Kings

Why Kings replaced Buddy Hield with Bogdan Bogdanovic in starting lineup

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Why Kings replaced Buddy Hield with Bogdan Bogdanovic in starting lineup

Changing of the guard.

Needing some sort of spark to shake things up, Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton is making a switch in his starting lineup. Bogdan Bogdanovic will start in place of Buddy Hield at shooting guard Friday evening in Chicago as the team looks to snap a six-game losing streak.

“It’s the same message I’ve given all year, look, we’ve had however many starting lineups all season long and it doesn’t matter, we’re a team,” coach Luke Walton told reporters prior to the game against the Bulls. “We’re struggling to win games right now, so we’re looking to see different groups give us a better chance of doing that.”

The move is a big change for Buddy Hield, who has started the last 126 games for the Kings. The 27-year-old shooting guard signed a massive four-year, $86 million extension in October, but he’s struggled on the defensive end all season and his shooting numbers are way down.

“There’s nothing permanent with it, it’s not a punishment to Buddy at all,” Walton added. “Buddy’s been great and we expect him to be great for us tonight. But we’ve got to keep looking for something that works for us.”

After shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from 3-point range last year, Hield is knocking down just 41.6 percent overall and 36 percent from behind the arc this season.

Due to injuries to both Bogdanovic and De’Aaron Fox, he’s been asked to carry a larger load when it comes to ball handling and playmaking, but he’s been forcing the action as of late.

“He’ll be fine,” Walton said. “Buddy’s a professional and he knows how we feel about him. Again, this is not a punishment towards him, we’re just looking at trying to mix some things up, try to give ourselves a little juice and find a way to win a game in this stretch that we’re in right now.”

Bogdanovic was set to be the starter at the two last season, but a late summer knee injury cost him the first 10 games of the season. Hield stepped in and played extremely well in his absence and the previous coaching staff decided to stick with a starting backcourt of Fox and Hield.

[RELATED: Source: Kings unlikely to trade Bogi]

In his third NBA season, Bogdanovic is averaging 14.5 points, 3.5 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game off the bench for Sacramento. He’s the Kings’ most versatile player and one of the better playmakers on the roster.

The Kings are 3-14 over their last 17 games and Walton is looking for a spark to shake things up. Bogdanovic is a restricted free agent at the end of the season and he’ll get his shot to shine after coming off the bench for 33 games this season.

How Kings' Nemanja Bjelica has filled gaps, according to Zach Lowe

How Kings' Nemanja Bjelica has filled gaps, according to Zach Lowe

Ever since the Kings signed forward Nemanja Bjelica to a three-year, $20.5 million contract in the 2018 offseason, it quietly has been a great deal for Sacramento. 

Bjelica averaged career highs in points (9.6) and rebounds (5.8) for the Kings last season, and he has been ever better in Year 2 with the Kings. 

The 31-year-old is averaging 12.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game over 54 games this season. He also is shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 44.9 percent from 3-point range, both career-bests. 

For his ability to give the Kings quality minutes at center, Bjelica landed on Zach Lowe of ESPN's latest "Ten things I like and don't like." 

"The Kings needed something to fill the void after injuries to Marvin Bagley III and Richaun Holmes -- who had been killing it as their starter -- and whatever the hell happened with Dewayne Dedmon," Lowe wrote. "Credit Bjelica for stepping up.

Lowe notes that per Cleaning The Glass, the Kings have outscored opponents by almost 10 points per 100 possessions with Bjelica as a small-ball center. 

Holmes has missed 17 straight contests with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He attempted to return to the court last week but had a setback after one practice. Bagley, the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, has only played 13 games this season and isn't sure if he will suit up again this year after aggravating his sprained left foot

[RELATED: Kings' Holmes 'definitely ready to get back' after setback]

The Kings traded Dedmon back to the Atlanta Hawks months after signing him to a three-year, $40 million contract this past offseason. 

In what feels like yet another lost season in Sacramento, Bjelica has been a bright spot the Kings can count on.

Kings' Buddy Hield admits he went out night before 3-Point Contest win

Kings' Buddy Hield admits he went out night before 3-Point Contest win

Buddy Hield played a different kind of "flu game" in his NBA 3-Point Contest win Saturday night. 

The Kings sharpshooter admitted to reporters in Chicago for All-Star Saturday Night that he enjoyed all the Windy City had to offer the night before his victory. 

"I had no routine this morning. I went out last night," Hield said after his down-to-the-wire win over Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker on Saturday. "So I was just chilling. It was All-Star Weekend. You got to have fun, too. So it was cool. I was just relaxing. I came in, and I just locked in."

Hield diligently reported to his 9:15 a.m. CT media availability Saturday morning "clearly hurting," according to The Athletic's Joe Vardon. 

Whatever Hield did to recover between then and the 3-Point Contest worked. Hield posted back-to-back 27-point rounds, nailing each of his last six shots in the first and seven of his last eight as he tried to surpass Booker. 

The 27-year-old needed to make his final shot -- worth two points from his "money ball" rack -- to beat Booker, and he was ice-cold from the left corner. 

"I think I heard the guy on the PA, the announcer, and I had [25 or] something like that," Hield told reporters in Chicago. "I know Devin had 26, so I knew I had to make one more to top him. I was focused. I was locked in on that part."

[RELATED: Hield's dramatic 3-point contest win had fellow Kings hyped]

Hield enjoyed the win Saturday night and what it would mean to people in his hometown, using his press conference to dedicate his win to those affected by Hurricane Dorian. The storm struck his native Bahamas over the summer with sustained winds of over 185 mph, officially killing 70. Over 600 others might have drowned and been washed out to sea, officials said. 

"I dedicate it to them because, like I say, I represent my country to the fullest," Hield said. "When I say that, I really mean it because without my upbringing, I'm nothing. I know what it's like to be in a hurricane. I haven't been in a Category 5, but, no, this goes to them for sure.