Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

October 31, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Bulls

FINAL
Bulls 93, Kings 87

CHICAGO - The Kings couldn't overcome their own mistakes in losing their season opener to the Chicago Bulls at United Center.

The Kings had 21 turnovers, with the 21st perhaps being the most costly.

Down 87-83 with 35.6 seconds to play, the Kings came out of a timeout to inbound the ball. Tyreke Evans was called for a five-second violation before he could call timeout.

So instead of having a chance to cut the deficit to two or one, the Kings were forced to give up the ball and foul and could never catch up.

The Kings (0-1) allowed 25 points off turnovers.

Evans finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Marcus Thornton had 15 points off the bench. DeMarcus Cousins had 14 points and seven rebounds.

Joakim Noah led the Bulls (1-0) with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Rip Hamilton had 19 points and Carlos Boozer had 18 points and eight rebounds.

THIRD QUARTER
Bulls 69, Kings 63

CHICAGO - All things considered, it could be worse for the Kings.

DeMarcus Cousins is in foul trouble. Sacramento is shooting poorly and the team has been careless with the ball most of the night.

The Kings had only four turnovers in the third, but still have 18 for the game. The Bulls have 23 points off Sacramento turnovers.

Tyreke Evans has 15 points to lead the King. Cousins has 10 points and five rebounds. Cousins also has a game-high six turnovers.

Joakim Noah has 18 points, nine rebounds and five steals for Chicago. It's helped that Cousins has been in foul trouble and played just 19 minutes.

HALFTIME
Bulls 44, Kings 40

CHICAGO - The Kings have given the Bulls all the chances they need to have a lead.

The Kings have 14 turnovers that have led to 21 points for the Bulls. So they're probably happy to only be down four.

If the Kings stop trying to dribble their way out of trouble that should cut down on turnovers. But old habits are hard to break.

Tyreke Evans ha 13 point, 2 rebounds and 2 assists and hasn't missed a shot. (5 of 5, 2 of 2 FTs). But all that's lost in all the turnovers. The Bulls have 10 but the King have just 11 points off Chicago mistakes.


DeMarcus Cousins has been effective with eight points and three steals. But he also has four turnovers and three fouls and had to sit out the end of the quarter.

In his first game of the regular season off the bench, Marcus Thornton missed four of his first five shots.

Rip Hamilton has 10 points for the Bulls. Joakim Noah has eight points and five rebounds.

FIRST QUARTER
Bulls 25, Kings 23

CHICAGO - The Kings have been their own worst enemy with nine turnovers that have led to 15 points for the Bulls here at United Center.

The turnovers have covered up the five turnovers the Kings have forced and their 56. percent shooting. Tyreke Evans has been good with 11 points and two assists. Evans has yet to miss a shot.

Three Bulls (Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Rip Hamilton) each have six points for Chicago. The Bulls are shooting 52.2 percent, helped by the Kings' sloppy play.

The Kings started the game with Isaiah Thomas, Evans, James Johnson, Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins, the lineup that started two of the final three preseason games.

Smart said he's known for a while that would be the starting lineup even as he experimented with groups during the preseason.

October 31, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Bulls

FIRST QUARTER
Bulls 25, Kings 23

CHICAGO - The Kings have been their own worst enemy with nine turnovers that have led to 15 points for the Bulls here at United Center.

The turnovers have covered up the five turnovers the Kings have forced and their 56. percent shooting. Tyreke Evans has been good with 11 points and two assists. Evans has yet to miss a shot.

Three Bulls (Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Rip Hamilton) each have six points for Chicago. The Bulls are shooting 52.2 percent, helped by the Kings' sloppy play.

The Kings started the game with Isaiah Thomas, Evans, James Johnson, Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins, the lineup that started two of the final three preseason games.

Smart said he's known for a while that would be the starting lineup even as he experimented with groups during the preseason.

October 31, 2012
Live chat replay: Sacramento Kings season preview with Jason Jones

October 31, 2012
Kings at Bulls: Five things to watch

CHICAGO - The regular season is back and optimism is at its highest.

Optimism can be done away with one a bad showing tonight (even though that would be a BIG overreaction). But here are five things to watch as the Kings try to open the season with a road win for the second time in three seasons.

1. Keep sharing - The ball has to move to find good shots. Even without Derrick Rose, the Bulls will be sound in their defensive philosophies so the Kings have to be sound in their offensive principles.

2. Johnson's impact - Look for former Bull James Johnson to set the tone defensively. He'll likely be defending Luol Deng, someone he knows from his time in Chicago.

3. The lucky 10-plus - Kings coach Keith Smart won't be relying on a tight rotation tonight. The Kings can't afford to have anyone come into the game and let the intensity fall off.

4. Rebounding - The biggest concern Smart had after the preseason was defensive rebounding. The Bulls will be aggressive at the glass so the Kings have to match that intensity.

5. Manage emotions - Everyone is happy right now, but how the team reacts when things go bad will say a lot about how much the Kings have really matured.

