Cousins and Thomas lead Kings past Toronto 98-91

639190.jpg

Cousins and Thomas lead Kings past Toronto 98-91

BOX SCORE

TORONTO -- DeMarcus Cousins wants to put "the silly stuff" behind him and just play basketball. So far, he seems to be doing exactly that.Cousins had 21 points and a career-high 19 rebounds, Tyreke Evans scored a season-high 29 points and the Sacramento Kings snapped a seven-game losing streak in Toronto by beating the Raptors 98-91 Wednesday night.An escalating feud with former coach Paul Westphal led Cousins to demand a trade earlier this month, resulting in him being told to stay away from the team for a game. The spat was resolved when Westphal was fired and replaced by Keith Smart, who offered Cousins his support, and a blank slate."He's a new player, man," Evans said. "I'm happy for him. He's done a great job just going out there and playing, helping us, not arguing with anybody on the team, just staying focused."He plays like that, he's an All-Star for sure," Evans added. "The way he's playing right now is unbelievable. We need that out of him every night."Cousins acknowledged that things have been more fun since Smart took over."We're just out there playing ball, playing together and having fun," he said. "We're having fun while we're working hard. That's the biggest thing."Cousins, whose previous career high in rebounds was 18, set against Utah on March 5, 2011, said he wasn't aware how many he had until teammates on the bench started letting him know."In the moment you don't even realize it," Cousins said. "Towards the end of the game they were like Get one more, you'll have 20.' I'm just out there grabbing boards. That's my job, to get everything that comes off the glass."Smart played Cousins for just over 39 minutes to build his conditioning, and his stats: The double-double was his fourth straight."He had it in him to rebound tonight," Smart said. "Because he had that, it put him in an active mode and I'm happy with that."Rookie guard Isaiah Thomas scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and Jimmer Fredette had 10 for the Kings, who had not won in Toronto since Feb. 22, 2004.Sacramento had lost two straight and four of five coming in, but held on to record its first road victory in five tries this season."It's definitely exciting to get that first (road) win, get that monkey off our backs," Fredette said.Leandro Barbosa came off the bench to score a season-high 24 points while DeMar DeRozan and Jose Calderon each had 13 for the Raptors, who have lost four of five.With the score 63-all heading into the fourth, Toronto scored the first four points to lead 67-63. Thomas answered with a 3-pointer and, after a hook shoot by Linas Kleiza, Evans hit another 3, giving the Kings a lead they would not relinquish.Amir Johnson's alley-oop dunk cut it to 82-77 with 2:34 left, but Cousins answered with a pair of free throws and then a dunk of his own as the Kings pushed their lead to nine points, 86-77, with 1:12 left.DeRozan had a three-point play, but Evans kept the Raptors at bay by making four consecutive free throws on the next two possessions. The 2010 Rookie of the Year finished a perfect 14 of 14 from the line.Toronto lost leading scorer Andrea Bargnani to a strained left calf with 3:13 left in the third quarter. Bargnani, who did not return, finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes."He's our best player for sure," Calderon said. "After they let us know he wasn't coming out again, it was tough."Kleiza, out since undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee last Feb. 1, made his return to the lineup, coming on late in the first quarter. Kleiza scored 10 points in 14 minutes."I feel good, it's fun to be back," Kleiza said. "The game didn't end the way anybody wanted but for me personally, after a year off, it feels good to be back."Barbosa scored 12 points in the second, but Thomas had eight for the Kings, who led 41-40 at the half.NOTES: Fredette made his second straight start in place of Marcus Thornton (left thigh contusion). ... Toronto played its third game in as many nights, their only such stretch of the season. ... Raptors F Amir Johnson hit a rare 3-pointer in the third quarter, just the third of his career. ... Sacramento's 31 made free throws were a season high. ... Toronto has turned the ball over 18 or more times in three of the past four games.

Purge of veterans continues as Kings waive Arron Afflalo

Purge of veterans continues as Kings waive Arron Afflalo

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings continued their purge of veteran contracts Friday afternoon. NBC Sports California has confirmed that the team opted out of the second year of Arron Afflalo’s 2-year, $25 million deal. They will instead pay the shooting guard a $1.5 million buyout, saving $11 million and allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Afflalo, 31, posted 8.4 points and 2.0 rebounds in 25.9 minutes per game. The 10-year NBA veteran played in 61 games, including 45 starts for the Kings last season while shooting 41.1 percent from behind the arc.

