Kings

Start of Hawks-Kings game delayed due to protests outside arena

Start of Hawks-Kings game delayed due to protests outside arena

SACRAMENTO -- Giving new meaning to playing under protest, the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks game at Golden 1 Center was delayed 13 minutes Thursday evening due to an actual protest outside the building.

Protesters locked arms in front of the entrance to the building, blocking ticket holders from entering the arena.

The Kings released the following prepared statement.

“Tonight’s game began with a delay. Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remains closed and we ask fans outside to travel home. We will issue further information soon regarding a refund.”

Minutes before the 7:10 game start time, the Kings invited what few fans made their way into the building to sit in the lower bowl. A couple of thousand fans moved as close to the court as possible, while the doors remained closed to the outside.

The protest stems from the release of police body cam footage of the officer involved shooting death of South Sacramento resident, Stephon Clark, on Sunday evening. The video was released on Wednesday.

As of 8pm PST, the Golden 1 Center remains surrounded by protesters with security and police officers stationed insider every entrance and exit door.

20 Kings Questions: Can Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley play together?

20 Kings Questions: Can Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley play together?

Editor's note: This is the ninth installment of NBC Sports California's "20 questions facing Kings" series that will look into pressing matters for the team once the NBA returns.

During the summer of 2019, which seems like a long time ago at this point, the Sacramento Kings spent big money on Dewayne Dedmon because he was a player the team believed fit next to Marvin Bagley.

The plan backfired dramatically. Bagley went down with a broken thumb in the fourth quarter of the season opener. Dedmon never found his niche with the team and was sent packing at the trade deadline.

Instead of watching the combo of Bagley and Dedmon, Kings fans got to see a different pair of bigs find synergy on the court in Nemanja Bjelica and Richaun Holmes.

When Bagley did make it back from injury, he didn’t slide back into the starting lineup. In fact, he didn’t even spend much time at the power forward position.

Looking for the right combination of players, head coach Luke Walton split time between Bagley and Holmes at the center position, rarely playing the two together in the same lineup.

With Bagley being the future and Holmes being another player the Kings can build around, something has to give. Can the duo play together or are they an ill-fitting pair that will need to take turns in the rotation?

Nuts and Bolts

Dedmond received a three-year, $40 million contract from the Kings, leaving only a two-year, $10 million “room mid-level exception” contract available for Holmes.

Despite Dedmon being off the books, the Kings can’t negotiate a new contract for Holmes until the summer of 2021, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Bagley is in the second year of his rookie scale contract. He’s eligible for an extension in summer of 2021 and is under team control for another two seasons at a minimum.

Holmes has already gone on record saying he would love to stay in Sacramento long term, but a lot can happen in the span of a year.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Why it works

If Holmes is the Kings’ starting center and Bagley is the starting power forward, the Kings have one of the most athletic four/five combos in the league.

Both are considered high motor players that can rebound, block shots and depending on the play set, score.

Holmes prefers to play in the pick-and-roll and rarely works as a true back-to-the-basket post player. He scores on lobs, putbacks and on occasion, he gets crafty with his push shot and extends outside of 10 feet.

Of Holmes’ 322 shot attempts this season, 186 came at the rim, where he shot 73.5 percent. He took a total of eight shots this season outside of 16 feet.

Bagley is more versatile as a scorer, but due to limited court time, he has yet to fully extend his range to the 3-point line at the NBA level. Where Holmes rarely dribbles the ball, Bagley can back his opponent down, take him off the dribble or elevate and shoot over the top.

Walton used both players at center, but they ran completely different plays much of the time. Holmes loves the two-man game and Bagley likes to flash to the lane, get position low and call for the ball.

On the defensive end of the court, Holmes is fluid in space, plays the pick-and-roll well and can even contest on the perimeter. He is the Kings’ best low post defender, although he has issues on occasion against some of the bigger fives in the league.

Bagley is still a work in progress on the defensive end. He makes up for a lot of his technique issues by relying on pure athleticism, but he has potential as a defender as he gets more comfortable on the court.

While neither Holmes or Bagley has the strength to hold off players like Nikola Jokic or Steven Adams, they are both super athletes that can switch and play either power forward or center.

Why it doesn’t work

There is a reason Walton has shied away from using Holmes and Bagley on the court together. The modern NBA requires spacing, which means you need as many perimeter shooters on the floor as possible.

With Holmes and Bagley both preferring to do their damage down low, they will clog the lane, where point guard De’Aaron Fox likes to attack.

There are decades worth of tape of teams playing with two bigs on the court at the same time, but the league has gone away from this look almost entirely in the last few seasons.

The plan has always been to put Bagley alongside a floor spacer, which is why Dedmon was brought in. Having a player like Bjelica on the roster has helped tremendously, if for no other reason, it gives the Kings a player-type to test with their other players.

[RELATED: Can Kings sign both Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield to long-term contracts?]

In his second season in the league Holmes shot 35.1 percent from 3-point land on 1.4 attempts per game. He has been working on extending his range, but there is a difference between being able to hit a three on the practice court versus in a game. He has to become proficient enough from the perimeter that teams go all the way out to guard him.

Bagley shot 31.3 percent from distance as a rookie, but injuries have stopped him from finding his rhythm in year two. When Bagley does hit 3-pointers, it is usually as a trailer from the top of the key.

If either player can develop into a consistent threat, especially from the corner, it would help open the floor dramatically.

In addition to struggling from the perimeter, neither player possesses the ability to play-make for others on a consistent basis. When the season was put on ice, Holmes ranked 16th on the team in assist percentage and Bagley was 18th. To compound matters, starting small forward Harrison Barnes ranked 11th in assist percentage.

