Kings Blog and Q&A

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

October 31, 2013
Kings decline contract option on Jimmer Fredette

The Kings have declined to pick up the fourth-year option on Jimmer Fredette's contract for the 2014-15 season worth $3.3 million.

Fredette will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. The Kings could re-sign Fredette at a reduced salary, but the decision more than likely means this is the Fredette's final season with the Kings.

It also means Fredette is more likely to be valued in a trade, as he'd be an expiring deal that would create salary-cap space for next summer's free agency class.

The Kings drafted two guards in June (Ben McLemore, Ray McCallum) and traded for Greivis Vasquez. The front office likes Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Thornton has two more years left on his contract.

Fredette is due $2.6 million this season. He was the 10th overall pick in the 2011 Draft after a standout career at Brigham Young University capped with being the consensus National Player of the Year as a senior.

There might not have been a more well-known college player than Fredette that season.

Fredette remains extremely popular, even as his playing time as a pro has been inconsistent.

There have been questions about Fredette's defense, and whether he has the ballhandling skills to be a point or shooting guard in the NBA.

Fredette did not play in Wednesday night's season opening win over the Denver Nuggets.

Fredette averages 7.2 points on 40.2 percent shooting in 130 career games.

October 31, 2013
Live chat replay: Ailene Voisin discusses Kings' first game of season

Join Sacramento Bee columnist Ailene Voisin's discussion about Wednesday night's season-opening game between the Kings and Denver Nuggets.


October 31, 2013
Highlights from Kings vs. Nuggets season opener
October 31, 2013
About Kings, openers, marriage, life ... seriously?

After an altogether crazy night at Sleep Train Arena - there is no sleep after this particular opener - here are a few final thoughts, observations, musings:

• When NBA Commissioner David Stern made his grand entrance, literally walking down the purple carpet outside the security desk, some of the fans chanted his name. One longtime fan, who was holding photos of Kings players and Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson shouted, "Thank you, Commissioner. You're our hero!" I approached her a few minutes later to hear more of her thoughts, and was given an earful. Joyce Dovelli, 55, a licensed family therapist, swears the Kings uncertain future contributed to domestic discord. "A lot of people who came in were stressed out about the Kings leaving," she said. When I asked, 'Are you kidding?' she grinned, then replied, "Actually, no."

• It was appropriate that Jason Thompson, the longest tenure King, scored the deciding basket - a putback off a DeMarcus Cousins miss.

• Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive and minority owner Mark Mastrov were among the many VIPs who lingered long after the game ended, chatting in the hallways, soaking up the moment with their friends and families.

• The tribute to Stern between the first and second periods featured brief comments by Johnson and Ranadive, and was a nice touch. But we should have heard from Stern, too. In other words, the presenting Stern with the key to the city was great, but he should have been handed the microphone.

• Because of there was much going on within the arena preceding the game, I missed the cricket demonstration with Ranadive and Shaq. Bummer.

• Finally, pass-first point guard Greivis Vasquez is a delight; Isaiah Thomas is probably a much-better player than the new front office anticipated; DeMarcus Cousins is going to have an excellent season; rookie Ben McLemore is going to improve the Kings' dreadful off-ball movement when he gains some experience; and in an organization with an abundance of dynamic, diverse personalities, rookie head coach Michael Malone is an interesting combination of intensity, intelligence and humor.

October 30, 2013
Postgame notes: Cousins' 30 points one of the best scoring nights in Sacramento history for a season opener

There were some things to like tonight - namely DeMarcus Cousins, Greivis Vasquez, Isaiah Thomas - and ultimately a win for the Kings, 90-88, over the Denver Nuggets Wednesday night at Sleep Train Arena.

A look of some of what went right, wrong and can be improved for Friday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

*Cousins looked like an All-Star center in finishing with 30 points, 14 rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals. He made key defensive plays in addition to carrying the offense that saw only two other players (Vasquez and Thomas) score in double figures.

Kings coach Michael Malone said playing Cousins in the post will be a priority. The days of Cousins hoisting jumpers aren't over, but that will be curbed under Malone.

"You watch this team in the past and in playing against them, (Cousins) was a way from the basket a lot," Malone said. "I think he was away too much. He's too talented, too big, too skilled to be just on the perimeter. You let the defense off the hook if you don't post him up."

*Here's where Cousins' 30 points ranks in season openers in Sacramenton Kings history:

Reggie Theus (33 points, 10/31/86 vs. L.A. Clippers)
Otis Thorpe (31 points, 11/6/87 vs. Golden State)
Rodney McCray (30 points, 11/3/89 at Portland)
Cousins (30 points, 10/30/13 vs. Denver)

*Malone did not like allowing 23 points off fast breaks, but said the Kings did better defensively in the fourth quarter by holding the Nuggets to no points off the break in the fourth quarter and 16 points total in the final period.

*Transition defense has to be a focus for Friday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers are going to try to run a lot because as they showed Tuesday night, their halfcourt offense is still a work in progress.

And the Clippers have a lot more talent to run with.

*Jason Thompson made one shot, the game-winning dunk with 41.5 seconds to play.

"I just made an aggressive energy play," Thompson said. "It just happened to be the game winner."

*Vasquez and Thomas combined for 31 points and nine assists. Vasquez had 17 points and four assists, Thomas had 16 points and five assists.

*The Kings didn't get much production from their shooting guards offensively. Marcus Thornton and Ben McLemore shot 2 of 13 for eight points. McLemore was 1 of 7 and missed some wide open three-pointers.

*Chuck Hayes rolled his left ankle but said it was fine. He couldn't put any pressure on it initially.

*The Kings shot 40.7 percent but held Denver to 43 percent. The defensive energy for the Kings was solid overall. They forced 19 turnovers, too.

*According to Stats LLC, the Kings have the longest winning streak when opening a season at home with 13. The Kings have a 15-1 record in home openers since 1998-99.

*The Kings had lost nine games in a row to the Nuggets.

*As for my pregame predictions, I'm 1-0 on the season. Yay me!!!!

October 30, 2013
Pregame: Malone announces two starters

Kings coach Michael Malone would only confirm two of his starters for tonight's game: Greivis Vasquez and DeMarcus Cousins.

Cousins was obvious. Vasquez should have been obvious to fans, too. Isaiah Thomas had a great preseason, but the Kings have been one of the worst passing teams in the NBA for a few years.

Vasquez averaged nine assists last season so plugging him into the lineup was bound to happen.

As soon as the starting lineup is confirmed, I'll tweet out the lineup.

*And finally for something new. For each game I'll throw out a prediction before every game, just to give you all something to mock, laugh or hate.

Tonight, the Denver Nuggets aren't healthy, and the Kings should be amped up for the game. If they don't stumble due to nerves, they should have enough to open the season with a win.

Prediction: Kings 111, Nuggets 101

October 30, 2013
Live blog: Follow tonight's Kings-Nuggets game

Follow the Kings as they play the Denver Nuggets in their 2013-14 NBA season opener at Sleep Train Arena beginning at 7 p.m.


October 30, 2013
Kings rebirth is a reunion

The ongoing attempts to make Sleep Train Arena comfortable for the next three years, or however long it takes to complete the downtown arena project, has brought one-time adversaries together: Rann Haight, who designed Arco I and was the architect of Arco II, and more recently worked with the local group that pushed (unsuccessfully) for a complete renovation of the current building, was approached by the new regime and asked to help with the current upgrades.

Haight, who lives in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, took the job and, within about 90 days, oversaw transformation of the hallway leading to the media lounge, owners' suites and family room, and partial relocation of the visitors locker room.

"I really appreciated the opportunity," Haight said before tipoff. "Sacramento is very lucky to have new owners (led by Vivek Ranadive) willing to invest whatever it takes for the next three-four years."

October 30, 2013
Live chat Q&A with Jason Jones: Kings opening night

Join The Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones for a live chat and Q&A leading up to Wednesday night's NBA season opener between the Kings and the Denver Nuggets. The chat begins at noon.