October 30, 2012
Tuesday practice notes

CHICAGO - Keith Smart is ready for Wednesday night, or as Smart said after Tuesday's practice at United Center: "I am very excited."

The Kings were lose and having fun after their final full practice before the season opener. Not that you'd expect anything different from such a young team.

So it's up to Smart to take the careful approach.

"We have to do little things first," Smart said. "One game at a time, one quarter at a time. And then doing that, it's going to help us grow as a team."

*The veterans had fun with the lone rookie, Thomas Robinson. It' tradition the rookies are responsible for making sure no trash is left behind.

In Robinson's case, that also meant making sure no basketballs were left behind after they were strategically placed in the stands by his teammates.

Eventually Tyler Honeycutt, was recruited for the basketball hunt.

*The only player not with the team is John Salmons, who still away for personal reasons.

*The deadline to reach an agreement on a contract extension for the 2009 Draft Class is 2 p.m. Wednesday. The Kings have two players (Tyreke Evans, James Johnson) eligible but don't expect either to be extended.

October 26, 2012
Kings trim roster to 14

The Kings announced training camp invitees Tony Mitchell, Hamady Ndiaye and Willie Reed have been waived.

That leaves the Kings with 14 players, one below the league maximum, heading into next Wednesday's season opener at Chicago.

October 25, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Lakers

FINAL
Kings 94, Lakers 82

SAN DIEGO - The Kings (5-2) closed out the preseason by coasting in the second half to a win over the Los Angeles Lakers (0-8) at Valley View Casino Center.

DeMarcus Cousins finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Thomas had 20 points before leaving the game after rolling his ankle in the fourth quarter.

Tyreke Evans had 14 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Dwight Howard had nine points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes for the Lakers (0-8). Steve Nash had six points and three assists in 16 minutes and did not play in the second half.

The Kings scored 28 points off 21 Laker turnovers while committing just seven.

THIRD QUARTER
Kings 74, Lakers 57

SAN DIEGO - The Kings flowed up a dismal second quarter with a solid third quarter to take control of the game.

Isaiah Thomas (17 points), DeMarcus Cousins (16 points, eight rebounds) and Tyreke Evans (14 points, five assists) have led the way.

It's also helps that the Kings have only five turnovers.

The Lakers did not play Steve Nash in the third, opting to go with Steve Blake. Dwight Howard (nine points, eight rebounds) and Pau Gasol (seven points, four rebounds) did play.

HALFTIME
Kings 40, Lakers 39

SAN DIEGO - After internet problems, I'm up and running from the preseason finale.

The Kings haven't been at their best on offense (38.1 percent shooting) and had only 10 points in the second quarter. But the Kings have only four turnovers.

The Lakers shot 39.4 percent in the first half and had 12 turnovers that led to 12 points for the Kings.

DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson each have eight points for the Kings. Dwight Howard has seven points and six rebounds to lead the Lakers.

October 24, 2012
Keith Smart calls audible on starting lineup plan

After today's practice Kings coach Keith Smart said the starting lineup for tomorrow's preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers in San Diego would not necessarily be the starting lineup for the season opener on Halloween in Chicago.

"Take with a grain of salt what I say right after a game," Smart said. "Because that was in the moment and the question was asked then. And we have five days before we have to make a decision to get ready for Chicago. We just want to make sure the guys that are playing do the right thing every single time they are on the floor."

So the starting five tomorrow might or might not be the starting five for the Bulls.

One thing Smart is certain he wants is more diversity on the floor at one time.

"I don't want to have this year too many guys that can score on the floor at the same time," Smart said. "Granted I'm going to need it at times but I don't want to have it too much. I wan to have the role guys in the lineup at any given time to be able to defend certain spots at certain times of the game."

October 24, 2012
NBA announces change to All-Star game ballot

From the NBA press release:

For the first time, the NBA All-Star Ballot presented by Sprint will feature two position choices, guards and frontcourt, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations Stu Jackson announced today.

Fans will select two guards and three frontcourt players when choosing the starters for the 2013 NBA All-Star Game. Previously, the ballot featured three positions with fans picking two guards, two forwards and a center.

"The NBA's competition committee and the league office agreed that having the center position as the only specific position singled out on the ballot was outdated and not representative of today's game or players," Jackson said. "Our players have become more versatile each season, and this ballot will more accurately reflect that versatility."

The 2013 NBA All-Star Ballot presented by Sprint will be unveiled on Tuesday, Nov. 13 during a special event in Houston.

October 23, 2012
Kings announce television deals for 2012-13

The Kings announced Tuesday 72 of 82 games will be televised by Comcast SportsNet California.

The first broadcast will be the season opener on Halloween at Chicago.

The remaining 10 games will be carried by local ABC affiliate News10.

From the press release for CSN:

"We are thrilled to continue our strong partnership with the Sacramento Kings through this 72-game telecast schedule provided in HD," said Comcast SportsNet California Vice President and General Manager Larry Eldridge. "The Kings are an exciting young team on the rise with a passionate fan base, and we are again looking forward to providing stellar coverage to Kings fans throughout Northern and Central California."

