Kings Under Review: Rest paid off for Nemanja Bjelica, not Iman Shumpert

Kings Under Review: Rest paid off for Nemanja Bjelica, not Iman Shumpert

Winning doesn't have to be pretty. The Memphis Grizzlies have spent the better part of a decade playing a certain style of basketball that isn't always appealing to the eye. Sacramento found the remnants of the grit-and-grind Grizzlies in their stop at FedEx Forum Friday evening.

Mike Conley Jr., Marc Gasol and two-time former King, Omri Casspi, helped slow Sacramento's offense to a crawl. The game went down to the wire, but the young Kings found a away to pull out a 99-96 victory to improve to 2-3 on the road trip.

It was the eighth straight loss for the Grizzlies, who have made most of their squad available on the open market leading up to the Dec. 7 trade deadline.

The win move Sacramento back over the .500 mark on the season at 25-24. Here are the positives and the negatives from the loss.


Fox in the Clutch

De'Aaron Fox made plenty of mistakes in the Kings' win over the Grizzlies, including seven turnovers on the evening. But when the game was on the line, Sacramento's young point guard was nails.

His defensive stop with just over 40 seconds remaining against Conley was a thing of beauty. His pair of free throws to extend the Kings' lead to four in the final minute. And then came the dagger.

For one of the few times this season, Fox got the ball in the open court and instead of going for the quick bucket, he slowed the action down and milked the clock. Matched up against Conley once again, Fox used a behind the back dribble to get to the left elbow and then a step back to create space. With the veteran defender draped all over him, Fox rose up and buried the 19-foot jumper.

The sophomore guard finished the night with 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting to go with six rebounds, five assists and a steal.


Bjelica Bouce Back

Dave Joerger made a decision to sit Fox, along with Nemanja Bjelica and Iman Shumpert, in the team's loss to the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. The rest appeared to do both Fox and Bjelica some good.

In his previous eight games, Bjelica had hit the skids, averaging just 3.9 points on 12-of-37 (32.4 percent) shooting from the field and 3-for-18 (16.7 percent) from behind the 3-point line.

Against Memphis, the Kings made a concerted effort to get their starting power forward involved early. He started off a little rough, missing a pair of free throws and an 8-foot jumper early in the first quarter, but then he settled in.

The sharpshooting Serb finished the evening with 17 points on 6-of-10 from the field and a perfect 4-for-4 from deep. He added 11 rebounds, three blocks and a crucial steal.


Pure Shooter

Buddy Hield came into the league as a scorer. He's developed into one of the best shooters in the game.

After a modest seven points in the first half, Sacramento's leading scorer caught fire in the third, scoring 13 points on 4-of-6 from behind the arc. He followed that up with another six points in the fourth to finish the evening with a game-high 26 points and seven rebounds.

In the month of January, Hield is averaging 22 points on 51.4 percent shooting from the field and 55.3 percent (57-of-103) shooting from long range.

[RELATED: Source: Hield to shoot in 3-point contest]


Slumping Wings

The Kings have an issue at the three. Both Shumpert and Justin Jackson are both mired in major offensive slumps. 

In nine games in the month of January, Shumpert is shooting just 25 percent from the field and 24.3 from behind the 3-point line. Against Memphis, he missed all six of his shots, including five misses from deep.

Jackson hasn't faired much better. Over his previous eight games, the second-year forward is averaging five points per game on 34.8 percent from the field and 23 percent from behind the arc. Like Shumpert, Jackson missed all four of his shots against the Grizzlies.

Kings' Harrison Barnes generously pays for Atatiana Jefferson's funeral


Kings' Harrison Barnes generously pays for Atatiana Jefferson's funeral

Harrison Barnes signed a long-term contract that will keep him in Sacramento for the next four seasons, but before he joined the Kings, Barnes spent two-and-a-half years in Dallas as a member of the Mavericks.

The Kings forward still feels a connection to his previous home city, and that was extremely evident through the generous gesture Barnes and his wife made to the family of Atatiana Jefferson, a Dallas-area woman who recently was shot and killed by a police officer while in her own home.

Jefferson had been looking after her eight-year-old nephew when the officer, Aaron Dean, arrived at her open-door home and opened fire without announcing he was a policeman. The 28-year-old Jefferson was shot and killed, and Dean since has been charged with murder.

It's a terrible, heartbreaking situation for Jefferson's family, and Barnes sought to make things easier on them during these trying times by paying for her funeral.

"The biggest thing is, anytime someone has to go through that, the last thing you want to have to worry about is trying to come up with the money for a funeral," Barnes explained Thursday. "It's about the family, it's about everything they're going through. Our prayers are obviously with them, and it was a gesture my wife and I wanted to do for them.

