Kings Rumors

Kings Notes: Dellavedova, Johnson, Huerter, Murray

Kings reserve guard Matthew Dellavedova has a fractured finger, James Ham of The Kings Beat relays via a team update (Twitter link).

Dellavedova suffered a right index finger fracture during the fourth quarter against Portland on Wednesday. Treatment options are being mulled and there’s no timetable for his return.

The 32-year-old has appeared in 32 games off the bench but is only averaging 6.7 minutes in those outings. He’s playing on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal.

We have more on the playoff-bound Kings:

  • Stockton Kings GM Paul Johnson has been named the NBA G League Basketball Executive of the Year, according to a press release from the team. Johnson became the first executive in Stockton history to earn the award after leading basketball operations for the last two seasons. Stockton finished with the best regular season record (25-7) and matched the franchise single-season record for victories with regular season wins and Showcase Cup wins combined (37). However, the team was upset in the G League playoffs this week.
  • Several teams were interested in acquiring Kevin Huerter when the offseason began last summer, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. The Kings were not one of the teams his representatives initially mentioned to him. However, Sacramento and Atlanta soon came to terms on a deal for Huerter, who was vacationing in Spain at the time. Huerter was expecting to get dealt after the Hawks acquired Dejounte Murray. “It just felt like there were too many cooks in the kitchen,” Huerter said. “Somebody was gonna go.”
  • Lottery pick Keegan Murray has set the league record for most 3-pointers by a rookie, according to a league press release. Murray sank his record-breaking 188th 3-pointer of the season on Wednesday. Donovan Mitchell previously held the record, having knocked down 187 during the 2017/18 season. “Breaking any type of records at the highest level in anything you do is absolutely amazing. And to see Keegan do that (Wednesday), with the way he’s played all year and how hard he’s worked, was an amazing feat,” coach Mike Brown said.

Kings Snap Record-Setting Playoff Drought

The Kings have ended the longest active stretch of futility in pro sports. Light the beam.

With Wednesday’s road win over the Trail Blazers, the Western Conference’s third seed has officially clinched its first playoff berth in 17 years, following 16 straight seasons in the lottery.

The victory improves Sacramento’s season record to 46-30. The team still has a very realistic chance at achieving its first 50-win season since the 50-32 Kings hit that mark in 2004/05.

The ’05/06 season marks the last time the Kings qualified for the playoffs. At 44-38, Sacramento was the eighth seed in the Western Conference under the stewardship of then-head coach Rick Adelman, who had led several of those Chris Webber-era teams so achingly close to the NBA Finals around the turn of the 21st century.

That year’s Kings club was fronted on the floor by a few leftover players from those halcyon days, including point guard Mike Bibby and stretch forward Peja Stojakovic. Bibby led the team in scoring that season, at 21.1 points per game. Stojakovic (16.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG), forward Metta World Peace (16.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.2 APG, 2.0 SPG), and center Brad Miller (15.0 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 4.7 APG) served as the club’s other leading scorers.

In 2006, that Sacramento club was vanquished in a six-game first-round series by the Spurs, the league’s then-defending champs.

The 2022/23 Kings are fronted by the All-Star point guard De’Aaron Fox — the league’s leading fourth quarter scorer — and All-Star center Domantas Sabonis, who are both enjoying career seasons for an elite offense. New head coach Mike Brown, fresh off winning his third title with the Warriors last summer as Golden State’s associate head coach, is a leading candidate for 2023 Coach of the Year honors.

The Kings’ 16 straight seasons out of the playoffs represented the longest streak in NBA history and the longest active playoff drought in any of the four major North American sports. Sacramento will pass that torch to the NFL’s New York Jets and possibly the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres — the Jets have missed the postseason for 12 straight seasons and the Sabres will be in the same boat if they don’t make the playoffs this spring.

The longest active postseason drought in the NBA now belongs to the Hornets, who last made the playoffs in 2016.

Mike Brown Says Coach Of The Year Award Would Be Important To Franchise

  • Mike Brown, who’s among the favorites for Coach of the Year honors, said the award would be important because of the recognition it would bring to the Kings and the city of Sacramento (video link).

Pacific Notes: Fox, Huerter, Warren, Poole, Warriors

Kings guard De’Aaron Fox exited Friday’s win over Phoenix in the third quarter and didn’t return, even though he wanted to keep playing, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. It’s unclear whether Fox, who was dealing with right hamstring soreness, will be forced to miss any additional contests, including Saturday’s against Utah.

“Until I get a quote-unquote official report, there’s always concern in situations like that,” head coach Mike Brown said after the game. “But we’ll wait and see what they say and then kind of go from there.”

While they lost Fox halfway through the game, the Kings got a boost on Friday when Kevin Huerter made his return following a three-game absence due to a leg injury. Huerter didn’t miss a beat upon rejoining the starting lineup, racking up 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting and chipping in nine rebounds and five assists in one of his best performances of the season.

“It’s great to get Kevin back on the floor,” Brown said. “His ability to create separation without the basketball is really — it’s up there with the elite guys in the league. I’ve been around some pretty good ones. He’s up there with that. Any time you have a player who is capable of that, who shoots it the way he does and draws as much attention as he does, it’s huge.”

