Kings Blog and Q&A

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

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November 14, 2013
Kings feeling good but careful not to make too much of one win

The mood around the Kings' practice facility was notably better today following Wednesday night's win over Brooklyn to end a five-game losing streak.

But there has to be perspective heading into Friday's game against the Detroit Pistons.

"I think everybody can kind of take a deep breath and say OK we still have three games left on our homestand," said Kings coach Michael Malone. "The most important thing is we can't get relaxed, we can't get bored with success after one game. We have to remind ourselves we won last night because we were disciplined in all facets of the game."

Added Jason Thompson:

"It's just one win. It's not like it's a 10-game winning streak."

The Pistons won't be easy to deal with. Like the Kings, they are 2-5, but have one of the best young frontcourt trios in the NBA (Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond) and can hurt the Kings off the dribble with point guard Brandon Jennings.

Containing Jennings will be key to what has been an improvement defensively over the last couple of games.

After allowing four teams in a row to shoot at least 48 percent, the Kings held Portland and Brooklyn below 44 percent.

"I think we're being more of a multiple-effort team the last couple of games where it can't just be one help or two helps," Malone said. "We have to be ready to shrink, tag, contest and rebound every possession. We're just doing a better job playing more complete defense for longer stretches of the game."

November 12, 2013
Malone promises no 'wholesale' changes

Kings coach Michael Malone still has not revealed his starting lineup for Wednesday's game against the Brooklyn Nets.

He said there will not be a makeover in philosophy. After all, these are all the same players from training camp and the Kings have only played six games.

"We're not going to make wholesale changes," Malone said. "... We made a couple of adjustments to the lineup, nothing major by any means."

More on the lineup from Malone:

"We'll continue looking at it, we'll have shootaround tomorrow and we'll put a lineup on the floor tomorrow night that we feel will give us the best chance to win."

Malone said the team has been receptive to the changes. But after a 1-5 start, poor shooting and spotty defense for most of the five-game losing streak, it's hard to argue with change.

"You look at the field goal percentages some of our guys are shooting and it's no where near where it needs to be," Malone said. "No one is trying to miss shots but when you lose five games in a row changes are in order. It's never personal."

One player that could be a part of the change is Ben McLemore. Malone has praised the rookie since training camp. He's wanted to bring him along slowly, but McLemore's time might be now.

That's what I write about for tomorrow's newspaper. The story should appear online by midnight.

The three Kings struggling the most shooting are Marcus Thornton (33.3 percent, 27.6 percent on threes), John Salmons (26.8 percent, 21.4 percent on threes) and Patrick Patterson (36.6 percent, 22.2 percent on threes).

Rebounding is another area of concern. Patterson is averaging 4.7 rebounds in 25.9 minutes.

Jason Thompson, who was the starter at power forward before Patterson, is averaging 5.2 rebounds in 19.4 minutes, second on the team only to DeMarcus Cousins (9.7).

Travis Outlaw averages 3.7 rebounds in 15.8 minutes, third on fourth on the team. That's another area Malone figures to address with the changes.

The options at small forward if there is a change would be Outlaw and Luc Mbah a Moute.

McLemore seems to be the logical option at shooting guard if Malone sits Thornton, unless he
looks to Jimmer Fredette (who could also see more time off the bench).

We shall see Wednesday.

November 11, 2013
Malone offers no hints to lineup changes

Kings coach Michael Malone would not divulge what lineup changes he has planned for Wednesday's game against the Brooklyn Nets.

For those wondering why I just don't tell you what I saw during practice, we only see the very end of practice for media availability, so we see a lot of free throws.

"We made a couple of tweaks but we're not going to talk about it right now," Malone said. "Guys understand when you lose five games in a row and you get down by 20 points it seems every game, we can't continue to do what we're doing."

DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas and Greivis Vasquez have all publicly stated their support for Malone shaking things up.

"We need some change and we've got to have some change in some guys' attitudes," Thomas said.

No one is naming names of the "guys" but it's obvious the malcontent attitudes are negatively impacting play on the court.

More than one Kings has been guilty of this over recent seasons, but perhaps some Kings are maturing and growing out of their ways, but that needs to spread throughout the team.

DeMarcus Cousins said the days of making excuses for the Kings has to end.

The Kings are losing in the hustle areas - rebounding, loose balls and transition defense - and they have no one to blame but themselves.

"It's about the effort and the effort's not there," Cousins said. "It's clear it's not there. They've got to get their heads out their butts right now wand we've got to come out here and play."

The Kings can be so up-and-down with their play has puzzled Malone, but it's nothing new to the previous two coaches.

Paul Westphal and Keith Smart both bemoaned the erratic play of the team while taking shots from fans and media about their coaching abilities.

Malone is widely seen as one of the NBA's best young, but he's also finding it hard to manage the Kings' in-game effort swings.

"I've never been around team that goes through such long dry spells so often," Malone said. "We'll play well, and it'll be an 11-2 run. We'll play well and it'll be an 8-0 run."

