Kings

NBA free agency: Kosta Koufos reflects on Kings tenure, his future

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USATSI

NBA free agency: Kosta Koufos reflects on Kings tenure, his future

A pro’s pro.

After four seasons in Sacramento, center Kosta Koufos is about to enter NBA free agency for the first time in a while.

The veteran center took a back seat to the Kings’ youth movement over the last two seasons, but at 30 years old, he still has plenty to give, whether it’s in Sacramento or somewhere else.

“I’ve been in the league for 11 years. I’ve started a numerous amount of games, and when given time, I can put up numbers,” Koufos told NBC Sports California on The Kings Insider Podcast.

Sacramento undertook a major facelift during Koufos’ time with the team. He had to adapt, and more that anything else, he had to accept a role as the team started from scratch.

From a starter on a 57-win Denver Nuggets team to a role player with the Kings, Koufos has done it all. He takes everything in stride and never has complained, be it to the media or the front office.

“From my perspective, knowing your role, knowing your situation and maximizing your role, whatever time is given to you,” Koufos said. “Whether it’s playing well on the defensive end or getting guys open with screens or scoring when the opportunity is there, it’s just being the best player you can be in whatever time is given to you.”

With the Kings continuing their youth movement, minutes weren’t easy to come by this past season for the 7-footer out of Ohio State. But when he didn’t see the floor or he played less than 15 minutes, Koufos would hit the practice-facility floor and the weight room after games to stay in shape.

“Have your mindset that you’re going to play 25 minutes a game, even if you’re not, just to be ready and keep your body ready,” Koufos said of his approach to this last season. “If you don’t play, then after the game you get your conditioning in, get your lifting in, get your shots up so you can stay sharp for the next opportune moment.”

For the first time in eight seasons, Koufos failed to register a positive in the offensive/defensive rating, but it had nothing to do with his effort. He played just 502 minutes with the Kings and played with countless teammates on the second unit. It’s hard to find a rhythm as a player when you’re playing half the games.

Circumstances have changed almost every year in Sacramento, but Koufos has rolled with the punches and been a team player every step of the way. While he wants to play, he also knows the NBA business, and the veteran center hasn’t ruled out a return to the Kings.

“You keep your options open no matter what, I believe in that,” Koufos said.

The Kings are looking for a major piece to drop into the center of their lineup, and Koufos will have to use a wait-and-see approach. It’s very possible that there is a club on the open market looking for a veteran big who understands his role and is willing to do all of the dirty work.

Although he didn’t get the best opportunity over the last year or two with the Kings, he enjoyed the fan base and would recommend the city to potential free agents.

“Honestly, there are a lot of friendly people in Sacramento,” Koufos said. “It’s more of a Midwest vibe, in California, which I like. The city is growing, the real estate market is booming, obviously, and I had a great time.”

According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the Kings haven’t closed the door on a reunion with the team’s longest-tenured player. The Kings hope to improve their frontline in free agency, but that doesn’t exclude a return by Koufos.

[RELATED: Examining Kings' current roster construction]

Both sides will let the market dictate the next course of action. If they meet back up after the initial burrage of signings, and a deal make sense for both the team and the player, they will talk.

If not, Koufos should be remembered in Sacramento as the consummate professional who brought his hard hat to work every day and helped bring along the next generation of Kings players.

Buddy Hield shoulders blame for late mistake in Kings' loss vs. Spurs

Buddy Hield shoulders blame for late mistake in Kings' loss vs. Spurs

All the Kings needed to do was play 14 seconds of good defense and they would walk out of AT&T Center in San Antonio with an impressive win.

But Buddy Hield didn't fight through a LaMarcus Aldridge screen and a wide-open Marco Belinelli drained a 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds left in regulation.

The game would go to overtime, and the Kings would eventually lose, 105-104, to the Spurs.

After the game, a somber Hield pointed the finger at himself for the end-of-regulation breakdown.

"I should have been more locked in and have more attention to detail in regulation and shouldn't put us in that situation," Hield told reporters in San Antonio. "I see what coach is talking about, but it's my fault."

While Hield blew the assignment on Belinelli's game-tying shot, the Kings will want to forget the final two minutes of regulation.

Up 98-89, the Kings were outscored 11-2 over the final 1:50 of the fourth quarter. They turned the ball over three times during that span, allowing the Spurs to chip away at the deficit.

Still, Hield was upset with himself.

"I didn't lock in and pay extra attention to Belinelli, so it's on me," Hield said.

Coach Luke Walton wasn't happy either, but for a different reason.

"The turnovers at the end of regulation, that's something we can't do as a group," Walton told reporters in San Antonio.

Despite how regulation ended, the Kings still had a chance to win the game at the end of overtime. Hield and Trevor Ariza had open shots, but couldn't connect.

"At the end of the day, we had three open looks to win and we missed all three of them," Walton said. "So, it's frustrating, it hurts to lose. It's what the journey's about and it's about learning from these and getting better as a group and going out and being able to do a better job at executing down the stretch next time we're in that situation."

With the loss, the Kings sit at 8-13 on the season and the schedule doesn't get any easier. On Sunday, they take on MVP candidate Luka Doncic and the Mavericks. The next day, they will be in Houston to take on James Harden and the Rockets. That's a brutal back-to-back.

[RELATED: Bagley cleared for contact]

As they wait for De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley to get healthy, the Kings need to learn from their mistakes and put together a complete game. If they don't, they will come home on Tuesday seven games under .500, a spot they don't want to be in.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in crushing 105-104 OT loss to Spurs

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AP

Kings takeaways: What we learned in crushing 105-104 OT loss to Spurs

BOX SCORE

The Kings began the Texas Three-Step with a crushing overtime loss in San Antonio on Friday night.

Sacramento (8-13) built a 98-89 lead with 1:50 remaining in regulation, but the Spurs (9-14) rallied to force the extra period and pulled out a stunning 105-104 win at AT&T Center.

The Kings' modest three-game winning streak against the Spurs came to an end with the loss.

Sacramento's road trip continues with games in Dallas on Sunday and Houston on Monday.

Here are the three takeaways from the Kings' loss in San Antonio:

Unable to close

After blowing a seven-point lead late in the fourth quarter, the Kings went on a 9-0 run to take a 98-89 advantage. But San Antonio closed the fourth quarter on an 11-2 run to force overtime.

In overtime, the Kings had a chance to win in the final seconds, but Buddy Hield and Trevor Ariza each missed two shots on the final possession.

No stopping Holmes

Richaun Holmes arguably has been the Kings' best player the last few games and he continued his strong play against the Spurs.

The center, in his first year with the Kings, finished with 13 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in 45 minutes.

Over his last three games, Holmes is averaging 20.3 points and 11 rebounds. He's looking like the steal of the offseason for Sacramento.

The emergence of Holmes is a welcome sight considering how ineffective Dewayne Dedmon has been. On Friday, the high-priced center played just eight minutes and did not score.

Bogi returns

Bogdan Bogdanovic missed Wednesday's game in Portland due to a knee contusion, but he returned in San Antonio.

The reserve guard finished with nine points on 4-of-12 shooting in 21 minutes.

Without De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley, the Kings desperately need Bogdanovic's scoring off the bench. He didn't provide much Friday, but just having him back in the rotation is a good sign for Sacramento.