"Our continued partnership with Comcast SportsNet California will once again allow us to provide excellent coverage and serve the most Kings fans possible on television," said Kings President of Business Operations Matina Kolokotronis. "The telecast of Kings games in HD by the organization's Emmy Award-winning production team furthers our mission of providing customers with the best fan experience in the NBA."

From the News10 release:

"The Kings organization is incredibly excited to welcome News10 back to our broadcast team," said Kolokotronis. "News10 will serve as a valuable partner in helping broaden our local audience and deliver Kings games to even more households."

"News10 is thrilled about the opportunity to share this exclusive partnership with the Kings," said Maria Barrs, President and General Manager of News10. "We, like the rest of the community, expect this to be a big year for the team, and we're energized about the chance to bring so many high-profile matchups to more local homes than ever before."

News10 games
Date Opponent Time
Nov. 18 Brooklyn Nets 3 p.m.
Dec. 16 Denver Nuggets 3 p.m.
Dec. 28 NY Knicks 7 p.m.
Jan. 12 Miami Heat 7 p.m.
Jan. 25 Oklahoma City Thunder 7 p.m.
Feb. 2 @ NY Knicks 4:30 p.m.
Feb. 9 Utah Jazz 7 p.m.
Mar. 1 @ San Antonio Spurs 5:30 p.m.
Mar. 23 @ Denver Nuggets 6 p.m.
Mar. 30 Los Angeles Lakers 7 p.m.

October 22, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Suns

FINAL
Suns 103, Kings 88

PHOENIX - The Kings dropped to 4-2 in the preseason as the Kings gave plenty of playing time to some of their young players and sat out DeMarcus Cousins after the first quarter.

Rookie Thomas Robinson finished with team-highs of 17 points (5 for 15 shooting) and eight rebounds. Jason Thompson had 14 points and six rebounds.

Jared Dudley led Phoenix (3-2) with 25 points.

The Kings finish the preseason Thursday against the Los Angeles Lakers in San Diego.

Smart plans to use his starting lineup for the season opener Thursday for at least a half.

THIRD QUARTER
Suns 76, Kings 65

PHOENIX - DeMarcus Cousins is apparently getting the veteran's treatment tonight. He hasn't played since the first quarter and there I no report that he is injured.

Chuck Hayes started the second half in place of Cousins.

Coach Keith Smart has played everyone on his bench tonight.

The Suns haven't been as liberal with their rotation tonight with five players, including their two first-round draft pick, Kendall Marshall.

Jason Thompson leads the Kings with 14 points and six rebounds.

HALFTIME
Suns 50, Kings 44

PHOENIX - The Kings gave plenty of playing time to their young players and training camp invitees in the second quarter.

Tyler Honeycutt made his preseason debut. First-round draft pick Thomas Robinson and camp invitees Willie Reed, Tony Mitchell and Hamady N'Diaye played extended minutes

That's reflected in the score, too as the Kings went from leading by 12 in the first quarter to trailing.

DeMarcus Cousins didn't play in the second quarter and still leads the Kings with eight points and five rebounds.

Shannon Brown led Phoenix with 10 points.

FIRST QUARTER
Kings 25, Suns 21

PHOENIX - The Kings started out well, leading by 12 thanks to pressure defense. The Kings had five steals in the quarter, two by DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins also had a blocked shot to go with eight points and five rebounds.

The Kings led by as many as 12 points. The starting frontcourt of Cousins, Jason Thompson and Tyreke Evans combined for 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals.

The Suns had eight turnovers that led to 12 points for the Kings.

October 21, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Lakers

FINAL
Kings 99, Lakers 92

LOS ANGELES - The Kings (4-1) held off the Lakers (0-6), who tried to rally with their starting lineup.

The Kings didn't go back to regulars like Tyreke Evans late, but kept DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton, Aaron Brooks, Francisco Garcia and Jason Thompson on the floor late against the Lakers.

Cousins and Brooks each had 16 points to lead the Lakers. Thornton added 15 points.

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 21 points. Dwight Howard had 19 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.


THIRD QUARTER
Kings 74, Lakers 72

LOS ANGELES - The Kings are putting up a good effort against the Lakers' regulars and outscored the Lakers 28-15 in the third quarter.

The Lakers shot 29.4 (5 of 17) while the Kings hot 11 of 22. DeMarcus Couins scored six of his 10 points in the third quarter. Jimmer Fredette and Marcus Thornton each had five points in the third.

Aaron Brooks and Tyreke Evans each have 12 points to lead the Kings.

Kobe Bryant has a game-high 19 points for the Lakers. Dwight Howard has 15 points and eight rebounds.

HALFTIME
Lakers 57, Kings 46

LOS ANGELES - The Kings shot poorly in the second quarter (6 of 23) while the Lakers remained hot in the first half (20 for 33). That pretty much sums up the game.

