Kings fall to Timberwolves 92-80, start season 0-2

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Kings fall to Timberwolves 92-80, start season 0-2

BOX SCORE

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- J.J. Barea had 21 points and five assists in 28 minutes for Minnesota, helping the Timberwolves overcome a weak shooting performance in their season opener and beat the Sacramento Kings 92-80 on Friday night.Brandon Roy pitched in 10 points, six assists and five rebounds and Andrei Kirilenko added 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists as both players returned to NBA action for the first time since the end of the 2010-11 season.Isaiah Thomas had 14 of his 20 points in the third quarter for the Kings, who trailed for most of the game but overtook the Wolves for a stretch after halftime. Reserve Marcus Thornton had 15 points, but DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans were quiet.Barea and his bench buddies led the way for the Wolves, who will be without stars Ricky Rubio (left knee surgery) and Kevin Love (broken right hand) for at least the first month of the season. Greg Stiemsma hounded Cousins around the basket and had nine points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 16 minutes.The Wolves shot 2 for 17 from 3-point range.Nikola Pekovic, who finished 2 for 8 from the field in a bruising matchup against Cousins, finally made his first basket with 4:10 left when he got loose on a fast break and dropped in a layup off a slick pass from Kirilenko to stretch the lead to 82-74 and finally give the home team a comfortable cushion again.Cousins led the Kings in almost every significant statistical category last season, but with Pekovic and Stiemsma bothering him in the paint he had just 11 points and four rebounds. Evans, who had 21 points and eight rebounds in the Kings' opener, finished with six points on 3-for-14 shooting.The Wolves built a 45-27 lead in the second quarter, but their inability to sink any outside shots caught up with them, and the lead shrunk to nine points by halftime. Then the Kings, with Thomas making three 3-pointers in the period, came surging out of the locker room. The Wolves missed 10 of their first 12 shots in the second half.The sharp-dressed men behind the bench - Rubio was in a charcoal suit coat; Love wore dark gray - could only watch while the errant shots piled up from all corners of the court. Some of it was simply bad luck, balls that rolled around the rim and inexplicably rolled out. Many of the misses looked like smart plays, but they just wouldn't go in.The Kings have a streak of six straight losing seasons that coincides with the amount of time since coach Rick Adelman was fired. Now he's with the Wolves, trying to turn them into the perennial playoff team he had in Sacramento.Any improvement for the Kings this season will start with defense. They were by far the easiest team to score against in 2011-12, allowing an average of more than 104 points per game. They've shown at least a few signs this week they're more willing and capable of distracting their opponent enough to stay competitive. They lost 93-87 in Chicago two nights before.After falling behind 61-56, the reserves led the Wolves on a 12-0 spurt to regain command of the game. With Stiemsma's long arms and soft touch in the post, Barea's quickness and confidence and the hustle by Chase Budinger and Dante Cunningham, the second group sure looked sharper than the first.Adelman was stingy with playing time for Derrick Williams in his rookie season. But the second pick in last year's draft has the ability to score in bunches and the Wolves will need that punch while Love is out, so he took the All-Star's place at power forward. Williams had all kinds of trouble finding an easy path to the basket and finishing his layups once he got there, but he wasn't the only one. Williams had eight points and seven rebounds.NOTES: Adelman said he'd prefer to keep his starting lineup the same while Love is out. Cunningham's energy off the bench was another factor, Adelman said, in giving Williams the start. ... Kings swingman John Salmons has rejoined the team after a two-week absence to be with his wife and newborn child, but he's not ready for game action yet. Coach Keith Smart said his conditioning needs to be built back up before he'll use him. ... Kings backup point guard Aaron Brooks broke a tooth diving on the floor for a loose ball against the Bulls. "He put it under his pillow, but he didn't get any money," Smart quipped. ... This was the fourth time in seven years that the Timberwolves opened their season at home against the Kings. Sacramento was the opponent for six of the franchise's 24 openers.

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.