Inside the Kings' schedule

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Inside the Kings' schedule

Mike Kreuser
CSNCalifornia.com

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.

Rudy Gay 'ahead of schedule' in recovery from ruptured Achillies

Rudy Gay 'ahead of schedule' in recovery from ruptured Achillies

Rudy Gay has been MIA since leaving the locker room on crutches following the Kings loss to the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 18. He’s posted a few instagram videos of his recovery from a devastating left Achilles rupture, but until Friday night in Oakland, he had been away from the team.

“I’m out of the boot, second stage of my rehab, ahead of schedule and feeling good,” the 30-year-old wing told CSN California’s Kayte Christensen.

According to Gay, he is able to due weight bearing exercises, including some light squats. The 11-year NBA vet is still a ways away from returning to the court, but if he’s ahead of schedule, that means he might be ready for training camp come late September.

It’s not the same group he left behind. DeMarcus Cousins is gone, as is Matt Barnes and Omri Casspi. If he were still playing, Gay would likely be sitting out games for planned rest like most of the Kings’ veterans, but he doesn’t have that luxury.

Gay is entering the final year of his contract in Sacramento. He is due $14.3 million next season, but he has a player option and can become an unrestricted free agent if he so chooses. His recovery will likely dictate whether he opts in to his contract or whether he looks for a long-term deal either with the Kings or elsewhere.

Before the injury, Gay was the Kings’ second leading scorer, posting 18.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 33.8 minutes per night.

 

With weight off his shoulders, Lawson returns to form vs Warriors

With weight off his shoulders, Lawson returns to form vs Warriors

With legal issues hanging over his head, veteran point guard Ty Lawson hasn’t been himself over the Kings’ last eight games. He sat out Wednesday night’s loss to the Bucks and he appeared in a Denver courtroom on Thursday to discuss possible probation violations.

Lawson’s attorney disputed the claims against his client and was granted a six week stay in the case. Lawson will appear back in court on May 4, roughly three weeks after the end of the 2016-17 season.

Starting for the resting Darren Collison, Lawson went off against the Warriors Friday night, scoring 18 of his 20 points in the first half. He shot an impressive 8-of-9 from the field in just 24 minutes of action as he broke down Golden State’s defense.

“Honestly, I think Ty’s had a weight on his shoulders for the last four weeks or so and he just hasn’t been himself,” Joerger said after the 114-100 loss. “I think he looked much more relieved today, he smiled and he was the Ty that we know that he is still.”

Lawson, 29, signed a one-year deal with the Kings in late August and is an unrestricted free agent come July 1.