The Kings took better care of the ball with only two turnovers in the second quarter after five in the first. But Aaron Brooks (12 points) is the only King making a significant impact scoring.

Kobe Bryant has a game-high 13 points for the Lakers. Dwight Howard has 11 points and six rebounds.

FIRST QUARTER
Lakers 29, Kings 28

LOS ANGELES - The Kings don't look as crisp with their execution. They already have five turnovers and there have been a few obvious breakdowns on defense.

The Lakers made 9 of 15 shots in the quarter. The Kings weren't bad at 11 of 22, but the Kings ere called for nine fouls and the Lakers shot 13 free throws while the Kings attempted three.

Tyreke Evans had five points, two rebounds and two assists for the Kings. But he also had two turnovers.

The Kings are the first team to see the Lakers with Dwight Howard in the lineup. Howard had four points and two rebounds in eight minutes.

Howard had back surgery at the end of last season and had not played in the preseason yet. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with seven points.

October 20, 2012
Kings still talking defense

LOS ANGELES - The Kings practiced at the Los Angeles Clippers practice facility Saturday for their second of three preseason games against the Los Angeles Lakers.

And - surprise - there was a lot of talk of defense. That's been the constant all preseason.

"Everything's been precise," said forward Jason Thompson. "Practices feel like the game. We look at statistics defensively more than we did ever."

Guard Isaiah Thomas said actually have a training camp and full preseason yielding results.

"I think we've improved tremendously on the defensive end," Thomas said. "And even on the offensive end by sharing the ball, not doing too much 1-on-1 and just trusting each other. Not just on offense but on defense as well."

By coach Keith Smart's count the Kings have played two bad quarters of defense - the first half of Wednesday's game against Golden State.

*The Kings have no injury concerns. Only John Salmons, who is not with the team for personal reasons, did not practice Saturday.

October 19, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Lakers

FINAL
Kings 103, Lakers 98

LAS VEGAS -- In what was a rather intense preseason game, the Kings beat the Los Angeles Lakers in a game that was finished with most of the key players watching the fourth quarter.

DeMarcus Cousins finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and three steals. Marcus Thornton led the Kings with 19 points. Isaiah Thomas had eight points and a game-high 10 assists.

Tyreke Evans and Jimmer Fredette each had 14 point off the bench for the Kings (3-1).

Kobe Bryant led the Laker with 22 Points. Paul Gasol had 20 points. Devin Ebanks had 20 points off the bench for the Lakers (0-5).

Keith Smart was pleased with the Kings defensive effort (44.4 percent shooting for the Lakers) and how the King adjusted on defense.

The Kings shot 46.8 percent.


October 17, 2012
In-game blog: King vs. Warriors

FINAL
Warriors 98, Kings 88

The Kings (2-1) lost for the first time this preseason thanks to poor shooting (33.3 percent) and turnovers (23). The offense was rarely in sync and the four Warriors scored in double figures, led by Stephen Curry with 19. David Lee added 16 points and 14 rebounds.

Isaiah Thomas led the Kings with 13 points off the bench. Marcus Thornton added 1 points off the bench. The only starter to core in double figures was Jason Thompson with 11.

THIRD QUARTER
Warriors 78, Kings 71

The Kings were as close as three points, but cannot overtake the Warriors. And they have themselves to blame.

The Kings are shooting 33 percent (20 for 60) and have 17 turnovers that have led to 17 points for the Warriors.

Offensively the Kings are fighting themselves. Sometimes they want to use good passes and move the ball and find a good shot. Other times the Kings are intent on rushing shots and making it tough on themselves.

Jason Thompson leads the Kings with 11 points. Stephen Curry has a game-high 17 points for Golden State.

HALFTIME
Score: Warriors 58, King 44
Key stats: The Kings are still matching field goals and turnovers (13 apiece).
Summary: The Kings are shooting 34.2 percent and have only four assists. The Warriors have made 6 of 14 three pointers. The Kings haven't been able to generate consistent offense because of turnovers and foul trouble. Isaiah Thomas came off the bench to lead the Kings with eight points. Stephen Curry has 12 points for the Warriors.

FIRST QUARTER
Score: Warrior 29, Kings 20
Key stats: Kings are shooting 6 for 21 (28.6 percent) and have six turnovers.
Summary: The Kings missed their first seven shots to fall behind quickly. Tyreke Evans has six points to lead the Kings, but starters Aaron Brooks and DeMarcus Cousins played five and four minutes respectively after picking up two fouls.

The Warriors shot 47.6 percent and were led by rookie Harrison Barnes and Carl Landry, each who had five points.

October 17, 2012
Kings pick up options on Cousins, Fredette for 2013-14 season

The Kings announced Wednesday afternoon the team had exercised its contract options for DeMarcus Cousins and Jimmer Fredette for the 2013-14 season.

"We're looking forward to seeing DeMarcus and Jimmer play this year and continue to grow, improve and help this team be successful," said Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie in a statement.