So what might happen if the Kings could play hard for ... an entire game? That's hard to know.

"I can't wait for us to play 48 minutes because if we play 48 minutes we'll be a pretty good team," Malone said.

Malone said any changes he makes aren't a reflection on any one player, but change is going to come to the Kings.

"When you're 1-5 and lose five games in a row it's not one individual's fault, it's collective," Malone said. "We win together and we're not going to lose together. We're not playing the blame game, we're not pointing fingers."

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
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
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 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 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 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.

September 11, 2013
Kings to open training camp Oct. 1 at UC Santa Barbara

By Jason Jones

The Kings announced they will open training camp Oct. 1 with a 10 a.m. practice on the campus of UC Santa Barbara.

The Kings will practice at Pavilion Gym through Oct. 6 before returning to Northern California for their preseason opener Oct. 7 at Golden State.

The Kings also began training camp away from Sacramento last year, practicing in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Kings will hold their media day Sept. 30 at the team practice facility.

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."

July 2, 2012
Kings host restricted free agent Ryan Anderson

The Kings met with restricted free agent Ryan Anderson of the Orlando Magic Monday.

Anderson was named the NBA's Most Improved Player after posting career highs for 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds for the Magic in his fourth NBA season.

Anderson (6-10, 240) isn't the small forward the Kings are presumed to need, but he would provide outside shooting, which the Kings desperately need after finishing 29th in three-point shooting.

Anderson shot 39.3 percent from beyond the arc last season.

Anderson is a local product. He attended Oak Ridge High School, winning a state championship in 2005 before moving on to Cal. Anderson spent two seasons at Cal before entering the NBA Draft. He was a first-round pick of New Jersey and traded to Orlando after his rookie season.

The Kings' stated priority is to re-sign power forward Jason Thompson. If the Kings sign Anderson to an offer sheet, it would likely mean Thompson is moving on because the Kings drafted another power forward, Thomas Robinson, last week.

What could play into the Kings' favor is the drama involving Dwight Howard. The Magic might not match an offer to Anderson while it sorts out what direction the franchise is going with Howard.

June 15, 2012
Good for Durant: No Whining

Despite the spirited comeback, OKC blew its homecourt advantage in this best-of-seven NBA Finals against the Miami Heat (1-1) because of the sluggish start and early 17-point deficit, not because of a non-call against Kevin Durant in the closing seconds. True, LeBron James could have been (and should have been) assessed a foul on Durant's left-side drive that would have tied the game or earned him two free throws.

But how mature is the league's premier young star? Instead of complaining - justifiably - about the non-call, afterward he said, "I missed the shot, man," when asked about the sequence. (KD also caught a break from the refs a few minutes earlier, of course, on what would have been his own sixth and final foul. Maybe he was thinking about that).

Scotty Brooks' influence on Durant appears considerable. Brooks, the Manteca native and former Kings assistant, doesn't have a contract beyond this season. Somewhat remarkably, he hasn't allowed that to become a major story, or apparently, a distraction for his team.

April 19, 2012
Smart: Thornton's status for Friday not yet determined

Kings guard Marcus Thornton did not practice with the team today after suffering a left quad contusion in the third quarter of the Kings' loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.

"It was too tender for him to practice today, so he didn't go today," said Kings head coach Keith Smart.

Thornton was kneed by Spurs guard Manu Ginobili and left Wednesday night's game briefly, but returned. Smart said Thornton was getting treatment to reduce swelling in the quad Thursday and that his availability for the Kings' game tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder has not been determined.

"We'll see how he feels in the morning and then evaluate him by the time we get ready for the shootaround and then game-time," Smart said.

It wouldn't help the Kings to lose Thornton against the Thunder. The Kings are 1-10 this season in the 11 games Thornton has missed.

March 21, 2012
Video: Keith Smart after practice

Kings head coach Keith Smart addresses the media following the team's practice session Wednesday.

Swingman Terrence Williams was practicing with the Kings after the team announced today it signed him to a 10-day contract.

Head coach Keith Smart said he had no immediate plans for where Williams might fit into the Kings' rotations.

March 8, 2012
Video: Keith Smart after practice

Kings head coach Keith Smart talks about his goals for the team's nine-game homestand and other topics following Thursday's practice.

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins took part in some of the team's practice today and should be good to go Friday night when the Kings play the Dallas Mavericks, said head coach Keith Smart.

Cousins sat out the Kings' win over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night with food poisoning, the first time he has missed an NBA game due to injury or illness.

"He got on the floor, ran today a little bit, was not totally himself based on what had taken place for him, but he was OK," Smart said. "... He'll be ready tomorrow."

* Forward J.J. Hickson (hip pointer) did not practice as he continues his recovery from the injury sustained last Tuesday against the Los Angeles Clippers.

"Just still going through his rehab," Smart said. "I won't do anything with him until the trainers have released him."

