Three things to watch in Kings' preseason game against Lakers


Three things to watch in Kings' preseason game against Lakers

Fresh off a win in their preseason opener on Monday, the Sacramento Kings look to make it two in a row. They’ll take on LeBron James and the new-look Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center Thursday evening.

It’s the first of a brutal back-to-back, featuring two of the heavy hitters in the Western Conference. Following the game in LA, the Kings will board a flight to the Pacific Northwest where they’ll face the Warriors at Key Arena for the first game played in Seattle in a decade. 

Here are three things to watch as the Kings attempt to improve to 2-0 during the preseason. 

Building confidence

It’s a continuing theme, but the Kings are a very young team. Whether it’s summer league or preseason, building a winning culture matters. 

A victory over the Suns is step one. Competing against teams like the Lakers and Warriors is another move in the right direction. Games count for real in a couple of weeks. It would be nice to see the team walk into the regular season with a little bit of confidence. 

Let the game slow down

Harry Giles III looked like a whirling dervish early in the game against Phoenix. He picked up two fouls early and rushed shots at the rim and from the perimeter. As the game continued, he started to settle in and make better decisions, which is huge for his growth. 

Marvin Bagley III struggled with the same issue in the Kings’ debut, but he never found his comfort level. The sooner Bagley has that moment, the better for Sacramento. He’s a high-end talent, but the game is moving way too fast right now. 

Who stops LeBron?

No one really has an answer to this question. For the last 15 years, James has been the best player on the planet. He’s a physical freak and he continues to adapt his game as he moves into the final phase of his career. 

If James is playing the small forward position, Justin Jackson will likely get a first look. If he’s playing the four, Dave Joerger is going to have to get creative. Giles and  Bagley both played the four in the opener, as did Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein. None of them are natural matchups against James.

If the Lakers feature the 14-time All-Star, the Kings could be in for a long evening. 

Legal experts explain why Luke Walton's accuser didn't speak to investigators


Legal experts explain why Luke Walton's accuser didn't speak to investigators

The NBA and the Sacramento Kings announced Friday the conclusion of their joint investigation into former Los Angeles TV reporter Kelli Tennant's allegations of improper sexual conduct against coach Luke Walton. 

In a press release sent by the Kings, the investigation found insufficient evidence to support Tennant's claims against Walton and the case is considered closed unless new evidence becomes available.

The Kings said that Tennant, through her counsel, chose not to participate in the investigation, despite numerous attempts.

But legal experts told the Sacramento Bee they weren't surprised Tennant and her legal team declined to sit down with investigators. 

“Lawyers generally don’t like it when their clients tell their stories multiple times,” Northwestern University law professor Deborah Tuerkheimer said. “I’m not surprised she decided to opt out.

Laura Beth Nielsen, a sociologist and legal expert at Northwestern who has studied the #MeToo movement also wasn't surprised. Nielsen says independent investigations of sexual harassment and assault cases by big companies such as the NBA have a reputation of taking sides of the employee. 

Nielsen described it as "a sort of circle the wagons, we want to have a defensive posture." 

According to the Kings, more than 20 individuals, including Walton, were interviewed during the course of the joint investigation, which was led by Sue Ann Van Dermyden, from the Sacramento law firm Van Dermyden Maddux, and Elizabeth Maringer, senior vice president and assistant general counsel of the NBA.

Tennant, at an April news conference, said that Walton sexually assaulted her at a hotel room in Santa Monica when he was then an assistant coach on the Warriors. 

Walton has denied the allegations. 

“I am 100% focused on coaching the Sacramento Kings, and energized to work with this incredible group of players and coaches as we start the preseason,” Walton said in a statement. "I will have no further comment."

Kings' Harrison Barnes makes final Team USA roster for FIBA World Cup

Kings' Harrison Barnes makes final Team USA roster for FIBA World Cup

Team USA will feature one member of the Sacramento Kings after all in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, as the final roster was made official Saturday.

Both Marvin Bagley and De’Aaron Fox were among the finalists before both withdrew, citing a need to prepare for the 2019-20 NBA season. 

Barnes has competed for Team USA before, as he was part of the national team that won the gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.

There is, however, one more Northern California connection on the World Cup roster. Celtics forward Jaylen Brown played his one season of college hoops at Cal.

This team is a far cry from the initial roster projections, as just about every marquee player offered the chance to play seemed to withdraw from consideration due to injury or desire to rest, as the tournament will end just a few weeks before the start of NBA training camps.

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Barnes has started two of the three games during Team USA’s training trip in Australia, which included the program’s first international loss in more than a decade Friday night. 

Even with so many great players declining the opportunity to represent the Red, White, and Blue in the World Cup, Team USA is still favored, so look for Barnes to be bringing back some hardware to Sacramento.