"It was unfortunate. It should never happen," Barnes continued. "Just in general, gun violence in Dallas, recently. Andre Emmett, a guy that I played pickup basketball with for two-and-a-half straight summers -- another unfortunate incident. So when you see these type of situations continue to occur, you know that change needs to happen."

Barnes understands that while he's a basketball player by profession, he has a role to play that goes beyond the court.

[RELATED: Hield extension talks cast momentary dark cloud over Kings]

"I think that any time you come to a community, whether it's Sacramento, whether it's Dallas, whether it's Oakland, Chapel Hill or Ames, you always have a piece of that community that's with you and you always want to try to give back."

Buddy Hield contract extension talks cast momentary dark cloud over Kings


Buddy Hield contract extension talks cast momentary dark cloud over Kings

SACRAMENTO -- "Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again."

Whether it’s the soothing harmonies of Simon and Garfunkel or the powerful bellowing of Disturbed frontman David Draiman, the opening lines of the "Sound of Silence" are ringing in my ears.

For more than a decade, drama finds the Sacramento Kings, whether they are looking for it or not. Often times the wounds are self-inflicted. Every once in a while, the issues are nothing more than the complexities of the NBA playing out in real-time.

Buddy Hield wants his money. His agent says so. He says so. Twitter says so.

Hield’s team has gone on the record with the number of $110 million over four-years to seal the deal. The Kings will not confirm whether the reported four-year, $90 million figure that has been put out there is top end for the team.

Sacramento had a similar situation last season when big man Willie Cauley-Stein went public with his wishes to get paid. Again, the two situations are similar ... but really they aren’t.

Hield accomplished last season what Cauley-Stein never could in purple and black. He lived up to his lottery billing and became a consistent impact player on the court for the Kings.

Part of the team’s exciting young core, Hield has made it his offseason mission to get locked up long term. In doing so, he is making things as uncomfortable as possible for general manager Vlade Divac and his staff.

Will it work? Will slaying the drama mean more to the franchise than the long term financial flexibility they have worked so hard to build? That is the $110 million question.

The Kings are on the clock and Hield has started to get personal.

The talented shooting guard has asked for what he believes is fair, but the value is in the eye of the beholder. During his post-game comments on Wednesday evening, he invoked two separate ideas that take aim at not only the franchise but his standing amongst his teammates as well.

"Name one big free agent that came to Sacramento," Hield told the larger media scrum. "I've been here three years trying to grow the program, grow the organization and I feel like I could be rewarded close to that. But that's just me. That's my gut feeling."

Long an NBA outpost, the good people of Sacramento, regardless of who is running the franchise, know where they stand in the tall pecking order of the league. Landing an 'A list' free agent has never been on the table.

While it’s a matter for some debate, Divac himself is likely the top free agent the team has brought in during the team’s 35 years in Sacramento. The franchise has found success bringing back their own big-name free agents, like Mitch Richmond, Chris Webber and Mike Bibby. But they haven’t been able to crack into the superstar free-agent market.

That leaves the franchise with two options: Draft potential stars and hope for the best or acquire talent via trade and hope for the best.

Hield is a combination of both. Sacramento didn’t draft him, but they traded for him during his rookie season and spent the last three seasons helping to develop him into the player he is today.

In addition to taking a shot at a sensitive issue for the franchise he plays for, Hield went where most players don’t want to go. He compared himself to his teammates and what might happen for them in the near future.

“It’s all about value and where they see me as a player and of course, if another young player comes up and they give them what they want, it shows how much they value me,” Hield told NBC Sports California following the main media scrum.

Hield is pointing directly at the franchise and how they might value De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley. Creating a list of who mom and dad like the best doesn’t work for siblings. In the NBA world, it’s a good way to get your feelings hurt.

Speaking to people within the walls of the Golden 1 Center, they understand that all of this is part of the process.

They still love Buddy Hield. They still view him as a big part of the franchise. This is just another day out of many in the history of the Kings and it too shall pass.

It should also be noted that Hield is fighting to stay in a Kings' uniform. He is asking the team to lock him up for the next five seasons in Sacramento so he can put permanent roots. He has visions of buying a house in the area and making this his NBA home. 

Between now and Oct. 21, Hield will either get an extension or he won’t. He is emotional about the process. He wants financial stability. He wants respect. He wants to know that he is just as important to the recent success of the franchise as anyone else. All of this is understandable.

[RELATED: Kings, Hield $20M apart in contract extension talks]

At the end of the day, this is a negotiation. The NBA is a business and it shouldn’t get personal. If a deal doesn’t get done now, the two sides have another bite at the apple at the end of the season.

The next few days building to the deadline could get wild, but like so many other situations with the Kings, the darkness will pass soon enough. A resolution, one way or another, will happen and the focus will shift to basketball and the task at hand.