February 29, 2012
Video: Keith Smart post-practice

Kings head coach Keith Smart talks about getting the Kings to run at a faster pace and trying to develop a winning mentality.

February 28, 2012
Kings vs. Jazz: Salmons available tonight

Forward John Salmons, who missed the Kings' last two games with a sore right hip, is expected to be available tonight against the Utah Jazz, said head coach Keith Smart.

Salmons came off the bench in the two games prior to the injury as Isaiah Thomas started at point guard and Tyreke Evans at small forward.

Smart said Salmons "wants to do what is necessary" for the team.

February 27, 2012
Smart, Thomas on arena news

Kings coach Keith Smart was asked after the team's practice tonight for his reaction to news of the city of Sacramento and the Kings announcing a tentative deal to build a new downtown arena.

"It's good news for everyone, I think, the fact that we have that opportunity," Smart said. "But my focus for me, the players, as always, has been to focus on the floor, what we can do on the floor -- let our management team, the ownership, the NBA, the city of Sacramento do their jobs to bring that to fruition. And now my job is to focus on, as always, continuing to develop the team, get the players much better than what they were, and then eventually we'll see where it goes from there."

Guard Isaiah Thomas said the announcement was a topic of discussion as the Kings reconvened Monday evening for their first practice after the All-Star break.

"I just know that we're staying here in Sacramento," Thomas said. "I'm very happy. The community, the fans, the organization's brought me in like a warm feeling, like a family feeling, and I'm just happy to be able to be here for years to come."

February 20, 2012
Tyreke Evans faces biggest defensive challenge of season

MIAMI - Concerns about Tyreke Evans playing small forward had a lot to do with his ability to defend the elite small forwards in the NBA.

Tuesday's assignment doesn't get much tougher - LeBron James.

James is playing like he will win his third MVP award in three seasons, averaging 27.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists while shooting 54.8 percent.

February 10, 2012
Video: Keith Smart after practice

Kings head coach Keith Smart talks about what he thinks of the Kings' shot selection and other topics following the team's practice Friday afternoon.

February 3, 2012
Video: Keith Smart and Isaiah Thomas

Head coach Keith Smart talks about gauging the growth of his team and how he deploys his rookies following the Kings' practice Friday.

Kings guard Isaiah Thomas discusses trying to be a vocal presence as a rookie and his role on defense.

February 3, 2012
Friday practice: Different film strategies

At the end of practice today, the Kings gathered around a TV set up alongside one of their practice facility courts and had a brief film session.

It's part of the strategy of head coach Keith Smart -- a big believer in using film to reinforce his critiques and teachings to players -- to combat the dangers of having an early film session in the usual dark room.

"Players sometimes come over in the morning, they just got up, you put them in a dark room and they're half asleep, and then you've got to come on the floor," Smart said.

February 1, 2012
Video: John Salmons and Tyreke Evans

Kings forward John Salmons talks about where the Kings must improve from their first two losses to the Portland Trail Blazers and other topics following Wednesday's practice.

Guard Tyreke Evans discusses taking on a leadership role.

February 1, 2012
Smart: Physical Trail Blazers a 'great test' for Kings

Kings head coach Keith Smart addresses the media following Wednesday's practice.

The Kings play the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday for already the third time this season, having lost their first two meetings by double-digit margins.

This time, forward John Salmons said, when push comes to shove, the Kings need to do both.

"We've got to match their physical presence," Salmons said. "The first two games they were very physical with us, so we have to match that play."

February 1, 2012
Thornton hopes to play Thursday against Trail Blazers

Guard Marcus Thornton (left thigh hematoma) said he wants to play Thursday against the Portland Trail Blazers, but that the decision will be up to team doctors.

Thornton has missed the Kings' last four games. The team announced on Jan. 25 that tests had revealed a significant hematoma in his left thigh, and that Thornton would miss one to two weeks.

Thornton participated full-contact during the window of today's practice that was open to media -- a high-energy half-court scrimmage -- and appeared to be moving without much hesitation. Afterward, he said he "felt good out there for the most part."

January 29, 2012
Chuck Hayes is OK

Chuck Hayes' return to the lineup looked as if it might be a one-game deal when he left the court in the final seconds of Saturday night's loss at Utah.

Hayes was holding his left arm after missing 11 games because of a dislocated left shoulder.

But Hayes won't miss any time.

"(Hayes) just got treatment today but i think he's going to be OK and ready to go," said Kings coach Keith Smart.

Hayes grabbed eight rebounds and had two steals in 20 minutes against the Jazz. His return as a "glue guy" on the court that doesn't need to score is expected to help the Kings, especially on defense.

The Jazz had 96 points last night. The Kings had allowed 117 points per game in their previous three losses.

January 27, 2012
Kings still need to conquer the scouting report

One thing that has come up more than once in conversations with Kings players over the last couple of seasons is scouting reports - namely the players need to do a better job of studying them.

