Kings

Out of Kings' rotation, unhappy Casspi to speak with Divac

Out of Kings' rotation, unhappy Casspi to speak with Divac

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings can’t shake the drama. It follows them around like a shadow, always just a small step away.

Rumors swirled on Saturday afternoon that veteran small forward Omri Casspi had demanded a trade from the Kings after a major reduction in minutes through the first 11 games of the season. Casspi was quick to refute those rumors, telling CSN California that, “Zero truth to that. Zero.”

While he hasn’t demanded a trade, it is clear that Casspi is unhappy in his role with the Kings, which got a little bit worse on Sunday when he was informed that he was out of the rotation.

“I didn’t think this season would start the way it did for me, minutes wise,” Casspi told reporters following practice on Monday. “Now it’s up to me to work hard in practice like I’ve been doing and try to get back in the rotation, because obviously, I’m out of it now.”

New head coach Dave Joerger alluded to setting his rotation on Sunday afternoon, but didn’t give specifics regarding individual players.

“It’s impossible, but it just is what it is,” Joerger said when asked about the difficulty of managing a roster of 12 veteran NBA players. “We’ve kind of decided in the direction we’re going to go for a while and I think that helps guys know if they are in or they are out.”

Joerger has used Casspi primarily as a reserve stretch four this season and sprinkled in some minutes at the three as well. But a hip injury and an illness put him out of action for more than a week of training camp and he fell behind 36-year-old Matt Barnes in rotation, who played last season for Joerger.  

“It’s part of being in the NBA,” Casspi said. “I didn’t think from the organization standpoint that I would go that far back, from playing 27 minutes to taking me out of the rotation so quick. It is what it is. I’ve got to be a pro about it.”

The Kings have struggled early in Joerger’s high post system as plenty of them try to adjust from George Karl’s uptempo, free flowing style from last season.

“I don’t feel like this system is ideal for me, but I don’t think it’s bad for me,” Casspi said.

Casspi said that Joerger’s system is similar to the one that Michael Malone ran a few seasons ago in Sacramento. He went on to say that he felt great in that system under Malone, but he just needs playing time to get comfortable.

The 28-year-old wing is in his second tour of duty in Sacramento. He was drafted by the Kings with the 23rd overall selection in the 2009 NBA Draft. After playing two seasons in Sacramento, he was traded to Cavaliers and spent a season in Houston as well.

The Israeli-born wing signed a league minimum one-year deal before the 2014-15 to return to Sacramento and then a two-year, $6 million contract two summers ago to remain with the Kings. He is a free agent following the season and was hopeful of staying with the club on a long-term deal.

But he’s appeared in just six of the Kings’ 11 contests, averaging 4.3 points and 3.2  rebounds in 15.3 minutes per game after posting 11.8 points and 5.9 rebounds in 27.2 minutes per night last season.  

Casspi said he plans to speak to general manager Vlade Divac later on Monday. He is hoping for some sort of resolution, even if that means moving on.

“What goes through my mind is I can help this team win,” Casspi said. “It might be here today, I’ve got to stay ready. It might be somewhere else.”

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.

Kings vs. Mavs watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

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AP

Kings vs. Mavs watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

SACRAMENTO -- The circus comes to Golden 1 Center Thursday evening when star rookie Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks roll into town. The Kings could use a good distraction after a disappointing loss last time out.

Tuesday's game was a head scratcher for Sacramento. The Kings started the third quarter on a 20-0 run and took a 25 point lead into the fourth quarter. In a stunner, Brooklyn ran over the Kings in the fourth quarter, outscoring the home team 45-18 in the fourth to come away with a stunning 123-121 victory.

[RELATED: How to watch Kings-Nets online and on MyTeams app]

The Mavericks are playing on the second night of a back-to-back after losing Wednesday night in Portland. They've lost two straight and 14 of their last 16 as they head down the home stretch of the season.

Kings Pregame Live on NBC Sports California begins at 6:30 p.m., with tipoff scheduled for 7:00 p.m. All coverage can be seen on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.

The Kings finish off their homestand on Saturday against the Phoenix Suns and then head back out on the road. They'll start a five-game trip starting Sunday in LA against the Lakers, followed by stops in Dallas, New Orleans, Houston, and San Antonio.

Line

Kings by 9

Projected Lineups

Kings
PG De’Aaron Fox
SG Buddy Hield
SF Harrison Barnes
PF Nemanja Bjelcia
C Willie Cauley-Stein

Mavs
PG Luka Doncic
SG Jalen Brunson
SF Tim Hardaway Jr.
PF Dirk Nowitzki
C Dwight Powell

Injury Report

Kings 
No injuries to report.

Mavs
PF Maxi Kleber (wrist) questionable, PG J.J. Barea (Achilles) out, PF Kristaps Porzingis (knee) out.

Rotation Outlook

Kings

Dave Joerger is likely to stick to his standard starting lineup down the stretch, although his rookie tandem of Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles are earning more minutes every game out. 

Bagley is coming off another breakout performance where he scored 28 points on 12-of-15 shooting to go with seven rebounds. He played 29 minutes off the Kings' bench as he continues to work through a minutes restriction.

Fox is finishing the season strong and Joerger continues to feed him more minutes. The 21-year-old point guard is averaging 19.5 points and 7.4 assists in 33.5 minutes per game since the All-Star break.

Mavs

Rick Carlisle's group is struggling down the stretch after shaking up their roster at the deadline. The veteran coach has relied heavily on Doncic throughout the season as his primary ball handler and the 20-year-old has held up surprisingly well. Selected with the 3rd overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Kings will get a long look at the player they passed on in June.

Former King, Justin Jackson, makes his return to Sacramento after being sent to Dallas at the trade deadline as part of the Barnes trade. The second-year guard is coming off his best game in a Mavs uniform, posting 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting in the team's loss to the Blazers on Wednesday.

It's unknown if Dirk Nowitzki will play on the second night of a back-to-back, but it might be the last time he comes through Sacramento as a player. The 40-year-old future Hall of Famer can still knock down a shot, but running the floor against a team like the Kings won't be easy.