Kings take on surging Bucks

monta_ellis_bucks_.jpg

Kings take on surging Bucks

Programming note: Kings-Bucks coverage kicks off at 5 p.m. today on Comcast SportsNet California (territorial restrictions apply)

(AP) -- With another strong offensive performance from Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, the Milwaukee Bucks should have a good chance to match their longest winning streak of the season Wednesday night.

The backcourt duo can help the Bucks to a third consecutive victory as they try to avoid a third straight loss to the visiting Sacramento Kings.

Jennings scored 26 points and Ellis added 24 as the pair went 16 of 32 from the field Sunday to help Milwaukee (10-9) to a 97-88 win at Brooklyn. The guards outscored the Nets' star backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson by two striaght games. 26 points and combined to record eight steals.

"It was just another game," said Ellis, who shot a season-high 61.5 percent (8 of 13). "It just happened me (and Jennings) came out wanting to play hard."

While Ellis (18.7 points per game) and Jennings (17.2) are shooting a combined 40.2 percent, they remain the two most explosive offensive options for a Bucks team that has only one other player averaging double-figure points. Although their scoring has been comparable in wins and losses, the two are shooting 42.8 percent during the Bucks' victories and 37.7 percent in their defeats.

"It's the nature of our team; when Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings are playing well, we usually win," coach Scott Skiles said.

The Bucks are playing well enough for a shot at matching their three-game winning streak from Nov. 12-17. Milwaukee also is trying for a season-high third consecutive victory at the Bradley Center, where it has held its last two opponents to an average of 90.5 points on 42.9 percent shooting - 9 of 32 (28.1 percent) from 3-point range.

Jennings was held to six points in a 97-90 loss to the Kings in their last visit to Milwaukee on March 23, 2011, and his 31 weren't enough in a 103-100 defeat at Sacramento last season.

The Kings (7-13) had their season-high three-game winning streak end with a 119-96 loss at Dallas on Monday. That defeat came two nights after Sacramento posted its first road win, 99-80 at Portland.

Playing a third consecutive game without injured guard Tyreke Evans, the Kings trailed 65-43 at halftime and allowed the Mavericks to shoot 55.2 percent overall. DeMarcus Cousins and Francisco Garcia each scored 25 points for Sacramento, which had yielded 87.3 points per game on 39.0 percent shooting during the three straight victories.

Garcia has received sporadic playing time this season but has totaled 37 points over the last two games while starting in place of Evans, who remains day to day with a sore knee that has sidelined him for five of the last six contests. Garcia went 7 of 12 from 3-point range against the Mavericks.

"You find someone that works hard enough to try and steal minutes, and obviously he has done that," coach Keith Smart said. "He's shooting the ball well right now."

Sacramento guard Marcus Thornton has totaled 24 points in his last four games while shooting 7 of 29 (24.1 percent), but he's scored 27 in each of the last two meetings with Milwaukee.

Purge of veterans continues as Kings waive Arron Afflalo

Purge of veterans continues as Kings waive Arron Afflalo

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings continued their purge of veteran contracts Friday afternoon. NBC Sports California has confirmed that the team opted out of the second year of Arron Afflalo’s 2-year, $25 million deal. They will instead pay the shooting guard a $1.5 million buyout, saving $11 million and allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Afflalo, 31, posted 8.4 points and 2.0 rebounds in 25.9 minutes per game. The 10-year NBA veteran played in 61 games, including 45 starts for the Kings last season while shooting 41.1 percent from behind the arc.

The former UCLA star is the second Kings veteran to have his option declined, joining Anthony Tolliver in the ranks of unrestricted free agents. Both Rudy Gay and Langston Galloway have chosen not to exercise player options with the team as the franchise turns to a youth movement.

Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos are the only remaining players players on the Kings’ roster with more than two years experience in the league. Sacramento will enter free agency with upwards of $55 million to spend in free agency once they sign their four rookies from Thursday evening’s NBA Draft.

