Kings

Report: Caron Butler to opt in for the 2016-17 season

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Report: Caron Butler to opt in for the 2016-17 season

SACRAMENTO - Veteran leadership is difficult to find in the NBA. Last season, the Sacramento Kings were mired in chaos and relied heavily upon 36-year-old Caron Butler as the stabilizing voice of the players.

According to a published report by The Vertical, Butler has decided that one season in Sacramento wasn’t enough and that he will opt in to his $1.55 million player option for the coming year. The former All-Star forward had until June 22 to either exercise his option or become an unrestricted free agent.

Butler, a 14-year NBA veteran played sparingly for the Kings last season, logging just 176 minutes over 17 games under George Karl.

He was clear throughout the year that he was there to play, not just provide leadership in the locker room, but he was seldom given the chance. There was even a point early in the season when the Kings agreed to find him a new place to play.

Following the 33-win campaign, Butler has had plenty of opportunities to speak on the dysfunction of the Kings.

“You try and put a band-aid on a situation,” Butler told First take. “You have a superstar player in DeMarcus Cousins and you have an unbelievable coach in George Karl, and they couldn’t co-exist. It’s as simple as that.”

When asked about his thoughts on Cousins, Butler helped provide a little bit of insight on the Kings’ star big man.

“I feel like he’s one of the loyal, honest dudes in the game,” Butler said of Cousins. “He can’t turn the page if the facts of the case weren’t visited and addressed in the right way. I felt like that whole issue for an entire season was ‘let’s just get through.’ There was no stability in that situation, it was tough to honor that voice.”

That voice is gone. George Karl was replaced by Dave Joerger early in the summer, which may have played heavily in Butler’s decision to stick around for one more tour of duty.

With Butler’s return, the Kings roster now stands at nine.

Buddy Hield embraces bench role, puts Kings on his back in win vs. Bulls

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USATSI

Buddy Hield embraces bench role, puts Kings on his back in win vs. Bulls

Something had to change. The Sacramento Kings were in a tailspin of epic proportions and head coach Luke Walton made the difficult decision to move Buddy Hield out of his starting lineup for Bogdan Bogdanovic.

This wasn’t necessarily a Hield issue and Bogdanovic isn’t the savior that will turn the entire season around, but the chemistry on the floor with the starting unit wasn’t working.

The swap seemed to work early. The spacing was better with Bogdanovic playing alongside De’Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes, Nemanja Bjelica and Dewayne Dedmon.

When Walton went to the bench, Hield instantly took off. There was no hesitation on his 3-point shot and he was active on the defensive side of the ball as well.

“You’ve got to come in, be ready and when coach call your number, go out there and hoop,” Hield told Grant Napear on the NBC Sports California telecast following the Kings’ 98-81 win.

Hield scored a quick 10 points in the first half to help the Kings take a double-digit lead into the intermission. After the break, Chicago’s Zach LaVine caught fire and wiped out the Kings’ lead in the first two minutes of the period.

“Today I was just locked in and more confident,” Hield said. “I’m just trying to be myself and do what I do best, which is score the basketball.”

Walton called a timeout and turned back to Hield and a few reserves to spark the team. Hield once again let it fly from the perimeter and helped his team get some separation.

“When they made that run in the third and we kind of looked like we got shook a little but, Buddy put us on his back and knocked down some big shots and really kind of got us going again,” Walton told media members following the game. “I’m really pleased with him.”

Hield finished the game with 21 points and eight rebounds in just 23 minutes of action. He hit 7-for-12 from the field, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range.

“For him to be all about the team after we took him out of the starting lineup says a lot about him and the group,” Walton added.

Hield had started 126 straight games for the Kings before Friday evening and he’s been the teams leading scorer for the last two seasons. Going to the bench was an unexpected move, but with the team dropping six straight and 14 of their previous 17 games, something had to give.

“He was ready,” Fox told reporters. “He came out, he made shots, he defended well. Everybody was fine with it. He was fine with it. There was nothing big made of it. We all still came to the game ready to play basketball.”

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It will take time for the players to adjust to the new situation. Bogdanovic posted a modest 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting. He missed some open looks, but his ability to handle the ball took pressure off of Fox for stretches.

The Bulls aren’t exactly a playoff contender, but you play then schedule in front of you. Saramento faces another struggling franchise in the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday. There is no word on if Walton will stick with the starting lineup we saw Friday in Chicago, but he can’t really argue with the results.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in skid-busting 98-81 win over Bulls

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AP

Kings takeaways: What we learned in skid-busting 98-81 win over Bulls

BOX SCORE

The losing streak is over.

After dropping their previous six games, the Sacramento Kings stepped up Friday night at United Center in Chicago, beating the Bulls by a final of 98-81.

Coach Luke Walton made a lineup change, benching Buddy Hield for Bogdan Bogdanovic. The move had the desired effect. Spacing looked better with Bogdanovic playing with the first team and Hield went crazy off the bench.

Zach LaVine led the way with 21 points for a shorthanded Bulls team, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings finally snap out of their funk to and improve to 16-29 on the season. 

Bench Buddy

For the first time in 126 games, Hield was relegated to the second unit for the Kings. He didn’t pout and he didn’t become a problem. In fact, he excelled.

With the starters struggling coming out of the half, Walton turned to his leading scorer early in the third and he caught fire. 

Hield scored 11 of his team-high 21 points in the 12 minutes following the intermission. He hit 5-for-9 from behind the arc and added eight rebounds in the win.

Whether it’s off the bench or with the starting unit, this is the Buddy Hield the Kings need every game. 

Having a moment

Harry Giles has been in and out of the rotation all season long. With both Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley sidelined, the second-year big got a shot and made the most of it. 

The Kings ran the ball through Giles with the second unit and he made a huge impact early. He dished out four assists in the first half and went up for one of the Kings’ biggest blocks of the year.

Giles was so good in his first stint that Walton kept going back for more. He finished the game with a modest two points, six assists and two blocks. More importantly, he ran a -plus8 in the Plus-Minus category and helped lead the Kings to victory.    

De-Fense

The Kings’ defense has been a hot mess during their losing streak. They allowed 122.7 points per game during the streak, including three games where they gave up 127 points.

Chicago isn’t exactly a scoring juggernaut, but the Kings played extremely well on the defensive end, giving up just 81 points to Bulls. In the fourth quarter, Sacramento held the home team to just 12 points, as they pulled away.

Walton’s group isn’t exactly built to lock teams down, but they have enough talent on the defensive end to make life difficult for teams. The Kings were active and they limited their personal fouls, which is a big reason why they came away with the win.