Cory Joseph

Harry Giles sits out Kings practice, will miss next preseason game

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USATSI

Harry Giles sits out Kings practice, will miss next preseason game

SACRAMENTO -- Harry Giles missed the Kings’ trip to India over the last week with a sore left knee, and coach Luke Walton said the big man will sit out the team’s preseason home opener Thursday against the Phoenix Suns. 

“He’s working.” Walton said Tuesday. “When he’s ready and the medical staff feels he’s ready to go, we’ll get him back out there.”

Giles missed Tuesday's practice, according to Walton. The Kings medical staff had the 21-year-old undergo a precautionary MRI on the joint last week to ensure everything was structurally sound.

The results came back clean, but it is imperative that all sides err on the side of caution when it comes to the health of the 6-foot-10 center. The Kings want Giles back in the fold very soon.

“We left Harry back, his left knee was bothering him,” Walton said. “As much as I wanted him there with us, it’s 40 hours of flight time, when your knee is sore is not ideal. We need Harry for the regular season so we left him and one of PT’s back to just get a lot of work in.”

[RELATED: Why Fox thinks 'Air Drake' could help Kings in free agency]

Giles played in 58 games for the Kings as a rookie last season after sitting out the entirety of the 2017-18 campaign. The No. 20 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft has a long history of knee injuries. and Sacramento continues to take a cautious approach to his rehab and development.

In addition to Giles, Tyler Ulis (hip) and Cory Joseph (sore right calf), sat out the practice session as well and are not expected to suit up against the Suns.

Luke Walton lays down plan for Kings' abbreviated NBA training camp

Luke Walton lays down plan for Kings' abbreviated NBA training camp

SACRAMENTO -- Defense, Defense, Defense. 3-pointers, 3-pointers, 3-pointers.

Luke Walton is getting the hang of this whole coaching press conference idea. Through his first two official briefings to kick off the 2019-20 season, he’s made it very clear that the focus of the team’s abbreviated training camp will be to install a defensive identity, as well as promote an offense that focuses on speed and the almighty 3-pointer.

The defense is understandable. As the saying goes, championships are won and lost at the defensive end. So are regular season games, which is all the Kings are accustomed to over the last 13 seasons.

Walton is concentrating on installing a base defensive system early in camp. The morning session is a lot of walk through and conversation. They save the evening session for contact drills, including scrimmages, which should be spirited.

If they grasp the basic package early, Walton and his staff will start expanding the plan to include switches. In the end, the defensive mindset has to come from the players.

“We need them to want to be a good defensive team, it can’t be us just trying to push it down, they have to want to be a good defensive team,” Walton said. “From everything I’ve seen about them and the talks I’ve had with them, they are up for that challenge.”

As for the 3-point shot, Walton has been clear that he wants an increase in long range attempts, and Saturday afternoon he set 35 as the target number of attempts per game that he’s pushing for this season.

Thirty-five is a big number when compared to the 29.9 triples the team attempted last season. Walton’s Lakers posted 31 attempts during the 2018-19 campaign, but they didn’t have the sheer volume of shooters the Kings have or a player like Buddy Hield on their roster.

Sacramento’s starting shooting guard knocked down 278 3-pointers last season and a stellar 42.7 percent shooting. He is an elite shooter, but he wasn’t the only one on the roster to light it up from downtown.

The Kings finished fourth in the league in 3-point field goal percentage at 37.8 percent last year and they added multiple shooters at different positions over the summer. The team isn’t looking to chuck ill-advised long range shots. There is a system for what is a good look and what isn’t.

“You want to shoot a lot of threes, but you have to make a decision as a basketball player - is it a good shot or a bad shot, is it hurting your team or is it not hurting your team,” Buddy Hield told NBC Sports California.

“I think the offense they have planned is going to be legit,” Hield added.

In the halfcourt, it’s a read and react system, but it will all be predicated on the team’s ability to get up and down the court. If they continue to push the tempo and they can get good shots in the flow of the offense, Walton’s number is obtainable, but it still all comes back to the defensive end.

“We should be looking to fly, not just run, we should be looking to fly down the court.” Walton said. “The best way to do that is to get stops.”