Kings finish 2017 NBA Draft with night that can turn franchise around

Kings finish 2017 NBA Draft with night that can turn franchise around

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings had a big draft night. The kind of night that might turn a franchise around. They entered the evening with three picks, including two in the top 10. With their first selection, they filled the franchise’s biggest need when they drafted De’Aaron Fox and then they went to work.
 
Vlade Divac and his team of front office execs jumped on an early trade, dealing the No. 10 overall selection to the Portland Trail Blazers for No. 15 and No. 20. North Carolina’s Justin Jackson was too appealing to pass on, and like Fox, he fit a major position of need. 
 
Sacramento came back with the 20th selection, taking one of the biggest risk/reward picks in the draft. Duke’s Harry Giles is playing on rebuilt knees, but before that, he was one of the top prospects in all of basketball. If he can stay healthy, the Kings may have drafted the biggest steal of the night. 
 
They topped off the evening with the selection of Wooden and Naismith Award winner Frank Mason III with the 34th overall pick. The Kings entered the night without a single point guard and they ended it with two very exciting options. 
 
“I’m very excited about the talent that we brought here tonight,” Divac said. “They’re going to just be an addition to what we’re trying to build here in the second half of the season.”
 
The Kings turned down overtures to move up to draft Fox. The 19-year-old speedster will step in and immediately compete for the starting point guard spot and he’s very excited to be a King.
 
“It’s just the vibe that I got when I was out there,” Fox told local Sacramento media via phone. “I felt like they really wanted me.” 
 
John Calipari is known for his bevy of All-Star bigs throughout the league, but he’s also produced a long line of big-time guards. Sacramento is hoping that Fox can live up to the billing of other former Calipari guards like Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall. According to Divac, the Kings were so high on Fox, they would have taken him higher. 
 
“Screaming,” Divac said about the reaction in the room to Fox falling in their lap. “It was a guy that we all loved and in some way, if we had the number 1 pick, he would’ve been our guy.”
 
“De’Aaron is our future,” Divac added.
 
Without a perfect fit at 10, Divac made an adjustment on the fly to add more assets. The decision to trade 10 for 15 and 20 was very similar to the last season when the Kings dealt the eighth overall pick for No. 13, 28 and the draft rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic. By splitting the pick in two, the Kings were able to land two talented pieces that mesh with the current roster build.
 
Jackson and Fox know each other well. The duo played AAU ball together and Fox says he considers Jackson an older brother.  He is friends with Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere from their Kentucky connection.
 
“I feel like we can grow together,” Fox said of the Kings’ young core. “Of course, it’s going to take some time, but every franchise takes time.”
 
Fox is the jewel of the night and Jackson will compete for time at the wing, but Giles is the wildcard. The 19-year-old big can play the four and the five and has elite potential. 
 
“I’m so excited he was there for us at the 20,” Divac said. “That kind of talent you can’t pass.”
 
The Kings have done their homework on Giles. The type of knee injury that he sustained is similar to former NBA players Danny Manning, Amaré Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin. Manning and Martin each played 15 years in the league and Stoudemire lasted 14 seasons before retiring in 2016. After meeting him in person in Sacramento and working him out, they are very confident that he will be able to overcome his injuries and have a successful career in the NBA. 
 
Mason III will remind Kings fans of Isaiah Thomas, another undersized point guard that fell to the second round. The Kansas star posted 20.9 points, 5.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds for the Jayhawks last season. He’s a hard-nosed leader that can jump out of the gym and will instantly become a fan favorite in Sacramento. 
 
It’s a huge haul. Sacramento added two points guards, a wing and a big from some of the best basketball schools in the country. More than that, they added high character winners to a changing culture. 
 
For the first time in a while, the Sacramento Kings have accumulated assets. They have hit the ground running in their attempted rebuild and for one night, they are the talk of the NBA.