Kings

Kings vs. Pelicans watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

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AP

Kings vs. Pelicans watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

NEW ORLEANS -- The Sacramento Kings continue their late season five-game road with a stop at the Smoothie King Center Thursday night. They'll face a struggling New Orleans Pelicans team that's focused on surviving a rough season in the Big Easy.

De'Aaron Fox came through big in the Kings' win over the Mavericks Tuesday evening in Dallas. The second-year point guard torched the Mavs for 10 of his team-high 23 points in the final five minutes of the game to lead Sacramento to a 125-121 victory. The win pushed the Kings back to the .500 mark at 37-37 on the season.

[RELATED: How to watch Kings-Pelicans online and on MyTeams app]

New Orleans is spiraling the drain in the home stretch. They've dropped three straight and nine of their last 10 games and currently sit at 31-45 on the season. The midseason trade request from star big man Anthony Davis has put this franchise on a dark path.

Kings Pregame Live on NBC Sports California begins at 4:30 p.m., with tipoff scheduled for 5:00 p.m. All coverage can be seen on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.

The Kings finish off their five-game road trip with a brutal back-to-back in Houston and San Antonio on Saturday and Sunday before returning home to face the Rockets again on Tuesday.

Line

Kings by 4.5

Projected Lineups

Kings
PG De’Aaron Fox
SG Buddy Hield
SF Harrison Barnes
PF Nemanja Bjelcia
C Willie Cauley-Stein

Pelicans
PG Elfrid Payton
SG Cheick Diallo
SF Kenrich Williams
PF Julius Randle
C Anthony Davis

Injury Report

Kings 
C Harry Giles (thigh bruise) out.

Pelicans
C Anthony Davis (back) probable, PG Elfrid Payton (wrist) probable, SG/SF E'Twaun Moore (thigh contusion) out, PG Jrue Holiday (core muscle) out, G Trevon Bluiett (thumb) out, PG Frank Jackson (concussion) out.

Rotation Outlook

Kings

Dave Joerger's crew has already shown a 10-game improvement over last season's win total, but they have dreams of finishing the season at or above the .500 mark. With a difficult weekend schedule, they'll need a victory over the Pelicans to give themselves a fighting chance.

Harry Giles is out for a fourth consecutive game with a thigh contusion. The injury is not considered serious and the team has not shut the rookie down for the remainder of the season.

With the Stockton Kings' season ending on Wednesday evening, the Sacramento Kings have recalled Cody Demps and Caleb Swanigan back to the parent club. Demps signed a 10-day contract on March 22nd and is attempting to become the first Sacramento State player to play in an NBA game. Both players are expected to arrive in New Orleans Thursday evening, but there is no word if either will be in uniform for the Kings.

Pelicans

Alvin Gentry's group is dealing with plenty of injuries down the stretch, although it appears that big man Anthony Davis is available to play against the Kings.

Julius Randle is having a very nice season with New Orleans after joining the team over the summer. He's posting 21 points and 8.6 rebounds in 30.5 minutes per game. The 24-year-old has a player option at $9 million for next season and is likely heading back into the free agency pool looking for a big-time payday.

[RELATED: Kings set new goal of finishing season over .500, with playoff hopes over]

New Orleans can really score the ball, posting the league's third most points per game at 115.4 per game. They push the tempo, ranking third in pace and they come into the night as the NBA's third best rebounding team. On the defensive end, they aren't good. The Pelicans give up 116.3 points per game and rank 23rd in defensive rating.

Skal Labissiere learning from Trail Blazers' bench in NBA playoff run

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Skal Labissiere learning from Trail Blazers' bench in NBA playoff run

With the clock winding down, Damian Lillard measured Paul George and stepped into a 37-foot game winner to push the Portland Trail Blazers into the second round of the NBA playoffs.

It was bedlam. In a single moment, Lillard transformed from All-Star to something more. A superstar? Maybe. A legend in Portland? For sure.

As his teammates stormed the court, a photo was taken which captured a deadpanned Lillard staring into the lens as his teammates piled on.  

