Warriors' Willie Cauley-Stein faces Kings in Sacramento for first time


Warriors' Willie Cauley-Stein faces Kings in Sacramento for first time

SACRAMENTO -- Willie Cauley-Stein’s four years with the Kings unceremoniously ended when they rescinded their qualifying offer to the 7-footer on July 1.

There were plenty of highs, but also more than a few lows for the No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. After signing with the Warriors this summer, he walked into the visiting locker room of Golden 1 Center as an opposing player for the first time Monday morning for shootaround.

“It’s going to be cool coming back, playing in the spot that I grew up in pretty much,” Cauley-Stein said. “It’s weird being on this side of it though, I’ll be honest.”

Cauley-Stein was a polarizing figure with the Kings' fan base, and there is no telling what the reception will be like when he is announced. He went from a player looking to “get paid” to signing a two-year, $4.5 million deal with the Warriors.

Following his exit, he has taken a few moderate jabs at the Kings but nothing too harsh. Kings fans likely will have a response to his comments when he’s announced Monday evening.

“Shoot, probably both -- love, hate, that’s the way it goes when you leave an organization,” Cauley-Stein said. “A lot of love either way, a lot of love. I had a lot of support out here. A lot of people who believed in me off the court. It’s going to be cool.”

Kings fans are notorious for having a long memory. They would still boo Spencer Hawes if they saw him walking down the street, and Jason Terry drew the fans' ire years after knocking the Kings.

There likely will be a reaction from the Golden 1 Center crowd, but don't expect that to sway Cauley-Stein's former teammates.

“A lot of guys go back and get booed,” the Kings’ De’Aaron Fox said. “That doesn’t change what we think of Willie.”

“... Willie was great, he came in, he worked. Obviously, he was a different guy off the court just because he has a lot of different interests, but on the court, he came here, he worked hard. He is one of the best running bigs that I’ve ever seen, so his game definitely matched up with us.”

Cauley-Stein made the trek from the Bay Area on Sunday and spent time at Harry Giles house after his arrival. The pair spent two seasons together in Sacramento, with Cauley-Stein mentoring the Kings’ young big man.

“I’m definitely excited to play against my boy,” Giles said. “I’m excited for him just to come back here, to compete against the team he got drafted to. He had a lot of love for this city, regardless of the stuff that happened. His heart was still here and it’s tough with him leaving.”

Known for his strong relationship with the fan base, Giles was wary of what might be in store for Cauley-Stein in his first game back in Sacramento when asked about the crowd's potential reaction.

“I know people got a certain way of feeling, but still just give him a little love too,” Giles said. “He still got drafted here. He still put his time in too.”

[RELATED: Sources say Kings unlikely to make Kuzma for Bogdanovic trade]

In his first season with the Warriors, Cauley-Stein is starting and getting back to his defensive ways for coach Steve Kerr.

Cauley-Stein playing just under half the game for the 9-28 Warriors, averaging 8.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.

Kevin Durant, Harrison Barnes lose early in NBA 2K Players Tournament


Kevin Durant, Harrison Barnes lose early in NBA 2K Players Tournament

Kevin Durant and Harrison Barnes are skilled on the court, but they need some work with the sticks.

Both NBA stars were knocked out in the first round of the NBA 2K Players Tournament on Friday.

Durant, the No. 1 overall seed in the 16-player tournament, was knocked out by Miami Heat high-riser Derrick Jones Jr. in the first matchup of the night.

Playing as the Los Angeles Clippers, Durant lost 78-62 to Jones, who was controlling the Milwaukee Bucks.

Durant did have a couple of noteworthy moments, though.

As for Barnes, he served as the No. 15 seed and took on No. 2 seed Trae Young. This matchup was never really close.

Barnes played as the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors, while Young controlled the Bucks.

The Hawks star went on to win 101-59. After falling behind 10-0 early, Barnes cut the deficit to 13-11. But Young went on a 12-0 run, turning the game into a blowout.

During the game, both players were connected via headsets and exchanged banter while also asking each other questions.

While Young left Atlanta and went to his hometown of Norman, Okla., Barnes revealed that he decided to remain in Sacramento during the global coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm optimistic, man, that we're going to get in a few more games, so I'm staying close," Barnes said.

Young is close friends with Kings point guard De'Aaron Fox, and he asked Barnes what it's like playing with the former No. 5 overall pick.

"He's the best. Great dude, great point guard," Barnes said. "Unfortunately he got hurt early on, so it put us in a tough situation. If he had been healthy all year, I think we would have had a better year than we had."

[RELATED: Former Kings arena converted to hospital]

With the NBA on hiatus due to the pandemic, Durant and Barnes will have plenty of time at home to work on their 2K skills.

Former Kings arena to be converted into coronavirus surge hospital


Former Kings arena to be converted into coronavirus surge hospital

It’s official. The building formerly known as Arco Arena, Sleep Train Arena and Power Balance Pavilion is going to become a surge hospital during the current outbreak of the coronavirus.

“California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services announced plans for the California Department of Public Health, in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to convert the Natomas arena and practice facility into a surge field hospital to provide critical medical services for coronavirus and trauma care patients,” the team’s press release said on Friday.

Army Corps of Engineer Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite mentioned the possibility of converting Sleep Train into a 360-bed hospital earlier in the week. It now appears that the plan will go into full effect. 

"These days, our state’s soaring spirit is on full display – with Californians from every walk of life standing together, even while staying at home,” Governor Newsom said. “The State of California is working with the Kings to repurpose the team's former home to help treat COVID-19 patients and meet the coming surge in demand for hospital space. This facility, which for decades brought joy to the lives of Californians, will now be in the business of saving lives. I applaud the Kings and all the federal, state and local officials who worked in concert to make it happen.”

In addition to working with the state and federal government on the use of the Natomas property, the Kings also pledged $250,000 to support local community organizations taxed by the current pandemic, as well as 100,000 medical masks to state and city health agencies.

“On behalf of the entire Kings family, our hearts are with all who have been affected by this pandemic,” Sacramento Kings Chairman, CEO and Owner Vivek Ranadivé said via the press release. “California always leads the nation and the world, and we applaud Governor Newsom’s strong and decisive leadership to keep Californians healthy and safe during this crisis. His deft guidance and preparation serve as a shining example for leaders across America. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the medical professionals and frontline workers risking their lives every day and making tremendous sacrifices to protect us and provide essential services. Our deepest thanks go out to all of the local public health experts and elected officials, including Mayor Steinberg and Councilmember Ashby, working to safeguard the community during this unprecedented time.
“Our community has always come first, and that is more important now than ever,” Ranadivé added. “The Kings are proud to help by providing additional space to accommodate a predicted surge in patients. We are also donating masks to help keep people healthy, and critical resources to area organizations that are addressing food insecurity and other issues as a result of the coronavirus. I have always been in awe of the resilience and ingenuity of the American people and firmly believe that together, we will defeat this invisible enemy.”

[RELATED: How to watch Barnes in NBA 2K tourney]

The Arco property has gone mostly unused since the team moved to Golden 1 Center before the 2015-16 season. The practice facility currently is used by the team's G League affiliate, the Stockton Kings, but like the NBA, the G League is on hiatus due to COVID-19. 

All of this is part of the Kings’ “In this together” initiative.

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