Kings

Big names veterans coming to Sacramento, but will the wins follow?

Big names veterans coming to Sacramento, but will the wins follow?

LAS VEGAS, NV -- It’s a busy day in Kingsland. With a big crowd expected for Monday night’s Kings vs. Lakers matchup, both in Sacramento at the team’s viewing party and in Las Vegas at the Thomas and Mack Center, the team took care of more paperwork.

Vince Carter, Zach Randolph and George Hill officially signed on the dotted line and became the newest members of the Sacramento Kings. Following signatures, the trio of veterans held a press conference that felt more like a symposium on building a winning culture than an introduction.

Big names are walking in the door, but wins aren’t a sure bet. Building a successful franchise is a process, especially when you bring so many young players in over a span of two seasons. 

General manager Vlade Divac measured his club and saw a missing ingredient. He used his cap space wisely and came away with known leaders for his stable of young players.  

“It’s very hard to develop guys if you create a losing mentality,” general manager Vlade Divac said following the press conference. “I just want to compete. And those kids need support for that.”

Carter made an appearance Sunday night at Cox Pavilion as the Kings fell to the Memphis Grizzlies. The 8-time All-Star drew a crowd everywhere he went as he signed autographs, took pictures and hugged former teammates around the arena.

The 40-year-old wing signed a one-year, $8 million deal to join his former Grizzlies head coach, Dave Joerger. The 19-year NBA vet ranks 27th all-time in scoring with 24,555 points, just 260 points behind Patrick Ewing for 26th place on the list.

“I definitely didn’t see myself playing to 40, more than anything, it’s not what I do, it’s what I’m willing to do,” Carter said follow the press conference. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to still be here today.”

Carter finished last season averaging 8.0 points and 3.1 rebounds in 24.6 minutes a night for Memphis. With Sacramento, he’ll play, but he’ll also be asked to take on the role of mentor with the Kings, as they enter the season with a bevy of young talent.

“They’re listening, they’re asking questions and that’s all you can ask from young guys,” Carter said about teaching the young players. “When you’ve got guys like us that have been around and are willing to share our knowledge, what we want is young guys that are willing to listen and willing to put in the work and learn. Everything else is easy after that.”

After spending the last eight seasons with the Grizzlies, Randolph inked a two-year, $24 million deal with the Kings. Like Carter, he spent plenty of time with coach Joerger and looks forward to playing for his former head coach again.

The 16-year NBA veteran turns 36 on July 16, but age didn’t stop him from having a very productive season last year. Z-Bo came off the bench for new head coach David Fizdale in Memphis, averaging 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds in 24.5 minutes per game.

In Sacramento, he’ll play solid minutes at the power forward spot. He’ll also be asked to take the Kings stack of young bigs under his wing and teach them the ropes. Randolph brings a physicality that the team lacks and there is hope that it rubs off on the young guys. According to the veteran big, it’s more than just strength or pushing opponents around.

“It’s not about toughness, it’s about playing for each other,” Randolph said of teaching the young guys. “I’m going hard for George, I’m going hard for Vince, and vise versa. That’s what it’s all about - giving all you’ve got for your teammates.”

Both players confirmed that Joerger was a big reasons they joined the Kings. Despite offers to play for winning franchises, they liked the opportunity to try to turn things around with their former coach. Joerger couldn’t be happier with the additions.

“It’s fantastic, their good human beings and they’re pros,” Joerger told NBC Sports California. “Obviously, having history of competition and playoffs and going through the battles, but even more than that, you’re supporting each other's family, you’re watching each other’s kids, you’re going to weddings together. That kind of stuff that  runs pretty deep.”

While Hill hasn’t played for Joerger in the past, he was needed to support a very young backcourt. With both De’Aaron Fox and Frank Mason entering their rookie season’s, Divac and his team looked for a veteran leader to help solidify the point guard position. They inked one of the better free agents lead guards.

“You don’t look at it as competing for minutes, you look at it as what’s the best opportunity for us to win the game,” Hill said of working with Fox. “If the front office and coaches or whatever think it’s best that he plays more minutes, then he plays more minutes. At the end of the day, we have to develop him and I know that. My job here is to help develop him.”

After five seasons with the Indiana Pacers, Hill, 31, spent last year posting career numbers with the Utah Jazz. He landed in Sacramento on a 3-year, $57 million deal, although the third year is only partially guaranteed. He brings nine-years of NBA experience to the table, including averages of 16.9 points and 4.2 assists over 31.5 minutes per game last season.

It was just a press conference, but the vets said all the right things. They’ll join Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos as a core group of leaders. Temple briefly played with Hill during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons and Koufos paired with Randolph and Carter during the 2014-15 season in Memphis.

It’s a solid group, but they have a tall task in front of them. Outside of the group of five, Willie Cauley-Stein is the only other player on the Kings with two years of NBA experience. Joerger has the difficult job of balancing competing on a nightly basis with developing his young players. At least he has some familiar faces to help in the process.

Kings hire VP of professional development

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AP

Kings hire VP of professional development

It’s been a summer of change for the Sacramento Kings. A roster upheaval has 10 new players vying for minutes once training camp opens on Tuesday. The coaching staff has been bolstered and fresh blood was added to the front office in the form of analytics guru Luke Bornn and assistant general manager Brandon Williams. On Thursday, one more piece to the puzzle was brought in to help develop the team’s young core.

