Kings

Skal Labissiere learning from Trail Blazers' bench in NBA playoff run

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AP

Skal Labissiere learning from Trail Blazers' bench in NBA playoff run

With the clock winding down, Damian Lillard measured Paul George and stepped into a 37-foot game winner to push the Portland Trail Blazers into the second round of the NBA playoffs.

It was bedlam. In a single moment, Lillard transformed from All-Star to something more. A superstar? Maybe. A legend in Portland? For sure.

As his teammates stormed the court, a photo was taken which captured a deadpanned Lillard staring into the lens as his teammates piled on.  

“That was the craziest shot I’ve ever seen in person,” Skal Labissiere told NBC Sports California. “It was great, just the atmosphere and the moment, the magnitude of the moment. It was the last game of the series and being against OKC. It was just a great shot.”

Labissiere’s huge smile lights up the picture. He’s in the upper right hand corner embracing his star guard.

One of the biggest moments of the 2018-19 playoffs and somehow Skal Labissiere makes the picture? This is the NBA life. One moment you can be wasting away on the Sacramento Kings' bench preparing for a 13th straight year without a postseason appearance and the next thing you know, you are in the Western Conference finals.

The 7-footer was dealt at the trade deadline from Sacramento to Portland in a swap for Caleb Swanigan. While he hasn’t found a spot in the rotation quite yet, the Haitian-born big was in desperate need of a career reboot.

Selected by Sacramento with the 28th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Labissiere played 106 games in a Kings uniform before the trade. With the focus shifting to young players like Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles, the 23-year-old center was a spare piece.

“It’s been a great experience so far,” Labissiere said of the trade. “Since I’ve been here I’ve been learning a lot from all the veterans here and the coaches. I’ve been learning a lot - the culture, the game, the guys here, they welcomed me with open arms. I’ve gotten a lot better since I’ve been here.”

Labissiere played in just nine games for the Blazers as they fought for playoff positioning down the stretch. In the season finale against his former team, the smooth shooting big dropped in 29 points and 15 rebounds in 41 minutes, reminding the Kings what could have been.

While things didn’t go as planned for Labissiere in Sacramento, he has no ill-will towards the franchise. If anything, he was gracious for the experience.

“Thank you for everything,” Labissiere said of his two-plus years in Sacramento. “Thank you to Vlade (Divac), Vivek (Ranadivé) for taking a chance on me on draft night. Even coach Joerger, giving me a chance to play in my rookie year and after the (DeMarcus Cousins) trade and in my second year in the league, just believing in me and cheering for me.”

Even when he wasn’t playing major minutes, Labissiere said he appreciated the cheers he received from the fans. He’s starting over in Portland with the hopes that he can find a permanent spot in the league.

He’s also getting an incredible experience of playing deep into the playoffs. He’s made three appearances in the postseason so far, but he’s taking it all in and trying to absorb as much as he can from the opportunity.

“This is a first time for everything, so I’m very excited to be here, just getting to experience this, even though I’m not playing a whole lot,” Labissiere said. “I’m still watching and learning how the guys approach every game and just supporting. Hopefully at some point I’ll get out there and be able to help the team, but as of right now, I’m satisfied with just learning and watching from afar.”

There’s a lot you can learn about the game of basketball by sitting back and watching. There is also a lot you can learn by walking into a new environment.

“I could tell when I first got here just the closeness of this group,” Labissiere said. “Everybody is for each other. They all care about winning, no matter what it takes. Whatever they have to do, sacrifice, as far as their roles, they’ll do it just for the betterment of the team.”

[RELATED: Should Suns forward Jackson be trade target for Kings?]

Labissiere has a guaranteed contract next season in Portland and a summer to show that he can fit into the system and be part of the Blazers' family. For now, he’s trying to take it all in and enjoy the ride.

He isn't the only former Kings player still alive in the postseason. Seth Curry, George Hill, Eric Moreland and DeMarcus Cousins are all still playing as the playoffs inch towards the Finals.

NBA rumors: Buddy Hield, Kings $20 million apart on contract extension

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USATSI

NBA rumors: Buddy Hield, Kings $20 million apart on contract extension

The Kings and shooting guard Buddy Hield reportedly aren't seeing eye-to-eye right now.

Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported Wednesday that Hield and the Kings are $20 million apart in talks of a contract extension. According to Haynes, the Kings have made a substantial four-year, $90 million contract extension offer to Hield. But Sacramento’s sharpshooter reportedly is looking for something closer to a four-year, $110 million extension from the team.

The reported divide between the two sides is large, although not insurmountable. If the figures are correct, Sacramento basically is offering $5 million per year less than what Hield is asking for. There might be room for some common ground in between these two figures.

The two sides have until Oct. 21 to come to an agreement on an extension. If they don’t, Hield will enter next summer as a restricted free agent, if the team extends a $6.5 million qualifying offer.

Once the qualifying offer is extended, the Kings would have the right to match any offer for the 26-year-old guard.

In his third NBA season, Hield led the Kings in scoring at 20.7 points per game. He also established a new NBA record for most 3-pointers through three seasons, hitting a team-record 278 triples last season to push his career total to 602.

Hield is the first of four members of the team's young core to come up for extension over the next 24 months. Bogdan Bogdanovic is eligible for a four-year, $51.7 million extension, but he has until June 30 to either accept the deal or head into the summer as a restricted free agent.

De’Aaron Fox also becomes eligible for an extension next summer, and the Kings face the same fate with Marvin Bagley in the summer of 2021.

Fox was clear last week that he would love to see the Kings keep Hield and the rest of the team's young players together. Hield also has made it known he would like to stay in Sacramento.

Kings general manager Vlade Divac and his staff have done a quality job of keeping salary cap flexibility over the last few seasons with an eye on this moment. The only contract they have that is guaranteed beyond 2021 is forward Harrison Barnes, who the team inked to a new four-year, $85 million declining value deal in July.

Hield and the Kings have five days to work something out. If not, they have to table the discussion until after the season.

Kings offer Bogdan Bogdanovic four-year, $51.4M max contract extension

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USATSI

Kings offer Bogdan Bogdanovic four-year, $51.4M max contract extension

The Kings have a big decision to make when it comes to Bogdan Bogdanovic. Now, he has a big decision to make, too. 

Bogdanovic told The Sacramento Bee's Jason Anderson that the Kings offered him a four-year, $51.4 max contract extension. It sounds like the 27-year-old is in no hurry to put pen to paper, though. 

“I would like to stay,” Bogdanovic said to the Bee. “Everyone knows that I love Sacramento. Everyone loves to be here. It’s a great group of guys. I’m happy right now and I was happy all these years, but I don’t want to rush anything.”

Bogdanovic knows he could receive more lucrative offers from the Kings -- as well as other teams -- as a restricted free agent next summer.

The combo guard/small forward is seen as a key part of the Kings' hopes to end their playoff drought. He averaged 14.1 points, 3.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game last season, his second in the NBA. 

[RELATED: Bogi ready to make impact on Kings after World Cup success]

After a solid sophomore season in Sacramento, Bogdanovic is coming off a big-time showing for Serbia in the FIBA World Cup. He averaged 22.9 points, 4.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds in 28 minutes per game for his native country. 

The Kings certainly hope he can bring the same stardom to Sacramento. If that's the case, he likely is in line for a hefty payday.