Kings Notes: Fox, Sabonis, Brown, Playoffs

The Kings won for the seventh time in their last eight games on Thursday vs. New York, picking up a five-point home victory in a nationally televised game and maintaining control of the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. However, head coach Mike Brown wasn’t thrilled that his team let the Knicks grab 23 offensive rebounds and nearly blew a 21-point third quarter lead, as Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee relays.

“You can tell I’m a little frustrated,” Brown said during his post-game press conference. “It’s a great win. You take wins at this time of the year. But that’s not how we should be playing basketball, what you guys saw tonight. I’m not happy with our performance at all except for the fact that we got the win. Somehow, some way, we have to be better throughout the course of the ball game.

“I’m going to put pressure on Domas (Domantas Sabonis) and Foxy (De’Aaron Fox). They have to hold themselves to an elite level on every possession. But just as importantly, they’ve got to open their mouths and hold their teammates to a high standard. Because that ain’t going to fly.”

Brown has been highly supportive of his star players all season, campaigning for them to receive All-Star and All-NBA consideration. His critical tone after a victory perhaps indicates that the expectations are starting to rise in Sacramento, with Brown taking steps to ensure that his team won’t be happy to simply break its 16-year playoff drought and lose to a lower seed in the first round.

Later in his presser, Brown said he believes Fox can be even better than he has been so far this season, suggesting that his point guard has a “switch” that he sometimes doesn’t flip on until the fourth quarter.

“Somehow, some way, I got to get him to turn it on for a little closer to the 33 or 34 minutes he’s playing, instead of just waiting for the fourth quarter,” Brown said. “Because he’s more than capable. I’ve been around a lot of great slash elite players — I’m a little hesitant to say this, because I haven’t been with him long enough and I haven’t seen him do it in the playoffs yet — but he may capable of being on that level. But the great ones, the elite ones, they do it all the time.”

Here’s more on the Beam Team:

  • The Kings haven’t clinched a playoff berth yet, but Fox and others have begun talking about the postseason with some certainty, as Anthony Slater of The Athletic details.
  • Fox, who admitted he wasn’t sure if he’d still be in Sacramento through the 2021 and 2022 trade deadlines, told Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report that he had confidence in this year’s roster even after the Kings got off to an 0-4 start in the fall. “I knew this was a different team,” Fox said. “There was a foundation that was built with this group that no one else could see. I know what losing feels like, and even though we got off to a rough start, I felt like we all were on the same page, and that’s the difference.”
  • In the same Bleacher Report story, Haynes writes that one of the changes Mike Brown implemented in his first year in Sacramento was to encourage each player and coach – along with team owner Vivek Ranadive – to sign contracts prior to the season fully committing to their assigned roles. “We had a team dinner at the start of training camp and everyone’s specific role was explained,” Brown said. “Some guys were not happy with their roles, but if you agreed to honor your role, you signed the contract. No one was forced to do so, but if you signed it, your teammates saw that you made a commitment to fulfill your obligation. So if s–t hits the fan, there is no way to run. You will be held accountable if you stray away from your commitment to the team. When you truly value s–t, you protect it and embrace it. That’s what I wanted out of our team. All the players signed it.”
  • Count LeBron James among those who believe Brown should earn Coach of the Year honors this season. Responding to a tweet that called Brown the frontrunner, James said of his former Cavaliers coach, HANDS DOWN!!!!!! Mike Brown got them boys hoopin hoopin!!
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