Jimmermania begins in Sacramento

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Jimmermania begins in Sacramento

The Kings opened their shortened training camp this past Saturday with former BYU sensation and first-round draft pick Jimmer Fredette as the star attraction.

Fredette joins a backcourt with tremendous scoring potential as former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans and volume scorer Marcus Thornton are preparing to do damage in their first full season together.

Just this offseason, Sacramento was in jeopardy of losing the team when owners Joe and Gavin Maloof threatened to relocate to Anaheim. Instead, the city rallied around the slogan "Here We Build," raising over 800K towards a new arena and delaying the process until at least March. At the same time, the team brought in through the draft the cult-phenomenon college player from BYU.
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Hundreds of fans greeted Fredette's arrival at the airport over the summer after the Kings acquired him in a draft-day trade with the Bucks. Thousands flocked to a pep rally soon after, including an abnormally large number of television cameras, which doesn't faze Jimmer.

"I got more used to it toward the middle to the end of the season. There were a lot more people wanting interviews, it felt like more of an NBA atmosphere with all the media attention I was getting," Fredette said. "I think that will help with the transition to the NBA. Now I just need to transition playing wise."

TV cameras and fans aren't the only ones the No. 10 overall pick is popular with. Second-year big man DeMarcus Cousins said, "Jimmer's my dude. I'm trying to get Jimmer to move in with me."

And head coach Paul Westphal's praise might not be as glorious, but the third-year coach seems to think Fredette will factor into the offense right away. "I think Jimmer's presence, along with John Salmons and Marcus Thornton, all those guys can handle, shoot and pass," Westphal said. "And the more players we have like that, the better it is for Tyreke and for all of our players."

"I have big expectations for myself," Fredette told Jim Kozimor on Kings media day. "It seems like they want me to score the basketball." This statement came minutes after newly-acquired Chuck Hayes told Kozimor he just needs to "do exactly what he did in college -- shoot the ball."

After finishing dead last in the Pacific Division with a record of 24-58, owner Joe Maloof said he is "sure the team will be a lot better than they were last year." Having Jimmer in the fold figures to be a part of that confidence.
Jimmermania begins Saturday when Fredette takes the floor in his first-ever NBA game, an exhibition with the cross-town-rival Golden State Warriors.
Nate Stuhlbarg is a web producer at CSNBayArea.com. Follow him on Twitter @StuhlbargCSN.

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.