Can you put three players on the court together that don’t create opportunities for others? That might be a bigger issue than the lack of 3-point shooting.

Prediction

Walton has no option but to try the pairing. Holmes is the team’s best interior defender and he earned the starting position. Bagley is still considered a building block for the franchise despite his injury setbacks. Both project as players that play 30 minutes or more per game for Sacramento.

The team needs to extend the range of both players, but they should also start using the pair in high post situations to see if one or both has the ability to create.

Turning up the tempo would also help mask some of the issues. Both Holmes and Bagley are exceptional athletes that can get out and move in the open court. Holmes is more of a rim-runner than Bagley, but Bagley can also lead a break with his ball handling skills.

If and when the league returns, it’s too late to experiment with Holmes and Bagley together now, especially if there are postseason implications for the Kings. But Walton has a tall task of finding ways to mask their deficiencies while molding these two during the offseason, because this should be the team’s starting frontline for the 2020-21 season.

What Kayte Hunter misses most about sports amid coronavirus hiatus

What Kayte Hunter misses most about sports amid coronavirus hiatus

Editor's note: Like you, Bay Area athletes and NBC Sports Bay Area insiders, reporters and analysts are feeling the sports void during the coronavirus stoppage. They'll share their thoughts twice a week in "What I Miss About Sports." Next up in the series: Kings sideline reporter Kayte Hunter.

The world feels like it is in complete disarray. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic have caused unprecedented actions forcing restaurants and bars to close, employees are working from home, schools are shut down, and the world of sports has come to a complete standstill. 

Sports is a business. A massive business that employees millions of people throughout the world. I am one of those people. 

When we found out that the NBA was suspending games due to the first NBA player testing positive for COVID-19, it threw the world that I work in into a state of the unknown. Never before has this happened in the history of the league. 

It was the responsible thing to do. The only thing to do. 

But the thing about sports is that they have forever been an escape from the sometimes harsh realities of the world. So to say that I miss sports is an understatement. 

It’s not just that I miss being on the sidelines or in the NBC Sports Bay Area studios. I miss the excitement of the hunt. The Kings had 18 games remaining on their regular season schedule and they were in the thick of the battle for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference. 

This team was coming into their own. They were showing who we all thought they had the capability of being when the 2019-20 season started. They had endured a rash of major injuries that kept key players out for long stretches. There was a point in the season in January when things seemed to be hopeless. But then things started to shift. 

There was a lineup change and moves heading into the trade deadline. It was like they suddenly had been given a lifeline and momentum started to build. There were new career highs. 

First Buddy Hield in Minnesota after the Kings came back from an unthinkable deficit with less than four minutes in the fourth quarter to win on the road. Then a huge win on the road in Los Angeles against the Clippers behind a career night from De’Aaron Fox. 

There was a synergy building. 

And then suddenly the world came to a halt. And my world, the NBA, became frozen in time. No games. No indication when or if things will pick up again.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

High school playoffs ... cancelled. 

I won a California Division V State Championship at Arco Arena in 1998. That experience is something that I will never forget. And now I think of all the kids that have worked so hard to try and attain that same goal. There is a moment of time that is stolen from them. 

March Madness was canceled.

I participated in the NCAA tournament all four years in college. It’s THE thing that you work for. It’s where you know that anything can happen. The Cinderella stories. The little guys taking down the giants. The entire country becomes invested. People that haven’t watched a college game all season are filling out brackets and are glued to their TVs.

Sports has that ability to bring people together. 

There is no telling what will happen with the NBA season as we wait to discover what the fate of this season will be. 

But as we wait, there are so many things that I miss.

It’s not just the hunt for the playoffs and seeing players step up and find ways to win that I mentioned earlier. Those are things that are a common denominator for everyone that are sports fans.

I miss the little things that nobody else sees or knows.

I miss the routine. Prepping and crunching numbers. Trying to figure out how to highlight players, stats, stories that are important and unique in each and every game.

I miss the interactions with the people. The security guards in the tunnel where my table is. Reggie has been in the tunnel by my table since Golden 1 Center has opened. I miss his jokes and sarcastic humor. His conversations about the kids at the high school in Vacaville where he works. 

I miss eating in the media lounge before Luke Walton’s press conference. That’s the only part of game day that I get to see Jerry Reynolds and be graced me with his wit, humor and a dive into his basketball genius. But it’s not just Jerry, it’s so many people that you get to see and interact with that make my game day experience what it is. 

I miss going into the truck for the five minutes a night to go over the video elements and graphics I will be discussing. Seeing my guys, the guys that I have been working alongside and traveling with for years. My producer Ro, director Birdy (Mike Bird), Houde (Josh) who builds my graphics for me and Justin who edits together my video elements. I miss hearing about their babies, wives, girlfriends, kids playing hockey and all the sarcastic sometimes inappropriate humor that exists within our friendships.

I miss Jim Kozimor. His brilliance and humor. James Ham and his sweater vests!

I miss hearing Grant Napear bring me in for my first hit right before tip-off and the countdown in my ear when we are coming back from break.

The postgame interview with players after a big win. 

I miss the studio and the whole staff at NBC Sports Bay Area in San Francisco, and being able to do the pre, halftime and postgame shows. 

I miss the conversations with my husband when I get home from work about the game and how his night went with the kids. 

I miss it all. I love my job and am so lucky and fortunate to “work” in the NBA and for the Kings.

But most of all, during this bizarre and frightening time, I miss the escape.

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