed the Rockets to get in the lane, finish at the rim and shoot as many 3-pointers as they wanted.

Houston is waking up after a very slow start to the season. They were an offensive juggernaut last season, and they seem to be finding their stride.

The Rockets shot 56.8 percent from the field and knocked down 20 of 47 from long range. 

The Guards

Kings coach Dave Joerger is using De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic in a three-man rotation, and the trio played well in Houston.

Fox posted 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting and chipped in three assists. Hield let it fly from long range, hitting 3 of 7 from behind the arc on his way to a 23-point, seven-rebound performance. Bogdanovic played in his first set of back-to-backs and finished with 14 points and five assists in 19 minutes.

The group pushed the tempo and hit shots, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

Bounce-back game for Bagley

Rookie Marvin Bagley had a rough Friday night in Memphis, scoring just seven points with a single rebound in 22 minutes of action.

He looked like a different player against the Rockets. 

Coming off the bench, Bagley posted 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds in 27 minutes. He would have seen more time on the court if the game was competitive late. 

Joerger turned to Harry Giles and Skal Labissiere to play most of the fourth quarter with the game out of reach.