Whether or not Fox is available on Saturday night, it has a chance to be a memorable evening in Sacramento. According to the NBA (Twitter link), the Kings would officially clinch their first playoff berth since 2006 if they win and both Phoenix and the Clippers lose.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Suns forward T.J. Warren said this week that he’s “slowly but surely” finding his footing in his second go-round with Phoenix, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Warren, who was something of an afterthought in the Kevin Durant blockbuster, didn’t play more than 13 minutes in any of his first 15 games as a Sun and was a frequent DNP-CD, but has scored 21 points in 48 minutes across his last two outings. “It’s tough coming to a team that’s pretty established and trying to find a good rhythm along the way, but it’s been solid,” Warren said. “Just looking to bring some value on both ends of the floor.”
  • Jordan Poole‘s production for the Warriors this season has been up and down, but Friday’s performance was a reminder of how he played in the 2022 postseason and what the team hopes to get from him this spring, per Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. The 23-year-old had 33 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter. More importantly, he has turned it over just once in the last two games. “Just better decision making and more mindful play,” Kerr said of Poole’s play. “Understanding that the ball is everything for us.” Poole’s four-year, $123MM rookie scale extension will go into effect in 2023/24.
  • While the defending champion Warriors aren’t concerned about their exact playoff seed, they’re certainly making it a priority to end up in the top six in the West so they don’t have to worry about competing in the play-in tournament, where one bad night could end their season, according to Kendra Andrews of ESPN. “That is dangerous,” Draymond Green said. “We’d much rather avoid that.” Golden State currently holds the No. 6 seed, with a 1.5-game lead on the top two play-in teams.

Huerter Questionable Friday After Practicing

  • Kings shooting guard Kevin Huerter was able to practice on Thursday and is questionable for Friday’s game against Phoenix, per Sean Cunningham of Fox 40 KTXL (Twitter link). The sharpshooter has missed the past three games with a mild strain of the popliteus muscle, which is behind the knee.

Front Office Pursued Collins Before Sabonis Trade

  • The Kings added Kevin Huerter last summer as a shooter to play off of De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis but the team pursued another Hawks player before they acquired Sabonis from Indiana, Zach Lowe of ESPN reports. They were interested in power forward John Collins and nearly closed a deal with the Hawks that would have sent Harrison Barnes and a protected 2022 first-round pick to Atlanta for Collins. That deal fell apart as the Sabonis one emerged.

Charania Interview With Fox, Sabonis

  • Charania recently interviewed Kings All-Stars De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis (Twitter video link). They covered a number of topics, including head coach Mike Brown, last year’s trade that brought Sabonis to Sacramento, Sabonis’ thumb injury, and their respective All-NBA cases, among others.

Joel Embiid, Domantas Sabonis Named Players Of The Week

For a second consecutive week, Sixers center Joel Embiid and Kings center Domantas Sabonis have been named the NBA’s players of the week for the Eastern and Western Conference, respectively, the league announced today (via Twitter).

Embiid continued to make a strong case for Most Valuable Player consideration in the last seven days, averaging 35.0 points, 12.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 3.3 blocks in three road games (32.3 MPG). The Sixers won all three contests by an average margin of 22.7 points.

Sabonis, meanwhile, led the Kings to a 3-1 week that included road victories in Chicago, Brooklyn, and Washington. He averaged a triple-double (22.8 PPG, 16.0 RPG, and 10.0 APG) and shot 59.3% from the field in those four games (37.8 MPG).

Embiid has now matched Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo with four Eastern Conference player of the week nods this season. Sabonis and Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard lead the West with three player of the week awards apiece.

Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan, and Evan Mobley were this week’s other Eastern Conference nominees, per the NBA (Twitter link). Sabonis’ teammate De’Aaron Fox was a nominee in the West, along with Jalen Green, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Austin Reaves.

Huerter, Lyles Remain Questionable For Kings

  • The Kings didn’t have shooting guard Kevin Huerter and forward Trey Lyles in Saturday’s win over Washington, and both are listed as questionable for tonight’s contest at Utah, notes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Huerter has a strain in his right knee area, while Lyles is experiencing soreness in his right shoulder.

Davis Takes Advantage Of Extended Minutes

Terence Davis, an unrestricted free agent after the season, has seen his playing time plunge this month. He got a chance to play big minutes on Saturday due to injuries and delivered a 21-point, seven-rebound game for the Kings, Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee writes. Davis acknowledged that he needed an outing like that.

“I haven’t been playing well,” the Kings guard said. “So that’s just point-blank, period. I haven’t been playing well. I haven’t been locked in, honestly. I’m just trying to get that rhythm back. The opportunity opened back up for me and I was able to take advantage of it.”

  • Kings GM Monte McNair and VP of player personnel Phil Jabour traveled to Greece to watch draft-and-stash prospect Sasha Vezenkov play, columnist Shot Vetakis tweets. The Olympiacos Piraeus forward is considered the favorite for the EuroLeague MVP award, according to Javier Gancedo of Kings players have endorsed bringing in Vezenkov, who is averaging 18.2 points and 7.2 rebounds in 28 EuroLeague contests this season.