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.

Legal experts explain why Luke Walton's accuser didn't speak to investigators


Legal experts explain why Luke Walton's accuser didn't speak to investigators

The NBA and the Sacramento Kings announced Friday the conclusion of their joint investigation into former Los Angeles TV reporter Kelli Tennant's allegations of improper sexual conduct against coach Luke Walton. 

In a press release sent by the Kings, the investigation found insufficient evidence to support Tennant's claims against Walton and the case is considered closed unless new evidence becomes available.

The Kings said that Tennant, through her counsel, chose not to participate in the investigation, despite numerous attempts.

But legal experts told the Sacramento Bee they weren't surprised Tennant and her legal team declined to sit down with investigators. 

“Lawyers generally don’t like it when their clients tell their stories multiple times,” Northwestern University law professor Deborah Tuerkheimer said. “I’m not surprised she decided to opt out.

Laura Beth Nielsen, a sociologist and legal expert at Northwestern who has studied the #MeToo movement also wasn't surprised. Nielsen says independent investigations of sexual harassment and assault cases by big companies such as the NBA have a reputation of taking sides of the employee. 

Nielsen described it as "a sort of circle the wagons, we want to have a defensive posture." 

According to the Kings, more than 20 individuals, including Walton, were interviewed during the course of the joint investigation, which was led by Sue Ann Van Dermyden, from the Sacramento law firm Van Dermyden Maddux, and Elizabeth Maringer, senior vice president and assistant general counsel of the NBA.

Tennant, at an April news conference, said that Walton sexually assaulted her at a hotel room in Santa Monica when he was then an assistant coach on the Warriors. 

Walton has denied the allegations. 

“I am 100% focused on coaching the Sacramento Kings, and energized to work with this incredible group of players and coaches as we start the preseason,” Walton said in a statement. "I will have no further comment."

Kings' Harrison Barnes makes final Team USA roster for FIBA World Cup

Kings' Harrison Barnes makes final Team USA roster for FIBA World Cup

Team USA will feature one member of the Sacramento Kings after all in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, as the final roster was made official Saturday.

Both Marvin Bagley and De’Aaron Fox were among the finalists before both withdrew, citing a need to prepare for the 2019-20 NBA season. 

Barnes has competed for Team USA before, as he was part of the national team that won the gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.

There is, however, one more Northern California connection on the World Cup roster. Celtics forward Jaylen Brown played his one season of college hoops at Cal.

This team is a far cry from the initial roster projections, as just about every marquee player offered the chance to play seemed to withdraw from consideration due to injury or desire to rest, as the tournament will end just a few weeks before the start of NBA training camps.

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Barnes has started two of the three games during Team USA’s training trip in Australia, which included the program’s first international loss in more than a decade Friday night. 

Even with so many great players declining the opportunity to represent the Red, White, and Blue in the World Cup, Team USA is still favored, so look for Barnes to be bringing back some hardware to Sacramento.