Cousins is entering his third season with the Kings. Fredette is in his second season.

Cousins was second on the Kings last season, averaging 18.1 points and led the team with 11 rebounds per game.

Fredette averaged 7.6 points as a rookie.

October 16, 2012
Keith Smart remains pleased with the defense

The Kings want to be a good defensive team.

Keith Smart said after Monday night's preseason win over the Portland Trail Blazers that remains the focus:

"That's what we have been preaching, that's how we built our training camp. Everything we have built, we have tried to create that environment. I just think that when you are talented and you have the ability to be offensive-minded, you can make up ground, and some of our guys are doing that now. I felt that we had to have the right stuff defensively, to make sure everyone, from me, my players, the staff, were all on the same page to know exactly what we wanted to do. We keep continuing to grow that, and hopefully by January we can be a good defensive team. The stuff we have been making now shows we are moving in the right direction, in that fashion."

Portland shot 40 percent against the Kings. Phoenix shot 41.4 percent last Wednesday against the Kings.

Not a bad preseason start for the worst defensive team in the NBA in 2011-12.

Overall, the Kings are more engaged on defense. The guards are pressuring ballhandlers. Tyreke Evan looks like he wants to be an elite defender and DeMarcus Cousins is more active. It also helps to have Chuck Hayes looking more like the player he was in Houston.

But some new additions help a lot.

Jame Johnson has been all he said he would be to start his time with the Kings. The team believes Aaron Brooks' ability to pressure the ball will help in the long run. And rookie Thomas Robinson's infectious energy on the court should help.

It look good now, but let's see where the Kings are in January.

October 13, 2012
Kings putting in extra work on a regular basis

At this (early) point of the season the Kings are working harder than I can recall in the last two-plus seasons.

Staying after practice is becoming the norm for many players.

Coach Keith Smart has emphasized working hard and putting in extra work.

"It is so hard to win and you have to do things at a different rate when you're trying to win as opposed to just trying to play," Smart said. "And that's what we want to keep seeing every game."

One of those players that stays late is rookie Thomas Robinson who stayed for a shooting drill.

He was shooting with a basketball between his legs to work on having better balance with his shot (see video below courtesy of my iPhone).

Smart said Travis Outlaw had been around the last couple of nights to get in more work. Tyreke Evans has been known to use his key to get workout at odd hours in the practice facility, too.

*Smart said he would "probably" have a different starting lineup for Monday's preseason game against the Portland Trail Blazers. But would not say what those changes would be to the lineup.


October 12, 2012
Kings host a motivational speaker to continue team building

Kings coach Keith Smart took his team away to Colorado Springs, Colo., for team-building and training camp last week.

This week he decided it would be best if a guest spoke to the Kings about how to become a better team.

John Foley, a motivational speaker and former Blue Angel pilot spoke to the Kings on a Friday.

Smart said it was a light day as far as on-court work and that having Foley address the team serves a bigger purpose.

"You start seeing the parallels. You start seeing when these guys reach the top, they go beyond one percent in the world in their professions so these guys have already been top-rung people. They're excited to come in and talk to pro athletes anyways but they can talk about what they do to reach that next level, that next height. It always helps. Maybe one guy gets the message, maybe two, maybe the whole team gets it. We want to make sure we're stretching these guys out. Not just on the basketball floor but stretching them mentally also by having speakers and different people come in and talk to them. To get to the level this guy was at as a pilot and be one of only six in the world to be at that level -- to be at that point what do you have to do? Sacrifice, team, you've got to trust your teammates, trust what we're doing, the work everyday. Hopefully some of that will spill over to what we do as athletes so we can have a successful season."

The team will practice Saturday.

October 11, 2012
Smart working to keep Cousins in the post

Kings coach Keith Smart said it again after Thursday's practice - he wants DeMarcus Cousins to be a force around the basket.

Smart is coming up with different ways to keep Cousins around the rim and make sure the third-year center doesn't become infatuated with jump shots.

Cousins said that he doesn't want to become a three-point shooter, but Smart is still trying to find ways to keep Cousins from roaming away from the rim.

One of those ways his running the offense through Cousins in the post.

"It's a way to keep him from floating around on the perimeter," Smart said.
We've got to go inside down there and I'm giving him a variety of thing of how the ball gets there."

It's also why Smart is pleased with Cousins' improved conditioning. If Cousins can outrun big men he can get easier looks around the rim.

"I've talked to him about getting the ball down there X amount of times," Smart said. "That's why I want him to run down the floor also and not just hang around the perimeter."

*Cousins wasn't on the court when practice opened up to the media. He was icing his wrist and ankle. Smart said Cousins finished his work and practice and that he was fine.

*Still sounds like the Kings are buying into the idea of being a family.

Some lack of issues could be attributed to it being the preseason, but any progress with the Kings moving away from a "me" team to a "we" team are a positive.

"We're not barking at each other as much," said Chuck Hayes. "We're trusting each other and we're listening to each other. We're open to constructive criticism. At first we were taking it as an insult. Now everybody's willing to help each other."