October 30, 2013
Learning about 2013-14 Kings ... and Cricket

The list of activities scheduled for Wednesday's pre-game FanFest includes everything from a Purple Carpet stroll by NBA Commissioner David Stern, among others, and a cricket demonstration - that is not a typo - set near the Southeast side of Sleep Train Arena at approximately 5 p.m.

The participants include Kings majority owner and India native Vivek Ranadive, minority owners Shaquille O'Neal and Roger Craig, along with team advisor Chris Mullin. What else can I telll you? Before engaging in some light reading about India's most popular sport earlier this evening, everything I knew about India's most popular sport (very little) was gleaned from watching episodes of "Downton Abbey."

Just for fun: The sport known as "the gentleman's game" is played with a bat and a ball, and with 11 players per team on a 22-yard long pitch. Can't wait to see Shaq in that outfit, either.

October 29, 2013
Kings coach Michael Malone much happier with Tuesday's practice

Kings coach Michael Malone was feeling a lot better about his team after Tuesday's practice.

Monday afternoon Malone was upset with what he saw from the Kings in terms of effort, focus and discipline.

"What we did yesterday was a wasted day and we can't afford that," Malone said.

Malone said Tuesday's practice was productive and even found something positive from a bad showing on Monday:

"John Salmons, unsolicited stepped up and said 'Coach can I say something.?' Chuck Hayes said 'Coach can I say something?' You have two guys that have been in the league for 12 years, 10 years and they said all the right things. I said that's when we have a chance to be great, when you start policing yourselves. I should not have to stop practice three times as a head coach. I'll do it and I have no problem doing it but you guys need to get on each other. You guys want to be leaders, you want to have the season we all talk about having? Well demand it from yourself and once you do that, start demanding it from your teammates. The fact that John and Chuck said something was great. Then I got a few texts from different players on the team last night apologizing. They were fully aware."

Malone said the Kings aren't good enough to have days that aren't productive

Malone is realistic with expectations for the season. He hasn't discussed the playoffs wit the Kings and has made all the talk about simply improving.

Malone sounds as if he's ready for the long process it will take before the Kings can talk about the playoffs:

"After yesterday's practice I thought the world was going to come to an end. I'm very hard on myself. I'm hard on my team. We have to be. This journey this process, yes we're going to have patience but we're not going to accept mediocrity. We're going to accept coming in the gym and going through the motions. That can't happen. And for us to build something special here which I really feel we can, I believe that this is a challenge but the reward is just as exciting for me. I love a challenge but l look down the road and see what this team can be and I can't wait to see that all come to fruition. And I think everybody will enjoy that journey and that process together."

October 28, 2013
Jason Jones' Sacramento Kings season preview, 2013-14

October 28, 2013
Patrick Patterson's evolution as a three-point shooter

Patrick Patterson made zero three pointers in his first two seasons at the University of Kentucky.

By his third season, he'd hoisted 69 (making 24 to shoot 34.8 percent) before entering the 2010 NBA Draft. Now Patterson (6-9, 235) has gone from college center to "stretch" power forward thanks to coaches who saw he could live on the perimeter and succeed.

It's a skill that will likely have him in the starting lineup when the Kings open their season Wednesday against the Denver Nuggets.

Patterson said Kentucky coach John Calipari "introduced" him to perimeter play.

"In college I was shocked," Patterson said. "Coach Calipari, Day 1, he had me working out with wings. So I never worked out with (center) DeMarcus (Cousins) and the bigs, I always with the wings working on my perimeter skills, my footwork, my agility."

But Patterson didn't drift out to the NBA three-point line much in his first two seasons with the Houston Rockets. He attempted five (making none) with Houston before Kevin McHale took over as coach.

"Kevin McHale and staff they told me to work on my threes and spacing throughout the floor to make the defense adjust and decide what to do (defensively)," Patterson said.

Patterson attempted 132 threes last season between Sacramento and Houston, making 51 (37.2 percent).

Patterson's experience with the Rockets has benefitted him this season as the Kings look for way to space the floor.

Teams have to decide if they want to double off Patterson and risk leaving him open. Or if they close out hard, Patterson can dribble by for a better shot.

Defenders that won't give Patterson much space create driving and passing lanes for the Kings.

"Due to what I did in Houston it definitely helps me wit this offense," Patterson said.

The space is what makes Patterson different from Jason Thompson, who has a nice jump shot, but isn't a threat from deep.

That puts Thompson in some of the same areas Cousins would like the ball.

Patterson gives the Kings a different look they when they don't want to go with a more traditional look with Cousins and Thompson.

Cousins hasn't had a problem sharing the floor with his old college teammate.

"I think we complement each other well," Cousins said. "We played together at Kentucky so we already kind of had chemistry. He knows what I like to do, I know what he likes to do and we're never really in each other's way so I think it's a good look."

October 27, 2013
More DeMarcus Cousins quotes

I spoke to DeMarcus Cousins for about 30 minutes for the season preview story so there was a lot that didn't make it into the story.

Below are some of the quotes from Cousins that didn't make it into the story.

On most frustrating part of his first three seasons:

"Losing really bothers me. Losing is one thing but with that being said, then all of a sudden you become the blame for an entire organization being the worse, that's when it really bothers you."

On how his reputation influences how he is perceived:

"A lot of my situations get treated unfairly just because of my name and my reputation. Like the Sean Elliott situation. That was so overblown. It went from me asking why do you feel this way about me to I threatened him. None of it was ever said but none of that mattered because it was me. So I get suspended and told you can't talk to a broadcaster. I can't talk to a broadcaster? It became 'DeMarcus approached a broadcaster, of course it was hostile.' That's just something I've got to roll with."

On personal expectations:

"The crazy thing is I've always had expectations but none of them have been as big as my own. Coming from other people it doesn't bother me because I'm already putting myself to a higher level."

On the Kings improving this season:

"It's about putting the puzzle together. It's not about OK, just out there and score 30. That's what it was before. But we've got a base now, we know what we're doing. We've got a scheme on defense every night. It's not just let's go out there and win. Now that this puzzle is coming together we're going to have some good nights, I believe it."

On how the offense will operate this season:

"This is the easiest I've had it. It's so easy now. My past couple of seasons, it was a fight every time to score a bucket and I still managed to do it, with no type of structure, just out there playing. But this is the easiest I've scored since I've been in the NBA. The game is so much easier now."

On the Kings changing their mentality:

"In the past it was all about scoring and then we'd get to the other end and it's like 'OK, let's try to get a stop.' The way things were put together just didn't work out. Of course we had talent and we had youth. And I really don't want to blame it on youth because OKC did it. But you've still got to have those right pieces to make a team. It's not about whose got talent."

On being associated with a team known as selfish:

"It did bother me but it was the truth. The way we played and the way we were being taught to be play was to be selfish and that's what you saw."

On if fans realize the physical beating he takes on a nightly basis:

"I don't even think they realize. One reason is we're not on TV so they don't see us play and then there's label already that he's just mad anyways. He's not getting mad because he's getting fouled, he's mad because he's mad anyway. I don't think people realize but it happens a lot."

Cousins on who he spoke to last season when things were tough:

"Honestly the guy I talked to the most was (former assistant coach) Clifford Ray. And I still talk to him now. Cliff will text me at 4 in the morning. Cliff understood, but he had to do his job. There was only so much he could say because he was under guys. He saw what was going on but there was only so much he could say."

On watching what he says:

"I've always been an honest person, I never hold my tongue. And that's where I'm trying to get to that's what I do. I don't want the negative attention, I don't want the negative spin on my words. Now I'm trying to get to the point where I keep things to myself. I don't want that attention."

"It's tough. I'm used to speaking my mind and I'm going to kick straight stuff to you. I don't sugarcoat things but I'm trying to get to a point where I do - less problems."

And one final moment of self reflection and humor:

"I'm still a work in progress. I'm not saying I'm perfect, but I'm getting better. But I am perfect looking."

