Kings

NBA rumors: Buddy Hield unhappy with role, might request offseason trade

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NBA rumors: Buddy Hield unhappy with role, might request offseason trade

No one likes to get demoted. Kings shooting guard Buddy Hield is no exception.

After starting 126 straight games for the Kings, Hield was moved to the bench before the team’s Jan. 24 game against the Chicago Bulls. For whatever reason, the move has sparked the Kings to a 6-3 record and increased production, not only from Hield, but De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic as well.

In a long breakdown of the current state of the Kings on The Athletic, this nugget of information was thrown into the mix.

“If Hield remains displeased with his role, a source with knowledge of his thinking said he might request a trade,” writes Shams Charania. “He believes he is a starter in the NBA and there’s no guarantee he’ll get that job back, given how the team has played lately.”

There is no question that Hield considers himself a starter in the league. As he prepares for his second straight 3-point contest at All-Star weekend, the fourth-year guard has refused to discuss his situation publicly, which is a break from how he has handled previous situations this season.

It’s clear he would rather work with the first team, but for now, he has avoided unloading on head coach Luke Walton or management for the decision.

Since heading to the second unit, Hield has flourished. He’s posting 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 28.6 minutes over the last nine games. He’s also hit 47-of-92 (51.1 percent) from behind the arc during that stretch.

This isn’t how the Kings planned out their season, especially after signing Hield to a four-year, $86 million extension over the summer. But it’s clear that the frustrations Hield is feeling are mutual.

The team wasn’t thrilled with the way he conducted contract negotiations through the press leading into the season. They also weren’t exactly enamored with his decision to go public with his grievances over fourth quarter playing time in December.

“It seems like we’re all over the place, the coaches and everybody - trust issues going on, I guess guys stop believing in players,” Hield said. “It is what it is, man. They have who they have playing out there and I just have to be supportive.

“I want to make plays and make shots,” Hield added. “I feel like I wasn’t trusted the past two games to be on the court, so as a player, no matter what, I feel like it’s my job to go out there and compete at a high level and guys know that if I’m struggling or not, they’ve still got to ride the wave.”

Hield later apologized to his coaches and teammates for his comments. He is an emotional player, especially after tough losses. Unfortunately, this is a pattern of decision making, not a one-off situation.

For now, Hield will stay with the second unit. Walton has repeatedly said this isn’t a permanent situation, but with the team winning and all three of the Kings’ primary guards playing well since the swap, it’s likely we will continue to see this rotation moving forward.

Hield is just finishing his rookie scale contract, which pays him $4.9 million this season. His salary jumps to $24.4 million next year as his new extension kicks in.

The Kings love Hield’s ability to stretch the floor and create running lanes for Fox. He is the fastest player to 800 3-point makes and with the way he’s currently shooting, he easily will surpass his team-record 275 3-point makes that he set last season.

It would behoove the Kings to find some common ground with their soon-to-be highest-paid player moving forward, but it will be difficult. The team spurned offers for Bogdanovic at the trade deadline with the hopes of signing him to a long extension this summer when he becomes a restricted free agent.

Fox isn’t going anywhere, either. The Kings starting point guard is due an extension this summer as well and is likely looking at a max-money five-year deal.

[RELATED: Holmes has labral tear, will be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks]

With a rash of injuries and no clear return date for either Richaun Holmes or Marvin Bagley, Walton could attempt to go small with his starting lineup. Harrison Barnes has played plenty of power forward in the past and the team has used Nemanja Bjelica as a small-ball five on many occasions this season.

Walton also could stay the course and hope that continued success breeds harmony in the locker room. It’s a complicated situation, but one that will take time to figure out.

For now, Hield is biting his tongue. He wants to be a starter. He wants to play major minutes. He wants to win.

That last point is key. As long as the Kings are winning, Buddy Hield may have to come off the bench and wait for his next opportunity.

How Kent Bazemore proving to be Kings' missing ingredient during surge

How Kent Bazemore proving to be Kings' missing ingredient during surge

LOS ANGELES -- Every once in a while, a player comes along who seamlessly fits in and instantly improves a team. Veteran guard Kent Bazemore has been that player for the Kings.

Bazemore and experienced big man Anthony Tolliver officially joined Sacramento in a Jan. 21 trade from the Portland Trail Blazers, and Bazemore, 30, has been a catalyst for the Kings' recent surge. They are 8-5 since his arrival, clawing their way back into the playoff picture.

In the Kings' 112-103 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday afternoon, Bazemore scored 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting. He added six rebounds, four steals and played strong defense from the moment he stepped on the floor.

Bazemore also shoved coach Luke Walton after the Kings' win. Not only has he been a viable option off the bench, but his personality is helping to push the Kings’ culture in the right direction.

“You’ve got to relish these moments, you’ve got to bottle it up and really understand what it feels like and take it over to the next day,” Bazemore said Saturday. “It’s hard to win in this league. It’s hard to be a good team in this league and when you go on the road in big games like this, you’ve got to feel it.”

Walton has been a target in Sacramento after the Kings got off to a slow start. Like any coach, he wants to win and be part of the first Kings team to make the postseason since 2007.

Victories like the one over the Clippers shows that the team is still fighting for their coach despite the rocky start to the season.

“We here, we here -- we’re behind him 110 percent,” Bazemore said of Walton. “He’s just as fiery as any coach I’ve ever played with. Sometimes it looks like he wants to get out there, but he’s kinda chubby now, so those days are over.”