October 11, 2012
The Morning After: Too much passing and not enough shooting from Evans?

One complaint from Wednesday's preseason game was the kind you would have never heard last season - the Kings passed the ball too much.

With the emphasis on ball movement in training camp the Kings were more than willing to share the ball. The Kings had 24 assists on 35 made shots.

"We had a few a open looks but I think we decided to be unselfish the whole game," said Tyreke Evans.

Here's some more from the game:

Evans made one of his two three pointers. He'll be encouraged to take jump shots.

"We've got to get him into that rhythm," said coach Keith Smart. "In practice what I did was whenever I saw him with an open jump shot and he didn't take it I would whistle a turnover because I want to encourage him to shoot the ball.

Here's more from Smart on Evans' shooting:

"Everyone's got this thing about what position is Tyreke going to play. Well if he doesn't make a jump shot I can play him at the five because it's going to be the same thing. His jump shot has to improve and he has to take that shot regardless of what position he plays."

*James Johnson and Thomas Robinson showed off their defensive "DNA" as Smart calls it.

With Robinson and Johnson on the floor, the Kings were talking on defense more than I can recall last season.

"We helped each other," Robinson said. "It was a whole collective thing with the team. Everybody helped each other...we did everything we've been working on."

*Smart said Jimmer Fredette is making strides on defense:

"He's getting up the floor pressuring guys and that's something we didn't think he could do. But obviously that's something he can do ... just buy us four or five seconds off the shot clock."

*DeMarcus Cousins said his shooting performance (5-of-15) was "terrible."

No arguing that and Smart believes Cousins is on track to not have as many games like that in the regular season if he can be patient on offense:

"He had a lot of shots around the basket and he didn't finish them. If he can finish those plays around the basket that's gong to bring those (bad shooting) numbers down. He's obviously going to have a lot of touches over the course of a game because he can force teams to double team him as well. But he needs to understand if you invite the double team you don't have to force it. He forced a lot of shots tonight. But overall I think he's in the frame of mind that he wants to understand the plan for him and how he needs to start playing. I think he's buying into that."

*Finally, Cousins on his three attempts from three-point range:

"Coach wanted me to extend my range. So if y'all complaining I don't care because that's what coach wants."


October 8, 2012
Some leftovers from Colorado Springs

Thomas Robinson moonlighting at small forward and guard combinations such as Tyreke Evans with John Salmons or Isaiah Thomas with Jimmer Fredette are among the lineups Keith Smart might use during the preseason.

"I want to use this whole month to look at different lineups and how they play," Smart said. "I want to look at lineups and see what play can I run that will keep everyone comfortable and spaced well. What lineup I can play on the floor that will give me that defensive edge. Not just with their tenacity, but with their toughness."

Smart has been mixing up his lineups in scrimmages to find defensive flexibility. Sometimes that will mean going big up front (DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, Robinson) or in the backcourt (Evans and Salmons).

Smart will also look at lineups that give him speed and the ability to play small if needed.

"During the course of a game any of those lineups could be on the floor," Smart said. "And I want the players to see it so it won't be a surprise when they see me during the season doing this."

Transition to triangle

Smart said among the wing players Marcus Thornton and Travis Outlaw have been most successful adjusting to using the triangle offense.

Smart said that's because both can shoot from three-point range and are already comfortable cutting to the basket to score.


October 7, 2012
Chuck Hayes returns with more bounce in his game

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Chuck Hayes remembers the last time he dunked in an NBA game.

It was Dec. 2010.

"Against Coach (Keith) Smart's team, the Warriors," Hayes said. "It was a tip dunk."

Well Hayes pulled the feat off again during the Kings' training camp at the Olympic Training Center.

Smart liked seeing that from Hayes, who played below expectations last season, his first with the Kings. Hayes was dogged by a shoulder injury and preseason concerns about a heart abnormality in his physical.

To return in better shape, Hayes tried different activities (Bikram hot yoga, bike riding, tennis, swimming) before returning to the court. Hayes said he's continuing to work to get be in optimal shape for the season.

"I think Chuck has put the work in and now he's in better shape," Smart said. "He had a dunk the other night so he's moving up."

Hayes (6-6, 250) wasn't getting near the rim much at all last season. But he looks lighter on his feet and his moving much better on the court in camp.

So about the dunk?

"I don't know what got into me," Hayes said. "Must have been a spring down there in the wood. I'm just trying to be active, run the court and be decisive, be aggressive even when I don't have the ball."

The Kings need Hayes to be all those things this season. Hayes' passing will be needed to succeed this season if the team wants to use more motion and cutting on offense.

"Chuck brings so much to the table with his know how," Smart said. "And his understanding of how to do things, getting players where they need to be offensively and defensively, and we really need that this year. He has to be in much better shape, great shape as we move forward this year because he's going to help our team tremendously."

The video from today is shakier than normal ... multitasking at its worse. Is there a tripod for the iPad I can buy?