October 27, 2013
Malone sees no technical issues in the preseason

Shedding a reputation for being immature won't be easy for the Kings.

Remember Indiana's George Hill saying the Pacers plan to beat the Kings was to "punish the criers" by beating the Kings down the court when they complained last season?

If there was progress in that area during the preseason, it was that no players were assessed a technical foul in seven exhibition contests.

All Kings technical fouls were due to delay of game calls for the enforcement of the new emphasis on not touching the ball after it goes through the hoop.

That's good news to coach Michael Malone.

"We want to make sure we're keeping our composure and holding our poise at all times and not allowing anybody to take us out of our game or what we're trying to accomplish," Malone said.

*As for the starting lineup, Malone said that would be discussed with the team Monday, but said: "I think most of the guys probably have an idea of who we're going to go with."

I'm still going with the lineup that started preseason finale as the likely first team. That would be Greivis Vasquez and Marcus Thornton at guard, John Salmons and Patrick Patterson as forwards and DeMarcus Cousins at center.

*Malone said full preparation for Denver begins Monday. Sunday was used to review film, go over the good and bad of the preseason and work on some sets on offense and defense in the halfcourt.

Malone was pleased with how the Kings shared the ball and the overall effort on defense.

Cutting down turnovers, defending catch-and-shoot situations, transition defense and protecting the paint will remain focuses.

October 26, 2013
Preseason NBA Power Rankings: It starts in Miami and ends in Philly

Here's my first crack at ranking the 30 NBA teams throughout the season.

And luckily for everyone, my opinion has no bearing on what happens in real life.

1. Miami Heat: Health, a little luck and LeBron James could be enough for a third consecutive NBA Championship.
2. San Antonio Spurs: A run at a title will depend on Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard leading the charge.
3. Indiana Pacers: Pushed the Heat to the limit in the playoffs behind emerging star Paul George.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: A nod to the greatness of Kevin Durant if he can overcome an unproven bench and no Russell Westbrook to start the season.
5. Los Angeles Clippers: Doc Rivers on the sidelines and improving DeAndre Jordan could lead to a championship.
6. Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose is back and 100 percent healthy to remind us he's a former league MVP.
7. Memphis Grizzlies: Just how big of a loss will Lionel Hollins as coach be this season?
8. Brooklyn Nets: A team built to win now, but will the large financial investment payoff with Jason Kidd at coach?
9. Golden State Warriors: If Harrison Barnes could be your sixth man, that means you have a great starting lineup.
10. Houston Rockets: Dwight Howard joined the squad, but this is still James Harden's team.
11. Denver Nuggets: Will it be possible to duplicate last season's 57 wins without coach George Karl and Andre Iguodala?
12. New York Knicks: Still trying to make a run behind Carmelo Anthony and other high-priced gambles like Andrea Barngani.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: The signing of Kevin Martin was one of the best moves of the offseason.
14. Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard will only get better, and the bench is better.
15. Los Angeles Lakers: If Pau Gasol regains his form, the Lakers have enough to fight until Kobe Bryant returns.
16. Washington Wizards: Adding Marcin Gortat should be enough to get the Wizards in the postseason if John Wall is healthy.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Monta Ellis will have to be good to take pressure of Dirk Nowitzki to carry the squad.
18. New Orleans Pelicans: If the young talent buys in, this could be one of the surprise and most exciting teams to watch.
19. Detroit Pistons: How the frontcourt of Josh Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe operates will be worth following.
20. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving is already an All Star, and adding Jarrett Jack will only help him.
21. Sacramento Kings: DeMarcus Cousins might be the best center in the NBA by the end of the season.
22. Utah Jazz: Look for Derrick Favors to show why he was so highly thought of out of Georgia Tech in 2010.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Retaining Jeff Teague was smart, but Dennis Schroeder is their point guard of the future.
24. Boston Celtics: Even when Rajon Rondo is healthy it will be a struggle this season.
25. Toronto Raptors: Will Rudy Gay shake the knock of being an overpaid player without All-Star credentials?
26. Charlotte Bobcats: Al Jefferson will help with the lack of post scoring, but there's still a lot of improvement needed.
27. Milwaukee Bucks: Larry Sanders is a nice player to have as part of the foundation, but what else is in place?
28. Orlando Magic: Center Nikola Vucevic was one of the best young players in the NBA last season.
29. Phoenix Suns: It's all about collecting draft picks, shedding big contracts and developing rookie center Alex Len.
30. Philadelphia 76ers: The leaders to have the best chance to draft Andrew Wiggins in 2014.

October 25, 2013
Postgame notes: Vasquez and Thomas a potent duo Friday night

LOS ANGELES - The preseason is over and the Kings will be off Saturday before beginning their preparation for the season opener next Wednesday against Denver.

Some things to take from Friday night's 110-100 exhibition win over the Los Angeles Clippers:

*The two-point guard attack is shaping up exactly how the Kings envisioned during the summer, even though Grevis Vasquez is still not 100 percent.

Vasquez is the bigger, pass-first table setter while Thomas causes havoc by completely changing the tempo.

Vasquez had his best showing of the preseason with 12 assists and no turnovers.

"I'm finally getting into my rhythm," Vasquez said. "I'm still a little rusty, missing shots. It's just hard for me right now because I want to turn it on right away."

Vasquez missed all five of his field goals and didn't score against the Clippers.

That wasn't a problem for Thomas, who scored a game-high 27 points off the bench.

"My focus it to just be me," Thomas said. "Whether I start or come off the bench I can only control what I do and the energy I bring. And that's what I'm going to do."

Vasquez and Thomas also figure to share time on the court together this season.

*Vasquez took responsibility for the Kings' slow starts lately. The Kings trailed by 14 in the first half Friday, the third consecutive game where they've trailed big late.

Thomas was the elixir for a sluggish showing, again.

The Kings can't afford to continue that trend in the regular season. Thomas can't save them every night and a good team in the regular season won't allow them to comeback.

*Kings coach Michael Malone wouldn't say tonight's starters were the starters for Denver, but didn't rule it out either.

Here's how it breaks down based off who started Friday:

Center: DeMarcus Cousins. No brainer.
Power forward: Patrick Patterson. Spaces the floor and unlike Jason Thompson, doesn't play in the same areas of the floor as Cousins.
Small forward: John Salmons. The veteran has been steady throughout training camp.
Shooting guard: Marcus Thornton. Had his best scoring game of the preseason (17 points) but Malone was more impressed with his six rebounds. Only an inability or unwillingness to commit to defense figures to keep Thornton off the floor.
Point guard: Vasquez. He's a pass-first point guard to get Cousins going early in games.

*Cousins has been efficient throughout the preseason. He averaged 19.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and shot 51.9 percent in 24 minutes per game.

If he keeps that up, it will be hard to keep him out the All-Star Game.

*Luc Mbah Moute's sore knee this month appears to have opened the door for Travis Outlaw to be in the rotation to start the season. Mbah a Moute did not play tonight.

*Jimmer Fredette did not play tonight to give Thornton and McLemore the minutes at shooting guard.

October 25, 2013
In-game blog replay: Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Replay updates from Friday night's game between the Kings and the Los Angeles Clippers.

October 24, 2013
Highlights of Kings' preseason win over Warriors
October 24, 2013
Kings honor 'Sign Lady'

From pink signs to pink shoelaces, the Kings were all about paying tribute to a legendary fan known as the "Sign Lady."

October 23, 2013
Postgame bits: Kings-Warriors Rivalry Heats Up

Kings-Warriors felt like a preseason game - which it was - until it didn't. Despite the turnovers (25), the lack of ball/body movement (17 assists) and sloppy play throughout, the Kings' rallied from a 17-point deficit in what became another very intense, heated contest between Northern California's NBA teams. The theatrics included the following: DeMarcus Cousins and Andrew Bogut exchanging words and elbows. Isaiah Thomas and Steph Curry in a little staredown (with Cousins playing peacemaker) near midcourt. David Lee running into the visitors locker room after being inadvertently popped in the mouth and bloodied during a scrum with Patrick Patterson.

