Kings

Kings' Trevor Ariza excited to reunite with former teammate Luke Walton

Kings' Trevor Ariza excited to reunite with former teammate Luke Walton

LAS VEGAS -- The Sacramento Kings' newest signee, Trevor Ariza, will enter his 16th season in a new environment, but with a familiar face. 

Kings coach Luke Walton -- who was hired in April -- played two seasons with the veteran wing, a distinction Ariza believes will help his transition.   

"Just knowing him, knowing how he works, the relationship that we have definitely made it easier to try or go to a new situation," Ariza said during his introductory press conference alongside Dewayne Dedmon, Cory Joseph and Harrison Barnes in Las Vegas Monday afternoon. 

"Just his style of play. You know, the understanding that his basketball, how his basketball mind works is similar to my game," Ariza added. "So, I just thought that it was a great fit for me. Whatever the role is I felt like being here we'll have a better understanding of what we're doing, what we're working towards."

Ariza -- who signed a two-year, $25 million contract with the Kings -- played with Walton from 2007-2009, winning the 2009 NBA title as members of the Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers. Since his time in Los Angeles, Ariza has played two stints with both the Rockets and Wizards. Last season, he averaged 12.5 points, 5.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds for the Phoenix Suns before a midseason trade sent him to Washington.

Ariza's arrival comes during a critical time in Sacramento's trajectory. Last season, the King won 39 games -- their most in more than a decade -- displaying a fast-paced unit led by De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Barnes. 

Though a team on the rise, the Kings' ascent comes just as the Western Conference is gaining strength. During the same period Ariza signed with the Kings, perennial All-Star Kawhi Leonard joined the LA Clippers alongside fellow All-Star Paul George, while the Lakers traded for center Anthony Davis. Adding to the degree of difficulty, Walton is only in his third month on the job. Still, Ariza has faith in the new group. 

"This is basketball," Ariza said. "It doesn't matter who's on the team, you still gotta go out there and win and play. You know, of course, everything looks good in the beginning. Everything looks good on paper, but you still gotta go out and play the game. And every time you go out and play, you give yourself a chance to win."

Ariza's addition is welcome for a team that trotted out the league's fifth-youngest roster last season. Fox -- their best player -- is just 21 years old. The roster construction is similar to Ariza's time in Phoenix last season, when the average age of the team was 25.2 years. Entering his 16th NBA season, Ariza believes he and his former teammate can help the Kings be successful. 

[RELATED: Barnes preaching 'culture of family' to young Kings in Vegas]

"There's guys that have a ton of experience. So all the wisdom or whatever wouldn't just be coming from me," Ariza said. "It'd be coming from a different group of guys. And I think it's easier when you don't have to hear the same voice over and over and over again. That's key for us."

Kings' tailspin continues as team hits rock bottom in loss vs. Pistons

Kings' tailspin continues as team hits rock bottom in loss vs. Pistons

What happened to the Sacramento Kings? They’ve been treading just above rock bottom for the better part of a month, but it doesn’t get much worse than the performance they put forth Wednesday in Detroit.

The Kings looked completely disinterested through the first half, almost as if they were just going to show up in the third quarter and blow a completely depleted Pistons team out of the water.

That didn’t happen. In fact, the Kings were embarrassed by a team missing 60 percent of its starting lineup, falling by a final of 127-106.

“Basketball is a simple game, defend without fouling, make the right play and knock down shots early,” Luke Walton told reporters following the loss. “I feel like we didn't do any of those things. Now, I don't know where our competitive spirit was or because of injuries we thought the game might be easy.”

The Kings looked like a team that has completely lost its way. Players started hunting for shots in the third quarter and throwing up one bad 3-point attempt after another.

Instead of attacking the rim, it was a series of misses, followed by defensive rebounds for Detroit. The only time the offense looked anywhere near cohesive was when Walton went to the bench, turning to a group that included Cory Joseph, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver and Harry Giles.