October 6, 2012
Thomas Robinson at small forward and other practice notes

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Tonight was the second time I was allowed to watch the Kings scrimmage before the team returns to Sacramento on Monday.

Here are some notes and observations from tonight's practice at the Olympic Training Center.

*Don't rule out Thomas Robinson seeing time at small forward during the preseason. During one 5-on-5 session, Robinson was the small forward with Chuck Hayes and DeMarcus Cousins the other frontcourt players. Jimmer Fredette and Marcus Thornton were the other players on the squad. That squad beat a team of Isaiah Thomas, John Salmons, Willie Reed, Francisco Garcia and Cyril Awere. The final score was 7-2.

Robinson was also at small forward during the session open to the media Tuesday in Sacramento.

*James Johnson is having a good camp. He's active around the rim, grabbing rebounds and aggressive defensively.

*Ball pressure is being emphasized in the latest effort to improve the defense. Guards are being encouraged to play tight on the perimeter and harass any post passes. Denying the ball by post defenders is also being worked on a lot.

*Hayes is moving much better than he did last season. Rather than waiting for rebounds to come to him, he's going up to get them a lot more aggressively.

*Fredette is showing progress with dealing with pressure. Garcia was defending him on the perimeter and doing a good job of cutting off Fredette. Last season Fredette was prone to go backwards and eventually dribble himself into a corner. The other option was to dribble east and west. Fredette didn't do that this time and continued to attack and eventually found a teammate. It's a step in the right direction for one play.

*Thornton was doing a good job of passing in fast break situations. One that stood out was when he drove to the hoop and when challenged found Cousins trailing instead of forcing up a tough shot.

*I spoke to Tyreke Evans earlier in the day for a story that will run tomorrow. Here's a little bit of what didn't make it into the story:

On how he feels physically this year:

"I feel great. I'm just going out there every day trying to push guys, work hard. We've got that triangle offense in, we're trying to run it and get it down pat. Once we get that down I think we can be a good team because I like the movement in the offense."

On the benefits of playing off the ball last season:

"Just moving without the ball. I know I'm going to have the ball, sometimes I'm not so when I don't have it just try to find my shots still."

October 6, 2012
Kings take team building outdoors

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Kings did not take a normal day off Friday.

Kings coach Keith Smart took his goal of making the team a synergistic unit away from the Olympic Training Center to the Action Learning Center at Broadmoor Resort to put the Kings through some team-building activities.

Instead of jump shots and defense, the Kings were in activities such as climbing walls and helping each other across tight ropes.

Smart took the Kings out of their comfort zone for a reason.

"Hopefully experiences like that will help them as far as when things go wrong how to reach back to that bonding experience to help your teammate get through that moment," Smart said after practice Saturday morning. "Obviously they've still got to do things that their skill level brings them but hopefully that experience will allow them to get through them mentally."

The Kings were often at their worse when things were tough on the court last season. The Kings did not rely on each other in those situations and as a result lost a lot of close games.

There was apprehension from the players. For example, Tyreke Evans is admittedly scared of heights unless he's on a roller coaster.

But by the end of the day the consensus was it was an experience worth having.

"When we first got there all of us were like 'We don't know about this,'" said DeMarcus Cousins. "We were up in the mountains, it was cold, it was uncomfortable."

Those uneasy feelings ceded as the players took part in the activities.

"The whole idea of the trip was being comfortable being uncomfortable," Cousins said. "In the end it was a good experience, we learned a lot, worked together."
It kind of bonded us as a team. We're going to have to help each other out so it was pretty fun."

October 6, 2012
Video: Keith Smart talks team bonding and more

Apologies for missing the first minute or so ... I was speaking with DeMarcus Cousins and didn't want to cut him off in the middle of an answer.

October 5, 2012
Kings scored a lot last season, but it wasn't easy

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Kings scored a lot of points last season.

But Sacramento was but also a very inefficient on offense.

The Kings averaged 98.8 points last season, sixth in the NBA. But the Kings shot just 43.6 percent from the field, 26th in the NBA. The Kings were 29th in three-point shooting (31.6 percent) and 26th in assists (19.26 per game).

So as long as the Kings could rebound their many missed shots, they would eventually score. But there has to be an easier way.

So Kings coach Keith Smart is looking for ways to force the Kings to move the ball better and create easier shots.

That's why Smart has his players using parts of the triangle offense in practice.

"Trying to give our guys maximum spacing on the floor," Smart said of the triangle. "We have a lot of guys who are very creative on the floor but I want to try and do things to give them the opportunity to have space to make plays. So we have a variation of some things. I want to go through some motion, we'll use a couple other sets with motion to try and get the ball moving but we'll still be a pick and roll team. We'll still use the skill of our post guys like DeMarcus Cousins to force teams to come double us and makes things a little easier. But I'm also looking at offenses that can help us move the basketball where we don't have to dribble so much."