Taking the ball out of the basket isn’t the ideal way to initiate the transition offense, although the Kings were very good at it last season. Sacramento ranked 20th in defensive rating last season and there is plenty of room for growth.

They’ve added players like Cory Joseph, Trevor Ariza, Dewayne Dedmon and Richaun Holmes, who are all strong defenders, but the real improvement will have to come from the young core of players that are expected to play big minutes.

Walton has just three days of camp to work with the club before they head to India. They’ll have plenty of time for film study and conversations on the 20 hours of flights, but they’ll have very little opportunity to actually run through plays on the court.

[RELATED: Breaking down all of Kings' new faces as short camp begins]

While they’ve only been together for a few hours, the players are already making a strong impression on Walton and his coaching staff.

“They like each other, they like competing and they’re pretty good at basketball too,” Walton said. “We’re very excited about coaching this group.”

It’s a deep team with a lot of talent, but putting it all together on the fly is going to be difficult for everyone involved. Once this team gets time together, they could be a lot of fun to watch.

Why guard Cory Joseph is ready for smaller role in first Kings season

Why guard Cory Joseph is ready for smaller role in first Kings season

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings weren’t shy when the free agent signing period began on June 30. General manager Vlade Divac addressed his team’s deficiencies, landing veterans to fill in the gaps that were apparent last season when his squad finished 39-43.

One of the more aggressive moves Divac made was to bring in veteran point guard Cory Joseph on a 3-year, $37 million contract. It’s a lot to spend on a player who is set to back up starter De’Aaron Fox, but he’s one of the better backups in the NBA, especially on the defensive end of the court.

“I’m taking on a different role here,” Joseph told NBC Sports California during Friday’s media day. “I’m bringing experience to a young group, and I think I can lead in that way.”

Joseph logged heavy minutes with the Indiana Pacers last season. He finished the year averaging 6.5 points, 3.9 assists and just one turnover in 25.2 minutes per game. With Fox set to play major minutes this year in coach Luke Walton’s uptempo offense, Joseph is likely to see a major reduction in time with his new club.

“You want to go to a place where you have an opportunity and also knowing that De’Aaron is the franchise player here, we know that," Joseph said, "but I’m here to help in any way I can possibly do that with the organization and try to win games. That’s what I’m about,”

The 28-year-old Canadian has started 95 out 528 games during his eight-year career. Joseph is a role player who isn’t afraid to do the dirty work, and he has played in at least 80 games in each of his last four seasons. That now includes taking the Kings' young, star point guard under his wing.

Fox will now have to go up against one of the better defensive point guards in the league every day at practice. It's a way for him to sharpen his skills on both ends of the floor.

"Defenisvely, he's going to make me a much better offensive player," Fox told NBC Sports California. "He's a savvy vet. He's been through it. He's won a championship. You do nothing but learn and get better from a guy like that. He's one of the best defensive point guards in the league and being able to go up against  guy like that in practice, it does nothing but help me."

One of the reasons the Kings were drawn to Joseph is because he understands his role in the league, and he is more than willing to sacrifice personal numbers for Sacramento's betterment.

“I’ve never been a starter where I’ve been at, but I’ve talked to the starters wherever I’ve been and when it’s all said and done, we’ve always said that we helped each other and we made each other better,” Joseph said. “I don’t plan to stop that now.”

Despite the hefty price tag, the Kings added a player who has made a career out of playing a physical style and focusing on the team concept.

“I know what I can bring to the table and I stick to my strengths,” Joseph said. “That’s why teams like the way I play, because I’m a defensive guy. Every single night I go out there and give it 110 percent, especially trying to contain whoever I’m guarding.”

[RELATED: Breaking down all of Kings' new faces as short camp begins]

Walton has his hands full trying to find minutes for his crowded rotation, but there is no question that Joseph will see plenty of action. He’s versatile enough to play either guard spot, and he gives the Kings a defensive specialist on the perimeter that they didn’t have a season ago.

The Kings did not bring in star level free agents, but they filled in the gaps with very good veteran role players that can support the young core. If the plan works and Joseph pushes Fox to be better on both ends of the court, he may be worth every penny to the Kings invested.