Good teams know the nuances of their opponents and the Kings have struggled with that

When I spoke to Chuck Hayes earlier in the season about the Houston Rockets' 22-game winning streak during the 2007-08 season, Hayes noted how everyone knew the opponent.

January 24, 2012
Tuesday practice: Hayes cleared for contact

Kings head coach Keith Smart addresses the media following Tuesday's practice.

Kings forward-center Chuck Hayes practiced full-contact today -- the latest step in his recovery from dislocating his left shoulder against the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 5.

Hayes wore a protective sleeve on the shoulder and said afterward that the shoulder "felt good."

"We did some contact drills where I had to engage my shoulder muscles and see if it'll hold up with some resistance, and it felt good," Hayes said. "Now I just think it's the mental standpoint now, just trusting the rehab, trusting the doctors and trusting the treatment that my shoulder's OK."

January 19, 2012
Roster changes force players to into new roles

SAN ANTONIO - Consistency has been hard to come by for the Kings this season. That was to be expected with the young roster.

But as Kings coach Keith Smart also pointed out after Thursday's practice at the San Antonio Spurs practice facility, the Kings' young players are in new roles.

"You're asking all these guys to be primetime players and they've never been in that role - to be a primetime guy every night," Smart said.

What makes great players great is consistency. The Kings haven't found that and their youngsters don't have the same support behind them anymore.

"(DeMarcus) Cousins, if he wasn't playing well, he had (Samuel) Dalembert," Smart said. "Tyreke if he wasn't playing well, he had (Beno) Udrih. We don't have a lot of that now, these guys are the forefront. They now have to bring something to the table every night, that's what I'm trying to build."

Until the Kings know they can count on certain players to be consistent, Smart will continue to mix up his lineups as he sees fit and rely on his entire roster to try to win games.

January 15, 2012
Smart trying to change the Kings' habits on offense

MINNEAPOLIS - Keith Smart has a drill where players dribble to a spot and have to make a choice.

Depending on where the defender comes from, the player has to decide where to pass the ball.

Needless to say watching the Kings play on offense, it's a drill that's needed as Smart tries to change how the Kings play.

January 8, 2012
Power Rankings: Heat remain hot

My unofficial look at the NBA. All records are through Saturday night's games.

1. Miami Heat (8-1, Last week, 1) - The Heat can win without Wade ... and LeBron.
2. Chicago Bulls (7-2, LW 3) - Derrick Rose and Co. aren't conceding the East to the South Beach N.W.O.

January 7, 2012
Saturday practice: Smart implementing offense

Kings coach Keith Smart addresses the media following Saturday's practice.

As he begins to install his offensive and defensive schemes eight games into a shortened season, Kings coach Keith Smart said today he introduced "concepts" to players in practice but plans to keep things simple during games for the time being.

"As I told them, I'm giving you a lot of things today just to give you a concept of it, but I won't have you confused in a game," Smart said after practice. "I'll keep it very simple in the games for you to play with your freedom and space."

One aspect that players are finding immediately apparent is a faster tempo.

"We're running," said guard Marcus Thornton. "We're running and getting the ball to open guys. We're just playing. The main thing (Smart) preached today was freedom. Don't get too crazy with it, but we have freedom to do our thing and have fun with it."

Smart has said he believes the Kings can and should run more, but said players have work to do in terms of getting into the necessary shape. Ideally, he said, that will come with building habits in practice and games.

Smart offered this on the Kings' potential:

December 30, 2011
Transition defense a 'handicap' early

Coach Paul Westphal talks about transition defense.

With a little more than four minutes remaining in the third quarter of Thursday night's game against the Chicago Bulls, the Kings had pulled to within one point of the Bulls at 74-73 and had the ball with a chance to take the lead.

Marcus Thornton pulled up for a three-pointer and missed. Bulls backup guard C.J. Watson grabbed the rebound and brought it quickly up the court, pausing behind the three-point line to survey his options. No Kings defenders picked him up, so Watson shot an open 25-footer that wound up sparking an 11-2 Bulls run to end the quarter.

December 30, 2011
Friday practice: Westphal elaborates on post-game remarks

Coach Paul Westphal said the Kings had a "very spirited practice" today following a one-hour film session of last night's game in which there were "no feelings spared." Westphal was not happy Thursday night following his team's 108-98 loss to the Chicago Bulls because he felt the Kings gave away a game they could have won largely through poor transition defense and free-throw shooting.

After the game, he challenged the players to "go together" into the rest of the season. He elaborated today on what might show they are buying into doing so.

December 28, 2011
Video: Paul Westphal post-practice

Kings coach Paul Westphal addresses the media following practice Wednesday.

In another season, following back-to-back games and with another scheduled Thursday night, the Kings might have rested Wednesday. Instead they held a several-hour practice that featured a lot of on-court instruction from coaches.

Coach Paul Westphal said emphasis was placed on transition defense and "fine-tuning our offense -- being able to go past one option without stopping to look at each other and saying what do we do next?"