Walton feels the same way about Bazemore. The coach knows exactly how much Bazemore's addition has helped stabilize his club, both on and off the court.

“He’s been great -- the things he says in the locker room, his participation in film sessions, the energy and passion he plays the game with, his versatility,” Walton said when asked about Bazemore’s contributions.

What the Kings are seeing from Bazemore is what they were hoping to get when they signed Trevor Ariza during the offseason. While Ariza brought value to Sacramento, he didn’t have the same type of impact and he’s not nearly as versatile.

On any given night, Bazemore is asked to come off the bench and defend the best the opposition has to offer. Against the Clippers, he guarded Kawhi Leonard and Lou Williams. Bazemore held his own against both, which was a big reason the Kings came away with a victory.

“He’s been huge, the way he’s been playing,” De'Aaron Fox said. “He’s been scoring the ball for us as well in situations, but defensively, he’s out there guarding Kawhi, he’s guarding Lou, he’s doing a lot of things.”

There was something missing from this team, and Bazemore might have been the missing ingredient. His intensity and professionalism are contagious. He also has a light-hearted side that his teammates seem to enjoy.

“It wasn’t much that needed to be changed,” Bazemore said. “But sometimes fresh blood does help and I hadn’t been having the best year, so I think it was a match made in heaven.”

With 26 games remaining, the Kings are getting to test drive Bazemore as a player and he is doing the same. A free agent at the end of the season, NBC Sports California has confirmed that the Kings have already had internal discussions about re-signing him, although there is plenty of time between now and July 1 when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

[RELATED: Kings' Harry Giles earns first double-double in road win vs. Clippers]

For now, the focus is on winning. The Kings entered Sunday five games out of the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot, and they are playing very well coming out of the All-Star break. 

“We’ve got 20 some odd games left and it’s a crapshoot right now,” Bazemore said. “Some teams are injured. It’s a sink or swim moment. You see it every year, some team gets hot and makes it interesting at the end. We have some lofty goals and we have the group to get it done.”

If Bazemore continues to play well and the Kings get a player or two back from injury, there is a chance they can make this season interesting down the stretch. It starts with wins like Sacramento's last two, and Bazemore was vital to both.

Kings' Harry Giles earns first double-double in road win vs. Clippers

Kings' Harry Giles earns first double-double in road win vs. Clippers

LOS ANGELES -- Don’t look now, but the Kings are on a roll.

With a 112-103 victory over the Clippers on Saturday, Sacramento now has won two in a row and eight of its last 12 games. There are plenty of reasons for the push, but flying under the radar is the improvement of second-year big man Harry Giles.

“There’s a lot of growth happening,” Kings coach Luke Walton told NBC Sports California after the win. “One, I think his conditioning and his body looks, and I’m assuming, feels pretty good right now.”

Giles went toe-to-toe with a huge Clippers frontline and managed to post his first career double-double. He finished the game with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting and chipped in 12 rebounds, which matched his career high.

“It feels good, man,” Giles said. “I feel like I already had one, I should have had one. I’m glad I can finally put one in the books.”

On Jan. 30, Giles struggled to stay on the floor against the Clippers, picking up two quick fouls against Montrezl Harrell and then sitting for all but three minutes of the game while the Kings’ 3-point shooters rained down on Los Angeles.

“You have to give him a lot of credit for continuing to improve and do what we as a staff are asking him to do,” Walton added.

With very little support behind him because of njury, Giles came into Saturday’s game knowing that he had to stay on the floor. The only hope of doing that was to play defense without fouling.

[RELATED: Marvin Bagley visits foot specialist, out at least three more weeks]

“With time and reps, I’m just going to get better,” Giles said. “The fouls -- it varies. It’s tough. It depends on how you play and how the refs let you play. I’m going to keep getting better at that and just keep playing hard.”

In a career-high 32 minutes of action, Giles picked up just three fouls. He set good screens, moved his feet on defense and limited his mistakes overall. More importantly, he played valuable fourth-quarter minutes in a huge team victory.

Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley continue to miss time because of injury, and the Kings are extremely thin upfront. Giles has started six of the last eight games, and he’s starting to build momentum.

“I’m just trying to build on the opportunity and keep winning,” Giles said.

With just over a minute left and the game still undecided, Giles got an opportunity to shine off the lob.

[RELATED: Jabari Parker ready for Kings debut, Alex Len getting closer]

The Kings decided not to pick up Giles’ fourth-year option back in October, but they’ve kept the door open for a possible return for the 21-year-old big next season. He has another 26 games to show what he can do, and he’s auditioning for all 30 teams at this point.

Giles wasn’t the only center to play minutes for the Kings. 7-footer Alex Len made his Sacramento debut and played very well for a player who has missed 11 straight games with a hip pointer.

“I wasn’t planning on playing him that much, I wanted to just get him out there a little bit,” Walton said. “I was going to come in with Jabari [Parker], but he looked good. He was moving well. He was clogging up the paint. He was putting out fires for us. So I pushed it a little more than I wanted to with his minutes, but he said he felt good, and it was nice to have a real big 7-foot body out there to help control the paint.”

Len, who came over from the Atlanta Hawks at the NBA trade deadline, finished with three points and eight rebounds in 16 minutes of play. He was active and made a nice impact on the game in his limited time on the court.