Kings

Where's Zach Randolph? Vlade Divac, Dave Joerger shed light on situation

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USATSI

Where's Zach Randolph? Vlade Divac, Dave Joerger shed light on situation

SACRAMENTO -- Mystery solved.

Zach Randolph hasn’t played a minute in the Kings' first 10 games this season. For many of those games, he hasn’t even been on the bench. 

Following practice Tuesday, both general manager Vlade Divac and coach Dave Joerger addressed the situation with NBC Sports California.

“Before the season, we sat down, Vlade and I and Zach, and obviously Zach and I have been together a long time,” Joerger said. “I think he’s a terrific human being, and I think he’s a terrific basketball player, and at this point, you’d rather communicate and be up front with guys and say hey, we’re going to go with the younger guys and get guys as many minutes as possible.”

After leading the Kings in scoring last season, Randolph is the victim of the team’s youth movement this season. He is out of the rotation, and with so many young bigs on the roster, it’s unlikely he’ll see time on the court anytime soon, if at all this season.

[RELATED: Kings Youth Movement: Tracking young core through first 10 games]

Randolph likely saw the writing on the wall when the Kings drafted Marvin Bagley III with the second overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. His position was weakened again when the team signed Nemanja Bjelica late in free agency. 

The 18-year NBA veteran came from the grit-and-grind system of the Memphis Grizzlies, which worked in stretches last season in Sacramento. With the team cranking up the tempo, it’s hard to see him finding time on the court.

“The way we’re playing and how we’re going to play, he just doesn’t fit in that type of style,” Divac said. “We’re so happy that’s he’s part of this team, being a pro and helping with mentorship of the young guys.”

It was a difficult conversation for Joerger to have. He worked with Randolph for years in Memphis as both an assistant and head coach. One of the reasons the 37-year-old veteran signed with the Kings last summer was due to his relationship with Joerger.

“I need you to be supportive, I need you to be that veteran and positive and help our young guys and lead by example,” Joerger communicated with Randolph.

Randolph has spent time around the team during training camp and early in the season, but he’s been home handling some personal business back in Memphis as of late. 

The plan is for Randolph to be around the team more and to continue to work with the young players. While the team isn’t actively shopping Z-Bo, there always is a chance he'll finish the season elsewhere.

“Any opportunity for us to improve, we’ll look at it, but we’re not focusing (on trading him),” Divac said. “We’re happy that he’s around those young guys.”

Randolph posted 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in 59 games with the Kings last season, and there is a chance he can help a team that plays a different style than the current up-and-down game Sacramento is featuring. 

“He’s got a lot left to give,” Joerger said. “We see Tyson Chandler got picked up real quick. Veterans who have experience, have been in the playoffs, those guys are always very valuable and we certainly value him very highly as well.”

Randolph signed a two-year deal with the Kings in the summer of 2017 that pays him $11.7 million this season. If he’s still with the team after the trade deadline, there always is a chance that he becomes a buyout candidate. Until then, he’ll likely focus on the role of veteran teacher on the sidelines.

[RELATED: Kings G League team opens inaugural season in Stockton with lively crowd]

[RELATED: Improving De'Aaron Fox leading the way as Kings surprise rest of NBA]

[RELATED: Jeff Van Gundy praises Kings' Dave Joerger as early Coach of the Year]

Watch Russell Westbrook say 'game over' just before Kings' game-winner

Watch Russell Westbrook say 'game over' just before Kings' game-winner

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

That message might need to be relayed to Rockets guard Russell Westbrook, as he assumed he had just won his team the game after driving and finishing over Kings center Richaun Holmes with only one second remaining Monday night in Houston.

Buddy Hield had just hit a miraculous 3-pointer on the previous possession to tie the score, and Westbrook assumed there was nothing the Kings could do to win the game in one second after his layup.

Suffice it to say, the former NBA MVP was incorrect.

Nemanja Bjelica sent the Kings home with another road win, and stunned the Rockets with this DEEP buzzer-beater.

[RELATED: What we learned as Bjelica, Kings stun Westbrook, Rockets]

So much for Clutch City.

Nemanja Bjelica comes up clutch again as Kings take down Rockets

Nemanja Bjelica comes up clutch again as Kings take down Rockets

From the lowest lows to the highest highs. Welcome to the 2019-20 Sacramento Kings season.

It was just another manic Monday in Kingsland. After taking down Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks less than 24 hours earlier, the Kings hung around in Houston and then shocked the Rockets at the buzzer by a final of 119-118.

The road-weary Kings looked beat when Russell Westbrook took the ball right through the defense and scored a go-ahead bucket with one second remaining.

On the ensuing play, Cory Joseph scanned the court and waited patiently for Bogdan Bogdanovic to run through and then Buddy Hield.

Coach Luke Walton used his top scorers as decoys for Nemanja Bjelica, who calmly stepped to the left elbow and drilled a 33-footer as time expired.

“I was one of the options,” Bjelica told Grant Napear and Doug Christie following the win. “Great win for us. What can I say? I took a crazy shot. The ball went in. We deserve this win. And that’s it.”

Overmatched, understaffed and playing on the second night of a back-to-back against two of the best teams in the Western Conference, the Kings somehow swept a two-game set with the Mavericks and Rockets.

“We were very brave tonight,” Bjelica said. “It’s hard to play against this team and we played different and we won.”

Bjelica finished the night with 17 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals for Sacramento. He’s not used to chatting with the media in post-game media availability and now he’s been the star of the show for the second straight game.

He wasn’t the only Kings player to put up big numbers. Sacramento tied a franchise record with 20 made 3-pointers, exemplifying a total team effort.

Buddy Hield scored 26 points on 6-of-13 shooting from behind the arc. His three-pointer with 8.4 seconds remaining tied the game and set up the wild final sequence of plays.

Harrison Barnes scored 19 points, including a huge 3-pointer that gave Sacramento the lead with just over a minute to play. Richaun Holmes chipped in 16 points and Joseph went 3-for-5 from deep, not to mention playing spectacular defense against James Harden throughout the night.

Walton turned to an eight-man rotation again after finding success with a smaller group in Dallas on Sunday. That means major minutes for the starters, including Joseph, who is beat up.

[RELATED: What we learned as Bjelica, Kings stun Westbrook, Rockets]

The group responded well to the tightened rotation. They’ve now won two in a row after a disappointing overtime loss in San Antonio on Friday. They somehow salvaged a 2-2 road trip and head home at 10-13 to host the Thunder on Wednesday evening.

It wasn’t a perfect game, but the Kings continue to bounce back and they are competing well, despite an early rash of injuries.