All players participated in the workout.

-- Matt Kawahara

December 24, 2011
Saturday practice: Team healthy for season opener

The Kings made it through their final full practice of camp today healthy and will rest tomorrow before the season begins Monday against the Lakers.

Forward-center Chuck Hayes returned to practice and looked "rusty," coach Paul Westphal said. "But it was good to have him back," Westphal added. Hayes will be the team captain this season.

Tyreke Evans banged his left shoulder during a team drill and sat out part of practice with ice on the shoulder. But he returned later and scrimmaged. Evans said the shoulder "was stinging for a minute," but that he felt good after practice.

December 23, 2011
Cousins: Hayes' return to team 'a blessing'

Reaction today to the announcement that Chuck Hayes is returning to the Kings underscored the idea that Hayes left a real impression on players and coaches during his first stint in training camp.

The team announced Thursday night it had agreed in principle to a new four-year deal with Hayes, shortly after the veteran forward-center -- whose original contract was voided by the team after it was announced earlier this week that he had a heart abnormality -- was cleared to continue playing professional basketball by the Cleveland Clinic.

"It's a blessing," center DeMarcus Cousins said. "Nothing but the Lord. Our prayers were answered and Chuck is coming back.

"Chuck was that veteran leader on this team. Chuck was basically the voice on this team, the most experienced. That's what we all looked up to. When Chuck left, that was a big piece of our team, even though it was early on in the season."

Hayes is expected to be back in Sacramento tonight, suit up for practice tomorrow and start against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday.

Coach Paul Westphal said that while Hayes was gone, players broke huddles by saying "Chuck," to "remind everybody what he brought to this team and the attitude you have to bring to work every day."

Forward John Salmons said players reached out to Hayes on Thursday. "Just sent him a text message saying we can't wait to get him back," Salmons said.

-- Matt Kawahara

December 23, 2011
Friday practice: Rounding out the lineup

Kings coach Paul Westphal addresses the media following practice.

Coach Paul Westphal said he expects forward-center Chuck Hayes will start against the Lakers on Monday. He was less definitive when asked about swingman John Salmons, but answered that the Kings are "going to start our starters."

"When these guys are healthy, they'll start," Westphal said. "It'll be DeMarcus (Cousins) and Chuck and John, Marcus (Thornton) and Tyreke (Evans). If they're all healthy they'll go. If not, we'll make adjustments then."

Salmons (right quad contusion) participated in a full practice today for the first time in a week, and Hayes is expected back in Sacramento tonight after agreeing in principle to a new four-year contract with the Kings on Thursday.

Westphal said Salmons practiced at about 80 percent Friday. Salmons agreed with the estimate and said he "felt pretty good today. Was able to move up and down. So, I mean, long as it's at the point where I can actually move, I'm good."

Cousins also participated in the full practice after he banged his knee during yesterday's scrimmage.

Hayes is expected to suit up for practice tomorrow. The Kings have tomorrow's practice and Monday's shoot-around remaining before they play the Lakers.

"Sure there'll be catch-up," Westphal said. "Very important practice tomorrow and very important that we get something out of the shoot-around. But the honest truth is nobody's ready to play this game on Monday. The Lakers aren't ready, we're not ready, but they're going to play it. So we'll put the best group we can out there and hope for improvement along the way."

-- Matt Kawahara

December 22, 2011
Thursday practice: Salmons participates in drills

Coach Paul Westphal addresses the media after practice.

Forward John Salmons (right quadriceps contusion) took part in some team drills during practice today, but Kings coach Paul Westphal said it is still "too soon to tell" if Salmons will be available for Monday's season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers.

"He wasn't quite full speed, but he did do some things out there in drills with other players on the floor, so he was doing some offense and defense, it wasn't just only shooting," Westphal said. "So that's a good sign that there's improvement with John."

December 22, 2011
Westphal on Hayes

Kings coach Paul Westphal said after practice today that Chuck Hayes is scheduled to return to Sacramento on Friday, though he did not say whether Hayes is coming back to sign with the team.

Hayes, whose four-year, $21.3-million contract with the Kings was voided earlier this week following a failed team physical, was cleared to play professional basketball without concerns earlier today, his agents announced.

Westphal offered the following response when asked about Hayes:

"Really all I know is that he's had great medical news," Westphal said. "And he's scheduled to come back to Sacramento tomorrow. We're just so overwhelmingly happy that the second opinions are so positive. Primarily we're happy for Chuck. We're also happy for his family and ourselves."

December 21, 2011
Kings waive Hill, Oliver

The Kings announced today the team has waived forward Lawrence Hill and guard Adrian Oliver, trimming the roster to 13 players.

Hill (6-8, 220), a Stanford product, and Oliver (6-4, 210), who played at Modesto Christian High School, were both signed on Dec. 10. Neither played in Tuesday night's final preseason game against the Golden State Warriors, and they were not at practice today.