The former UCLA star is the second Kings veteran to have his option declined, joining Anthony Tolliver in the ranks of unrestricted free agents. Both Rudy Gay and Langston Galloway have chosen not to exercise player options with the team as the franchise turns to a youth movement.

Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos are the only remaining players players on the Kings’ roster with more than two years experience in the league. Sacramento will enter free agency with upwards of $55 million to spend in free agency once they sign their four rookies from Thursday evening’s NBA Draft.

Kings finish 2017 NBA Draft with night that can turn franchise around

Kings finish 2017 NBA Draft with night that can turn franchise around

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings had a big draft night. The kind of night that might turn a franchise around. They entered the evening with three picks, including two in the top 10. With their first selection, they filled the franchise’s biggest need when they drafted De’Aaron Fox and then they went to work.
 
Vlade Divac and his team of front office execs jumped on an early trade, dealing the No. 10 overall selection to the Portland Trail Blazers for No. 15 and No. 20. North Carolina’s Justin Jackson was too appealing to pass on, and like Fox, he fit a major position of need. 
 
Sacramento came back with the 20th selection, taking one of the biggest risk/reward picks in the draft. Duke’s Harry Giles is playing on rebuilt knees, but before that, he was one of the top prospects in all of basketball. If he can stay healthy, the Kings may have drafted the biggest steal of the night. 
 
They topped off the evening with the selection of Wooden and Naismith Award winner Frank Mason III with the 34th overall pick. The Kings entered the night without a single point guard and they ended it with two very exciting options. 
 
“I’m very excited about the talent that we brought here tonight,” Divac said. “They’re going to just be an addition to what we’re trying to build here in the second half of the season.”
 
The Kings turned down overtures to move up to draft Fox. The 19-year-old speedster will step in and immediately compete for the starting point guard spot and he’s very excited to be a King.
 
“It’s just the vibe that I got when I was out there,” Fox told local Sacramento media via phone. “I felt like they really wanted me.” 
 
John Calipari is known for his bevy of All-Star bigs throughout the league, but he’s also produced a long line of big-time guards. Sacramento is hoping that Fox can live up to the billing of other former Calipari guards like Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall. According to Divac, the Kings were so high on Fox, they would have taken him higher. 
 
“Screaming,” Divac said about the reaction in the room to Fox falling in their lap. “It was a guy that we all loved and in some way, if we had the number 1 pick, he would’ve been our guy.”
 
“De’Aaron is our future,” Divac added.
 
Without a perfect fit at 10, Divac made an adjustment on the fly to add more assets. The decision to trade 10 for 15 and 20 was very similar to the last season when the Kings dealt the eighth overall pick for No. 13, 28 and the draft rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic. By splitting the pick in two, the Kings were able to land two talented pieces that mesh with the current roster build.
 
Jackson and Fox know each other well. The duo played AAU ball together and Fox says he considers Jackson an older brother.  He is friends with Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere from their Kentucky connection.
 
“I feel like we can grow together,” Fox said of the Kings’ young core. “Of course, it’s going to take some time, but every franchise takes time.”
 
Fox is the jewel of the night and Jackson will compete for time at the wing, but Giles is the wildcard. The 19-year-old big can play the four and the five and has elite potential. 
 
“I’m so excited he was there for us at the 20,” Divac said. “That kind of talent you can’t pass.”
 
The Kings have done their homework on Giles. The type of knee injury that he sustained is similar to former NBA players Danny Manning, Amaré Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin. Manning and Martin each played 15 years in the league and Stoudemire lasted 14 seasons before retiring in 2016. After meeting him in person in Sacramento and working him out, they are very confident that he will be able to overcome his injuries and have a successful career in the NBA. 
 
Mason III will remind Kings fans of Isaiah Thomas, another undersized point guard that fell to the second round. The Kansas star posted 20.9 points, 5.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds for the Jayhawks last season. He’s a hard-nosed leader that can jump out of the gym and will instantly become a fan favorite in Sacramento. 
 
It’s a huge haul. Sacramento added two points guards, a wing and a big from some of the best basketball schools in the country. More than that, they added high character winners to a changing culture. 
 
For the first time in a while, the Sacramento Kings have accumulated assets. They have hit the ground running in their attempted rebuild and for one night, they are the talk of the NBA.