Ok, and that was the on-court stuff. The off-court drama is almost as compelling given the numerous relationships and connections between Kings new owners Vivek Ranadive and Mark Mastrov, GM Pete D'Alessandro, coach Michael Malone, advisor Chris Mullin, etc., and the Warriors ownership and front office. Again, this is only preseason, but in a very classy gesture, GSW GM Bob Myers and assistant GM Kirk Lacob walked across the court afterward and shook hands with Ranadive and Mastrov.

And who says preseason and/or wins and losses between these two teams doesn't matter? Ranadive arrived shortly before tipoff after attending the Board of Governors meetings in New York.

October 23, 2013
Postgame notes: Isaiah Thomas reminds us what he means to the Kings

The Kings and Warriors put on a good show, as always seems to be the case. Some quick observations:

*It doesn't matter if he starts or comes off the bench, Isaiah Thomas is the heart and soul (yes, I know that's a cliché) of the Kings. For the second consecutive preseason game, Thomas came off the bench to bring life to a lifeless Kings unit.

Kings coach Michael Malone said he doesn't know who will be his starters for the season opener, but it's obvious Thomas is a big part of whatever the Kings do.

"That's what Isaiah does," said Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. "He brings energy to the game regardless if he's starting or coming off the bench. He's done it first year, second year and I'm sure he'll continue to do it."

*Malone said Marcus Thornton would definitely play Friday at the Los Angeles Clippers. Thornton didn't play at all with Jimmer Fredette starting and Ben McLemore playing the rest of the game.

This wasn't the kind of standout game Fredette has had in previous preseason outings (three points, three assists). McLemore scored nine points off the bench and closed the game.

It looks like the battle for the rest of the minutes at shooting guard is between Fredette and Thornton. I can't see any scenario where McLemore doesn't play major minutes.

*The final seconds to close the game were crazy. What stood out to me was:

1. Patrick Patterson coming up with a big offensive rebound and keeping the ball alive again so McLemore could grab another offensive rebound. Patterson had eight rebounds starting next to Cousins, right around his target for rebounds.
2. Salmons is shooting the ball confidently. His game winning three pointer with 7.6 seconds to play capped a 9-point quarter for Salmons.
3. The hustle and toughness of McLemore. He was called for a foul late on David Lee's lay up attempt in the final seconds, but he attacked the play without hesitation. Lee missed the second of two free throws to give the Kings the 91-90 win.

*When Stephen Curry got in Thomas' face in the third quarter, DeMarcus Cousins ran to make sure the situation didn't escalate.

The reality is most players do not really want to fight. This isn't the 1970s or 80s and a brief scuffle costs today's players too much money.

"What I saw was fake tough guys trying to be tough," Cousins said. "I'm not even going to get into that. I'm just going to diffuse the situation and keep playing ball. That was selling wolf tickets, nothing."

*The Kings outscored the Warriors 21-9 in the fourth quarter. That's how you overcome allowing 34 points off 25 turnovers.

Of those turnovers, six were by Greivis Vasquez, five by Patterson and four by Thomas.

*Andrew Bogut vs. Cousins will be fun to watch this season. Genuine disdain between the two on the court. A lot of pulling, grabbing and falling to the floor.

That said, I hated seeing Cousins foul out on a double foul call. That's worse than the offsetting penalties in football.

*Tonight's starting five: Vasquez, Fredette, Salmons, Patterson and Cousins. Yes, that could change Friday.

*Line of the night heard from courtside: Thomas drew a foul and Warriors coach Mark Jackson didn't like it. His words for the officials:

"That's not the real Isiah Thomas."

October 23, 2013
Live chat replay with Jason Jones: Sacramento Kings vs Golden State Warriors

Replay the Sacramento Kings-Golden State Warriors preseason game coverage with The Sacramento Bee's Kings beat writer, Jason Jones, who sat courtside, and others from Sleep Train Arena.

October 23, 2013
Kings assistant coach Brendan Malone resigns

The Kings announced assistant coach Brendan Malone has resigned, effective immediately.

Malone, is the father of head coach Michael Malone.

"As a veteran of 27 seasons in the NBA coaching ranks, Brendan brought a wealth of experience and knowledge to our organization, and we were all fortunate to have had an opportunity to work with him," said Kings General Manager Pete D'Alessandro said in a statement. "His departure is not indicative of a loss of passion for the game or his desire to help our franchise succeed, but rather a decision based on factors associated with the rigors of coaching in the NBA."

Chris Jent is Michael Malone's lead assistant. Corliss Williamson and Micah Nori are the other coaches.

Dee Brown and Ryan Bowen serve assistant coach/player development roles.

"I'm thankful that I had my father on our staff during the summer and throughout training camp as I transitioned into a head coaching role," said Michael Malone. "He was my father long before we became colleagues, and while I'll miss his presence on the bench, he will always be an invaluable source of counsel on all matters basketball and otherwise."

October 23, 2013
Live chat replay with Jason Jones: Kings vs Golden State

The Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones hosted a live chat to discuss Wednesday's NBA preseason game between the Kings and Golden State Warriors. Replay it here.

October 23, 2013
NBA big men, big personalities

I don't know what it is about NBA centers born outside the United States, but within the past 25 years alone, they are a very interesting group.

My recent conversation with Kings training camp invitee Hamady Ndiaye - as profiled Wednesday in The Bee - tweaked my memory about the NBA's league's recent cast of 7-foot international characters. Just to name a few of the more outgoing types: Dikembe Mutombo (Congo), Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria), Samuel Dalembert (Haiti), Rik Smits (Netherlands), Yao Ming (China) and the late Manute Bol (Sudan).

Patrick Ewing (Jamaica) was always warm and engaging when you got him away from Georgetown and, later, the New York Knicks. The deep-voiced, finger-watting Mutombo, known as "Deke," is in a league of his own. Kings coach Michael Malone reminded us the other day about his booming personality and "cookie monster" vocals.

October 22, 2013
NBA GMs think highly of Ben McLemore in new poll

The Kings had three players mentioned in the 12th annual NBA general manager survey on

Rookie guard Ben McLemore tied for third with 10 percent of the votes for which rookie would be the best player in five years (Orlando's Victor Oladipo was first).

McLemore received seven votes (13.8%) to finish second in voting for which player was the biggest steal of the draft behind Boston's Kelly Olynyk.

Greivis Vasquez received votes for being among the NBA's best passers (behind Chris Paul) and a player that makes the most out of his natural ability along with Chuck Hayes.

In the biggest surprise to me, the Kings also received at least one vote as the most fun team to watch.

I'm assuming votes on that came from someone that remembers last season's game at Miami or anticipates some fun this season.

Below are some more results or you can go to for full results.

Miami Heat - NBA Champion (75.9% of the vote)
LeBron James, Miami - Kia NBA Most Valuable Player (69%)
Victor Oladipo, Orlando - Kia NBA Rookie of the Year (80%)
Detroit Pistons - Most Improved Team (16.7%)
Chicago - Best Defensive Team (43.3%)
Nets-Celtics trade / Andre Iguodala to Golden State - Most Surprising Offseason Move (21.4%)
Tony Parker, San Antonio - Best International Player (53.3%)
Chauncey Billups, Detroit - Active player who would make the best head coach (32.1%)

October 21, 2013
Kings announce 'Pink In The Paint' preseason game

Here's all the information you need, courtesy of the Kings, about Wednesday's game and Breast Cancer Awareness Month:

The Sacramento Kings will observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month at the October 23 "Pink In The Paint" preseason game versus the Golden State Warriors. The Kings will use the game to draw attention to Albie Aware, a local foundation created in the memory of Albie Carson who lived in Sacramento for 50 years before succumbing to breast cancer in 2002. Starting tomorrow, fans can text KINGS to 50555 to donate to the foundation.