* Guard Marcus Thornton did not practice after he had to go to the hospital in the middle of the night with a kidney stone, head coach Paul Westphal said. Thornton passed the kidney stone and Westphal said he is day-to-day.

* Forward John Salmons also did not practice. Westphal said Salmons (right quadriceps contusion) still has "a lot of pain in that bruised thigh" and is day-to-day. Salmons worked out individually during part of the practice session on a side court.

-- Matt Kawahara

December 21, 2011
Video: Coach Westphal after practice

Coach Paul Westphal discusses Wednesday's practice and injury updates.

December 21, 2011
Samuel Dalembert will not be a King

The Kings issued a statement that the team had withdrawn its contract offer to free agent center Samuel Dalembert.

Within minutes of the announcement ESPN's Marc Stein reported Dalembert had agreed on a two-year deal with the Houston Rockets.

And I have the darndest timing. I was on the phone with Dalembert for less than 30 seconds when he told me he had to call me back.

I guess he must have had a call from Houston.

December 20, 2011
Travis Outlaw adjusting to Kings

Travis Outlaw is facing a steeper learning curve than many of his new Kings teammates, with whom he practiced for the first time Monday after being acquired Saturday.

Outlaw will have just one week in the team's offensive system when the regular season begins on Dec. 26, and coach Paul Westphal said Outlaw will play both small forward and power forward, which are "radically different" positions in the Kings' offense.

"He has a lot to learn -- probably more than anybody," Westphal said. "We had him concentrate on the big forward spot today and he looked real good."

Outlaw (6-foot-9, 207 pounds) said he won't be picky about where he plays on the floor. "Whichever one I can get playing time in, I think it's up to me how I make the opportunity out of it," he said.

During Monday's practice, Outlaw wore a brace on his right wrist, which he broke doing a boxing workout during the lockout. He said he had surgery that involved placing two screws in the wrist, but said the wrist is now "doing great."

It didn't appear to visibly bother him while shooting Monday. He was not hesitant to shoot during team drills and was working on his jump shot after the team session alongside rookie forward Lawrence Hill.

Entering his ninth season, Outlaw has averaged 9.5 points and 3.5 rebounds during his career. He was waived by the New Jersey Nets last Friday under the amnesty clause, and the Kings were awarded Outlaw in a waiver claim the next day.

"I'm happy just to be coming back to playing," Outlaw said. "Young team, but it's a lot of potential."

- Matt Kawahara

December 19, 2011
Outlaw joins Kings for practice; Cousins also returns to court

Newly acquired Kings forward Travis Outlaw is practicing with the team.

The Kings were awarded Outlaw in a waiver claim under the NBA's amnesty waiver procedure on Saturday. Outlaw is wearing a small brace on his right wrist - he broke his wrist during a boxing workout during the lockout - but participating in drills.

DeMarcus Cousins is also practicing. He sat out the team's first preseason game Saturday with a right ankle sprain.

Forward John Salmons is not participating in drills right now. He is working with a trainer.

We'll find out after practice who is expected to be available for Tuesday night's preseason game against Golden State. We will also try to find out more about Chuck Hayes. Messages for his agent have not yet been returned.

- Matt Kawahara

December 16, 2011
Westphal on Chuck Hayes and other scrimmage notes

Here's the latest on Chuck Hayes.

The Kings don't know what doctors found wrong on his echo stress test.

"The doctors have to get more information," said Kings coach Paul Westphal. "When we get more information we'll say something."

December 15, 2011
John Salmons leaves scrimmage with quad injury

John Salmons left Thursday night's open scrimmage with a right quad contusion and will not play the rest of the evening.

More details will be provided when they become available.

The Kings are now without four starters tonight (DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Chuck Hayes and Salmons).

Cousins has a sprained right ankle. Evans has a sprained left foot. Chuck Hayes is undergoing tests after a recent stress tests showed abnormalities.

December 15, 2011
Maloofs 'flexible' on March 1 arena deadline

For the first time since the NBA set a March 1, 2012, deadline for the Sacramento region to come up with a workable proposal for financing a new sports and entertainment complex in the downtown railyards, Kings co-owner Joe Maloof indicated that the deadline was not hard and fast.

Read the full interview with Joe Maloof in Sunday's Bee and at

"I'm sure we'll always have flexibility," Joe Maloof said Wednesday during a 90-minute interview in his office. "The league has always been flexible ... so I don't know about that (a firm deadline). There are a lot of people working in a positive vein this time, where before, there was a lot of negativity. But everybody is on board. So we're optimistic guys. We want to get it done here in Sacramento."

Frustrated with ongoing attempts to build a modern facility to house the Kings, the Maloofs last April considered relocating to The Honda Center in Anaheim. The other NBA owners urged them to persist in Sacramento, but NBA Commissioner David Stern, who has assumed control of the discussions that involve AEG president Tim Leiwecke, has said the Maloofs would be free to pursue other options if adequate progress wasn't achieved during the one-year grace period.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is scheduled to meet with Stern Friday in New York to discuss the status of the negotiations. A modern facility located in the downtown railyards is expected to cost approximately $406 million.

