Bogdan Bogdanovic

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 118-113 overtime loss to Heat

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 118-113 overtime loss to Heat

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The best way to avoid the South Beach flu? Spend an extra day in Utah.

After a blowout loss to the Jazz in Salt Lake City on Saturday, the Kings (15-28) took their time getting to Miami. They looked fresh and focused from the opening tip Monday night against the Heat (30-13) and put up a strong showing against one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.

Unfortunately for the Kings, it wasn’t quite enough to come away with a win.

Playing without All-Star Jimmy Butler, veterans Goran Dragic and James Johnson stepped up to combine for 40 points off the Heat bench. Rookie Kenrick Nunn scored 25 and Duncan Robinson hit some huge threes to give Miami a boost in a 118-113 win over Sacramento. 

Here are three takeaways from the Kings' fifth straight loss. 

From Serbia with love

Nemanja Bjelica and Bogdan Bogdanovic have plenty of chemistry from their time playing together on the Serbian National team. Against the Heat, the two looked completely in sync. 

Bjelica hit his first five shots and finished the game with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting. He added six rebounds, three assists and a steal in 36 minutes of action.

In his second game back from injury, Bogdanovic came off the bench to score 14 points for Sacramento. He had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but Johnson blocked the 3-point attempt.

Battling Bagley

Marvin Bagley struggled with his pick-and-roll defense against Rudy Gobert on Saturday. That wasn’t the case Monday against the Heat. 

Bagley scored 15 points on 7-of-13 shooting and grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds. He was active on the defensive end and even had a couple of big hustle plays. 

This is the type of game the Kings need from their second-year centerpiece. Bagley held Bam Adebayo in check, and he was opportunistic on the offensive end. 

In the final minutes of regulation, Bagley attacked the glass and came up with a pair of huge putbacks to help the Kings keep it close.

[RELATED: What will Kings' plan be as NBA trade deadline approaches?]

Stuff the stat sheet

Buddy Hield is known for his scoring, but he did a little bit of everything against the Heat.

With his 3-pointer on the fritz, Hield became a distributor for Sacramento and dished out seven assists. He hit the glass for seven rebounds and even picked up three steals and a pair of blocks. 

When the shot isn’t falling, this is the type of outing the Kings need from Hield. He was active on the defensive end and made an impact on the game.

After hitting just 3-of-14 from deep through the first 48 minutes of the game, Hield finally got a pair of triples to drop in the overtime session and finished the game with 20 points.

What is Kings' NBA trade deadline plan after disappointing first half?

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USATSI

What is Kings' NBA trade deadline plan after disappointing first half?

If Saturday’s five-player trade that sent Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan to the Portland Trail Blazers is any indication, the Kings are open for business and aren’t waiting around for the Feb. 6 NBA trade deadline to start overhauling the roster.

At 15-27, this is the right move. The Kings got off to a rough start and they currently are spiraling out of control as they make their way through the longest road trip on their schedule.

General manager Vlade Divac and his group need to be bold if they hope to hold their core together and perhaps build on it.

Here is how the roster shakes out with a little over two weeks before the deadline.

Untouchable

De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley

Fox and Bagley are completely off the board in any trade scenario, according to a source with knowledge of the Kings’ thinking. Fox is taking another step in his development in Year 3 and is the face of the franchise. Bagley has battled injuries throughout his two NBA seasons, but the Kings still believe in his talent and aren’t even close to moving on from the 20-year-old power forward.

Rather Keep

Richaun Holmes, Harrison Barnes

Holmes is the surprise of the 2019-20 season for the Kings. It took him four games to displace starter Dewayne Dedmon, and at two-years, $10 million, he’s one of the best deals in the league. He’s a hard worker and a high character guy and his age fits the current player arc.

While Barnes isn’t having his best offensive season, there is a reason why the Kings traded for him and then signed him to a four-year, $84 million contract. He’s a pro’s pro who rarely misses a game. The Kings can run him out on the court for 38 minutes a game and know they are going to get solid production at the small forward position.

