Inside the Kings' schedule


Inside the Kings' schedule

Mike Kreuser

Kings fans don't need reminding, but the boys in Purple have been a disaster the last three seasons. Including a second-to-last finish in the West in 2010-11, the Kings have only won 66 out of the last 248 games which amounts to a measley .266 winning percentage. The upside of all that losing is that it has netted the Kings a nice core of young talent. There are six players on the roster that the Kings either drafted in the first round themselves or first rounders they acquired on draft day. Not including undrafted free agents, the average age of the Kings is 24.2 years old with their oldest player being recently re-acquired John Salmons (32 years old). So if any team would benefit from a chaotic 66-game schedule, it should be this squad of young legs and upcoming talent, right?Sacramento definitely could benefit from this crazy never-know-what-you-are-going-to-get schedule, but if it does, it will be because of a surge in the second half of the season. The Kings drew what has to be the toughest first 33 games in the league.
For starters, Sactown will not be seeing very much of the Kings through Februrary. Despite beginning by playing four of their first five in Sacramento, the Kings are away from the capitol for 21 of their first 33 games. So for those scoring at home, after their first five games, the Kings will be on the road for 20 of 28 contests. Obviously that disparity will balance itself out in the second half, but it will be tough to get momentum when the most consecutive days they spend in California is eight in a 58-day stretch.Beyond the long and frequent road trips, the Kings play 21 playoff teams in the first half. That stretch includes home and aways with Chicago, New York, New Orleans, Denver and Portland, as well as road contests against Memphis (twice), Miami, Philadelphia, Dallas and San Antonio. The Kings also play their only back-to-back-back in the first half of the season (Jan. 3-4-5), at Memphis, at Denver, vs Milwaukee.If Sacramento is somehow in playoff contention coming out of that first half, it will have an opportunity to thrive in the second portion of the season. At one point the Kings enjoy a league-long nine-game homestand (Cleveland and Denver are the only other teams to enjoy such a stretch). They also only face 16 playoff teams in the final 33 games (21 of which are at home). So these young Kings will be baptized by fire but if they come out in one piece, they will have an opportunity to make up some ground.The imbalanced portion of the 66-game schedule is fairly neutral. In the Eastern conference two out of the three teams they play twice are playoff teams from last year (Chicago and New York, who project to be again this season), but the third team, Detroit, is about as juicy an Eastern conference opponent as you could ask for. The teams they play only once (Boston, Atlanta, Indiana and Orlando) will all travel to Northern California. The Kings will have to play Miami and Philadelphia on the road, but also get road games against weaker Eastern teams like Toronto, Cleveland, Washington and Charlotte.In the West, the Kings play four against Oklahoma City, the Blazers and the Hornets (who are now Chris Paul-less), but also get four against the Warriors, Jazz and T'wolves. Of the three-game series, they play two roads-one home with the Mavs, Nuggets and Grizzlies, but get two home-one road against the Spurs and Lakers. So the Kings are neither winners nor losers when it comes to the imbalances of the 66-game schedule.Also, the Kings actually had more back-to-backs in 2010-11 than they will this season. They played 18 last season and are only scheduled for 17 this time around. They do pick up more stretches with four games in five nights (five this season) compared to only three a year ago. Finally they will have one murderous stretch where they play five games in six nights right at the start of the season (Dec. 31 to Jan. 5). Safe to say the Milwaukee game on Jan. 5 won't be a very pretty brand of basketball.The Kings actually have the roster to benefit in the lockout-shortened season. It will just be whether they can get it together fast enough to survive a rough first half.Here is the breakdown of their schedule by month:Games
HomeRoad2010-11 Playoff teamsWestern Conference OpponentsEastern Conference OpponentsDec.431422Jan.1751211125Feb.1358676March181268144April14868131

Mike Kreuser is a production assistant with Comcast SportsNet California.

Calipari sees Labissiere's progress during rookie season: 'I give Sac credit'

Calipari sees Labissiere's progress during rookie season: 'I give Sac credit'

Nothing has come easy for Skal Labissiere. He survived the earthquakes in Haiti. He moved to the United States speaking only only French and Haitian Creole as a young teenager. And his lone season at Kentucky he went from a top five prospect to a player that nearly fell out of the first round.

The knock on Labissiere coming out of Kentucky was that he didn’t like contact. Maybe it went farther than that, but there was no question that when he left for the NBA, he didn’t exactly walk away on the best of terms with head coach John Calipari.

When the Kings took on the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center in the final week of the regular season, Calipari sat in the stands watching a small group of his former players. During the telecast, NBC Sports California’s Kayte Christensen caught up with the legendary coach and he couldn’t stop gushing about his Wildcats alums, specifically the play of Labissiere.

“I look at Skal and the progress - I give Sac credit,” Calipari told Christensen. “These guys are working with him. He’s playing more confident. They’re putting him in positions he can have success. I didn’t do as good a job as they did.”