The Kings encourage fans to wear pink to the game to raise awareness for breast cancer. The Kings coaches will be wearing pink ties and the Kings players will be wearing pink sneakers and/or pink shoelaces. Fans can purchase a T-shirt featuring a special Kings/pink ribbon logo in the Kings Team Store for $15. All proceeds from the sale of the T-shirts will go to Albie Aware.

Along with recognizing Albie Aware, the Kings will honor one of its most beloved fans, Barbara Rust, who recently announced that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Rust is known fondly as "Sign Lady" for the steady stream of inspirational signs she has flashed at the team from her seats in the arena for years. The team also is raising money for the foundation by auctioning off two signs made by Rust especially for this event.

At halftime of the game, Kings owners, Vivek Ranadivé and Mark Mastrov, and team president, Chris Granger, will honor Rust and staffers from Albie Aware. The team will feature breast cancer awareness messages throughout the game including video clips of the players encouraging fans to protect themselves through early detection of the disease.

The Kings are offering a specially priced ticket of $12 that can be purchased starting tomorrow by calling 1-888-91-KINGS, or by visiting

October 21, 2013
Mbah a Moute practices; eyes playing Wednesday

Kings forward Luc Mbah a Moute returned to practice Monday after resting his sore right knee for two weeks.

It was Mbah a Moute's first full practice since training camp in Santa Barbara.

"He's been practicing portions of practices here and there but this is the first full practice since training camp down in Santa Barbara," said Kings coach Michael Malone.

Mbah a Moute was acquired from Milwaukee to add defensive toughness and possibly start at small forward. But he hasn't played since the Oct. 7 preseason opener at Golden State.

"It was great to have him back competing," Malone said. "He was happy to be out here. It's frustrating for him not being able to play with his teammates and play in a game so to have him out here was a great sign. He did some good things and hopefully we can get him back 100 percent soon rather than later."

Malone said he would speak with the team's medical staff before deciding if Mbah a Moute would play in Wednesday's preseason game against Golden State.

Mbah a Moute was confident he'd be available.

"I'll be ready to play Wednesday," Mbah a Moute said. "I don't make the decision on when I go in but I'll be ready."

Mbah a Moute's right knee has bothered in recent seasons and he had surgery on it last fall.

Mbah a Moute said he'll have no problem managing any discomfort this season with proper rest.

"With training camp all the practices combined I think my knee just kind of got sore," Mbah a Moute said. "I just needed to calm it down a little bit but now I'm feeling better."

October 21, 2013
Highlights from Kings vs. Trailblazers preseason matchup
October 20, 2013
Postgame notes: Competition for playing time at guard will be hard to sort out

PORTLAND, Ore. - Quick thoughts from Sunday's preseason loss at Portland:

*Good luck, Michael Malone, figuring out which guards should/shouldn't play.

Isaiah Thomas was a spark (in spite shooting 5-for-17) with 15 points and 10 assists. Jimmer Fredette looked good (nine points, two assists) again. Ben McLemore lit up the Blazers for 23 points. And all three of them came off the bench.

Greivis Vasquez shot 1-for-8 but managed to have six assists and two steals in 20 minutes. Marcus Thornton score 10 points.

Figuring out shooting guard will be the toughest job between Thornton, Fredette and McLemore. Malone said after the game it's not feasible to give three shooting guards consistent minutes, but I expect to see some different lineups that have at least three guards on the floor.

Thornton hasn't had a big scoring game in the preseason like Fredette or McLemore, but he's the only one that's proven he can be a big-time scorer.

You also have to wonder if Fredette has done enough to warrant time, forcing Thornton or McLemore to play some spot duty at small forward.

Fredette has not looked bad whenever he's played in the preseason.

*DeMarcus Cousins had the night off and Jason Thompson had an off night starting in Cousins' place.

Thompson missed all five of his shots and had just two rebounds and four fouls in 15 minutes.

*Malone was not pleased with how the Kings defended to start both halves.

"We were nowhere near ready to play to start the first quarter ad to start the third quarter," Malone said. "You look at the fact that they shot roughly 95 percent in the first six minutes of the first quarter and the third quarter. After that, they shot in the low thirties."

One of the changes Malone made to fix the defensive problems in the second half was to go with more Chuck Hayes and Travis Outlaw. Hayes had 11 rebounds.

The game story going online in a couple of hours will focus on Patrick Patterson (27 points, eight rebounds). The notebook focuses on McLemore (23 points) and his role off the bench.

October 19, 2013
Kings still experimenting with lineups

PORTLAND, Ore. - I was able to stop by practice before catching my flight to Portland for Sunday's preseason game against the Trail Blazers.

Kings coach Michael Malone said the only starters he'd settled on for Sunday's game were DeMarcus Cousins (of course) and Greivis Vasquez.

"Greivis is going to start, just because of his ankle," Malone said. "We want to make sure he's in the game, he's warm.

This will also be the last game before Malone goes with the starting lineup and rotation he plans to use for the season opener Oct. 30 against Denver.

"We'll use Golden State and the Clipper game as our last two opportunities to get more game-type minutes," Malone said. "We're not set on a lineup yet. We'll use the Portland game tomorrow evening as another opportunity to evaluate who we are, where we're at and who we think best suits us in the starting lineup."

*Malone also touched on how the Kings are progressing on offense and defense. Defensively he sees progress.

The second preseason game against the Lakers remains the best showing for spacing and ball movement.

But Malone wants more consistency:

"I think we have a tendency, especially our guards, to overdribble at times and we get ourselves in trouble. Once we get off the ball and the ball starts moving, it's amazing. We start getting much higher-percentage shots, uncontested looks. But sometimes I think we're trying to do too much sometimes instead of trusting the offense we overdribble, we overpenetrate, we get ourselves into trouble so that's got to get better. But we've done some good things. We've executed at a decent level to this point."

Luc Mbah a Moute was taking part in some light drill work during the portion of practice open to the media.

Mbah a Moute has missed the last three preseason games with a sore right knee and wants to play next week.

"We brought him in here with expectations," Malone said. "High expectations to help us on the defensive end on the floor, to help us in the locker room. To do those things obviously he needs to be healthy and he needs to be able to practice and play in games."

October 17, 2013
Kings already are more entertaining than the teams of recent seasons

It's always dangerous to place too much significance on preseason games, but the 2013-14 Kings already are more entertaining than the teams of recent seasons. Basketball, alas, remains a simple game, and when players give effort, attempt to defend, and understand that consequences exist when they don't pass the ball ....

About that ball movement: It's already much improved. The assist total (18) in Thursday's victory over the Phoenix isn't overwhelming, but, clearly, the combination of pass-first point guard Greivis Vasquez and Michael Malone's offensive emphasis is having an effect.

Vasquez, whose minutes are being limited to make ensure he's healthy (ankle) for the season, is infectious. He is all about setting up his teammates - passing ahead on the break, hitting a shooter in the corner, or, as he demonstrated earlier tonight, facilitating fastbreak baskets with precise alley-oops. His one-handed lead pass to Ben McLemore for a throwndown in the second quarter was the play of the game, and his similar pass to the rookie moments later for a contested (and unsuccessful) breakout was almost as impressive. In the Kings locker room afterward, when asked about the sequence, McLemore and second-round draft pick Ray McCallum actually stood up and imitated Vasque, motioning with their right hands to stress that both tosses were one-handed.

"I told Greivis I owed him one because I didn't finish the second (breakout)," McLemore said with a grin.

A few other postgame thoughts, observations:

• McLemore's speed and quickness along the baseline will really complement his outside shooting. I don't think he's a pure shooter - not in the Ray Allen, Larry Bird, Chris Mullen, mode, etc. - but his outside stroke will improve as he gains confidence and develops other elements of his game. He is freaky athletic. This was a terrific first-round draft pick for the Kings.

