Sacramento Kings

Kings takeaways: What we learned in tough 127-106 loss to Pistons

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Kings takeaways: What we learned in tough 127-106 loss to Pistons

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Are the Sacramento Kings starting to break?

In a season filled with lows, the Kings dropped their sixth straight game Wednesday night to a completely depleted Detroit Pistons team by a final of 127-106. 

Former league MVP Derrick Rose put on a show, finishing with 22 points and 11 assists. Reserve Christian Wood more than doubled his scoring average, dropping in 23 points on 7-for-8 shooting and Reggie Jackson added 22 points in the blowout win.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings look listless in Detroit and fall to a season-high 14 games under .500 at 15-29 on the season. 

Free Throws

The Kings continue to struggle not only with getting to the free-throw line, but with taking advantage once they get there. 

Sacramento got the stripe lust 23 times on the evening and missed 11 of those shots. It was a team-wide issue with seven players missing at least one freebie.

In addition to struggling with their chances, the Kings put the Pistons at the line 44 times, where they hit 37. 

It’s hard to compete when you get outscored at the free-throw line by 26 points. Sacramento needs to be more aggressive in their attack and they have to stop fouling teams at will.

New Guys

With Marvin Bagley and Richaun Holmes out with injury, coach Luke Walton turned to Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to eat some minutes. 

Bazemore brought the same energy he’s been known for during his eight-year NBA career. With the Kings needing easy buckets, he got to the free-throw line and finished with seven points, three rebounds and a steal.

Tolliver went scoreless in six minutes of action, missing his only two attempts from the field. 

Bombing Bogi

Bogdan Bogdanovic is starting to get his legs under him after a six-game absence. The Kings need even more from their super-sub.

Against the Pistons, the Serbian-born wing went 3-for-8 from long range to finish with 19 points and three assists.

With Buddy Hield struggling to get anything to fall from the perimeter, Walton might need to rely more on Bogdanovic that originally expected if the Kings have any hopes of pulling out of the spiral. 

Would trying a starting backcourt of Bogdanovic and De’Aaron Fox make sense for Sacramento at this point?

Source: Kings unlikely to trade Bogdan Bogdanovic before NBA deadline

Source: Kings unlikely to trade Bogdan Bogdanovic before NBA deadline

The Sacramento Kings have already completed one five-man trade, but don’t expect them to stop there. General manager Vlade Divac has assets and he also has a 15-28 team that can’t seem to find the win column.

Rumors already are beginning to swirl. Dewayne Dedmon is the player the Kings would like to find a new home for, but sometimes that’s not how this all works. It takes two to tango and Sacramento has a few other players on the roster that are targets for other teams.

Jon Johnson of WIP confirmed via Twitter early Wednesday that Bogdan Bogdanovic has become a player of interest for the Philadelphia 76ers.

According to a league source with knowledge of the situation, barring a major change in the team's thinking, the Kings are likely to hold onto Bogdanovic and try to work out a long-term solution with him over the summer. Sacramento's front office knows Bogdanovic's market value could hit the $15-18 million per year range, but they also understand the type of player he is when healthy and how important he is to the Kings franchise.

Bogdanovic has struggled with injuries throughout the season, missing a total of 10 games with three different issues. He returned to action two games ago after missing six straight with right ankle soreness.

Divac and his group are in a bit of a bind when it comes to the Serbian-born wing. They would love to keep him long term, but they know it will cost this summer when he becomes a restricted free agent. The 27-year-old has a standing four-year, $51.7 million extension offer from the Kings, but there is a chance that he’ll make more than that on the open market.

Sacramento has an opportunity to match any offer for Bogdanovic, but they signed Harrison Barnes to a four-year, $85 million deal, followed by a four-year, $86 million contract for Buddy Hield. With De’Aaron Fox due for an extension this summer and Marvin Bagley needing one the year after, the Kings eventually are going to run into a salary cap issue for a team that is nowhere near the playoff picture.

[RELATED: What is Kings' NBA trade deadline plan?]

Bogdanovic is the Kings’ most versatile player. He’s averaging 14 points, 3.6 assists and three rebounds in 28.1 minutes per game.

Philadelphia has a few interesting young players in Furkan Korkmaz and Matisse Thybulle. They also have a bevy of second-round selections and a top 20 protected 2020 pick from the Oklahoma City Thunder, as well as their own picks from 2021 on.

Despite the poor showing this season, the Kings believe they have the talent to compete. Bogdanovic is a big part of that evaluation. If the Kings shift course and move on from him, they’ll likely have multiple offers to sift through and they will want a mint in return.

Kings finalize Trail Blazers trade to add Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver

Kings finalize Trail Blazers trade to add Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver

The deal is done.

After a 72-hour delay, the Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers officially have completed a trade to swap Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan for Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver and two second-round draft picks.

Due to Gabriel’s signing date, he couldn’t be traded until Jan. 21, which is why the trade was put on ice for a few days.

Gabriel, an undrafted combo forward out of the Sudan via the University of Kentucky, spent last season as a two-way player for the Kings. He played his way onto the roster through hard work over the summer and training camp.

Like Gabriel, Swanigan put in extra time with the team’s training staff during the offseason. He completely reshaped his body during his time with the Kings, losing massive amounts of weight and building muscle.

This pair worked together, along with second-rounder Justin James and big man Harry Giles, playing pickup games after practice. They were instrumental in helping Giles get back on the floor after a rough start to the season.

“They both work extremely hard and they’ve been with me through my process of getting back to where I need to be,” Giles told NBC Sports California. “I got nothing but love for them the whole way and I know they are going to be successful wherever they go.”

Swanigan and Giles were both part of the 2017 NBA Draft class. Giles was selected by the Kings at No. 20- overall, and Swanigan went six selections behind him at No. 26 to the Blazers. But the prep basketball circuit is a much smaller world than you would expect, especially when you are dealing with NBA prospects.

“Those are my boys, I’ve known them from before we got in the league so I have a special relationship with them,” Giles said. “I’m happy for them to get a new opportunity. They’re still in the NBA, so it’s a blessing for them.”

The players joining the Kings both have ties to Sacramento as well. Tolliver played with the Kings during the 2016-17 season, before being waived during the summer of '17. He averaged 7.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in 65 games for the Kings in his lone season and shot an impressive 39.1 percent from 3-point range.

Bazemore played with Dewayne Dedmon over the last few seasons in Atlanta before he was traded to Portland during the offseason. In addition, he broke into the league as part of the Golden State Warriors' 2012-13 rookie class that included Festus Ezili, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes.

“Coming into the league, I think Kent really worked hard to establish himself as a good two-way player -- a guy who can knock down shots and defend at a high level,” Harrison Barnes told NBC Sports California.

Undrafted out of Old Dominion, Bazemore bounced back and forth between the Warriors and the D-League during his first two seasons, but he still managed to suit up and play 61 games alongside Barnes in his rookie season.

The two forged a friendship and have stayed in contact over the years despite no longer playing for the same team.

“We spent a lot of time together, developed a great friendship and we still have that,” Barnes said.

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

There is no word on how coach Luke Walton will use either Bazemore or Tolliver. Of the two, Bazemore should be able to find a role in the Kings’ wing rotation. He is an energy player that can defend multiple positions and he can eat some of the minutes that Ariza was receiving.

Tolliver is lost in a sea of bigs on the front line, although Sacramento has struggled with injury woes all season long and there always is a chance the 12-year NBA vet will be needed at some point.

Both players are on their way to Detroit to meet up with the Kings. There is a good chance they will be eligible to play Wednesday night when Sacramento faces off with the Pistons.