New Kings head coach Luke Walton has been keeping Hield off the court late in close games ever since a defensive lapse cost the team a victory against San Antonio on December 6, Jones adds. Hield didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter Monday and saw just 4:06 of action in the final frame of Thursday’s double overtime loss.
“Seems like we’re all over the place,” Hield said. “… Trust issues going on, I guess. They stop believing in players. It is what it is.”
Hield’s comments capped an overall miserable night for the Kings, who fell to 12-19 with their fifth straight loss. Not only did they allow Minnesota to snap an 11-game slide, but De’Aaron Fox left the game after two minutes with back spasms and Marvin Bagley III exited in the third quarter with an injured left foot.
But the bigger issue might be Hield, who is lashing out at the organization two months after signing a four-year rookie-scale extension worth $86MM. Hield also clashed with former coach Dave Joerger after repeatedly abandoning set plays to get his own shot, and Jones notes that their uneasy relationship was part of the reason for Joerger’s dismissal.
That’s not going to happen with Walton, who has a four-year contract and the full support of management, Jones adds. He was given the freedom to remove Dewayne Dedmon from the rotation after the team signed the free agent center to a three-year, $40MM contract this summer, and he will be allowed to handle Hield as he sees fit.
Hield didn’t directly attack Walton last night and made it clear to reporters that he doesn’t feel like he’s being singled out by the coaching staff.
“I never said that,” Hield said. “I just feel like I’m one of the better players on the team, I should be in there in the fourth quarter, trying to help my team win, regardless. That’s why I’m here, right?”
Hield hit a key shot in the first overtime and played the entirety of the second one. However, he showed questionable judgment at the end as the Kings had the ball and a chance to win with 11.6 seconds remaining. Hield ran off nearly the entire clock before misfiring on a 3-pointer.
“I don’t coach the team, it is what it is,” he said. “I’m an emotional player. I express my feelings on the bench and they know how competitive I am and they hear me. I don’t say nothing quietly. They know I’m all about winning, I’m a team-first guy and nobody says I’m being selfish so that’s not the case, I’m not a selfish guy.
“I’m all about winning. When I’m not out there, it hurt my gut not to be out there. For the past two games when I feel I can make a difference. … I know they’re trying to prove a point, of course. But the point didn’t get proved; that’s a game we could have won.”