Labissiere went off for 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting against Los Angeles. He added three rebounds and two blocks, but the Kings stumbled down the stretch, allowing the Lakers to come away with the 98-94 victory.

In his freshman season at Kentucky, Labissiere scored more than 19 points just once, a 26 point outburst in his second game of the year against NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology). His highwater mark in his rookie season for the Kings was a 32-point, 11-rebound performance against the Phoenix Suns on March 15.

“He’s getting stronger, he’s growing, you can see him maturing physically, which was a big part of it,” Calipari said. “He had a good season with us, but, I used him wrong. Now I see him now, it’s amazing he’ll speak for me after I’m watching him play like this.”

The 21-year-old power forward has a smile that lights up a room. He even uses it as a defense mechanism when things get uncomfortable. Speaking about his time in Kentucky seems uncomfortable for the 6-foot-11 forward.

“Coach Cal, he does a really good job of getting guys ready for the next level,” Labissiere told NBC Sports California. “I appreciate him.”

Labissiere is looking ahead, not backwards. He is a an incredible talent and he is thankful for the job that Dave Joerger and his staff have done with him during his first season in the NBA.

“Coach Joerger, every since I was drafted here, he’s always believed in me,” Labissiere said. “He’s always putting me in the right positions, making me work on different things that normally I didn’t do in college. He’s making me do different things and believing in me. I love playing for him.”

Kentucky has produced some of the best big men in the game, including DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns. It’s a hotbed for talent, but specifically for centers and power forwards that take their game to the next level in the pros.

Labissiere would love to be included in that list, but he isn’t trying to be someone he’s not. His focus is on improving and helping his team win games.

“I don’t know, I’m just working for myself, doing what I’m supposed to do,” Labissiere said. “If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m just going to keep doing my thing.”

The Kings have big plans for Labissiere and the rest of their young core this summer. Labissiere will likely join the team’s three other 2016 first round picks in Las Vegas for Summer League in July. Another two or three rookies from the 2017 NBA Draft will likely join them as Sacramento attempts to build some early chemistry amongst.

Following Summer League, Labissiere is scheduled to travel to Haiti where he will hold a basketball camp in his home country. It’s the first time he’s been back to Haiti since moving to the US following the earthquake in 2010.

Labissiere wasn’t the only Kentucky product on display for Sacramento against the Lakers. Willie Cauley-Stein spent three seasons under Calipari before going sixth overall in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Cauley-Stein put up solid numbers in front of his former coach, finishing the game against the Lakers with 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in just 23 minutes of action.

“Willie is doing what he does,” Calipari said. “He’s flying up and down that floor, he’s blocking shots. He seems to have some freedoms to do some of the stuff he does well.”

Cauley-Stein is a completely different player two season removed from his time at Kentucky. He finished strong down the stretch for Sacramento, showing a newfound confidence in his scoring ability.

“It’s a great feeling, I don’t think he’s watched me play like that since I left,” Cauley-Stein said. “It was cool to get a chance to see him and show him things I’ve worked on and I’ve gotten better. It was really satisfying, [him] telling me I got better, so I know I’m [going] in the right direction.”

It’s clear that Labissiere and Cauley-Stein had a very different experience at Kentucky. The end result might work out just fine for the Sacramento Kings. The duo played alongside one another for plenty of games down the stretch as the team’s starting frontcourt. It’s a look Kings fans might get used to seeing going forward.


Source: Kings hire Perry as Executive VP of Basketball Operations

Source: Kings hire Perry as Executive VP of Basketball Operations

SACRAMENTO -- The changes keep coming in Sacramento. NBC Sports California has confirmed that the Kings have hired former Orlando Magic executive, Scott Perry, to fill the role of Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.

Perry will report directly to Vlade Divac, who will retain final say in player personnel decisions.

Perry spent the last five seasons in Orlando as Vice President of Basketball Operations and Assistant General Manager. He was let go from the Magic last week following the dismissal of General Manager Rob Hennigan.

Perry, 53, began his career as an executive with the Detroit Pistons where he held the position of Director of Player Personnel from 2000-2007. He briefly left the Pistons, joining the Seattle Supersonics organization as an Assistant General Manager of the team for the 2007-08 season, before spending another four years as Detroit’s Vice President of Basketball Operations from 2008-2012.

Highly regarded around the league, Perry adds another experienced basketball mind to the Kings front office.

During his postseason media availability last week, Vlade Divac spoke openly about his willingness to accept additional help.

“We’re open always to improve - the team, the front office, everything is open for improvement,” Divac said. “I’m very happy and confident in what we have right now, but like I said, we should be open if something can you better.”

With the addition of Luke Bornn on Wednesday to head up the team’s analytics department, and Perry on Friday, the Kings appear to be building a stronger infrastructure as they move into a full youth movement.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical was first with the information.