Kings Blog and Q&A

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

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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
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.
Pete

*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.

September 30, 2013
Vasquez says he's almost 100 percent for training camp

The Kings wrapped up Media Day in the last hour and are preparing to fly to Santa Barbara for training camp, which opens tomorrow at UC Santa Barbara.

There were a lot of laughs. DeMarcus Cousins jokingly begged John Salmons for a hug because he hadn't seen him all summer.

Travis Outlaw was "dunked" on by Ben McLemore (see video below) with the help of Patrick Patterson.

And there was a bit of news on the health of new point guard Greivis Vasquez, who had surgery to clean up loose particles in his right ankle in the offseason.

"I'm 85-90 percent ready," Vasquez said. "I'm going to go through camp for sure, I'm going to do everything we have to do but I'm probably going to play limited minutes through the first coupile of games because I want to be playing in April. I don't want to overload my ankle right now and not be able to play later on. Coach Malone is very aware of that."

Tomorrow's practice will begin the debate over who should be the starting point guard - Vasquez or returning starter Isaiah Thomas.

Other position battles to monitor will be who starts at power forward and how coach Michael Malone looks to use his shooting guards.



October 8, 2012
Some leftovers from Colorado Springs

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

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

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

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

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

Transition to triangle

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

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


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

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

It was Dec. 2010.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So about the dunk?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On how he feels physically this year:

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

On the benefits of playing off the ball last season:

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

October 6, 2012
Kings take team building outdoors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Sacramento was but also a very inefficient on offense.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kings coach Keith Smart following this morning's practice.

October 3, 2012
Evening practice notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black Team

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

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

Red Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there was still some talk of offense after practice.

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

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

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

September 28, 2012
Jimmer Fredette ready for his second season

Jimmer Fredette might be the target of some angry scowls next week.

If any of his teammates want to know where coach Keith Smart got the idea of training in the altitude of Colorado Springs, Colo., they can look at the second-year guard who spent part of his offseason working out in Denver.

"Coach got the idea when he came out to work me out and he saw it's tough to workout out there," Fredette said. "You've got shorter breath and you get in great condition out there. And he was like 'Maybe we're going to try to have training camp up here.' It was just an idea he got into his head and he wanted to do it and that's why we're having it."

September 24, 2012
Kings training camp roster

I've been on football duty again (this time the Sacramento Mountain Lions) and noticed no one posted the Kings announcing their training camp roster.

Here's the list:

Num Player Pos Ht Wt DOB Prior to NBA/Country Yrs

45 Cyril Awere C 6-11 268 01/02/1985 Stade Nabeulien (Tunisia)/Nigeria R

3 Aaron Brooks G 6-0 161 01/14/1985 Oregon/USA 4

15 DeMarcus Cousins C 6-11 270 08/13/1990 Kentucky/USA 2

13 Tyreke Evans G 6-6 220 09/19/1989 Memphis/USA 3

7 Jimmer Fredette G 6-2 195 02/25/1989 Brigham Young/USA 1

32 Francisco Garcia F-G 6-7 195 12/31/1980 Louisville/Dominican Republic 7

42 Chuck Hayes F-C 6-6 250 06/11/1983 Kentucky/USA 7

9 Tyler Honeycutt F 6-8 188 07/15/1990 UCLA/USA 1

52 James Johnson F 6-9 248 02/20/1987 Wake Forest/USA 3

26 Tony Mitchell F 6-6 210 08/07/1989 Alabama/USA R

55 Hamady N'Diaye C 7-0 235 01/12/1987 Rutgers/Senegal 2

25 Travis Outlaw F 6-9 207 09/18/1984 Starkville HS (MS)/USA 9

33 Willie Reed F 6-9 220 05/16/1990 Saint Louis/USA R

0 Thomas Robinson F 6-10 237 03/17/1991 Kansas/USA R

5 John Salmons F-G 6-6 207 12/12/1979 Miami (Fla.)/USA 10

22 Isaiah Thomas G 5-9 185 02/07/1989 Washington/USA 1

34 Jason Thompson F 6-11 250 07/21/1986 Rider/USA 4

23 Marcus Thornton G 6-4 205 06/05/1987 Louisiana State/USA 3

Awere, Mitchell, N'Diaye and Reed do not have guaranteed contracts. Mitchell played on the Kings summer league team and was a standout during his week in Las Vegas.