• Jimmer Fredette's offseason work on his ballhandling is paying off. During his 23-point, five-assist effort against the Suns, he used escape-dribbles to free himself for jumpers and passes, exploited screens and angles for pick and rolls, and in general, played within himself. His improved ballhandling remains key. He can shoot - which means he will always have a job in this league - but his willingness to defend and ability to utilize his dribble spacing and open shots will dictate the essence of his career.

• If DeMarcus Cousins continues to play like this, totally dominating a very competent Marcin Gortat, the Kings' rebuilding process accelerates exponentially.

• Malone talked about going small to get his best players on the floor, which means McLemore will see minutes at small forward.

• The visitors locker room in Sleep Train Arena has been remodeled and reconfigured for the three-year, pre-arena setting, but on an unseasonably warm Sacramento night, it was a sauna post-game. Dreadful. I felt badly for the Suns, and more notably, the trainers and equipment managers who were sweating and visibly challenged as they collected the worn tape, sweaty jerseys, etc., and worked the room.

Finally, I am writing about the return of Kings assistant Corliss Williamson for Saturday's Bee, and later Friday, serving as a guest speaker at the Sacramento Auto Show at Cal Expo Friday at 4:30. The topic: The changing landscape of sports in Sacramento. That means the subject is Kingscentric, of course.

October 17, 2013
Cousins dominates; BYU Jimmer shows up in win

Quick observations from tonight's preseason win over the Phoenix Suns:

*DeMarcus was just too good tonight. It wasn't just his 29 points (8-for-15 shooting), nine rebounds and three assists. He also had six steals.

"People are going to talk about his scoring," said Kings coach Michael Malone. "The things that stick out for me - he got on the floor for two loose balls and drew two charges. Those are winning plays. That will carry us for a long time. That has to be our mentality."

*Cousins has to take the step of dominating big men that can't match his skills to take his game to an elite level and the Suns had no one that could contend with him.

*Cousins didn't play the fourth quarter or he easily could have had 40 points. If there's something to knock Cousins for, it was missing five of his 18 free throws (72.2 percent) and five turnovers. Cousins should shoot 80 percent or better from the line. His shooting touch is too good. But that's nitpicking tonight.

*Tonight we saw "BYU Jimmer" as I like to call him. Jimmer Fredette was aggressive and had 23 points and five assists. He shot 5-for-7 on three pointers. I wrote about Fredette predominantly for the print story off the game, so there will more on him posting on the website by midnight.

*Greivis Vasquez is exactly what the Kings needed. He found Ben McLemore early in the game for an alley-oop on a fast break by looking ahead on the break. The Kings have been awful at that in recent seasons. More times than not, the person with ball put his head down and tried to get to the rim while his teammates watched. It was like a plague that spread throughout the roster.

*Until early in the fourth quarter there were times where Malone looked sick on the sidelines. That had a lot to do with the Suns shooting 58 percent in the first half. The Kings got that down to 47.6 percent for the game, but Malone still didn't like allowing 48 points in the paint.

*Hamady Ndiaye gave the Kings a boost with his energy off the bench in 13 minutes. He's still not a lock to make the team, but it'll be hard for the Kings to let a 7-footer with that kind of athleticism go. The Kings need a rim protector to develop and Ndiaye seems to fit everything the Kings want. He works hard, gives maximum effort and believes in defense. He was throwing himself all over the court tonight. His two points, two rebounds, blocked shot and three fouls were fun to watch.

*Ndiaye playing meant no Chuck Hayes tonight.

*John Salmons continues to have a solid preseason (10 points, six rebounds and some solid defense). Patrick Patterson shot 3-for-6, including a three pointer.

*Don't count out Ray McCallum stealing minutes this season. He had four assists in three steals in a little over 14 minutes. I expect several variations of three-guard lineups this season.

*I stopped by the Kings locker room during pregame media availability and was startled. I counted nine players watching film of the Suns. That was not a regular scene since I began covering the Kings in 2009.

October 17, 2013
NBA preseason: Sacramento Kings vs Phoenix Suns
October 16, 2013
Malone plans to give Jimmer playing time Thursday

Kings coach Michael Malone probably plays little, if any attention to Twitter.

But twice during the preseason he's raised the ire of a vocal group of tweeters when he didn't play Jimmer Fredette.

Fredette started the second preseason game but didn't see time in the first or third exhibition contests.

Malone is trying to make sure Marcus Thornton is ready for the season, help rookie Ben McLemore adapt to the pro game while also trying to work in Fredette at shooting guard.

"It's so hard," Malone said. "Trying to get three guys minutes at the 2-guard spot is really hard. I haven't gone into any game saying 'OK Jimmer is not going to play.' What people don't realize is I had plans on putting him in the second quarter the other night and then all of a sudden (Los Angeles Clippers guard) Jamal Crawford exploded."

That left McLemore to receive what Malone called the rookie's "NBA baptism" defensively.

"I always try to put myself in a player's shoes," Malone said. "And to say, 'OK Jimmer, come get your minutes and by the way you've got Jamal Crawford who's scored 15 points in a row. I don't think that's fair. To Jimmer's credit he's been nothing but fair and professional with his approach. And I've had conversations with him and he knows he'll get his minutes tomorrow. And obviously heading into the last two or three games you'll start to narrow it down and get closer to a true game rotation with minutes."

October 15, 2013
Patrick Patterson sees progress rebounding

Patrick Patterson grabbed seven rebounds in Monday night's preseason win against the Los Angeles Clippers.

It's an area of focus for Patterson, who averaged a career-high 4.7 rebounds last season, but not nearly the rate he'd like as an NBA power forward.

"Last night was a good step in the right direction and that's what I want to do," Patterson said after. If I come off the bench I want to grab six or seven rebounds. If I start my goal is eight or nine. I think I'm making headway, making moves in the right direction."

Patterson came off the bench against the Clippers, but is still trying to push Jason Thompson for the starting job.

Patterson offers a different look for the Kings because he is a good jump shooter.

Patterson is a career 49.5 percent shooter from the field, including 37.2 percent from three-point range.

And with Carl Landry out after hip surgery, Patterson is a more important part of what the Kings do this season.

If Patterson can rebound better, that will increase his chances to contribute.

* The Kings waived guard Brandon Heath and forward DeQuan Jones. The Kings now have 16 players on their roster, one above the league maximum for the regular season.

October 14, 2013
Kings beat Clippers, 99-88, for second preseason win

A 9-4 run to start the fourth quarter by the Los Angeles Clippers was exactly what Kings coach Michael Malone wanted to see from his team.

And he called a timeout to let it be known the effort he'd seen was unacceptable.

"That was old Sacramento Kings basketball," Malone said. "Nobody playing together on either end of the floor, no gameplan discipline."

Malone said it wasn't his intent to diminish the entire effort during the Kings' 99-88 preseason win Monday night at Sleep Train Arena.

But in no way does he want the Kings to believe sloppy play late in a game - even with a double-digit lead - is acceptable.

"We did some good things in stretches but overall I felt we were very lax with how we closed that game out," Malone said. "We've got to hold ourselves to a higher standard. We've to play as close to 48 minutes as possible and I was not happy with how we finished that game out."

DeMarcus Cousins had 31 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings. Greivis Vasquez had two points, two rebounds and an assist in 11 minutes in his first preseason action as a King after offseason ankle surgery.

"I was moving good," Vasquez said. "I was running fine. I felt good. So hopefully the next game I will play more minutes."

Isaiah Thomas had 16 points and five assists off the bench for the Kings (2-1). Vasquez started at point guard, playing the first 11 minutes of the game.

Cousins dominated a frontline without starters Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan for Los Angeles (2-1). Chris Paul also did not play for the Clippers.

Cousins, however, echoed Malone's view that the Kings could have played a lot better.

"I think we executed well early on and kind of went away from it later on which is something we can't do," Cousins said. "Even though we did get a win I felt like we didn't play the best that we could. A lot of mistakes tonight."