Rather keep, but it's complicated

Bogdan Bogdanovic

Bogdanovic is a wild card for this team. They are just 2-9 when he misses a game, but are just 13-18 when he plays.

After paying Barnes and Buddy Hield over the summer and knowing that Fox and Bagley extensions are just around the corner, the Kings are going to have to scramble to keep everyone. Bogdanovic will be a restricted free agent on July 1, but he likes Sacramento, they like him and as long as the money doesn’t get completely out of control, the two sides would like to continue their union.

On the Block

Dewayne Dedmon

On paper, Dedmon was the perfect fit next to Bagley in the post. Poor shooting, high turnover rate and a general malaise cost the veteran center his starting job, and his decision to go to the press demanding a trade cost him $50,000.

The Kings would love nothing more than to find a taker for Dedmon and his three-year, $40 million contract. There are teams that have sniffed around, but no takers as of yet. Dedmon is owed $13.3 million next season, but the final year of his deal is guaranteed at just $1 million. Expect the Kings to do their best to move on from the 30-year-old big, even if they have to get creative.

Veterans worth keeping

Cory Joseph, Nemanja Bjelica

Joseph signed a three-year, $37.2 million deal to back up Fox and provide veteran leadership. Early season injuries cost Fox 18 games, leaving Joseph to play heavy minutes. While he isn’t the offensive weapon that Fox is, Joseph plays hard and has one of the longest current games played streaks in the NBA. He’s owed $12.6 million next season, with a $2.4 million buyout in the third year. If the right deal came along, the Kings would listen, but Joseph has been as advertised in his first season in Sacramento.

Divac and his staff went searching for a perfect frontcourt pairing for Bagley, but they may have had the guy they needed already on the roster. Multiple teams have scouted Bjelica and would love to take the 31-year-old Serbian off the Kings’ hands. He’s on a team-friendly deal with a club option for next season at $7.2 million. He’s far outplayed his contract and he’s tough as nails.

Would they listen?

Buddy Hield

Contract negotiations were contentious leading into the season, but Hield finally got his payday from the Kings. Injuries to Fox and Bogdanovic have forced coach Luke Walton to use Hield in ways that he’s not suited for and he hasn’t responded well to the challenge. While he’s still leading the team in scoring at 20.1 points per game, his shooting numbers have taken a massive dip and his turnovers have spiked.

Hield’s contract status is complicated. He signed a four-year, $86 million extension during training camp, but he currently is making $4.9 million under his old deal. Dealing him before July 1 almost is impossible under the current collective bargaining agreement. Hield's bouts with inconsistency, specifically on the defensive end, have frustrated plenty of folks in Sacramento and his decisions to go public with internal matters haven’t helped his case.

The magnifying glass only gets hotter when he starts making $26.4 million next season. 

Expiring contracts

Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver, Yogi Ferrell, Harry Giles

The Kings now have a variety of expiring contracts to work with, including the massive $19.2 million owed to Bazemore that they picked up in the deal with the Blazers. Tolliver is a veterans minimum player who makes $2.6 million and Ferrell is in the final year of his deal that pays him $3.2 million this season. Bazemore and Tolliver are slightly complicated because they were just acquired, but there still is a chance they can be moved, although as individual pieces.

In addition, the Kings have Harry Giles and his $2.6 million contract for this season. The team declined his fourth-year option, making him an unrestricted free agent after the season and limiting their ability to re-sign the 21-year-old big. Giles' contract limitations move with him, making his contract more of an expiring deal than a trade asset.

Additional assets

In addition to players, Sacramento also has a massive stash of second-round selections, including four in 2020, three in 2021 and a total of 13 over the next six seasons. They also own all of their own first-round selections moving forward, although it would take a blockbuster to get them to move one of them. The Kings also have an open roster spot that can hold value under the right circumstance, and rookie Justin James is on a minimum scale deal, although he is well-liked and is unlikely to be moved.

