Kings

Kings stumble, fall to Love-less Minnesota 86-84

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Kings stumble, fall to Love-less Minnesota 86-84

BOX SCORE
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The way that DeMarcus Cousins has been playing lately, the Minnesota Timberwolves were looking like fools for passing on him in favor of Wes Johnson last year.The way Nikola Pekovic is emerging as a force in the middle is definitely softening that blow.Pekovic had 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Michael Beasley added 17 points and 14 boards to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to an 86-84 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night in their first game without the suspended Kevin Love.Ricky Rubio had 14 assists and five steals and Derrick Williams scored seven of his 14 points in the final four minutes to give the Timberwolves their third straight win.But it was Pekovic on both ends - whirling to the rim for thunderous dunks on offense and beating up Cousins on defense - that was the key to the Wolves (13-12) equaling their best start since 2005-06."He's the reason why we won," said rookie Derrick Williams, who had eight rebounds and three blocks in the start for Love.Pekovic held Cousins, who had 49 points and 39 rebounds in the previous two games, to 10 points on 3-for-13 shooting and 11 rebounds. The second-year man from Montenegro drew two fouls on Cousins in the first four minutes, and the volatile Cousins seemed flustered for the rest of the game."He is a man down there," Kings coach Keith Smart said of Pekovic. "He plays in the trenches where you have to play with a physical game and that young man has been playing well for over a week and a half now."He had 27 points and 11 rebounds in a win over New Jersey on Friday and provided huge offensive punch on Tuesday night when the rest of his team missed 13 of 16 shots in the third quarter.He made all six of his shots, three of them coming on dunks. One came on a between-the-legs feed from Rubio and another on a pretty spin to the baseline past Cousins.He also lowered his shoulder and ran right over Cousins for a layup, and picked Jason Thompson at halfcourt and finished the play with a nifty finger roll to bring the crowd to its feet."It's fun to watch him play," coach Rick Adelman said.Pekovic's play was just enough to hold off Jimmer Fredette and the Kings, who had won three in a row coming in. Fredette scored all 13 of his points in the final period. But Tyreke Evans and Cousins combined to shoot just 8 for 26.The Kings had a frenetic shot to win their fourth straight game in the final seconds, but Donte Greene's 3-pointer from the corner missed at the buzzer."It would have been a perfect, happy ending to our comeback for that to go in," Greene said. "But it didn't fall."Evans finished with 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting, while Thornton scored 21 of his 22 points in the first three quarters.The Kings trailed 69-60 to start the fourth, and Smart left his starting backcourt of Thornton and Evans on the bench and put his trust in Fredette.It's been a difficult rookie season for the heralded 10th overall pick out of BYU. He was benched for two straight games last week and played just 10 minutes in the win over New Orleans on Monday.But after clanking his first two attempts of the game Tuesday night, Fredette found his range.He buried three 3-pointers, scored off a steal and fed Greene for a dunk that got Sacramento back in it."I was just playing," Fredette said. "I knew I was shooting the ball well. We were coming back into the game, more importantly."Greene's 3-pointer tied it at 82 with 1:09 to go, but Williams came back with a big 3-pointer in the corner to give the Wolves just enough to win without their All-Star.Love was suspended Monday for stepping on Rockets forward Luis Scola last Saturday."I think it builds character and it builds a winning attitude," Beasley said. "Especially go up over .500, that's real important for us."Notes: Love also will sit out Wednesday night's game at Memphis. ... Cousins picked up two fouls in the first four minutes and his fourth with 2:26 to go in the third. ... The Kings turned it over 19 times and shot 38 percent. ... Timberwolves C Darko Milicic missed the game with a sprained right ankle suffered in practice Monday.

Kings hire VP of professional development

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AP

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.

Kings finally get to unleash highly skilled weapon Bogdan Bogdanovic on NBA stage

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AP

Kings finally get to unleash highly skilled weapon Bogdan Bogdanovic on NBA stage

The legend of Bogdan Bogdanovic grows. After another deep run against European competition, the 25-year-old shooting guard is headed for the NBA with plenty of fanfare.

Bogdanovic and his Serbian teammates fell short of the ultimate goal of winning EuroBasket 2017. Goran Dragic and Team Slovenia took home the gold, pulling away from Serbia for the 93-85 victory in the finals on Sunday.

Dragic scored a game-high 35 points in 28 minutes of action, giving Bogdanovic a taste of what the competition will look like on a nightly basis in the NBA. Bogdanovic led Serbia with 22 points on 9-of-21 shooting, but he struggled from long range, knocking down 2-of-11 from behind the international 3-point line.

The Kings acquired Bogdanovic from the Phoenix Suns, along with the rights to Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere for Marquese Chriss on Draft night 2016. Phoenix had failed multiple times in their attempts to bring the sharpshooter over from his Turkish league team after taking him with the 27th overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Vlade Divac couldn’t get Bogdanovic to come over for last season, but he found traction early this summer and added the talented wing as part of his July shopping spree.

After dominating league action overseas, Bogdanovic became the highest paid rookie in NBA history, signing a three-year, $27 million deal with Sacramento. He’ll make close to $9.5 million in his first season in the league, more than double what fifth overall pick, De’Aaron Fox, is scheduled to make.   

Bogdanovic walks into a crowded situation in Sacramento. He’ll compete for minutes with Buddy Hield, Garrett Temple and Malachi Richardson at the shooting guard position. Both Hield and Temple worked under coach Dave Joerger for parts of last season, but the Kings front office is very high on their European import.

Listed at 6-foot-6, 205 pounds, Bogdanovic has great size for the two and he might even be able to shift to the small forward spot for short stints. He is not the defender that Temple is and Hield might have an edge on him as a volume scorer, but Bogdanovic has an advantage over both players in versatility.

He’s a highly skilled offensive weapon that should make an immediate impact on the floor. He spent plenty of time manning the point guard position for Serbia and can even act as the primary ball handler. Bogdanovic is blessed with an extremely high basketball IQ and he’s shown advanced playmaking skills, both with Fenerbahce and the Serbian national team.

Bogdanovic can light it up from distance, having knocked down 43 percent of 3-pointers this season for Fenerbahce, but he’s not just a catch and shoot player. He hit 50 percent from the field overall using a variety of moves to create space. He has a killer crossover and step back jumper, a nice floater in the lane and he is fearless going to the rack.

Where he has the biggest advantage over his competition is in the pick-and-roll. Bogdanovic uses hesitation dribbles and crafty maneuvering to create looks for both himself and his bigs moving to the hoop. He also has nice court vision and is an unselfish distributor.

If Bogdanovic’s European game translates to the NBA, Sacramento has a rotational player and possibly much more. He’ll likely struggle on the defensive end initially, like most rookies coming into the league, but he plays with effort and has solid instincts.

Joerger has a lot to work out during training camp and the early season. He has multiple bodies at every position and the competition for minutes is going to be intense. While it’s early to make predictions, it appears that Bogdanovic will have a substantial role as the Kings enter year one of their rebuild.