Kings

Sampson comes up huge in win over Bulls: 'He's just disruptive'

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AP

Sampson comes up huge in win over Bulls: 'He's just disruptive'

SACRAMENTO -- JaKarr Sampson isn’t used to the media storming his locker following a win. The 24-year-old has driven back and forth between Sacramento and Reno all season long as a two-way player. It’s not glamorous, but he’s always a phone call away from the show.

Monday night at Golden 1 Center, he was a difference maker in the Kings 104-98 win over the Chicago Bulls. It’s not the first time he’s come up big for Sacramento and it probably won’t be the last. 

“That’s what he does,” De’Aaron Fox said. “Every time he’s come up - I wanna say that first road trip when we played in Cleveland, he guarded LeBron (James) - he’s just disruptive. He grabs rebounds, he plays defense, he’s active on the offensive glass - it’s what he does and that’s the reason that he plays.”

With his team completely dead in the water against the Bulls, Dave Joerger turned to Sampson in hopes of finding a spark. The St. John’s University product instantly changed the energy level on the court, helping Sacramento climb out of a 21-point first half deficit.

“He’s awesome as far as what he brings to the part,” Joerger said. “6’-8” lively body, diving as far as from the perimeter, slashing and trying to get to the glass.”

The numbers don’t jump off the page - nine-points, six-rebounds and a block in 18 minutes of action. But he completely changed the momentum of a game with his hustle. 

“It just feels good just being out there and playing in front of these fans,” Sampson said with a huge smile. “They bring the juice and get me juiced up and do what I do best and pass it along to my teammates.”

Sampson loves to energize the crowd with a dunk. He hit the Bulls with a baseline hammer in the second quarter to help draw the Kings within 10. Two minutes later, Chicago’s Zach LaVine got him back on the other. 

“You’ve got to - that’s the ballgame, especially for someone who plays defense the way I play it and is gonna challenge any shot,” Sampson said following the game. “I don’t care about getting dunked on, I just care about making a right play and sacrificing my body for the team.”

LaVine put Sampson on a poster, but that’s the way the fourth-year forward plays. You don’t get any free passes around him. He’s always ready to challenge, even when there is little hope of stopping someone. 

With the Kings off for the next three days, the plan is for Sampson to head back to the Reno Bighorns on Tuesday. Joerger joked that he might have to change his travel plans, but with only 45 days to use Sampson with the parent club, the Kings have to be judicious with when they call him to Sacramento. 

If nothing else, Sampson has earned a long look with an NBA team next season, be it in Sacramento or elsewhere. He has the body to compete and the versatility to play either forward positions. He also brings his lunch pail and a huge smile to work every day. 

What does Nemanja Bjelica bring to the Kings?

What does Nemanja Bjelica bring to the Kings?

The Sacramento Kings had cash burning holes in their pockets. After nearly three weeks of inactivity in free agency, the team signed a second player in less than eight hours Friday afternoon.

Yogi Ferrell inked a two-year, $6.2 million deal to start the spending spree and, according to a source, Sacramento added Nemanja Bjelica to a three-year, $20.5 million deal just as most people were settling in for dinner. The final year of his deal is non-guaranteed.

The Bjelica transaction has been rumored for the last few days, although the exact dollars figures were unknown. The 30-year-old combo forward posted 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

He initially agreed to a one-year, $4.4 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, but backed out of the deal earlier this week with the thought that he would return to Europe to play. According to reports, Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic reached out to the Serbian-born forward in an attempt to keep him in the NBA and talk him into joining the Kings.

How does he fit with the Kings?

Bjelica split his time between the small forward and power forward positions last season with the T-Wolves, and will likely do the same in Sacramento. Listed at 6-foot-10, 230 pounds, Bjelica is known for his long range shooting touch, knocking down a career-best 41.5 percent from behind the arc last season.

The Kings have an overload at the power forward and center position, so it’s likely that Bjelica will play plenty of minutes at the small forward spot. He's a potential defensive liability against smaller wings, but he'll help to open running and passing lanes for De’Aaron Fox and the rest of Sacramento’s guards.

Who loses time?

There is a lot that can happen between now and the start of training camp. If the roster looks the same in mid-September as it does now, expect Bjelica to steal time from Justin Jackson at the small forward position and Skal Labissiere and Zach Randolph at the four.

His ability to stretch the floor will keep him on the court for plenty of minutes in Dave Joerger’s rotation.

Financial Impact

While we don’t have exact year-by-year numbers, Bjelica should eat up roughly $7 million a year in each of his guaranteed seasons. When combined with Ferrell’s $3 million salary for this season, the Kings still have more than $9 million of cap room and they will have to waive one player before making the signing official.

Source: Kings agree to three-year deal with Nemanja Bjelica

Source: Kings agree to three-year deal with Nemanja Bjelica

Europe can wait for free-agent forward Nemanja Bjelica.

The 30-year-old agreed to a three-year, $20.5 million deal with the Sacramento Kings on Friday, a source confirmed to NBC Sports California's James Ham. The third year is not guaranteed. 

Yahoo! Sports' Shams Charania first reported the news. 

The 6-foot-10 Serbian averaged 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game last season. A source told NBC Sports California's James Ham on Wednesday that the Kings like the Serbian forward's versatility, and believe he can play minutes at the small forward and power forward postions. 

Bjelica previously agreed to a one-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers this summer. He told the team on Monday that he planned on staying in Europe this season, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.