An impressive fourth-quarter run against the Sacramento Kings helped the Utah Jazz remain undefeated at home.Now, the Jazz will try to extend their season-high three-game winning streak with a home-and-home sweep Saturday night.Down by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter on Friday, Utah (7-6) rallied for a 104-102 victory as Gordon Hayward's 22-foot jumper with 4.5 seconds left was the difference. He finished with a team-high 23 points."We turned the ball over (13 times), unfinished plays, everything we had done to get in that position on the road, in this building against a good team where you don't win that often," Kings coach Keith Smart told the league's official website after his team fell to 0-5 on the road. "Too much one-on-one and it cost us the game."The Jazz, meanwhile, improved to 5-0 at home and moved above the break-even point for the first time since an opening night win over Dallas."I thought we won with a lot of grit, gut, staying together," coach Tyrone Corbin said.The Jazz may need that type of effort again considering close finishes between these teams have become common. They split four contests last season, with the games decided by a total of 12 points.In their last visit to Sacramento on March 22, the Jazz won 103-102 as Al Jefferson delivered the game-winner with 0.9 seconds left.Utah goes for its first back-to-back road wins since that contest. A victory would also give the Jazz their first 4-0 run since finishing 2011-12 on a five-game surge.Losers of six of seven, the Kings (3-9) will try to prevent that from happening as they open a stretch of five of six at home.They'll try to win two straight at home after ending a four-game skid there with Wednesday's 113-97 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.Sacramento made a season-best 10 3-pointers on Friday as Aaron Brooks, Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette each hit three, but it needs to improve on the glass after pulling down a season-low 31 boards to Utah's 43.DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, John Salmons and Chuck Hayes combined for 32 points and 18 rebounds in the loss, while Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Marvin Williams and Derrick Favors totaled 65 points and 27 boards.If Jazz point guard Mo Williams can't go after spraining his ankle Friday, Jamaal Tinsley will likely step in. The veteran grabbed six rebounds, handed out 12 assists and stole the ball from Brooks with 14.9 seconds left to help set up Hayward's final shot.Utah backup Earl Watson could also see more action after totaling two assists and two rebounds in nine minutes Friday. It was his first appearance of 2012-13 after undergoing season-ending knee surgery in April.
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.
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.