[RELATED: What Bazemore, Tolliver trade means for Kings]

Conclusion

Expect the Kings to be active and in asset collection mode. The season has not gone as planned, at all. They’ve made moves at the deadline the last few seasons and they've already started the activity this year. The Ariza deal opened up some new avenues and the team would love to move on from Dedmon and his contract, as long as it doesn’t hamper the franchise long term.

Lastly, despite the poor showing this season, the Kings still are just five games out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference with 40 games remaining. There still is enough time for Divac to swing for the fences and try to change the team's fortunes this season.

Kings struggle with communication, physicality in road loss to Jazz

Kings struggle with communication, physicality in road loss to Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY -- On their way to a 15-27 record, the Sacramento Kings have lost in many different ways this season. More often than not, it’s in the closing moments of games that they come up short.

That wasn’t the case Saturday night in Utah. From the opening tip, the Jazz jumped all over the Kings and they refused to let up.

“They’re obviously one of the best teams in the West,” Bogdan Bogdanovic said. “Even though they lost that winning streak against New Orleans, they showed they’re a really good team. After one bad loss at the end, they stepped it up against us and they showed their quality as a team. It’s frustrating, but we gotta look forward from this point. We can’t look back.”

At 29-13, the Jazz are one of the most complete teams in the NBA. They lost their 10 game winning streak Thursday in overtime against the Pelicans, but they are starting to move up the standing in the Western Conference.

With their 123-101 drubbing of the Kings, the Jazz are now just a half-game behind the Nuggets and the Clippers, who are tied for second in the Western Conference standings.

It wasn’t one player that did damage against the Kings. It was all of them.

Rudy Gobert dominated the post, scoring 28 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. With the Kings collapsing to paint trying to stop Gobert, Bojan Bogdanovic launched from the outside, hitting 6-of-9 from long range on his way to 30 points.

Donovan Mitchell worked the two-man game with Gobert to finish with 22 points and Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to drop in 20.

“We just have to be more physical on the defensive end,” De’Aaron Fox said. “You know, execute the game plan and live with the results. But I don’t think we did that. You know, Rudy [Gobert] got easy shots, easy layups, easy dunks. You know Bojan [Bogdanovic] got some easy ones. I just think, you know, throughout the game it was too easy for them offensively.”

The ball moved around effortlessly for Utah. They ran their playsets and while there wasn’t a lack of effort from the Kings, they seemed a step slow and completely out of sync.

“We’ve got to talk more, we’ve got to communicate more,” Marvin Bagley said. “Sometimes it happens so fast that we don’t communicate. If we keep allowing that to happen, we’re just going to get beat all game like we did tonight.”

It’s been a difficult season for Sacramento when it comes to injuries to key players. They got Bogdanovic back after a six-game absence with an ankle issue, but they are still missing starting center Richaun Holmes who may be back as early as later this week.

While missed games are part of the issue, the team is trying not to use it as an excuse.

“You can’t control the injuries, but we can control how we approach every day in practice, how we come together, how we try to lock in and win,” Bagley added. “I think if we continue to focus on what we control, then we’ll be alright and we’ll to where we want to be.”

The schedule doesn’t get any easier over the next few games. The Kings fly to Miami on Sunday where they’ll face a Miami team that is not on 29-12 on the season, but they are extremely physical.

[RELATED: Fox's development is silver lining in tough season]

Head coach Luke Walton is trying to make adjustments on the fly as he gets players back, but it’s a tall order. You add in Saturday’s trade that once again shook up the roster and the lack of continuity and overall playtime together is tough to overcome. 

With 40 games remaining on the schedule, Walton has no other option but to continue to feed the core minutes together and hope that they find the chemistry that is currently missing on the court. With any luck, the current group stays healthy so the team can assess what they have and what they need heading into the offseason.