Kings

NBA Gameday: Cousins, Kings face big, diverse Magic frontcourt

NBA Gameday: Cousins, Kings face big, diverse Magic frontcourt

The Sacramento Kings look to snap their early-season two-game losing streak Thursday in Orlando against the Magic. They are coming off a tough 108-96 overtime loss to the Miami Heat on Tuesday and are in need of a win to get back to .500.  

DeMarcus Cousins will face a big and diverse Magic frontline that includes starters Serge Ibaka, Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon, as well as reserve center Bismack Biyombo. Ibaka is in his first season with the Magic after coming over from Oklahoma in a draft day deal and will likely start the game against Cousins, but it usually takes an army to slow the Kings All-Star center.

Arron Afflalo is coming off his best game in a Kings uniform, scoring 18 points against the Heat on Tuesday night. But Sacramento will need others players to step forward to snap its two-game skid.

Veteran Jordan Farmar was signed on Wednesday to provide backcourt support until Darren Collison returns Nov. 8 against the Pelicans.

OPENING LINE

Magic by 1

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Rudy Gay vs. Aaron Gordon -- Gordon is a gifted athlete with great length. He’s more of a power forward than a wing, but head coach Frank Vogel is getting crafty with his lineups to keep his core happy. Gay is off to a tremendous start for Sacramento, averaging 23.8 points, six rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 steals through the first five games. He’s playing the best basketball of his career early in the season as he prepares for free agency next summer.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 2-3, third place in Pacific

Magic: 1-3, fourth place in Southeast

INJURY REPORT

Kings: PG Darren Collison (suspension) out; SF Omri Casspi (illness) probable.

Magic: G Jodie Meeks (foot) out.

SERIES HISTORY

These two teams split the season series last year, with each club coming away with a win on their opponent's home floor. Sacramento holds a 28-26 lead all-time over Orlando.

QUOTE

“Good, hard, competitive game.” -DeMarcus Cousins avoiding an NBA fine following the Kings’ overtime loss in Miami where he picked up six fouls in the fourth quarter

Source: If it benefits them, Kings would help facilitate Jimmy Butler trade

zbobutlerusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Source: If it benefits them, Kings would help facilitate Jimmy Butler trade

SACRAMENTO -- The rumor mill is in full force. Jimmy Butler and the Minnesota Timberwolves are having a messy breakup and it’s only going to get worse from here. 

According to an NBA source, the Kings are listening and even willing to participate in a large scale trade involving the Timberwolves and others, but only if it benefits the team both in the short-term and down the road. 

The Kings currently sit $11 million under the NBA’s salary cap. In addition to pure cap space, veterans Zach Randolph ($11.7 million), Iman Shumpert ($11 million), Kosta Koufos ($8.7 million) and Ben McLemore ($5.4 million) are all expiring contracts that could be used to acquire young players or future picks.

Sacramento has been reluctant to add major contracts beyond this season. They have an estimated $60 million in room next summer and hope to jump into the free agent market with both feet. But the time to strike might come earlier if the right package of players and assets come available. 

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Kings were dragged into the conversation when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski added his latest update to the Butler saga.

“To facilitate a Butler trade, the sort of broader deal necessary to meet the financial needs of Minnesota and Butler's future team, circumstances will necessitate bringing the Sacramento Kings into the process.”

Wojnarowski goes on to add that the Kings are the only team left in the league with real cap space to work with and they have a bevy of expiring contracts as well. 

“Assistant GM Brandon Williams has informed teams that the Kings aren't opposed to parking contracts that extend into the 2019-20 season, including (Gorgui) Dieng,” Wojnarowski writes. “Whatever happens with the Butler deal, the Kings are determined to use that $11 million in cap space and their expiring contracts to gather more assets for the future.”

This is a good place to be if you are Sacramento. It’s also a position they have worked hard to create. The trade of George Hill in February opened up room for this season and their preference for short-term contracts with an eye towards the summer of 2019 has them sitting pretty. 

Whether they would look at a deal that includes a player like Dieng, who is owed $48 million over the next three seasons, is unknown at this time, but they already have a crowded frontcourt and they have looked to avoid contracts like this in the past. 

The Kings are open for business, but they also know that Butler won’t be the only opportunity this season to get involved and they are the only real option for a deal involving a third team with cap space. 

Stay tuned. It’s going to be an interesting couple of days as the Timberwolves look to deal one of the best two-way players in the game.

Five questions facing Kings as training camp opens

hieldbuddydivacvlade.jpg
AP

Five questions facing Kings as training camp opens

The Sacramento Kings opened training camp Tuesday morning and there is plenty of intrigue. It’s a young club, but management and the coaching staff is promising a more exciting, uptempo style of basketball that plays to the strength of the team.

Here are five things to look for as the Kings prepare for the 2018-19 NBA season.

Is Fox for real?

No player is more important to the Kings rebuild than De’Aaron Fox. It’s a lot of pressure for a kid who still can’t legally walk into a bar and order a drink. The front office added pieces to compliment Fox and his style of play, but they need a consistent effort from the fifth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. The word around the team is that he looks like a completely different player. He’s in great shape, which is expected, but he’s taking a level of ownership on the court that wasn’t there in his rookie season. 

Can Buddy make a leap?

Buddy Hield is known for his work ethic off the court and he’s physically transformed himself during the offseason. With the Kings expecting to go young and push the pace, Hield’s ability to score the ball either as a starter or off the bench is paramount to the team’s success. He has the ability to lead the team in scoring, but he’ll have to take a big leap to get there.

Is Bagley ready?

The Kings were so in love with Marvin Bagley III, they still contend that they would have taken him with the first overall selection given the chance. Still just 19-years-old, Bagley has all the potential in the world. He also has some holes in his game and will take time to develop. How much he plays early in the season will be determined by how much growth he can show during camp and in preseason games.

Can Harry stay healthy?

Sacramento took a gamble in the 2017 NBA Draft, selecting Harry Giles with the 20th overall pick. They put him on ice for a year to help his knees fully recover and to prepare his body for the grind of an 82 game schedule. He’s ready to play, but with the glut on the frontline, minutes have to be earned. Giles plays with a physicality and a force that the team needs. He’s played just 300 minutes of real basketball over the last three years, so patience is needed. 

Can Willie cash in?

This is a huge season for Willie Cauley-Stein. The fourth-year big took major strides in year three, but now he’s in a contract year and looking to audition for all 30 NBA teams. If he can take another substantial leap in production and consistency, the Kings would love to keep him around. But he has to show a focus on both ends of the court in order to take that jump. Dave Joerger has other options if Cauley-Stein stumbles. It’s time to convert potential to production for the 25-year-old big.