Kings

Kings will try to play spoiler, end Spurs' streak

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USATSI

Kings will try to play spoiler, end Spurs' streak

For two decades, the San Antonio Spurs have been the gold standard of the NBA. Monday night at the AT&T Center, they’ll need a win against a Sacramento Kings team that continues to put up a fight night in and night out.

Bogdan Boganovic, Justin Jackson and Willie Cauley-Stein all hit big shots in the final minute of the Kings one point win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. The Kings have won two of their last three games as they finish off the 2017-18 campaign on a strong note.

Tim Duncan is gone. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are bit players and Kawhi Leonard is on hiatus. And the Spurs still have an opportunity to extend their 20-year playoff streak. This isn’t a 60-win team like the last two seasons, but they are still dangerous.

BETTING LINE

Spurs by 13.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

De’Aaron Fox vs. Patty Mills -- Fox went off for a career-best 26 points the last time these two teams faced off. It didn’t stop San Antonio from winning their 13th straight over the Kings. Mills has started the last 20 games for the Spurs as he takes over for Parker at the point. The 29-year-old Australian is lightning quick and he knows coach Gregg Popovich’s system well.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 26-54, fourth place in Pacific

Spurs: 46-34, third place in Southwest

INJURY REPORT

Kings: PF Skal Labissiere (left ankle sprain), SG Garrett Temple (left ankle sprain), PG Frank Mason (sore left heel), SG/SF Iman Shumpert (knee rehab and plantar fasciitis) and PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) are out.

Spurs: SF Kawhi Leonard (shoulder) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Spoiler -- For one of the first time in 20 years, the Spurs have to fight their way into the playoffs in the final week of the season. San Antonio currently sit in a three way tie for the fifth spot in the Western Conference standings, but they hold a narrow one game lead over both the Timberwolves and Nuggets. One slip up and things change dramatically for the Spurs.

Let the standings take care of themselves -- When Bogdanovic drilled a jumper with one second remaining, the Kings moved into a tie with the Brooklyn Nets for the sixth worst record in the NBA. Brooklyn picked up their 27th win Saturday evening, moving into a tie with the Bulls for the seventh worst record in the league. Play the game and let the chips fall where they may.

Clutch -- The Kings continue to battle all the way down the stretch. They compete, but they also have a knack for hitting big shots. They are getting incredible late game experience on most nights, even if it doesn’t always equate to wins.

SERIES HISTORY

The Spurs are up 3-0 in the season series and currently own a 13-game win streak over the Kings. San Antonio holds an 90-39 lead during the Sacramento-era and a 119-55 advantage all-time.

Source: Nemanja Bjelica, Kings having deep contract discussions

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USATSI

Source: Nemanja Bjelica, Kings having deep contract discussions

The Sacramento Kings are ready to strike a deal.

After a slow start to free agency, NBC Sports California has confirmed that the Kings are in deep discussions with free agent forward Nemanja Bjelica on a two-year contract. Terms are unknown at this time. 

News of potential interest between the parties first broke Wednesday afternoon.

Bjelica agreed to a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Philadelphia 76ers on July 5, but he never signed on the dotted line and informed the team earlier this week of his decision to return to Europe this season.

The 6-foot-10 combo forward spent the last three seasons coming off the bench for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He posted 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game under coach Tom Thibodeau, but his opportunities were limited in the T-Wolves' system.

At 30, Bjelica is older than most of the Kings’ recent targets, but he potentially could fill a glaring hole in the roster as a shooter at both the three and the four. Bjelica split his minutes between both forward positions in Minnesota last season, knocking down a career-best 41.5 percent on 2.7 attempts per game from behind the arc. 

There is no word yet on the exact dollar figure offered by the Kings. Sacramento has a whopping $20.5 million in salary-cap space to work with, and the free agent market is nearly dried up. 

While four years older, Bjelica compares favorably as a player to the Spurs’ Davis Bertans, who signed a two-year, $14.5 million contract to return to San Antonio earlier this month as a restricted free agent. 

According to a source, Sacramento likes Bjelica’s versatility and believes he can eat minutes at small forward this season, as well as shifting over to play the four.

It will be a surprise if Ben McLemore or Deyonta Davis actually wear a Kings uniform

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AP

It will be a surprise if Ben McLemore or Deyonta Davis actually wear a Kings uniform

We have a trade. Garrett Temple is on his way to the Memphis Grizzlies. In return, the Sacramento Kings receive former King Ben McLemore, along with big man Deyonta Davis, cash considerations and a 2021 second round draft pick.

Temple opted in to the final year of his 3-year, $24 million deal in late June and was due $8 million this season. Lost in the shuffle of young players at shooting guard, Sacramento made it clear to the 32-year-old wing that he was not part of the plan for the 2018-19 season before he picked up his option.

Known for his work in the community and presence in the locker room, the eight-year NBA veteran posted 8.4 points on 39.2 percent shooting from long range in 65 games last season in Sacramento. 

After being drafted with the seventh overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft by Sacramento, McLemore spent the first four seasons of his career in a Kings uniform. He signed a two-year deal with the Grizzlies last season and will make $5.4 million this season. 

Davis struggled to find court time with the Grizzlies in his first two seasons out of Michigan State. The 6-foot-11, 237 pound center has potential, but he’ll join a crowded frontcourt in Sacramento. He averaged 5.8 points and four rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game in his sophomore season in Memphis. 

Why Temple?

Sacramento has struggled to find strong veteran leadership over the last decade, but Temple fit the bill. After working his way into the league on 10-day contracts and trips overseas, the LSU grad seemed to find a home with the Kings.

But the emergence of shooting guards Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield made Temple the odd man out in the rotation this season. The Kings were able to break his contract up into smaller pieces in this deal, which opens the door for more transactions. 

In a perfect world, the Kings may have looked to move Iman Shumpert instead of Temple, but his injury history and $11.4 million contract for this season is a tough sell in a cash strapped market.

Why McLemore and Davis?

It’s hard to see either of these players sticking around for very long. McLemore struggled to find playing time in his final two seasons in Sacramento and that’s before they had emerging players at his position. It’s unlikely he’ll get another shot at competing for minutes. He makes $5.4 million this season, which can be bought out and either stretched over three years to open more space or paid out in one lump sum this season.  

Davis is owed $1.5 million this season, making him an affordable reserve option if the Kings choose to keep him around. He’s on the final year of his rookie contract and is a restricted free agent after this season.

What’s next?

The Kings saved roughly $1 million in cap space with the deal, pushing their available total to approximately $20.5 million. 

This deal was more about adding another second round pick and clearing Temple’s $8 million off the books, while finding the veteran a soft landing spot. While the team has yet make their plans known, it would be a surprise to see either McLemore or Davis in a Kings uniform this season.