Kings

Luka Doncic makes first Sacramento appearance after Kings passed on him

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USATI

Luka Doncic makes first Sacramento appearance after Kings passed on him

SACRAMENTO -- The top five of the 2018 NBA Draft class is turning out to be special. It will take time to figure out where they rank historically, but the early returns are stunning.

No. 1 overall pick, Deandre Ayton, rolls through Sacramento on Saturday. He’ll likely see a heavy dose of No. 2 overall pick, Marvin Bagley III.

Before that battle takes place, Sacramento will get their first live look at rookie phenom and No. 3 overall selection, Luka Doncic, Thursday evening. The sure-fire NBA Rookie of the Year has put up huge numbers for the Mavericks this season, averaging 21.1 points, 5.8 assists, and 7.5 rebounds in 32.3 minutes per game.

The 20-year-old out of Slovenia has played professionally for years overseas and came into the season NBA ready. His rookie numbers are impressive, but in many regards, expected.

Sacramento’s front office liked Doncic during the draft process. In fact, Vlade Divac has known the family for years and considered him the second-best prospect in the draft.

Concerns over fit with the Kings current roster, as well as what position Doncic might play at the NBA level played a role in the Kings’ decision.  

But the single biggest deciding factor for Sacramento in the evaluation process was the talent level of Bagley. The Kings believe he has the highest ceiling in the draft class and they may still be correct.

Did the Kings make a mistake drafting Bagley over Doncic? The early results might suggest that they did, but it will take years to fully assess.

Bagley is showing signs of star power. He also plays with an incredible motor and is known for his off the court work ethic.

Sacramento loves Bagley’s long-term fit with point guard De’Aaron Fox and shooting guard Buddy Hield. They believe this group can be franchise cornerstones that will eventually lead the franchise back to the playoffs after a 12-year drought.

Injuries have cost Bagley 19 games this season, but when healthy, he’s a force. The 6-foot-11 power forward is averaging 14.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and nearly a block in 24.3 minutes per game.

In eight games since the All-Star break, the former Duke star has bumped those numbers up to 19.9 points and 8.5 rebounds in 26.9 minutes a night. He’s coming off back-to-back 20-point games, including a 28-point, 7-rebound performance against the Nets on Tuesday.

Expect a heavy dose of Bagley down the stretch for Sacramento and not because they’ve fallen out of playoff contention. The rookie has earned his minutes with his strong play and he adds a new ingredient to the Kings’ offense when he’s on the floor.

[RELATED: Divac explains why Bagley over Doncic wasn't easy]

In addition to Ayton, Bagley, and Doncic, fourth overall pick Jaren Jackson Jr. put up solid numbers for Memphis before going down with an injury. No. 5 pick, Trae Young, is posting 18.5 points and 7.8 assists this season for Atlanta.

With the season almost in the books, this has already proven to be one of the strongest top end of the draft in recent history. Doncic will take home the hardware, but it’s way too early to start passing out judgment on which player will have the best NBA career out of this group.

Source: Kings add Wenyen Gabriel to 15-man roster, waive Tyler Lydon

Source: Kings add Wenyen Gabriel to 15-man roster, waive Tyler Lydon

SACRAMENTO -- After signing Buddy Hield to a new four-year, $86 million contract extension Monday morning, the Sacramento Kings finished off their roster with some final housekeeping measures.

A league source has confirmed to NBC Sports California that the Kings elevated Wenyen Gabriel from this two-way contract and added him to the main roster on a new deal Monday afternoon.

Gabriel went undrafted out of Kentucky in the 2018 NBA Draft. He signed a two-year, two-way contract with Sacramento last season, but failed to make a single appearance with the club.

The 6-foot-9 forward has played mostly at the small forward position during the preseason for Luke Walton’s squad. Over his four contests, he averaged 4.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in 12.9 minutes per game.  

With Harry Giles on the shelf, at least to start the season, Gabriel will act as organizational depth at both forward positions. He is a big-time athlete that can get out in the open court and even hit an occasional 3-pointer. 

In 42 games with the Stockton Kings last season, Gabriel averaged 10.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and a block in 20.8 minutes per game. He shot 49.3 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from 3-point range.

To make room for Gabriel on the roster, the Kings waived third-year pro Tyler Lydon. 

The 6-foot-10 forward has played in just 25 NBA games since being selected with the No. 24 overall pick of the 2017 NBA NBA Draft. He was limited in camp due to a hip injury and played just one eight minute stretch for the team.

In addition to the Gabriel and Lydon moves, the Kings claimed DaQuan Jeffries off waivers from the Orlando Magic and converted his non-guaranteed deal to a two-way contract.

[RELATED: Gabriel making family proud by making NBA]

Jeffries averaged 13 points and 5.6 rebounds per game last season at Tulsa. He went undrafted during the 2019 NBA Draft, but according to an NBA source, the Kings were high on him coming out of college. 

The 6-foot-5, 230 pound guard/forward is will likely spend most of his time playing for the Stockton Kings of the G League this season.

Buddy Hield's four-year contract extension with Kings win-win for all

Buddy Hield's four-year contract extension with Kings win-win for all

SACRAMENTO -- If you are looking for winners, you have come to the right place. The Kings signed shooting guard Buddy Hield to a multi-year contract Monday.

A source told NBC Sports California the deal is a four-year, $86 million contract extension. The Athletic's Sam Amick first reported the news hours ahead of Monday's contract extension deadline.

In an NBA rarity, the early takeaway is that the deal is a win-win for everyone involved.

After a breakout season, Hield gets paid handsomely for ascending to elite shooter status. He also has an additional $20 million in motivational incentives over the next four seasons.

Some of those items are obtainable and some aren’t. Either way, Hield has plenty of reasons to back up his strong play, as well as focus on team goals.

The structure of the contract also allows Hield and his management team to claim victory. While he was looking for something in the neighborhood of $110 million, Hield can come close to that number if everything goes perfect.

According to a league source, a few of his contract incentives are very attainable. There are others that are almost impossible for the 26-year-old to reach. On the low-end, he’s still looking at between $86-94 million over the length of the deal.

The contract puts the onus on Hield to not only perform personally, but to achieve team goals like playoffs and even the NBA Finals.

Sacramento keeps the first of their young core players in the fold. They also structured the deal in the same way they handled Harrison Barnes’ extension over the summer. Hield will start with a base salary of $24 million, which will then decline by eight percent in the following three seasons.

Declining value contracts have become an earmark of the Kings’ cap conscious build. The players get plenty of upfront money, but eventually, both Hield and Barnes will represent a smaller percentage of the projected cap when money becomes tight and the team has to pay out for young stars like De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley.  

[RELATED: Source: Kings don't have 'remorse' over Harrison Barnes]

Like Barnes’ deal, Hield’s cap figure will drop below $19 million a year in the final year and represent just 13.5 percent of the team’s total projected salary cap.

Instead of allowing Hield’s contract to become a potential landmine during the season and bleed into next summer, the team now is moving into opening night with a clean slate and a very happy leading scorer.

Programming Note: Get ready for the 2019-20 Warriors and Kings seasons with the NBA Tip-Off Show, streaming live on the MyTeams app at 1 p.m. PT on Tuesday, Oct. 22. Download MyTeams and tune in to the show by clicking here!