Kings takeaways: What we learned in preseason rout of Maccabi Haifa

Associated Press

Kings takeaways: What we learned in preseason rout of Maccabi Haifa

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings made their NBA preseason debut at Golden 1 Center on Monday night and took care of business. They shook off a slow start to throttle Maccabi Haifa by a final of 132-100.

It was a team effort for the Kings, as seven players finished in double-figure scoring. As a team, Sacramento shot 53.1 percent from the field and 44.8 percent from 3-point range, and dished out 36 assists.

Josh Childress scored 18 and Kennedy Meeks added 17 to lead Maccabi. Scott Machado chipped in 15 points and four assists for the Israeli league team.

Here are three takeaways from the Kings' lopsided win.

Welcome to the ballclub

Nemanja Bjelica missed the Kings’ first three preseason games with a sore knee. He finally made his debut Monday night and had an immediate impact.

The 30-year-old combo-forward started and scored 12 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out three assists and picked up three blocks. He was active on the defensive end and showed a knack for being in the right position for the rebound.

You can’t have enough high basketball IQ players on your squad.

Justin Jackson sighting

Jackson has struggled early in the preseason, but Maccabi Haifa might have been just what the doctor ordered.

The sophomore small forward looked confident with his shot, knocking down 4-for-8 from long range on his way to 18 points. He added three rebounds and two assists.

Jackson has started all four preseason games at small forward for Sacramento, but this was his first double-digit scoring effort.

Starter or sixth man?

Buddy Hield looked great as the Kings’ first option off the bench last season. He was comfortable in the role and carved out a niche.

In the Kings' first three preseason games, though, Hield started in place of the injured Bogdan Bogdanovic. Against Maccabi Haifa, Kings coach Dave Joerger mixed it up, starting Frank Mason III alongside De’Aaron Fox. Whether it’s a comfort issue, getting more shots or a one-off, Hield was brilliant in a reserve role.

The third-year guard shot 9-for-11 from the field and a perfect 4-of-4 from long range on his way to a game-high 22 points. He added five assists and two steals in 27 minutes of action.

Kings rookie Marvin Bagley ready to prove naysayers wrong in NBA debut


Kings rookie Marvin Bagley ready to prove naysayers wrong in NBA debut

SACRAMENTO -- Preseason is over. Records and stats are thrown out the window and now it’s time for a young Sacramento Kings team to step on the floor and prove they belong when games count. 

Everything is new for rookie Marvin Bagley III. From the grind of training camp, to getting smoked by 39 points against the Utah Jazz, it’s all a learning experience and the 19-year-old power forward is taking it in stride. 

“You look up at the score, you’re down 30, not putting your head down and not playing hard, that’s something I try not to do,” Bagley said Sunday after practice. “I just try to keep attacking, keep going, keep playing like it’s a tie game or like we’re winning. I think that’s the big things for us, stay positive, pick each other up, no matter what’s going on.”

Following the drubbing at the hands of Utah, Bagley stayed at his locker while others scurried out the door as quickly as possible. No player wants to talk to the media after an embarrassing loss. 

Bagley didn’t take the bait. He stood tall and took the lumps for his teammates, including some players with a lot more to answer for.

Against Portland, on the second night of a back-to-back, Bagley continued to show he belongs. In 27 minutes against the Blazers, the former Duke star scored 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting, while grabbing six rebounds. He hit his first 3-pointer in the 118-115 loss, and added a steal and a block. 

“Even though we lost that game in Portland, I think we had flashes of what we can do as a team,” Bagley said. “We were running that game. We definitely came out with more energy than the last games that we had.”

While the numbers are reset to zero for Wednesday’s opener against Utah, it’s hard not to like what Bagley’s shown so far. In six preseason contests, the 6-foot-11 big posted 13.0 points, a team-high 6.8 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks in 24.1 minutes per game. 

Bagley picked up four fouls in the preseason opener against Phoenix, but only committed another three in the final five games. He also turned the ball over a total of six times during the exhibition season.

Regardless of how strong the rookie plays, there are still naysayers out there. Before being selected with the second overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, basketball analysts around the league said Bagley couldn’t play defense and could only score with his left hand. It’s early, but he’s shown plenty defensively and his offensive game is developing.

“I’ve been doing it since since I was younger and a lot of people had a lot of things to say about my game, but I blocked it out,” Bagley said. “I kept getting better, kept working. One day they’ll love you, the next day they’ll hate you, they’ll tear you down. They’ll even build you up so they can tear you down. Everything with the media and what’s going on outside these lines and what we have going on, it doesn’t bother me, I try not to think about it.”

He can’t wait to kick off his career later this week. The 19-year-old is excited to play alongside Harry Giles III, and he’s looking forward to facing former Blue Devil teammate Grayson Allen in the opener. 

Bagley is mature well beyond his years. He’s been in the spotlight since he was a young prep athlete, and he’s ready to finally hit the big stage and show the league what he’s got.  

Breaking down Kings' roster ahead of NBA's mandatory cut down day


Breaking down Kings' roster ahead of NBA's mandatory cut down day

SACRAMENTO -- Cut down day is coming and the Sacramento Kings have a few roster moves to make. There isn’t a lot of mystery to hash over with the Kings. They walked into camp with 15 players on guaranteed contracts and rookie Wenyen Gabriel under a two-way deal.

Teams have until Monday at 2 p.m. PT to set their rosters. That means the end of the road for Cam Reynolds and Kalin Lucas, who were waived by the Kings on Saturday. The duo are expected to join the Stockton Kings as allocated players, but their ties to the parent club will dissolve, barring a late two-way offer to one of them.

Sacramento waived two Exhibit 10 players, Taren Sullivan and Gabe Vincent, earlier in the preseason. Like Reynolds and Lucas, Sullivan and Vincent will both have the opportunity to skip the G-League draft on October 20 and join the Kings’ G League affiliate for the upcoming season.

Last season the Kings carried a pair of two-way players all season in JaKarr Sampson and Jack Cooley. Both players were allowed to spend up to 45 days with the parent club and they shuttled back and forth between Sacramento and Reno. 

With the Bighorns relocating to Stockton and going through a rebranding to the Stockton Kings, the ties between Sacramento and their G-League affiliate have strengthened. 

The Kings are likely to watch the waiver wire and search for the right fit when it comes to their second two-way player. 

As far as the NBA roster goes, the Kings have very little flexibility. Unless they decide to jettison a guaranteed deal, they are set walking into the season with 15 players under contract.

Sacramento has approximately $11 million in salary cap space walking into the season. Ben McLemore ($5.5 million), Kosta Koufos ($8.7 million), Iman Shumpert ($11 million) and Zach Randolph ($11.7 million) are all playing out the final year of their contracts, giving the Kings nearly $37 million in expiring contracts. 

Willie Cauley-Stein is entering the final year of his rookie scale contract which will pay him $4.7 million this season. Sacramento can extend a $6.3 million qualifying offer to the 7-footer next summer, which would make him a restricted free agent and allow the team the option of matching any contract offers that come his way.

Outside of the four expiring veterans and Cauley-Stein’s qualifying offer, the rest of the Kings’ squad is under contract through this season and next, at a minimum. They’ll enter the season with nine players on their initial rookie scale contracts, plus free agent acquisitions, Yogi Ferrell (2-year, $6 million) and Nemanja Bjelica (3-year, $20.4 million).