December 15, 2011
Walton, Gray back with Kings

Though the Kings are still working on the schedules, sideline reporter Jim Gray and analyst Bill Walton will return for the 2011-12 season. Gray is expected to work 15 games, while Walton's availability is more fluid. Kings co-owner Joe and Gavin Maloof told Walton he could work as many games as he wanted.

December 14, 2011
Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins leave practice early with injuries

Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins both did not finish practice Wednesday because of injuries.

Cousins sprained his right ankle and Evans sprained his left foot. Each injury happened because they landed on the foot of a teammate.

Each is listed as day-to-day. Kings coach Paul Westphal did not know if either would be available for Thursday's open scrimmage at Power Balance Pavilion.

December 13, 2011
Cousins' offers old school view of free agency

After Monday's morning practice, DeMarcus Cousins offered a few interesting observations about the trend of veteran NBA superstars leaving their original teams when they become free agents and/or informing management in advance that they have no intention of re-signing when their contracts expire - thus forcing teams to pursue trades for fear of relinquishing key assets and getting nothing in return. The most high profile examples, of course, are LeBron James, Deron Williams, Chris Paul and - maybe - Dwight Howard.

But let's just say that Cousins is more in tune with Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant. Venue shopping and jumping to a big market are nowhere on his list of aspirations.

"I'm not taking jabs at anybody or anything like that," said the Kings second-year center, "but to me, that's all part of being a competitor, of being a part of this sport. If you're the star player of that team, you should want to continue.

"I mean, trying to join another - I mean, I'm not taking jabs at anybody - but to me that's kind of like taking the coward's way out. At the same time I respect you because you want to be a winner. But, me, being the type of person I am, I am wanting to lead my team. I want to stay with the group of guys I came in (into the league) with. I'm going to do what I gotta do to help my team win.

December 13, 2011
See the Kings scrimmage on Thursday

Kings fans will have their first chance to see the players - including newcomers Jimmer Fredette, Chuck Hayes, John Salmons, J.J. Hickson, Tyler Honeycutt and Isaiah Thomas - when the team hosts its annual "fan fest" on Thursday at Power Balance Pavilion at 5:45 p.m.

The event, which includes a full-court scrimmage at 7 p.m., is free and open to the public, but you must go to to request and print a ticket.

December 12, 2011
Kirilenko intrigued by the Kings

Two different sources told me earlier tonight that former Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko, who is currently under contract with CSKA Moscow (but has an out clause effective for 30 days), would seriously consider signing with the Kings if he returns to the NBA. The catch is that the wiry, athletic Kirilenko, a native of St. Petersburg who would be a wonderful complement to a frontline featuring DeMarcus Cousins and John Salmons, is thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to play in his native Russia. Unlike the other NBA players who returned to the United States shortly after the lockout ended, Kirilenko stayed with CSKA. One scenario is that he remains overseas for the shortened season and returns to the NBA next year.

But, again, keep two things in mind: Kirilenko's agent, Marc Fleisher, represented Vlade Divac when the Kings icon became the first significant free agent to sign in Sacamento for the transformative 1999 season - and we know how Vlade feels about the community. Additionally, fellow Europeans Peja Stojakovic and Hedo Turkoglu have nothing but good things to say about their time in Northern California. Peja's brother, Nenad, still lives here, and Hedo has often expressed a desire to return. Not saying it will happen. Just saying that if Kirilenko decides to come back, the Kings are deeply in the mix.

About Chris Paul and the Clips

The notion that NBA executive Stu Jackson (former Grizzlies GM, New York Knicks coach) and league attorney Joel Litvin are handling the Chris Paul trade negotiations for the league-owned New Orleans Hornets is troubling, awkward, embarrassing to Hornets GM Dell Demps, a complete conflict of interest. We totally get that. But count me in the minority who did NOT think the Hornets cleaned up in the aborted trade that would have sent Kevin Martin (28), Luis Scola (31) and Lamar Odom (32) to the Hornets.They would have been valuable additions to a contending team, but in my less-than-humble opinion, those are not pieces around whom to build a franchise (see Hornets). I love their basketball skills, don't love their collective ages.

Historically, teams trading young stars almost never receive anything close to value. And the Clips know this better than almost anyone, by the way. Tom Chambers, Terry Cummings. At least Danny Manning had torn a knee ligament before he was swapped for an over-the-hill Dominique Wilkins. We'll leave it at that for the moment.

That said, if I was bidding to buy the Hornets? I would tell the league to jump at the deal ESPN is reporting is close to being finalized: Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al Farouq-Aminu, Eric Bledsoe, Minnesota's 2012 unprotected first-round draft choice, and possibly additional draft picks.

Sac's Zach Andrews suits up

Former Cordova High standout Zach Andrews will wear No.21 with the Lakers. While growing in Sacramento, essentially "couch surfing" and homeless, he was a huge Divac fan. I suspect there is a connection there .....

