Kings, Thornton look to slow down Denver

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Kings, Thornton look to slow down Denver

KINGS (12-25) vs.
DENVER (21-17)Programming Note: Kings-Nuggets coverage begins at 6 p.m. tonight on Comcast Sportsnet California!
(AP) -- Though still short-handed, the Denver Nuggets appear to have moved past their recent struggles.A matchup with the Sacramento Kings might help push those woes further into the rear-view mirror.The Nuggets will try to record their fourth straight win overall and continue their mastery of the Kings on Monday night in Denver.Before its current three-game win streak, Denver (21-17) had won only four times in its previous 16 games. The Nuggets have turned their fortunes around with balanced efforts. At least six Denver players have scored in double figures in each of the three wins, with Ty Lawson averaging 20.7 points and 11.7 assists to lead the way.The point guard, who returned from a sprained left ankle at the beginning of the streak, had a team highs of 22 points and 11 assists in Sunday's 99-94 victory at San Antonio.While Lawson is healthy again, the Nuggets' streak has come while leading scorer Danilo Gallinari (foot), starting big man Nene (calf) and reserve Rudy Fernandez (back) are all sidelined by injuries."It's huge. Huge for us," Lawson said. "Especially having three rotation players and two starters out. But we're starting to jell."With 11 points in a little more than 15 minutes, Lawson was one of seven Nuggets to reach double figures in a 122-93 rout at Sacramento on Jan. 25. Three weeks earlier, the Nuggets drubbed the Kings 110-83 at the Pepsi Center.Denver has six in a row at home over Sacramento (12-25) and four straight in the series overall. The Nuggets would appear to have a good chance to continue both of those streaks, as the Kings have dropped nine of their last 11 games overall and are 4-19 on the road this season.They suffered their third straight defeat Sunday, losing 96-88 at Phoenix to fall to 0-2 on their current three-game trip. Sacramento scored 32 points in the first quarter but didn't produce more than 20 in any subsequent period and shot 33 percent in the second half.While the offense struggled, Kings coach Keith Smart was generally pleased with his team's play at the other end of the floor.
NEWS: Owner says Smart will return to coach Kings next season
"You're going to give up something," he said. "I thought our guys did a great job to maintain and do the things necessary, but we had a few breakdowns late."Marcus Thornton, with 21 points, was one of the standouts for the Kings in the loss, and he's averaged 19.9 over his last 16 games. The swingman, who sat out the Jan. 25 home loss to Denver because of a bruised left thigh, has scored a combined 50 points in his last two visits to the Pepsi Center, including 23 in the Jan. 4 loss.Nine Nuggets have scoring averages in double figures against the Kings this season, but those nine include all three injured players.

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.