September 18, 2012
Kings remain pleased with offseason progress

The Kings reputation for being a group of young players who do not work hard might be slowly changing.

The organization is genuinely pleased with the work many of the players have done this offseason.

Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof first mentioned the new structure of the offseason program at the Kings' Draft Lottery party. Maloof said the team had never gone into an offseason with players being so prepared to work on the weaknesses in their games.

The program, crafted by coach Keith Smart, included Smart visiting players as they worked out in various cities across the country.

Smart also encouraged players to workout together and many have come back to Sacramento throughout the summer to workout as a group.

The developments have also pleased basketball president Geoff Petrie, who said eight-to-10 players have been in town working out.

"It's good to see the guys coming back already," Petrie said. "I think it's been one of the most consistent offseason for a lot of our players."

It's not just that players are showing up. It's that they are getting in good work with drills that translate to games and improving their conditioning.

Smart isn't interested in spending a lot of time in camp working on conditioning. That's a problem Paul Westphal had to deal with as coach.

Beginning Oct. 3 in Colorado Springs, we'll start to see if Smart's summer plan paid off.

*Petrie said the Kings should have their training camp roster finalized soon. The team will likely begin training camp with 18 players.

The Kings have 14 players under contract, leaving one spot open should a player impress and the team decide to keep him around.

One of those players could be Tony Mitchell, the rookie small forward from Alabama who impressed during training camp.

Petrie said the Kings want and expect to have Mitchell in camp.

September 12, 2012
Kings need new way of thinking to start winning

There's no denying the Kings' road back to the playoffs is harder this coming season.

Never mind the improvements made by contenders such as the Lakers and Clippers.

Teams that didn't make the playoffs last season - Minnesota, New Orleans, Golden State and Phoenix - also made moves this offseason to become playoff teams.

The Kings added Aaron Brooks, James Johnson and drafted Thomas Robinson.

None are superstars so the Kings will be relying on their young stars to grow up to move up in the standings.

"All these teams made drastic changes so the quicker we can bond and put away some of the issues young teams deal with the quicker we can move forward," said Kings coach Keith Smart.

Smart said he shouldn't have to repeat some of the same instructions repeatedly in 2012-13.

If Smart is still reminding players to play defense and pass the ball, the Kings will continue to be a lottery team.

"All our guys have got to understand if we continue to do thing the same way we will continue to get the same results," Smart said.

Smart is mostly associated with Don Nelson when it comes to his coaching career. But Smart would love to bring the ways of another coach - Gregg Popovich - to the Kings.

Throughout the season and even today, Smart mentions the way the Spurs play as a model for the what the Kings have to become to win.

Of course, the Spurs have three players with All-Star credentials and veterans willing to sacrifice to chase a championship.

The Kings have players trying to establish who they are and are who are willing to do that at the expense of the team too often.

How do the Kings fix this? Smart would love to rid the Kings of the "my" way of thinking.

"'My' has gotten us 25, 24, 23 wins (a season)," Smart said.

Soon we'll see if the Kings are more "we" than "my."

September 11, 2012
Team-building key to Colorado Springs

The Kings holding training camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., is different.

Why leave town for practices? Coach Keith Smart has the answer.

"When you start having camp in your facility the one element you miss out on early is that team building block early," Smart said.

Team building has been at the top of Smart's list for the Kings since taking over in January for Paul Westphal.

Smart couldn't believe on the road most players on the Kings didn't socialize together. And training in Sacramento was not going to aid the process.

So when Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie said Smart had the OK to move training camp for five days of practice, Smart sought out venues and decided on one he knows well in Colorado Springs at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

"I had experience from playing and working out with the national team back in college (at the facility)," Smart said. "I thought it would be good for our team to keep bonding."

Smart said players not having the option to go home away from teammates after practice and ride the bus together everyday can foster camaraderie.

And heading to Colorado will help eliminate distractions.

It's something he saw while coaching the Warriors when the team would begin training camp in Hawaii (I would have voted for the Kings in Hawaii).

"I saw the benefits when those guys got together and those guys would hang out together," Smart said.

If this means we'll see more unselfish play on offense and defense from the Kings remains to be seen.

Smart, believes this is the right way to start out to reaching that goal.



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