Kings

Source: Kings interview Jeff Hornacek for assistant coach position

jeffhornacekusa.jpg
USATSI

Source: Kings interview Jeff Hornacek for assistant coach position

SACRAMENTO -- While chaos pelts down on the Sacramento Kings and newly hired head coach Luke Walton, the team continues to press forward.

NBC Sports California has confirmed through a league source that former NBA player turned head coach, Jeff Hornacek, was in Sacramento earlier this week to interview for a lead assistant coach job on Walton’s staff.

Known for his gritty play style over a 14-year NBA career with the Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz, Hornacek began his pro coaching career in Utah under legendary head coach Jerry Sloan during the 2010-11 season.

He spent three seasons as an assistant in Utah before heading to Phoenix to take over the Suns head coaching job in 2013. His Suns shocked the NBA in his first season, posting a 48-34 record and barely missing the postseason.

In his second season, the Suns took a step back, finishing the 2014-15 season with a 39-43 record. Hornacek dealt with an unbalanced roster that included three starting level point guards. At midseason, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas were dealt away in a three-team deal, leaving Eric Bledsoe and newly acquired Brandon Knight to finish the season.

The next season was more of the same. The team spent major money on aging free agent center, Tyson Chandler, which didn’t work out as planned. Bledsoe went down midseason with a knee injury and Hornacek was relieved his duties after a 14-35 start to the season.

[RELATED: Kings, NBA launch joint investigation into Walton allegations]

Following his experience in Phoenix, Hornacek coached the Knicks to a 60-104 record during from 2016-18. David Fizdale posted a 17-65 record this past season following Hornacek's departure.

A basketball lifer, the 55-year-old Hornacek has a career record of 161-216 record over five seasons at the helm. He spent last season away from the game, but he is ready to jump back into the game as an assistant.

The former All-Star guard would make a solid addition as an experienced voice on Walton’s bench.

Sam Amick of The Athletic was first with the news of Hornacek’s interview.

Young Kings already getting in work at team's practice facility

foxusa.jpg
USATI

Young Kings already getting in work at team's practice facility

SACRAMENTO -- The bounce of a ball is a sirens call for true hoopers. With the offseason less than six weeks old, Kings players have already descended on the team’s practice facility floor.

A few players took a quick break before jumping right back into the action. But it’s already time to get the band back together.

De’Aaron Fox has been hitting the weight room hard for the last three weeks. He’s ready to back up his sophomore jump with another step forward in year three.

Frank Mason and Willie Cauley-Stein were in the gym shooting jumpers following Thursday’s prospect workout. Mason is getting a fresh start with a new head coach. The team has a third year option on the former second round pick that becomes guaranteed in October. He’s not wasting any time auditioning for Luke Walton and the Kings’ brass.

Cauley-Stein is a King until he’s not. The 25-year-old big is a free agent come July 1. It is unknown at this time if Vlade Divac will extend a $6 million qualifying offer to the team’s starting center and make him a restricted free agent or if they will allow him to walk away for nothing.

Harry Giles continues to rehab his quad and he’s getting stronger. He’s trying to show that he is part of the young core moving forward and he needs to bulk up if he’s going to play primarily at the center position.

After a quick trip to India with the NBA, Harrison Barnes is back in Sacramento. The veteran forward has a player option for next season at $25 million that he’s likely to pick up. He’s openly talked about the Kings’ trip to play in Mumbai during the preseason and it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.

Nemanja Bjelica has spent time in the gym, as has two-way player, Wenyen Gabriel. Gabriel finished the season in a walking boot after a foot injury and he’s just now starting to get up shots. Like most of the young Kings, the focus this summer is on getting stronger, whether it’s for a second season with the Stockton Kings of the G League or with the parent club.

Stockton head coach Ty Ellis is in town helping run prospect workouts. Player development coach Bobby Jackson is helping out with the workouts as well.

Luke Walton is working to fill out his coaching staff and has not been made available to the media. The team has yet to place a timetable on the investigation into sexual assault allegations made against the 39-year-old and they have no plans to comment publicly on the situation until the investigation is completed.

While no additions to Walton’s staff have been announced, Jesse Mermuys, who was an assistant with Walton in Los Angeles, has been at the workouts as well, and is expected to join the staff in Sacramento.

Assistant general managers Peja Stojakovic and Ken Catanella, along with the team’s scouting staff, have been in attendance for the prospect workouts while Divac has been in Europe for the EuroLeague Final Four.  

