Kings

For Vlade Divac, trading DeMarcus Cousins difficult but necessary

For Vlade Divac, trading DeMarcus Cousins difficult but necessary

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings had an epiphany. After seven years of trying things with DeMarcus Cousins, it was time to give it a go without him.

Vlade Divac stood in front of a firing squad of reporters Monday afternoon, fielding questions as to how the Kings not only moved on from their franchise player, but carefully maneuvering around why they received so little in return.

“I decided to make a decision at the best time, best offer we had,” Divac said. “Moving forward was very important for us to think about our culture and try to win. You can’t win if you don’t have a culture.”

[RATTO: The Ranadive Paradox: Every choice Kings face almost guarantees failure]

Culture was the word of the day and Divac knows a thing or two about that. The sharp move away from both Cousins and veteran Matt Barnes, who was waived to make room for the incoming Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway, set the Kings on a new path.

Divac was quick to point out that Sacramento had a better offer on the table the day before they pulled the trigger to send their star big to New Orleans. But the offer was rescinded, presumably when, according to league sources, teams around the league were informed that Cousins would not sign an extension with a new team, making him a short term rental.

Sacramento went with what they deemed was the best possible offer after collecting information from teams around the league over the past few months. The Kings kept the door open to a potential long term extension with Cousins, but in the end, another six seasons with the talented, but unpredictable big left them with serious questions.

Despite his status as a three-time All-Star and gold medal Olympiad, Cousins still found the waters treacherous with regards to officiating.

According to a league source, the team grew tired of the constant issues on the court. After promising the star big that they had no intentions of moving him during a private meeting on Feb 2, he went out two days later in an overtime win against the Golden State Warriors and picked up his 14th technical foul.

[RELATED: Report: Vivek Ranadive thinks Buddy Hield has Steph Curry potential]

Following the win, Cousins was also fined $25,000 by the league for making an inappropriate statement and gesture towards a Warriors fan in the tunnel.

Two days later he added technicals 15 and 16 against the Chicago Bulls and was suspended for the Kings’ matchup with the Boston Celtics.

Sacramento would go on to beat the Celtics with a massive team effort without Cousins. While it wasn’t the deciding factor, these events helped set the stage for his exit.

The trade comes at a time when the Kings sit just a game and a half out of the playoff picture. Kings fans have waited more than a decade for their team to get into the postseason and losing Cousins will likely end most of that talk.

“We’re going to play hard, we’re going to play with a lot of fun and improve everyday and try and compete and try to make the playoffs,” Divac said when asked what the fans should know about this move. “If not, we’re setting up ourselves in a good place to move forward to make a winning culture.”

Following the scrum, CSN California had an opportunity to discuss some of the topics with Divac in more depth.

Midway through his second season running the team, Divac had made building a relationship with Cousins a high priority. The two could often be seen having conversations both on and off the court.

“It was very difficult, I like him, he’s such a talented guy,” Divac told CSN. “I was really think hard about where we are going, where we are now, what we want to achieve and I made the decision to go other way.”

According to a league source, the entire basketball operations side was part of the discussion on the situation, including head coach Dave Joerger.

The Kings have built their team around the talented big each of the last seven season with the hope of turning the franchise around. Despite being in the conversation for the eighth seed, the Kings sit nine games under .500 with 25 contest left. Even if they found postseason paydirt, the Golden State Warriors would be waiting in round one.

The franchise was ready for a change. The dramatic shift in direction is jarring for everyone involved, but the Kings are confident they made the right decision for what is best for the franchise.

“I wouldn’t do it if I don’t feel comfortable,” Divac said. “Now we have a clear direction (of) what we want to do. I wouldn’t make a deal if I don’t feel comfortable.”

Sacramento returns to the court on Thursday evening when Michael Malone and the Denver Nuggets come through town. The team hasn’t shut the door on making more moves, but nothing is pending. It could be a wild couple of days in Kingsland.

Harry Giles sends message in Kings return after one-game G League stay

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AP

Harry Giles sends message in Kings return after one-game G League stay

SACRAMENTO -- Harry Giles is full of energy, and when he steps onto an NBA court, the excitement seems to get the better of the Kings rookie.

It’s a young player issue, and the big man is no ordinary young player. He fought through two major knee surgeries and thousands of hours of rehabilitation to get where he is today. After playing just 300 minutes over a three-year period, Giles has every reason to be amped up when he steps on the floor.

Fresh off a trip to the G League's Stockton Kings, Giles picked up some early run in the Kings’ win over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night. Although he had a successful stint, Giles' opening minute looked very similar to some of his previous games.

