Instant Replay: Kings blow 28-point lead, crumble in San Antonio

Instant Replay: Kings blow 28-point lead, crumble in San Antonio

BOX SCORE

A tale of two halves. After leading by as many as 28 early in the game, the Sacramento Kings let one slip away Wednesday night in San Antonio. Despite playing without Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, the Spurs kept charging at the Kings. In the end, San Antonio came away with the 114-104 victory over the Kings, sending Sacramento to their sixth straight loss.

Manu Ginobili is an ageless wonder. The 15-year NBA vet torched the Kings for 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting off of Gregg Popovich’s bench.

Patty Mills hit big shots when the Spurs needed them. The veteran point guard scored 17 points on 4-for-6 shooting from 3-point land and added 10 assists.

David Lee started at the power forward spot and hit Sacramento for 18 points and 10 rebounds. Jonathan Simmons chipped in 14 points and Danny Green tossed in 14 points in the win.

Tyreke Evans turned back the clock in the first quarter as Sacramento stunned the playoff bound Spurs. Starting at the small forward position, Evans scored 26 points on 9-for-13 shooting, including 13 in the first quarter.

The rookies produced. Skal Labissiere showed off his arsenal, dropping in a career-high 15 points, while grabbing six rebounds in 15 minutes. Buddy Hield caught fire from the outside, finishing the night with 11 points on 3-for-5 shooting from behind the arc.

Kosta Koufos attacked the Spurs in the post early, scoring 10 of his 12 points in the Kings’ 37-point first quarter. The veteran center added 10 rebounds in the loss.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
Labissiere needs more minutes. The rookie power forward brought the energy in his limited time on the floor. He’s looking more and more like a player every time he steps on the court.

TURNING POINT:
The Spurs used a 34-23 third quarter to steal momentum. They looked every bit the part of a team heading for a deep playoff run, despite playing without Leonard and Aldridge.

INJURY UPDATE:
Rookie Malachi Richardson is out 4-6 weeks with a right hamstring thickness tear, but hopes to return before the season is finished. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles.

WHAT'S NEXT:
The Kings return to Sacramento for back-to-back games against the Wizards and Nuggets on Friday and Saturday at Golden 1 Center.

 

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.