Kings

Source: Kings unlikely to pursue free agent center Nikola Vucevic

Source: Kings unlikely to pursue free agent center Nikola Vucevic

SACRAMENTO -- The rumor mill is only going to heat up as we approach the start of the NBA’s free agency period on June 30. With $35-38 million to spend, the Sacramento Kings are going to get mentioned plenty, and often the reports will be inaccurate.

Vlade Divac and his team have placed an emphasis on improving the center position, but according to a league source, while the team holds Nikola Vucevic in high regard, the team is not expected to chase the Orlando Magic big man in free agency, despite reports to the contrary.

After posting 20.8 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.1 blocks per game this season, Vucevic is primed to sign a mega contract, whether it’s with the Orlando or elsewhere.

The 28-year-old is skilled and made his first All-Star team this season, but he’s not a great fit for the Kings’ uptempo style of play.

There are plenty of other centers on the market this summer. Dewayne Dedmon and DeAndre Jordan are both unrestricted free agents and might work as short-term fixes. Jordan is on the wrong side of 30 and Dedmon isn’t far behind, but both are solid rebounders and defenders.

Memphis Grizzlies big man Jonas Valanciunas just opted out of his contract for this season and is an unrestricted free agent. At 27-year-old he fits the age arc of the Kings’ roster, but again, isn’t exactly built for an uptempo style.

The team hasn’t shut the door on a return of the incumbent starter, Willie Cauley-Stein. He is long and athletic, but his inconsistent play continues to concern the Kings.

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Sacramento is likely to extend the 25-year-old a qualifying offer before the beginning of free agency, locking him into restricted free agent status. They will wait to see how the market materializes for the former No. 6 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft before making a final decision on his future with the team.

Kings' narrow overtime loss to Heat all too familiar in trying season

Kings' narrow overtime loss to Heat all too familiar in trying season

The Miami Heat are the best home team in the NBA. They came into Martin Luther King Jr. day with an 18-1 record at AmericanAirlines Arena, and they picked up their 19th win in 20 chances with a nail-biting 118-113 overtime win against the Kings.

It’s another tough pill to swallow for Sacramento. After trailing late in the fourth quarter, Heat big man Bam Adebayo appeared to push off of Kings point guard Cory Joseph at the rim. Adebayo made a bucket with 0.8 seconds remaining that likely will show up on Tuesday’s Last Two Minute Report. 

The Kings fell behind early in overtime, but a couple of huge three-pointers from Buddy Hield gave them a late lead. Miami didn't give in, though, eventually handing Sacramento a fifth straight loss. 

“That’s more of our team that I’m used to seeing as far as how hard we competed,” Kings coach Luke Walton told reporters in Miami. “That kind of has to get back to being the standard of how we play each and every night. All guys giving everything they have. Unfortunate loss. Give Miami credit, they had a lot of big shots.”

In a season filled with bad beats and last-second misses, this one felt familiar. The Kings now have played 20 games decided by five points or fewer, and they are just 7-13 in those contests.

It’s not one player or one reason for the record, but an assortment of issues that always seem to pop up at the wrong moment. 

Nemanja Bjelica put up big numbers for the Kings in Miami, finishing Monday with 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting. His rebound and putback with 1.9 seconds remaining in regulation looked like the game-winner for the Kings.

Marvin Bagley put in a strong game as well, scoring 15 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in 38 minutes in just his fourth game back from injury. 

“I thought he gave a winning effort tonight,” Walton said of Bagley. “It’s unfortunate it didn’t turn into a win for us.” 

Hield gave the Kings a late lead in overtime, but the Heat kept charging back once again.  

“He’s always a constant threat to score quickly and he’s evolving as an all-around player too, taking more responsibility on defense and the other things that we ask him to do,” Walton said. 

Hield finished the night with 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, but he also shot just 5-of-17 from 3-point range in 43 minutes of action.

“I don’t necessarily consider ourselves a bad team, we just can’t figure it out,” Hield said. “Guys hurt, in and out of the lineup. We’re trying to figure out coverages.”

[RELATED: What will Kings' plan be as NBA trade deadline approaches?]

The Kings have been in a tailspin since mid-December, and it could continue. 

They are 3-13 over their last 16 contests, and they currently sit a season-worst 13 games under .500 at 15-28. The Kings also are in the middle of their longest road trip of the season with stops in Detroit, Chicago and Minnesota on the schedule before their next home game on Feb. 7.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 118-113 overtime loss to Heat

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 118-113 overtime loss to Heat

BOX SCORE

The best way to avoid the South Beach flu? Spend an extra day in Utah.

After a blowout loss to the Jazz in Salt Lake City on Saturday, the Kings (15-28) took their time getting to Miami. They looked fresh and focused from the opening tip Monday night against the Heat (30-13) and put up a strong showing against one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.

Unfortunately for the Kings, it wasn’t quite enough to come away with a win.

Playing without All-Star Jimmy Butler, veterans Goran Dragic and James Johnson stepped up to combine for 40 points off the Heat bench. Rookie Kenrick Nunn scored 25 and Duncan Robinson hit some huge threes to give Miami a boost in a 118-113 win over Sacramento. 

Here are three takeaways from the Kings' fifth straight loss. 

From Serbia with love

Nemanja Bjelica and Bogdan Bogdanovic have plenty of chemistry from their time playing together on the Serbian National team. Against the Heat, the two looked completely in sync. 

Bjelica hit his first five shots and finished the game with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting. He added six rebounds, three assists and a steal in 36 minutes of action.

In his second game back from injury, Bogdanovic came off the bench to score 14 points for Sacramento. He had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but Johnson blocked the 3-point attempt.

Battling Bagley

Marvin Bagley struggled with his pick-and-roll defense against Rudy Gobert on Saturday. That wasn’t the case Monday against the Heat. 

Bagley scored 15 points on 7-of-13 shooting and grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds. He was active on the defensive end and even had a couple of big hustle plays. 

This is the type of game the Kings need from their second-year centerpiece. Bagley held Bam Adebayo in check, and he was opportunistic on the offensive end. 

In the final minutes of regulation, Bagley attacked the glass and came up with a pair of huge putbacks to help the Kings keep it close.

[RELATED: What will Kings' plan be as NBA trade deadline approaches?]

Stuff the stat sheet

Buddy Hield is known for his scoring, but he did a little bit of everything against the Heat.

With his 3-pointer on the fritz, Hield became a distributor for Sacramento and dished out seven assists. He hit the glass for seven rebounds and even picked up three steals and a pair of blocks. 

When the shot isn’t falling, this is the type of outing the Kings need from Hield. He was active on the defensive end and made an impact on the game.

After hitting just 3-of-14 from deep through the first 48 minutes of the game, Hield finally got a pair of triples to drop in the overtime session and finished the game with 20 points.