The Kings had 18 turnovers and allowed 23 points in the fourth quarter. Malone's goal is not to allow more than 20 points in the fourth quarter.

October 14, 2013
Carl Landry will miss 3-4 months

By Jason Jones

The Kings announced forward Carl Landry will miss 3-4 months because of a torn hip flexor.

Landry signed a four-year deal worth $26 million this offseason.

Surgery is scheduled for Tuesday in Philadelphia by Dr. William Meyers.

Landry was injured during a training camp practice and missed two preseason games with what had been called a quad strain.

October 13, 2013
Kings Second Annual Rhythm 'N Rims Schedule

If you missed the 5K walk, there's still time to make it to the downtown Capitol Mall for the rest of today's events:

8 a.m. 5K walk registration
8:30 a.m. Nonprofit teams gather (pictures with Kings legends)
8:45 a.m. Kings Dancers lead walk warm-up on Capitol steps
9 a.m. 5K walk begins - Kings legends, nonprofit CEOs, Kings executives lead the walk with a marching band
10:30 - 11 a.m. Autograph session with Kings legends Scot Pollard and Kenny Thomas
11 - 11:30 a.m. Autograph session with Kings legends Doug Christie and Henry Turner
11 a.m. Activities begin in the arena with wheelchair basketball
Noon Exhibition game and Mascot Challenge (halftime)

10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Kings Fan Fest (including NBA games and a photo green screen, Kings legends signing autographs, food booths)

October 12, 2013
Injury updates on Vasquez, Landry, Mbah a Moute

Kings coach Michael Malone said Greivis Vasquez is on track to make his Kings debut in Monday's preseason home opener against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Vasquez has been brought along slowly after offseason ankle surgery.

Luc Mbah a Moute (sore knee) and Carl Landry (strained quad) did not practice Saturday.

Mbah a Moute was held out of Thursday's preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Malone said it's Mbah a Moute's right knee that is sore, the same knee bothered him while playing for Milwaukee.

"Some days he's got to battle through it and other days he may have to sit out and try to get back to where it was," Malone said of Mbah a Moute.

Landry has yet to play during the preseason.

"I believe they've gotten the MRIs done and the results," Malone said. I'm waiting to speak with (director of sports medicine) Pete Youngman and (general manager) Pete D'Alessandro about that but Carl could be out for a short time as he kind of recoups from that quad strain."

October 10, 2013
Video: Postgame comments from coach Michael Malone

LAS VEGAS -- Coach Michael Malone discusses the improved ball movement, spacing play of DeMarcus Cousins, Travis Outlaw and Jimmer Fredette in the Kings' 104-86 preseason win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

October 10, 2013
Kings beat Lakers for first preseason win

LAS VEGAS - DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with 16 points and 12 rebounds as Sacramento (1-1) notched its first preseason win, 104-86, over the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Isaiah Thomas had 10 points and nine assists.

Cousins shot 2-for-10 in the preseason opener Monday at Golden State but was much more efficient against the Lakers (2-2).

Cousins made 8-of-13 shots and also had three assists.

Nick Young led the Lakers with 17 points. Steve Nash did not play the second half for the Laekrs because of a sore ankle.

*Jimmer Fredette started and had seven points, three assists and three steals. Travis Outlaw finished with a team-high 18 points as the starting small forward as coach Michael Malone continues to experiment with lineups.

*After committing 26 turnovers Monday, the Kings had 15 turnovers against the Lakers.

*Greivis Vasquez (ankle), Carl Landry (quad) and Luc Mbah a Moute (ankle) did not play for the Kings. Marcus Thornton did not play so Malone could give more time to Fredette and Ben McLemore.

Check back for more later.

October 10, 2013
Malone shakes up starters for second preseason game

LAS VEGAS -- Kings coach Michael Malone is going with a very different look to start tonight's preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette will start at guard. The starting forwards will be Travis Outlaw and Patrick Patterson with DeMarcus Cousins starting at center.

Cousins and Thomas are the only players that started Monday at Golden State.

Malone said too much was read into Fredette not playing Monday and that he will use tonight to get a good look at him in a game situation.

Fredette is being used at both guard spots. Outlaw is also learning both forward positions.

Malone intends to change up the lineups in every preseason game before possibly settling on a starting five for the sixth or seventh game to prepare for the regular season.

October 9, 2013
Vasquez and Landry out for Thursday; Vasquez targets next Monday for debut

LAS VEGAS - The Kings will still be without two important players for their second preseason game.

The Kings play the Los Angeles Lakers at the MGM Grand on Thursday night in a preseason game. Sacramento will be without Greivis Vasquez (ankle) and Carl Landry (strained quad).

The good news for the Kings is Vasquez is targeting Monday's preseason home opener against the Los Angeles Clippers to make his debut.

"I'm excited to have him back (next week) but we also don't want to rush him back and have him play early preseason games and jeopardize his rehab and recovery from his ankle," said Kings coach Michael Malone.

Vasquez said his right ankle had bothered him a lot last season before offseason surgery to clean up loose particles.

Vasquez said international play for Venezuela and his NBA workload finally caught up with him.

"I was playing too much basketball the last five years," Vasquez said. My national team, here, and I needed rest and I got my rest. My ankle feels better. I just don't want to rush. I want to be 100 percent healthy for opening night."

The Kings will also take a cautious approach with Landry.

"I'm no doctor but I think he's got a strained quad so he's just trying to get some treatment on that," Malone said. "We'll wait to see how severe it is and if he's going to be out, how long. But obviously we're hoping to have him back sooner rather than later. But other than that, knock on wood, we're fairly healthy."

October 8, 2013
Kings talk offense, turnovers; injury updates from preseason opener

OAKLAND - Some postgame notes and quotes from Monday night's preseason opener that the Kings lost, 94-81, to the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.

The Warriors went back to their starters in the fourth quarter and pulled away to win the game late.

"It's preseason," said Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. "I don't understand what that was about but that's what they decided to do. I can't control that."

The Kings biggest issue wasn't who the Warriors played in the fourth quarter. It was the 26 turnovers during the game.

October 7, 2013
Kings lose preseason opener at Golden State

OAKLAND - The Kings lost their preseason opener, 94-81, to the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.

Isaiah Thomas led the Kings with 15 points and six assists. Ben McLemore added 13 points.

Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 23 points.

"I thought our defense through three quarters was great," said Kings coach Michael Malone. "Then (the Warriors) started off the fourth quarter on a 24 to 10 run."

Neither the Kings (41.1 percent) or Warriors (43.4 percent) shot well, but the Warriors scored 32 points in the fourth quarter.

The Kings held out Greivis Vasquez (ankle) and Carl Landry (quad). Malone said he wasn't sure if either would play Thursday.

The Kings do not want to rush Vasquez as he recovers from offseason ankle surgery.

October 6, 2013
Video: Michael Malone sums up time in Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA -- The Kings finished their final practice at UC Santa Barbara this afternoon before heading to the Bay Area for Monday's preseason opener at Golden State.

Coach Michael Malone offered this take on the nine practices to open training camp.

October 4, 2013
Video: Michael Malone talks offensive philosophy

SANTA BARBARA -- Kings coach Michael Malone preaches defense, first, second and third when it comes to strategy.

That might be an exaggeration but you get the point, right?

Below Malone talks about offense and what he wants from the Kings.

He wants them to run and in the halfcourt, he likes to play inside-out. That means a lot of DeMarcus Cousins.

October 4, 2013
Rookie Ray McCallum progressing well in training camp

SANTA BARBARA - The starting point guard competition is a duel between the incumbent (Isaiah Thomas) and new King, Greivis Vasquez.

But the Kings also drafted a point guard in the second round of the NBA Draft they like, Ray McCallum.

Kings coach Michael Malone said the rookie from Detroit has been a standout in practices.

"Ray McCallum is quietly having one of the best training camps here," Malone said. "He's playing terrific for us, playing aggressive."

