Kings-Clippers complete home-and-home in L.A.


Kings-Clippers complete home-and-home in L.A.

(AP) -- With his team fighting for playoff position, Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin doesn't want to get caught up in a war of words with Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.

That won't stop the Kings' mercurial big man from sharing his thoughts on this growing rivalry.

Griffin and Cousins meet for the second time in three days Saturday night when this home-and-home set concludes in Los Angeles.

Even if they can't run down the Los Angeles Lakers for the Pacific Division title, the Clippers (33-22) sit fourth in the Western Conference and are in good position to secure the franchise's first postseason berth since 2005-06.

Griffin deserves as much credit as anyone for the Clippers' 2011-12 success, ranking among the league leaders in double-doubles (34) and being just one of a handful of players in the NBA averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Known as much for his vicious dunks as anything else, the two-time All-Star showed off his outside shot in Thursday's 93-85 victory at Sacramento (19-36), hitting a pair of 22-foot jumpers in the final few minutes as Los Angeles bounced back from Wednesday's 113-108 loss to the Lakers for its seventh win in eight games.

Griffin, though, spent plenty of time battling Cousins down low, with the two second-year big men trading elbows and shoves - along with some words.

"It wasn't me going at anybody. I don't want to get that started," said Griffin, who has 14 points, nine boards and three assists in each of the two wins against Sacramento this season. "That's something that will hopefully go away for him. When guys get frustrated, that's what happens."

Cousins, one shy of his 13th technical and a one-game suspension, wasn't surprised by that response.

"That's what Blake is going to say because he's in L.A., where actors belong," said Cousins, who finished with eight points and three rebounds in 18 foul-plagued minutes. "And he's an actor."

Cousins, fined 25,000 by the NBA on Friday for publicly criticizing officials after Thursday's loss, can expect to see a few of those sitting courtside when these teams meet at Staples Center for the only time in 2011-12.

Los Angeles, winner of seven of eight at home, has lost just twice in the Kings' last eight visits.

Sacramento owns a conference-worst 5-22 road record, but after defeating Utah 104-103 on March 30, the team has a chance to win two straight away from home for the first time since a three-game run March 23-27, 2011.

The Kings, who open a stretch of four of five away from home, could be without Marcus Thornton for a third straight game (bruised right calf) and John Salmons, who has been sidelined for six with a sore right hip.

Thornton has averaged 23.5 points in two games against Los Angeles with Sacramento.

Clippers sixth man Mo Williams (sprained left big toe) could return for the first time in nine games. If Williams can't go, Eric Bledsoe, who had 13 points on Thursday, should see plenty of time backing up Chris Paul and Randy Foye, the latter the team leader with 36 points versus Sacramento this season after scoring 20 in the latest matchup.

The Clippers haven't swept a season series against the Kings since winning all five meetings in 1985-86.

Kings owner Ranadivé releases statement on Trump's 'deeply disappointing' comments


Kings owner Ranadivé releases statement on Trump's 'deeply disappointing' comments

Sacramento — Sacramento Kings Owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadivé released the following statement.

“I have a deep respect for our nation’s unwavering commitment to free speech and support all Americans’ right to freely express themselves. The President's recent comments are deeply disappointing, because our focus should be on fostering a culture of sensitivity and inclusion. Our mission at the Sacramento Kings has always been to unite our community and use our platform to create positive change, so we continue to stand with our players, and all people, who use their platform to raise awareness and make Sacramento and our country proud.”

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Kings hire VP of professional development


Kings hire VP of professional development

It’s been a summer of change for the Sacramento Kings. A roster upheaval has 10 new players vying for minutes once training camp opens on Tuesday. The coaching staff has been bolstered and fresh blood was added to the front office in the form of analytics guru Luke Bornn and assistant general manager Brandon Williams. On Thursday, one more piece to the puzzle was brought in to help develop the team’s young core.

With the hiring of Galen Duncan as the franchise’s new Vice President of the Kings Academy and Professional Development, Sacramento is making a major investment in the future of their team.

According to the team’s official press release, “Duncan is responsible for implementation of the Kings Academy program, a developmental, player-centric curriculum aligning multi-faceted organizational philosophies and ideals to help athletes mature into well-rounded professionals. Under Duncan’s oversight, Kings Academy will augment on-court progress with access to practical material and experiences that help balance on-court priorities and personal responsibilities with opportunities to become impactful contributors in the community.”

After 10 years with the Detroit Lions, Duncan is making the jump to the NBA game. He’s already had a taste of the league, working with the league office as part of the NBA Rookie Transition Program.

With five rookies and another four sophomores on the roster, the Kings are investing in a seasoned mentor and life coach. Armed with a Ph.D. in health psychology from Walden University, Duncan will aid the players in everything from finding an apartment to dealing with the stress of life as a 19-year-old millionaire with no experience paying a bill.

“My passion has always been sports,” Duncan told NBC Sports California. “Sports has done wonderful things for me. I don’t care what level they’re at or how much money they make, I think there is something to learn and I have something to teach.”

With the Lions, he brought incoming rookie classes through everything from etiquette courses to teaching them how to tie ties. His goal is to transform a group of young men into professionals, who just happen to be professional athletes.

It’s not just about making a polished product for the media and general public. Duncan will work with players on a variety of personal issues, including money management, dealing with family and professional on-court performance.

“Unfortunately, sometimes family can be your worst enemy,” Duncan said. “But if structured correctly and if nurtured, I think the education goes beyond just the player. I think you have to educate the family as well about what they’re doing.”

The transition to the NBA game will be interesting for Duncan. He comes from a game where the incoming rookie class can be anywhere from 10-15 players. He hasn’t dealt with 19-year-olds at the NFL level and guaranteed contracts are new as well, but the job is very similar.

Sacramento has always had a support staff to help with the transition to the NBA game, but the addition of Duncan is a new level of commitment by the team. They have a huge group of young players and they are making an investment into their futures and the future of the franchise. It’s a clear step in the right direction.