December 12, 2011
Chuck Hayes on Chuck Hayes

Tomorrow's story for the newspaper is about Chuck Hayes. It's a signing some fans groaned about, wanting a flashier name in free agency from a class of free agents that isn't star studded like last year's group that included some guy named LeBron.

Hayes, however, will be a big part of what the Kings do this season. Below are some quotes from Hayes that didn't make it into the story:

December 12, 2011
Video: Coach Westphal and Jimmer

Coach Paul Westphal talks about the third day of training camp and how the offense will be different this season.

Jimmer Fredette discusses various topics.

December 11, 2011
Kings show their three-guard lineup during practice

The media was able to see the three-guard lineup many have wondered about this season during tonight's scrimmages.

Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette were on the court together along with J.J. Hickson and DeMarcus Cousins the first time around before the bigs began rotating.

The three-guard set was successful for the Kings last season. Evans and Thornton were especially aggressive on offense in that lineup.

December 11, 2011
Video: Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie

More of my amateur video skills:

December 10, 2011
Cousins new body, new teammate

I wrote about DeMarcus Cousins and his sleek new physique - ok, he's not exactly sleek, but he is considerably slimmer - in Sunday's Bee, and wanted to add a few interesting observations from John Salmons. The former Kings small forward, who was re-acquired in the offseason from Milwaukee, last year played with Andrew Bogut, another skilled center. When I asked if he saw any similarities after a whopping one day of practice, he offered these thoughts on the Kings second-year center: "You definitely see the skills. I think the first thing that stuck out to me is his (Cousins') ability to pass the ball, being willing to pass the ball. I felt like he was trying to make the right play, trying to hit the cutter. That's good for us. When you can play through a big, it makes it so much easier for the perimeter guys, and the fact he can make a move and get a bucket when we need it is that much better."

Talk of the day

There was plenty of intrigue at practice, including Salmons' return, the addition of J.J. Hickson and Chuck Hayes, the presence of high profile rookie Jimmer Fredette. Coach Paul Westphal also showed off a trim new beard and implemented an egalitarian new offense that involves all five players, at least until the closing minutes. But the fact Cousins looked much slimmer than a year ago topped the, uh, scales as it were. (His body fat is getting close to his desired 13 percent). The second-year center was a major topic of conversation in the media viewing room, as well as in the locker room. "When I first saw him, I told him, 'oh, I can see you've been working out,' " related Francisco Garcia, with a grin. "I didn't want to say too much. You know him. He always has something to say. But he looks great."

A few quick thoughts ...

• Fredette seemed to be trying too hard to fit in. Unfortunately, he didn't have a Summer League or a real training camp to ease into his rookie season. The practices and the games will come hard and fast, and I hope he doesn't get overwhelmed by the pressure to be anything other that what he is: a rookie.

• In another life, the 6-foot-6 Chuck Hayes would have been a redwood tree. His lower body and legs are enormous. He also sets a mean pick, which the Kings shooters will love.

• Westphal's new offensive system really generates ball and body movement. While we were only allowed to watch about an hour of the opening session, I can't recall a single possession where I wanted to scream, "Give it up!"

• Tyreke Evans wasn't in great shape - Westphal thinks he could lose a few pounds - but he seems healthy for the first time in a long time. If he commits to becoming a better defender - in essence, a better all-around player - he and Salmons can be terrifically disruptive on the wings.

• Westphal is opting for two-a-day practices for the next three days. That's the traditional approach, though some coaches have switched to longer, once-a-day sessions. Given the compressed training camps, who knows what works better? Three-four practices or shorter twice-daily practices with down time in the afternoon to recover? This entire 66-game season is just another experiment.

December 10, 2011
Video: Jimmer, J.J. Hickson and John Salmons

I promise to get better with the recordings...but here are a few snippets from after practice today.

Jimmer Fredette discusses the media attention

December 10, 2011
Paul Westphal likes new Kings roster as it is

The Kings opened training camp this afternoon, and yes, Jimmer Fredette was here.

jimmer practiced.jpg%jpg

December 10, 2011
Kings open training camp this afternoon

With training camp with their first practice this afternoon I'm back to having video capability. Consider these practice runs and in a couple of days I should be close to 100 percent.

Media availability begins at 1 p.m., about an hour into practice. Be sure to check the blog later today and follow me on Twitter @mr_jasonjones for more frequent updates.

December 8, 2011
Kings will not practice Friday

Sorry. Between house duties and tweeting about David Stern killing the biggest trade of the offseason, I didn't follow up on a tweet from yesterday.

The NBA is open for training camp Friday but the Kings will not open training camp Friday morning. Instead the Kings will begin training camp Saturday at noon.

If the Kings make a trade or sign a free agent, that would be the only media access Friday.

There will be a team dinner Friday evening. But the basketball will be delayed for a day. Apparently the want as many players as possible for the first practice.

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