Eighteen seconds into his first appearance off the bench, Giles traveled. On the next trip down, he nearly had the ball stolen, and then he seemed to wake up.

After bobbling the ball, Giles attacked his defender, flashed to the rim and missed a layup. He bounced right back up, grabbed the rebound and tipped the ball in.

[RELATED: Gregg Popovich notes Kings' drastic culture change]

It was aggressive. It was physical. It was the Harry Giles that everyone expected when the season opened in mid-October.

“I just need to slow down, man, and just know that you don’t have to be in a rush all the time,” Giles said. “The first time I was in the game, I actually had a turnover when Frank [Mason] threw the ball. After that, I was like OK, I know what I got to do now, and I applied it from there.”

It’s hard to live up to the hype. After Giles redshirted last season in Sacramento, the buzz surrounding the 20-year-old reached a fever pitch before he ever played a minute in the NBA. It only grew after he posted a solid summer league and preseason.

Giles wants to be great. He has worked hard just to be able to step on the court, but like most young players, the mental aspect of the game is getting in the way. He’s playing too fast and compounding his mistakes by forcing the action.

The former top prep prospect played in 10 of the first 14 games for the Kings, averaging 4.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in 10.3 minutes per night. His numbers were limited because of foul and turnover trouble, as well as an abundance of big bodies on the roster in Sacramento.

After seeing very limited time over the last eight games, the Kings sent Giles to the G League on Sunday. He dominated the action, scoring 30 points in just 23 minutes.

Being sent down to the G League usually can go one of two ways with a young player. They either accept the opportunity and try to improve their game, or they sulk and it becomes a negative in their development.

For Giles, it seemed to wake him up and motivate him to find his game quickly at the NBA level when given a chance.

“It gave me a new charge, a new energy, just playing where I was at,” Giles said of his stint in Stockton. “I got some things done, but it just kind of set off a different fire in me to just do what I want to do up here. I’m just trying to be up here.”

The way the Kings currently are playing, everyone has an opportunity to shine during a game. The uptempo style creates an abundance of shots. So far this season, the Kings have shared the wealth, and everyone has had an chance to shine.

Giles can easily fit into this style of play. He’s athletic and strong, and his ability to create for others eventually will help open up the floor.

[RELATED: Two positives, two negatives from Kings' win over the Spurs]

Against the Spurs, Giles finished with a career-best 12 points and added six rebounds in 16 minutes of play. He also played solid defense on All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge.

“It was great,” De’Aaron Fox said of Giles’ performance. “He was real comfortable, real confident. Sometimes that’s really all you need. Sometimes it’s all about confidence.”

The Kings have a three-day break in the schedule to rest up and work out some of the kinks. When the team hits the road for a back-to-back in Memphis and Houston later in the week, don’t be surprised to see Giles in the rotation and building off his strong performance against the Spurs.

Kings team up with American Red Cross to aid victims of the Camp Fire

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USATSI

Kings team up with American Red Cross to aid victims of the Camp Fire

SACRAMENTO -- A little over two years after its opening, Golden 1 Center continues to be the centerpiece of Sacramento. For the last few days, the home of the Kings has been under siege by invading smoke from the Camp Fire that has destroyed most of the city of Paradise, California, some 90 miles north of Sacramento.

During the loss to the Lakers on Saturday evening, LeBron James and other Lakers players commented on the smoke inside the building. But during Monday evening’s victory over the San Antonio Spurs, the air was close to normal in the 17,000 seat arena.

The Kings have been working overtime to process and remove smoke from inside the building. It’s an ongoing challenge that required the team to bring in heavy machinery, including additional HVAC units and carbon filters, to properly control the air quality in the arena. 

During shootaround on Monday, Golden 1 Center looked mostly clear with giant machines humming in the background. Smoke started to roll into Sacramento in the early afternoon, but the team was successful in keeping most of the unhealthy air outside throughout the game. 

According to the Sacramento Bee, the 125,000 acre Camp Fire is 35 percent contained. It has consumed 7,600 structures and the death count is currently at 42, with hundreds still missing and thousands left homeless.

The Kings are accepting donations on behalf of the American Red Cross and will match up to the first $15,000. In addition, the team’s staff is spending time calling Kings fans to help drive the fundraising initiative.

According to the team, Golden 1 Center visitors can donate directly to the Red Cross at Local Eats stands during concerts, games and events. Additionally, at an upcoming Kings game, the Kings Foundation 50/50 Raffle proceeds will directly benefit the American Red Cross.