Giles has played sparingly over the last week and Bazemore and Tolliver made their debuts with Sacramento after coming over in a trade over the weekend.  

[RELATED: Kings players react to Bazemore-Tolliver trade with Blazers]

“I think our bad stretches are happening for too long, too many times,” De’Aaron Fox told media members. “There are times where we are out there playing good basketball and there are times where we're not. I said it before, you just try to play the best basketball you can for the most amount of time. I don’t think we're doing that right now.”

On the defensive end, the Kings didn’t move their feet and they fouled at will. 12 of the 13 players who stepped on the floor were called for personal fouls, including five each for Buddy Hield and Dewayne Dedmon.

In total, the Kings picked up 28 personal fouls as a team and sent the Pistons to the line for a staggering 44 free-throw attempts, of which they hit 37. Sacramento was outscored by 25 points at the foul line in a 21-point loss.

“There are times where our defense looks great and then we're not making shots,” Fox said. “There are times where we're making shots but we're trading baskets. We just have to be able to piece it together for as long as we can. Like I said before, we can't let our offense affect our defense or vice versa.”

The Kings have now dropped six straight and they are just 3-15 over their last 18 games. At 15-29, they are rudderless and in desperate need of a win.

“It's about where we're going and I'm a very patient person,” Walton said. “I believe in our group, but we need to do a lot of things including starting games with a much more competitive, engaged mindset. So, I still have all the belief in the world in our team. It's still surreal to be coaching this team, but there are some things that we need to improve on and improve on quickly because it's too late in the season to be having these same types of mistakes so frequently.”

With 38 games remaining in the season, the Kings have officially hit a new low. There is still time to make the season respectable and build for next year, but changes have to be made.

Whether that is a rotational move or a trade or something more drastic, the team needs a shock to the system and the current path the Kings are on is completely unacceptable by any standard.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in tough 127-106 loss to Pistons

waltonusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Kings takeaways: What we learned in tough 127-106 loss to Pistons

BOX SCORE

Are the Sacramento Kings starting to break?

In a season filled with lows, the Kings dropped their sixth straight game Wednesday night to a completely depleted Detroit Pistons team by a final of 127-106. 

Former league MVP Derrick Rose put on a show, finishing with 22 points and 11 assists. Reserve Christian Wood more than doubled his scoring average, dropping in 23 points on 7-for-8 shooting and Reggie Jackson added 22 points in the blowout win.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings look listless in Detroit and fall to a season-high 14 games under .500 at 15-29 on the season. 

Free Throws

The Kings continue to struggle not only with getting to the free-throw line, but with taking advantage once they get there. 

Sacramento got the stripe lust 23 times on the evening and missed 11 of those shots. It was a team-wide issue with seven players missing at least one freebie.

In addition to struggling with their chances, the Kings put the Pistons at the line 44 times, where they hit 37. 

It’s hard to compete when you get outscored at the free-throw line by 26 points. Sacramento needs to be more aggressive in their attack and they have to stop fouling teams at will.

New Guys

With Marvin Bagley and Richaun Holmes out with injury, coach Luke Walton turned to Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to eat some minutes. 

Bazemore brought the same energy he’s been known for during his eight-year NBA career. With the Kings needing easy buckets, he got to the free-throw line and finished with seven points, three rebounds and a steal.

Tolliver went scoreless in six minutes of action, missing his only two attempts from the field. 

Bombing Bogi

Bogdan Bogdanovic is starting to get his legs under him after a six-game absence. The Kings need even more from their super-sub.

Against the Pistons, the Serbian-born wing went 3-for-8 from long range to finish with 19 points and three assists.

With Buddy Hield struggling to get anything to fall from the perimeter, Walton might need to rely more on Bogdanovic that originally expected if the Kings have any hopes of pulling out of the spiral. 

Would trying a starting backcourt of Bogdanovic and De’Aaron Fox make sense for Sacramento at this point?