Marvin Bagley's best game of season can't help Kings avoid brutal loss

Marvin Bagley's best game of season can't help Kings avoid brutal loss

SACRAMENTO -- Losses are piling up for the Kings, but every once in a while, there is a silver lining to a defeat. Marvin Bagley III’s play was exactly that Monday night in the team’s heartbreaking 114-112 loss to the Orlando Magic.

Bagley battled a minutes restriction in his return to the court after an eight-game layoff and still managed to score 18 points and grab six rebounds in 23 minutes of action.

Known for his offensive potential, it was Bagley’s effort on the defensive end that stood out to everyone in a Kings uniform.

“He looked good, he had some good sequences, especially on defense,” forward Nemanja Bjelica said. “On offense, everyone knows he can score, but his defense was very good and we’re happy he’s back with us.”

Bagley was active as a help defender, swatting at balls around the rim and coming away with two blocks. He also played better in the pick-and-roll than he has early in his career.

“He came in knowing the game plan and executed,” guard De’Aaron Fox said. “His rotations were great tonight. I think he probably had his best game of the year - obviously, it’s not all about the offense, but he did a hell of a job on the offensive end as well.”

While he was away from the game, Bagley did his best to stay in shape, but the nature of his foot injury didn’t allow him to keep up with his cardio like he wanted. Despite the more than two week absence, he was impressive in the short bursts that he played.

Without the ability to hit the court hard, Bagley spent plenty of time in the film room focusing on increasing his understanding of the game. The early results were impressive.

“I’ve been watching everything - defense, offense, whatever I can do better, watching my teammates and what they were doing great and what they need to work on so I can come back and just kind of do it,” Bagley said. “I’ve been watching a lot, so I think it’s been helping and I’m just going to keep building on it.”

Bagley has the tools and athleticism to be an impact player on the defensive end, but he’s missed 30 of the team’s 40 games due to injury. Taking a step back and watching can sometimes be as beneficial as trying to learn on the court.

He spent plenty of time on 6-foot-11, 260-pound All-Star center Nikola Vucevic. Despite the tremendous disparity in weight, Bagley made adjustments and held his own, specifically in the second half as the Kings came charging back.

It’s a disappointing start to the season for the 2018 No. 2 overall draft pick. He, along with his Kings teammates had high hopes for the season, but injuries have slowed both Bagley and plenty of others on the roster.

“I put a lot of work in the summertime to be ready for the year and sometimes things don’t go as planned and you’ve just got to move forward and control what you can control and that’s what I’ve been doing throughout this whole process,” Bagley said. “I’m going to keep continuing to do that and have faith in God and just keep continuing to move forward.”

Bagley attacked the Magic frontline and even took 17 field goal attempts. It was almost as if he never missed a game and Walton showed faith in his young big when he put him back in a close game in the final minutes.

Despite the setbacks, Bagley hasn’t lost his confidence and he’s very excited to prove the naysayers wrong.

[RELATED: Kings fall in NBA Power Rankings]

“To be honest, you all haven’t seen anything yet, and I mean that in the most humble way possible,” Bagley said. “But there’s a lot more to my game. Whatever the team needs, whatever we need to do to win, that’s what I’m going to do.”

If all goes well, Bagley will see an increase in minutes over the next few games. Wednesday’s matchup against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks should be interesting to say the least. Sacramento passed on Doncic in order to select Bagley and the Slovanian phenom has turned into a superstar in just his second NBA season.

While they won’t see a lot of time defending each other one on one, there will be plenty of eyes on the pair of 20-year-olds.

Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic ready to return following six-game absence


Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic ready to return following six-game absence

SALT LAKE CITY -- He’s back.

After missing the last six games with right ankle soreness, Bogdan Bogdanovic participated in Saturday’s shootaround in Utah and confirmed that he is ready to play when the Sacramento Kings take on the Jazz later in the evening.

Bogdanovic is a stabilizing force for the Kings this season, averaging 14.5 points and 3.6 assists in 28.1 minutes of coach Luke Walton’s bench.

The 27-year-old out of Serbia has missed 11 games due to a variety of leg injuries this season. Without him in the lineup, the Kings are just 2-9.

Bogdanovic has a lot riding on the final 41 games of the season. He has a standing maximum extension offer from the Kings, but the number jumps on July 1 when he becomes a restricted free agent.

With a soft free agent class, Bogdanovic is likely to have plenty of suiters, although the Kings can match any offer.

What Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver trade means for Sacramento Kings

What Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver trade means for Sacramento Kings

The Kings swung a deal with the Portland Trail Blazers Saturday afternoon, sending Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan and Wenyen Gabriel to the Pacific Northwest in exchange for Kent Bazemore, Anthony Toliver and a pair of second-round draft picks.

It’s an interesting deal that requires an advanced degree in capology to truly understand. Here are the nuts and bolts and why the deal made sense from the perspective of each team:

Why did the Kings make the trade?

At 15-26, not a lot has gone well for Sacramento this season. The team needs something to shake things up and change the composition of the roster. The Kings know Tolliver well from his time in Sacramento during the 2016-17 season. They also know he is unlikely to see time on the court with bigs like Marvin Bagley and Nemanja Bjelica playing minutes at the four.

In taking on Bazemore, the Kings add a younger player than Ariza who brings energy on both ends of the court. Bazemore is in the final year of a massive four-year, $70 million deal he signed in 2016. He’ll be motivated to play well in hopes of landing another contract next season. With Bogdan Bogdanovic returning Saturday night, minutes at the two and the three will be slim, but as a change of pace, Bazemore might be a nice veteran addition for the second half of the season.

The real value the Kings received in this deal is the pair of second-round picks. Sacramento has been hoarding seconds for the last few seasons and it wasn’t a surprise to see more added on the back end. The team now has four second-rounders next season and another three in 2021. The Kings have their own picks in 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025 and now they have Portland’s picks in 2024 and 2025 as well. That makes 13 second-rounders over a span of six seasons.

They’ll need to be creative in moving these assets around, but second-round selections have value, especially if and when the NBA changes its age requirement back to 18. That move is expected by the 2022 NBA Draft, which will expand the draft pool and potentially increase the value of second-rounders.

In the grand scheme of everything, the Kings lost a young prospect in Gabriel, but they gained future assets and opened up a roster spot.

[RELATED: Fox's development is silver lining in tough Kings' season]

Why did the Blazers make the trade?

This one is easy. Bazemore and Tolliver were owed a combined $21.9 million. Ariza, Swanigan and Gabriel make a combined $15.6 million. Portland saves a prorated amount of that salary exchange, but the real value for the Blazers is it drops their luxury tax bill from an estimated $19.2 million to just $7 million. Between salary and the luxury tax, the Blazers will clear more than $18 million in savings during a season that is quickly spinning out of control.

The future value of two second picks is worth it for Portland when you consider the upfront savings. The Blazers could even stretch Swanigan’s salary over three years and save more upfront cash in salary and luxury tax owed. They’re on the hook for Ariza's $1.8 million buyout for next season, but that’s a small price to pay.

Overall analysis

It’s a good deal for both the Kings and the Blazers, which is rare. In reality, both teams gave up fringe player assets. Sacramento added more bullets for the future, while Portland feels immediate financial relief.

The Kings are actively shopping center Dewayne Dedmon and the extra roster spot could come in handy in that endeavor. Roster spots can also have value in larger deals, which the Kings will explore as they have in past seasons.

This trade cannot be officially completed until Jan. 21 due to contractual issues for Gabriel, but according to league sources, it is a done deal.