With the hiring of Galen Duncan as the franchise’s new Vice President of the Kings Academy and Professional Development, Sacramento is making a major investment in the future of their team.

According to the team’s official press release, “Duncan is responsible for implementation of the Kings Academy program, a developmental, player-centric curriculum aligning multi-faceted organizational philosophies and ideals to help athletes mature into well-rounded professionals. Under Duncan’s oversight, Kings Academy will augment on-court progress with access to practical material and experiences that help balance on-court priorities and personal responsibilities with opportunities to become impactful contributors in the community.”

After 10 years with the Detroit Lions, Duncan is making the jump to the NBA game. He’s already had a taste of the league, working with the league office as part of the NBA Rookie Transition Program.

With five rookies and another four sophomores on the roster, the Kings are investing in a seasoned mentor and life coach. Armed with a Ph.D. in health psychology from Walden University, Duncan will aid the players in everything from finding an apartment to dealing with the stress of life as a 19-year-old millionaire with no experience paying a bill.

“My passion has always been sports,” Duncan told NBC Sports California. “Sports has done wonderful things for me. I don’t care what level they’re at or how much money they make, I think there is something to learn and I have something to teach.”

With the Lions, he brought incoming rookie classes through everything from etiquette courses to teaching them how to tie ties. His goal is to transform a group of young men into professionals, who just happen to be professional athletes.

It’s not just about making a polished product for the media and general public. Duncan will work with players on a variety of personal issues, including money management, dealing with family and professional on-court performance.

“Unfortunately, sometimes family can be your worst enemy,” Duncan said. “But if structured correctly and if nurtured, I think the education goes beyond just the player. I think you have to educate the family as well about what they’re doing.”

The transition to the NBA game will be interesting for Duncan. He comes from a game where the incoming rookie class can be anywhere from 10-15 players. He hasn’t dealt with 19-year-olds at the NFL level and guaranteed contracts are new as well, but the job is very similar.

Sacramento has always had a support staff to help with the transition to the NBA game, but the addition of Duncan is a new level of commitment by the team. They have a huge group of young players and they are making an investment into their futures and the future of the franchise. It’s a clear step in the right direction.

Kings finally get to unleash highly skilled weapon Bogdan Bogdanovic on NBA stage

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AP

Kings finally get to unleash highly skilled weapon Bogdan Bogdanovic on NBA stage

The legend of Bogdan Bogdanovic grows. After another deep run against European competition, the 25-year-old shooting guard is headed for the NBA with plenty of fanfare.

Bogdanovic and his Serbian teammates fell short of the ultimate goal of winning EuroBasket 2017. Goran Dragic and Team Slovenia took home the gold, pulling away from Serbia for the 93-85 victory in the finals on Sunday.

Dragic scored a game-high 35 points in 28 minutes of action, giving Bogdanovic a taste of what the competition will look like on a nightly basis in the NBA. Bogdanovic led Serbia with 22 points on 9-of-21 shooting, but he struggled from long range, knocking down 2-of-11 from behind the international 3-point line.

The Kings acquired Bogdanovic from the Phoenix Suns, along with the rights to Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere for Marquese Chriss on Draft night 2016. Phoenix had failed multiple times in their attempts to bring the sharpshooter over from his Turkish league team after taking him with the 27th overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Vlade Divac couldn’t get Bogdanovic to come over for last season, but he found traction early this summer and added the talented wing as part of his July shopping spree.

After dominating league action overseas, Bogdanovic became the highest paid rookie in NBA history, signing a three-year, $27 million deal with Sacramento. He’ll make close to $9.5 million in his first season in the league, more than double what fifth overall pick, De’Aaron Fox, is scheduled to make.   

Bogdanovic walks into a crowded situation in Sacramento. He’ll compete for minutes with Buddy Hield, Garrett Temple and Malachi Richardson at the shooting guard position. Both Hield and Temple worked under coach Dave Joerger for parts of last season, but the Kings front office is very high on their European import.

Listed at 6-foot-6, 205 pounds, Bogdanovic has great size for the two and he might even be able to shift to the small forward spot for short stints. He is not the defender that Temple is and Hield might have an edge on him as a volume scorer, but Bogdanovic has an advantage over both players in versatility.

He’s a highly skilled offensive weapon that should make an immediate impact on the floor. He spent plenty of time manning the point guard position for Serbia and can even act as the primary ball handler. Bogdanovic is blessed with an extremely high basketball IQ and he’s shown advanced playmaking skills, both with Fenerbahce and the Serbian national team.

Bogdanovic can light it up from distance, having knocked down 43 percent of 3-pointers this season for Fenerbahce, but he’s not just a catch and shoot player. He hit 50 percent from the field overall using a variety of moves to create space. He has a killer crossover and step back jumper, a nice floater in the lane and he is fearless going to the rack.

Where he has the biggest advantage over his competition is in the pick-and-roll. Bogdanovic uses hesitation dribbles and crafty maneuvering to create looks for both himself and his bigs moving to the hoop. He also has nice court vision and is an unselfish distributor.

If Bogdanovic’s European game translates to the NBA, Sacramento has a rotational player and possibly much more. He’ll likely struggle on the defensive end initially, like most rookies coming into the league, but he plays with effort and has solid instincts.

Joerger has a lot to work out during training camp and the early season. He has multiple bodies at every position and the competition for minutes is going to be intense. While it’s early to make predictions, it appears that Bogdanovic will have a substantial role as the Kings enter year one of their rebuild.