More workouts are expected this week as the Kings search for players worthy of the No. 40, 47 and 60 picks in the upcoming draft.  

 

Tacko Fall highlights six NBA draft prospects to roll through Sacramento

tackfallucfdukeap.jpg
AP

Tacko Fall highlights six NBA draft prospects to roll through Sacramento

SACRAMENTO -- Cat stuck in a tree? Smoke alarm battery running low? Need someone to wash the middle of the roof of your car? Tacko Fall has you covered.

Imagine walking through life never needing a step stool and having to watch out for ceiling fans in every room you visit. At 7-foot-7 with an 8-foot-2.25 wingspan, Fall grasps the rim standing flat footed.

One of the largest prospects to ever measure at the NBA combine, the 23-year-old center out of the University of Central Florida dropped by Sacramento as part of the Kings’ fourth six -man work out of the week.

“I feel like teams already have an identity of what I can do, they have seen me a lot,” Fall said. “It’s just me being more consistent with what I do, running up and down the floor, being great defensively and that’s what I can bring to any team.”

Fall put up solid numbers in his four years with the Knights. He finished his senior season averaging 11.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 24.9 minutes per game under head coach Johnny Dawkins.

The giant out of Dekar, Senegal shot an incredible 74.8 percent from the field in his final, collegiate season, although he struggled from the free throw line, knocking down just 36.2 percent from the stripe.

“Big dude, big physical presence,” Duke big man Marques Bolden said. “I kind of knew what to expect coming in today.”

Fall and Bolden faced off in the NCAA tournament, with Duke coming away with a narrow 77-76 victory to advance to the Sweet 16. Fall out performed Bolden in the contest, posting 15 points, six rebounds and three blocks.

Bolden is still deciding whether he will stay in school for another year. He played with both Harry Giles and Marvin Bagley during his time at Duke and there’s a chance he’ll return for his senior year with Coach K.

For the rest of the players at the workout, playing with Fall was a new experience.

“Fun, Fun, I’ve never played with someone 7-7 or 7-6,” Amir Hinton out of Shaw University said. “He’s huge. All you have to do is throw the ball to the rim and he’s going to catch it. I had fun, I enjoyed that.”

Playing at a Division II college, Hinton is a rarity in the workout process. He skipped the AAU experience, instead choosing to earn his stripes as a street baller in Philadelphia. He posted huge numbers at Shaw, earning DII All-American honors while averaging 29.4 points per game for the Bears.

Iowa State’s Nick Weiler-Babb is an experienced player after four seasons at the NCAA level. He’s a big guard that held his own in the Big 12 and he had a unique take on playing against Fall.

“In the league, everybody is tall, everybody is athletic,” guard Iowa State Nick Weiler-Babb said of playing against Fall. “It just gives you a little preview of what you’re going up against. Tacko’s a good player. He’s not clumsy, nothing like that. He knows what he’s doing. He’s good with his feet. It’s good to go against a guy like that.”

Myles Powell from Seton Hall had the honor of following Fall in the media sessions. While the camera guys adjusted their tripods back to normal level, the junior point guard showed a maturity and confidence that you don’t often see during the interview process.

“You’ve never really been around someone that big, let alone on the basketball court with them,” Powell said. “Going through this process, about ready to be in the NBA, it’s always good to get a good body like that on the floor with you.”

After posting 23.1 points per game last season in the Big East, Powell has a huge decision in front of him. With just days to choose whether to return for his senior season or stay in the draft, workouts like the one in Sacramento are extremely important to gain valuable feedback.

Senior Jalen Hudson doesn’t have the option of going back to school before the May 29 deadline. Coming off a rough shooting season at Florida, he was looking to impress NBA scouts with the hopes of continuing his basketball career.

“I’m just trying to show people that I can shoot it really well, that I have confidence that I can really play at this level,” Hudson said. “Obviously numbers are kind of a big thing, but really when you can come in here and show off, that says a lot too.”

[RELATED: How NCAA rules change Kings' evaluation process]

Of all the players that came through Sacramento on Thursday, Fall is the lone player that is listed on some draft boards and even he is expected to go in then late second round.

The Kings have picks No. 40, 47 and 60 to work with and are looking for a few diamonds in the rough. They’ve hosted 24 prospects this week, many of which will return to the college level next season.