Can Kings end four-game road slide?

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Can Kings end four-game road slide?

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HOUSTON -- The Kings are looking to get back into the win column as they make their final visit to Houston this season.

Sacramento has followed a three-game winning streak by dropping two straight, including Saturday's 111-108 loss at Golden State. The Kings, 4-21 on the road, committed 15 turnovers, including a critical miscue by rookie point guard Isaiah Thomas with the team trailing by one in the final seconds.

"Mistakes that we make, growing pains, we got to go through them," coach Keith Smart said. "Hopefully, these games will help us as we move forward."

Improved play from Marcus Thornton could help the Kings (17-31) end a four-game road losing streak. He has 32 total points on 13-of-33 shooting in the last two contests after averaging 30.3 in the previous three.

Thornton missed the only game against Houston this season - a 103-89 loss Jan. 13 - with a thigh injury.

Tyreke Evans finished with a team-high 27 points in that contest, but DeMarcus Cousins had just four with four rebounds as the Kings lost for the eighth time in 10 visits to Houston.

Former King Samuel Dalembert helped the Rockets win for the fifth time in six overall meetings with Sacramento with a season-high 21 points and 16 rebounds.

The Kings, who could be without forward Jason Thompson (sprained left ankle) for a second straight game, will also have to deal with newcomer Marcus Camby, who is averaging 5.0 points and 7.8 boards in four games since being acquired from Portland.

The Houston Rockets aren't making excuses for their depleted lineup.

They're too concerned about getting through a rough portion of the schedule and keeping pace in the crowded Western Conference playoff race.

Houston finishes a four-game homestand Monday night when the struggling Sacramento Kings try to improve their conference-worst road mark.

Despite missing Kyle Lowry the last nine games with a bacterial infection and former King Kevin Martin the last seven with a shoulder injury, the Rockets (26-23) have earned some big wins with Goran Dragic and Courtney Lee as the starting guards, defeating West-leading Oklahoma City on March 13 and the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday to open their homestand.

Houston had a chance to knock off Dallas on Saturday and move into fifth place in the West, but instead lost for the first time in three games, 101-99 in OT.

"We battled hard out there, but we just could not get it," said coach Kevin McHale, whose team finished the night ninth in the standings.

With the fourth through 13th spots in the West separated by just a handful of games, the Rockets could certainly use Lowry and Martin in the mix. However, there is no timetable for either to return.

Still, the Rockets could make a run without their starters. Dragic is averaging 17.0 points and 9.4 assists with Lowry out, while Lee is chipping in 14.6 points per game in place of Martin.

Rookie Chandler Parsons recorded his second consecutive double-double on Saturday with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

"I feel we have a lot of players that can play," Luis Scola told the Rockets' official website. "Everybody has injuries and we do have them, too, but we just have to keep playing. ... we needed this one big time, now we have Sacramento coming up at home and we need that one even more."

That's especially true as Houston follows with matchups against the Mavericks, Memphis, Indiana, Chicago and the Lakers before closing out the season series with the Kings in Sacramento on April 8.

Kings head into free agency with money to burn, but limited roster spots

Kings head into free agency with money to burn, but limited roster spots

Draft night is over and done with and the Sacramento Kings filled plenty of holes in their roster for the 2017-18 season. They added a pair of young point guards and a small forward to help fill their two biggest roster needs. They also took a gamble on Duke’s Harry Giles with the 20th overall selection which adds depth in the post long term.

Step one of the summer calendar is done and now the focus shifts to free agency which begins July 1. The Kings have limited roster space, but truckloads of cap space to work with. The NBA has reduced their projected cap for the 2017-18 season to $99 million and the Kings are way below that figure. While the cap is more complicated than just a raw spreadsheet, here is a look at where the Kings currently stand.

2017-18 Salaries - $28.9 million
Projected Rookie Salaries - $9.7 million
Dead Money - $6.1 million
Total - $44.7

Sacramento opted out of both Anthony Tolliver’s $8 million contract ($2 million buyout) and Arron Afflalo’s $12.5 million ($1.5 buyout). They also waived Matt Barnes mid-season, stretching his salary for the 2017-18 season over the next three years ($2.1 million per season).

In addition to Tolliver, Afflalo and Barnes, Rudy Gay informed the team earlier this month that he opted out of his $14.3 million contract for this season and Langston Galloway walked away from a guaranteed $5.4 million to become an unrestricted free agent.

The Kings begin free agency roughly $54.3 million under the cap and after adding four rookies, they have just four standard NBA roster spots and two two-way contracts with the NBA’s G-League. They are also required to spend 90 percent of the $99 million, but they have the entire season to do so and they are allowed to redistribute any shortage back to their own players.

There is hope that European sharpshooter Bogdan Bogdanovic will join this team this summer as well. Although he hasn’t played in the league, his contract is not restricted by the rookie scale. Early projections have him making anywhere from $5-10 million per season with Sacramento.

If Bogdanovic signs for the upper end of his projection - $10 million - the Kings would still have upwards of $44 million to spend, but just three roster spots to work with.

The team still has deficiencies to fill with the roster. Sacramento has two rookie point guards, but no veteran to show them the ropes. Garrett Temple can play in a pinch, but he is better at both wing positions.

Sacramento added Justin Jackson at the small forward spot, but they have little depth behind him and he could use time to develop. Temple can eat some minutes at the position and both Malachi Richardson and Bogdanovic can likely steal time at the three as well. A starting level player is needed, but the market is thin at the position.

There is hope that Skal Labissiere is the answer at the power forward spot, but with Tolliver waived, the team needs more at the position. Willie Cauley-Stein can play in spot duty, but a veteran stretch four is needed.

In addition to position of need, the Kings need more talent and veteran leadership on the roster. Temple is the only player over 30. Big man Kosta Koufos is 28 and everyone else on the roster is 24 and under when the season opens in October.

Expect the Kings to be active on the open market. They also make an attractive trade partner with their ability to absorb contracts. It should be a wild couple of weeks in Sacramento as the Kings look to improve their roster.

Kings' Buddy Hield named to 2016-17 NBA All-Rookie First Team

Kings' Buddy Hield named to 2016-17 NBA All-Rookie First Team

A rollercoaster rookie season for Buddy Hield has ended on a high note.

A very high note.

The Kings shooting guard was named to the 2016-17 NBA All-Rookie First Team on Monday.

Hield is joined by Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon, New York's Willy Hernangomez and Philadelphia's duo of Dario Saric and Joel Embiid.

The Kings acquired Hield in February as part of a trade that sent All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans.

Before the trade, Hield averaged just 8.6 points in 57 games with the Pelicans. But he stepped up his game once he got to Sacramento as he averaged 15.1 points in just 25 games with the Kings. In total, the No. 6 overall pick out of Oklahoma averaged 10.6 points and 3.3 rebounds during his rookie campaign.

Fellow Kings rookie Skal Labissiere received one First Team vote and five Second Team votes, finishing with seven total points.

The NBA All-Rookie First and Second Teams are shown below.