McCallum said remaining aggressive has been important for him in his first NBA camp.

"I'm just trying to be a good defender and a true point guard," McCallum said. "Those are two attributes to my game that can help this team. I can be a good on-the-ball defender, getting steals, trying to rebounds on the defensive end. And when I get the ball offensively, push."

McCallum said he worked on several areas of his offensive game after summer league. The coaching staff wanted to see more variety to his offense.

The Kings want to see McCallum develop his mid-range jumper, and figure out how to score in the paint with a floater over bigger players.

"In summer league I was more going downhill trying to get to the rim every time and that's something I learned in college I could do easily," McCallum said. "But now with the size and athletic ability (of NBA players) it's not really going to work every time."

October 4, 2013
Video: Greivis Vasquez says his ankle is improving

SANTA BARBARA -- Kings guard Greivis Vasquez has practiced every day this week after taking off the summer to recover from right ankle surgery.

October 3, 2013
Kings fan known as the Sign Lady diagnosed with breast cancer

SANTA BARBARA - Niko Rust, the husband of Barbara, better known as the Kings Sign Lady in Section 120 posted the following message from his Twitter account, announcing she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

There's no way you could have ever been to a Kings game without seeing one of Barbara's supportive signs. Throughout the Kings moving to Anaheim-Seattle-Name Your City-Drama, you could count on a sign from Barbara to be present.

Send your well wishes with the hashtag #LoveForSignLady

October 3, 2013
Video: Chris Mullin shows he can still shoot from distance

SANTA BARBARA -- The Kings hosted a three-point shooting contest with UC Santa Barbara students after Thursday's practice.

The best showing among the three Kings competing was from Jimmer Fredette, who made 10 of his 15 threes. DeMarcus Cousins made nine while rookie Ben McLemore lagged behind (I unofficially had him with seven makes).

But the star was Kings adviser Chris Mullin, who posed as a "16th year senior" to shoot for the students. He made 14 of his 15 threes, reminding everyone one thing you don't lose with age is shooting touch.

I missed the first couple of makes by Mullin on the iPad, but feel free to take a look.

October 2, 2013
Isaiah Thomas likes Kings' chances to improve; how they're eating

SANTA BARBARA - This time of the year, every team likes its chances for improvement and the Kings are no different.

Coaches and management remain measured in their public expectations, hoping for improvement and changes to a culture that has fostered losing and seven consecutive seasons out of the postseason.

The players, however, have mentioned the playoffs more than once.

"We've always had the talent but we've got the pieces in place to be a special team," said guard Isaiah Thomas. "Not saying we're going to win the NBA Championship this year but the goal is to make the playoffs. That's everybody's goal."

The Kings were 28-54 last season. Realistically the Kings would need a 20-game improvement to have a chance of cracking the top-8 in the Western Conference.

The last time the Kings were above .500 to end a season was 2005-06 when Sacramento was 44-38 and lost in the first round of the playoffs in Rick Adelman's last season as head coach.

"I think we've got a reasonable chance of doing that if everything comes together," Thomas said. "If we play the right way, play consistently and give it all we've got we can compete for one of those spots in the Western Conference."

*Former Kings forward J.J. Hickson missed out on this treat.

During Hickson's brief stint with the Kings during the 2011-12 season after being traded to Sacramento from Cleveland, he would often lament the lack of a quality meals after games, practices, etc.

It wasn't uncommon to hear Hickson say "When I was in Cleveland ...," and opine of the good old days when he played with LeBron James and the postgame spread was of the highest quality.

Hickson wasn't the only player that arrived in Sacramento with that complaint. He just might have been the loudest.

And players that were drafted by the Kings, like Thomas, hadn't been on another team to compare eating options.

Well things have changed. Apparently the change in ownership and culture won't be limited.

"We've got meals after we workout, that's different," Thomas said. "Everything's different from the meals to just coming in early, guys staying late, everything is different."

Vivek Ranadive spoke with several players about things they wanted to see improved and I'm sure this came up. It's also why the Kings will see improvements to other amenities around the practice facility and arena.

October 2, 2013
Malone demands intensity, focus at all times

SANTA BARBARA - It didn't take long for coach Michael Malone to have to turn up the intensity with this team.

After praising his team's effort following Tuesday's mornings practice, Malone didn't like what he saw from the Kings Tuesday evening.

The night practice was noncontact and apparently the team took that as an opportunity to take it easy.

"Last night's practice to start off was a below average practice," Malone said. "I got on them a little bit. To their credit they turned it around and we wind up having a productive practice."

Said guard Isaiah Thomas: "We were a little dead. That first practice, he got us, got us going. But that second practice was more of a mental practice and we came out slow but by the end of practice he congratulated us and said 'You turned it around.'"

Malone's message stayed with the Kings for Wednesday morning's noncontact practice. The Kings will scrimmage tonight.

"Today they did a much better job with their focus, attention to detail and getting through it," Malone said. "One good practice is nice but we're nowhere enough to a team that can turn it on and turn it off."

*Almost the entire front office is in town. Chairman Vivek Ranadive watched practice this morning along with adviser Chris Mullin, general manager Pete D'Alessandro, assistant general manager Mike Bratz, and Basketball operations director Chris Gilbert.

Director of player personnel Shareef Abdur-Rahim is expected to be in town tomorrow.

*D'Alessandro said he's content to watch how things play out with the roster and maintain communication with Malone before making any changes to the team.

"There are a few (free agents) left out there," D'Alessandro said. "I think where we are right now is in a good place in terms of the evaluation progress. To tinker right now would probably be a little more difficult than when we get into the season a little bit."

October 1, 2013
Jimmer searching for consistent playing time; role with Kings

SANTA BARBARA - It's Jimmer Fredette's third season and we still don't know what he is as an NBA player.

All of Fredette's shooting numbers improved last season, but his playing time went from 18 minutes per game as a rookie to 14 per game last season.

Questions about Fredette's defense and where to play him on offense have persisted for two seasons.

"I'd love to be on the floor wherever it is," Fredette said after Tuesday morning's practice at UC Santa Barbara. "Obviously I feel the most comfortable at point guard but whatever Coach (Michael Malone) has in store for me it looks like playing at some point, some off ball just depending on the situation and what's happening in the game at that time. I just want to be on the floor."

October 1, 2013
Kings hold first practice of training camp

SANTA BARBARA - Kings coach Michael Malone was pleased with his first practice of training camp on the campus of UC Santa Barbara.

Every player fully participated, including Greivis Vasquez, who is coming off offseason surgery on his right ankle.

But the bigger message was about taking the steps to become a more cohesive group. The Kings have earned the reputation as a selfish team that would rather play one-on-one at the expense of teammates.

So it's no surprise the Kings were often a tense group in the locker room as players quietly grumbled about playing time or which player wasn't passing the ball.

Malone said the message camaraderie began during voluntary workouts last month and reemphasized Monday in the first team meeting.

"We have to be much better teammates to one another, we have to have much more respect to one another," Malone said. "I know it's very early but after the month of September I think our guys understand that and they're living it out."

Malone said the relationships and team building isn't limited to the players. The time in Santa Barbara is also a chance for himself and his coaching staff to bond with the players.

"I can be the best Xs and Os coach in the world but if I don't have a relationship with my players it doesn't mean anything," Malone said.

Malone described the first practice as "great."

"Guys came in with a great sense of purpose, worked very hard," Malone said. "We put them in a lot of competitive situations and guys fought through fatigue. I think we all knew coming down to training camp that there are a lot of spots up for starting positions. Guys brought it today and my challenge to them is it can't be just one practice. Every day we come on the floor our goal as a team is to get better. And I can say with great confidence we got better today."

*Vasquez appeared to be favoring his right ankle during sprints at the end of practice and stopped to get ice on it.

Vasquez said he was fine and completed every drill in practice. Vasquez said it was his first day of full contact since the surgery in May.

*The Kings will practice again this evening. That practice is closed to the media.

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