Kings seek back-to-back wins, facing .500 Utah

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Kings seek back-to-back wins, facing .500 Utah

Programming note: Kings-Jazz coverage begins at 6 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California. Territory restrictions apply.

After tinkering with his lineup a bit, Utah Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin might be on to something.The Jazz will try for a season-high third straight victory Friday night when they host the Sacramento Kings in the opener of a home-and-home series.Utah (6-6) defeated Houston 102-91 at home Monday, with the club winning for the second time in as many games with its new starting lineup of Mo Williams, Randy Foye, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Al Jefferson.Corbin has chosen to bring Gordon Hayward and Marvin Williams off the bench after both started the first 10 games, and Hayward has responded with back-to-back 15-point efforts."I think it's good to have Marvin and Gordon coming off the bench because their confidence is back up, shooting the ball real well," said Jefferson, averaging a team-high 15.4 points and 12.0 rebounds.The Jazz scored a season-high 30 fast-break points against Houston and their 30 assists tied their best mark of the season."It's fun when you do that," Hayward said. "It's a lot of fun when everyone's involved and when you're sharing the basketball. We got a lot of buckets in transition and I think that all starts with our defense. That kind of just gets us in the open court and we go from there."The powerful front line of Jefferson, Millsap and Favors is leading that defense as the Jazz are averaging an NBA-best 7.9 blocked shots. They had 11 against the Rockets.Sacramento (3-8) snapped a five-game skid with a 113-97 home win over the Lakers on Wednesday, ending Los Angeles' three-game winning streak. The Kings posted their highest point total of the season after averaging 89.6 points during their losing streak.Reserve Marcus Thornton scored a team-high 23 points in 28 minutes for Sacramento."We needed a win. To get it against the Lakers, that's a good win for us," said Tyreke Evans, who scored 18 and had a season-high six assists. "We just got to keep it going from here. We're going to Utah and it's not easy to play up there so we just have to be playing together as a team for 48 minutes."Evans, averaging 13.0 points in his career, has scored 22.9 in nine games against the Jazz - his highest mark against any team.Sacramento and Utah split their four meetings last season, with the games decided by a total of 12 points. Jefferson had a winning tip-in with nine-tenths of a second left in a 103-102 victory in Salt Lake City on March 22.The teams close out their home-and-home set Saturday in Sacramento.

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.