“That was the craziest shot I’ve ever seen in person,” Skal Labissiere told NBC Sports California. “It was great, just the atmosphere and the moment, the magnitude of the moment. It was the last game of the series and being against OKC. It was just a great shot.”

Labissiere’s huge smile lights up the picture. He’s in the upper right hand corner embracing his star guard.

One of the biggest moments of the 2018-19 playoffs and somehow Skal Labissiere makes the picture? This is the NBA life. One moment you can be wasting away on the Sacramento Kings' bench preparing for a 13th straight year without a postseason appearance and the next thing you know, you are in the Western Conference finals.

The 7-footer was dealt at the trade deadline from Sacramento to Portland in a swap for Caleb Swanigan. While he hasn’t found a spot in the rotation quite yet, the Haitian-born big was in desperate need of a career reboot.

Selected by Sacramento with the 28th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Labissiere played 106 games in a Kings uniform before the trade. With the focus shifting to young players like Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles, the 23-year-old center was a spare piece.

“It’s been a great experience so far,” Labissiere said of the trade. “Since I’ve been here I’ve been learning a lot from all the veterans here and the coaches. I’ve been learning a lot - the culture, the game, the guys here, they welcomed me with open arms. I’ve gotten a lot better since I’ve been here.”

Labissiere played in just nine games for the Blazers as they fought for playoff positioning down the stretch. In the season finale against his former team, the smooth shooting big dropped in 29 points and 15 rebounds in 41 minutes, reminding the Kings what could have been.

While things didn’t go as planned for Labissiere in Sacramento, he has no ill-will towards the franchise. If anything, he was gracious for the experience.

“Thank you for everything,” Labissiere said of his two-plus years in Sacramento. “Thank you to Vlade (Divac), Vivek (Ranadivé) for taking a chance on me on draft night. Even coach Joerger, giving me a chance to play in my rookie year and after the (DeMarcus Cousins) trade and in my second year in the league, just believing in me and cheering for me.”

Even when he wasn’t playing major minutes, Labissiere said he appreciated the cheers he received from the fans. He’s starting over in Portland with the hopes that he can find a permanent spot in the league.

He’s also getting an incredible experience of playing deep into the playoffs. He’s made three appearances in the postseason so far, but he’s taking it all in and trying to absorb as much as he can from the opportunity.

“This is a first time for everything, so I’m very excited to be here, just getting to experience this, even though I’m not playing a whole lot,” Labissiere said. “I’m still watching and learning how the guys approach every game and just supporting. Hopefully at some point I’ll get out there and be able to help the team, but as of right now, I’m satisfied with just learning and watching from afar.”

There’s a lot you can learn about the game of basketball by sitting back and watching. There is also a lot you can learn by walking into a new environment.

“I could tell when I first got here just the closeness of this group,” Labissiere said. “Everybody is for each other. They all care about winning, no matter what it takes. Whatever they have to do, sacrifice, as far as their roles, they’ll do it just for the betterment of the team.”

[RELATED: Should Suns forward Jackson be trade target for Kings?]

Labissiere has a guaranteed contract next season in Portland and a summer to show that he can fit into the system and be part of the Blazers' family. For now, he’s trying to take it all in and enjoy the ride.

He isn't the only former Kings player still alive in the postseason. Seth Curry, George Hill, Eric Moreland and DeMarcus Cousins are all still playing as the playoffs inch towards the Finals.

NBA draft 2019: Kings to bring in first six prospects for workout

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AP

NBA draft 2019: Kings to bring in first six prospects for workout

The Sacramento Kings don't have a first-round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, but they do have three second-round picks.

In possession of the No. 40, No. 47 and No. 60 overall selections, the Kings will be looking for lower-level talent -- players that might take a few years to develop.

With that in mind, the Kings have invited six players for a pre-draft workout that will take play Monday, May 20 in Sacramento.

[RELATED: Fox a Most Improved Player finalist]

The Kings' 2019 first-round pick belongs to the Boston Celtics. Back in 2015, Sacramento included the future first-round pick in a salary dump trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. Two years later, the 76ers traded the rights to that pick to the Celtics in order to move up from No. 3 to No. 1 in the 2017 draft to select Markelle Fultz.