To make any offense not built on one-on-one play work will depend on the Kings breaking many bad habits they have on offense. That means trusting each other, not settling for the first available shot, and not forcing up a shot just because you haven't touched the ball in a couple of minutes.

It will also force the Kings to think the game out in a way they haven't shown they can do as a unit consistently in recent seasons.

The bad offensive numbers should improve with smarter play. We'll see if that happens.

October 4, 2012
Video: Keith Smart talks about his guards and more

Kings coach Keith Smart following this morning's practice.

October 3, 2012
Evening practice notes

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Kings opened up the last hour or so of tonight's practice that included some scrimmaging. Some observations from the evening:

*Conditioning is still something Keith Smart will continue to stress. He doesn't want walking in practice in between drills and is demanding a fast pace. So even though Smart has praised the shape the team showed up in, he's still not satisfied.

*Players are being told they have to speak up on defense. That means calling out every screen and letting each other know where they are on the floor defensively.

*When the team did work on offense there was an emphasis on passing and finding cutters. It looked like some aspects of the triangle offense, which would utilize DeMarcus Cousins' abilities in the high post.

*There were referees at practice. And yes, some players had things to say about calls. Old habits are hard to break.

*Thomas Robinson's energy stands out, regardless of who is playing with.

*Watching Isaiah Thomas vs. Aaron Brooks is going to be fun this week. As will be Tyreke Evans vs. Marcus Thornton.

The form on Evans' jump shot still looks consistent. But I'm not one to get too high or too low off anything I saw today. It was the first scrimmages of camp.

*When the Kings went to 5-on-5 play the lineups were:

Black Team

Isaiah Thomas, Tyreke Evans, John Salmons, Thomas Robinson, DeMarcus Cousins

White Team
Aaron Brooks, Marcus Thornton, Francisco Garcia, Chuck Hayes, Jason Thompson

Red Team

Jimmer Fredette, Tony Mitchell, James Johnson, Travis Outlaw, Willie Reed

October 3, 2012
Video: Keith Smart after first practice in Colorado Springs

October 2, 2012
Defense and conditioning are Smart's priorities for Kings

The first practice of training camp wasn't in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Kings had their first workout Tuesday morning before heading to Colorado to train in the altitude through Sunday.

Coach Keith Smart put the team through his conditioning test and said the team was "close to 100 percent" to passing it.

Smart did not reveal who did not pass it or exactly what the test consist of.

"We're ahead of the schedule form a conditioning standpoint," Smart said. "Now it's a matter of I can focus on the basketball part and not so much on trying to get guys in shape and all that stuff."

For Smart, that means a lot of work on defense. After the conditioning test, the Kings began going over some of their defensive principles for this season.

A poorly conditioned team can't defend well, so Smart began emphasizing both heading into the offseason.

He said the Kings had their own 30-for-30 last season, their ranks in points allowed and field goal percentage allowed.

"My focus is not even offense," Smart said. "We were No. 6 in the league in scoring so whatever offense we put out there we're still going to be able to score. The focus is on us trying to be a better defensive team. And if that happens it's going to help what we can already do very well."

But there was still some talk of offense after practice.

Tyreke Evans mentioned during Monday's media day the team might use the triangle offense this season.

Smart is looking for a way to not rely on one-on-one play while still taking advantage of some of the creativity his players have shown on the court.

"I want to give them all something they can function with," Smart said. "It will be a variation of different things so I don't have to rely totally on the pick-and-roll."

October 1, 2012
Model for the Kings? The neighboring A's, of course


Crummy old facility. Years of rumors about relocation. Low team payroll. Even lower expectations. Not a superstar on the roster (until the marvelous Yoenis Cespedes stays healthy for a full season). Sound familiar? If the 2012-13 Kings want a model for their 2012-13 season, they need only look about 90 miles to the southwest. Oakland's A's - who about an hour ago clinched their first postseason berth for the first time since 2006 - are one of the most compelling stories in sports.

No one - again, no one - expected this team to reach the playoffs. The A's were supposed to be in San Jose by now, right?

Pitching, defense, timely hitting, a nurturing, demanding manager known as Bo Mel (Bob Melvin), and that tired old cliche about chemistry. What else can you say? Well, there is this: most of the A's have spent considerable time - either this season or recent seasons - on Darren Bush's River Cats roster. Jarrod Parker. Josh Donaldson. Chris Carter. Brandon Moss. Derek Norris. Grant Balfour. Ryan Cook. Jerry Blevins .... it goes on and on.

I couldn't but remember River Cats manager Darren Bush, only half-jokingly, telling me the A's would be fine because they would be raiding his pitching staff.

October 1, 2012
Quotes from Kings Media Day

Media day is always fun. Players are in a good mood and everyone believes they have a chance to improve.

Here are some leftover quotes from Kings media day.

October 1, 2012
Live-Storify: Sacramento Kings host media day for 2012-13 NBA season

The Sacramento Kings hosted media day on Monday. Included are a collection of tweets and photos from the event. This Storify will be updated throughout the day.



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