Kings Rumors

Kings Notes: Gentry, Haliburton, Walton, Metu, Barnes

New Kings head coach Alvin Gentry called out his players and apologized to fans after a disappointing collapse against the Lakers on Tuesday night, and was pleased with how the players responded against the Clippers on Wednesday, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. The Kings jumped out to a double-digit first-half lead for a second straight night — this time they held on for a victory.

“They’re a good bunch of players. They’re a good bunch of kids and I think they want to do the right thing,” Gentry said. “I just wanted to remind them that we have to do it on a consistent basis, but I thought the response was great.”

Here’s more on the Kings:

  • Second-year guard Tyrese Haliburton said on Wednesday that the Kings’ players bear the responsibility for producing consistently and that former head coach Luke Walton shouldn’t have been blamed for their inability to do so. “We as players know we have to be better,” Haliburton said, per Anderson. “It seemed like Luke was a scapegoat at times when we weren’t playing well. People were blaming him, but at the end of the day it’s on us as basketball players and we have to be better. It’s not on any staffs. It’s not on any front office. It’s not on anybody except the guys on the court.”
  • Chimezie Metu‘s $1,762,796 salary for 2021/22, which had been partially guaranteed for $881,398, was set to become fully guaranteed if he remained under contract through Wednesday, as Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Teams and players sometimes agree to push those guarantee dates back, but there has been no indication that Metu and the Kings took that route, so we’re assuming for now that the big man’s salary for this season is fully guaranteed. His $1,910,860 salary for 2022/23 remains non-guaranteed.
  • Harrison Barnes, who has missed the Kings’ past four games due to a right foot sprain, was sent to the Stockton Kings on Thursday to practice with the G League club, Anderson writes for The Sacramento Bee. Barnes’ NBAGL assignment will be brief, as he’ll be recalled in order to practice on Friday with the NBA squad, tweets Sean Cunningham of ABC 10 Sacramento.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Sarver, Suns, Iger, Payton

The Kings haven’t exactly turned their season around since firing head coach Luke Walton on November 21. They had nice wins over Portland and the Lakers last week, but lost at home to a Philadelphia team missing all its starters last Monday, were blown out by a Memphis team without Ja Morant on Sunday, and lost to a LeBron James-less Lakers team on Tuesday.

Up by 12 points in the second quarter on Tuesday, the Kings were outscored by 34 in the second half and ultimately fell 117-92, prompting new head coach Alvin Gentry to express his unhappiness in his post-game presser.

“The second half was a disaster and an embarrassment, and as the coach of this team, I want to apologize to every Kings fan out there because you do not deserve this,” Gentry said, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “You deserve much, much better and we’ll find guys who will give you better.”

Post-game press conferences criticizing the Kings’ performance are nothing new for this year’s team — veteran center Tristan Thompson has ripped Sacramento’s play on multiple occasions. However, it hasn’t seemed to have had much of an effect on the 8-14 squad.

Gentry’s promise to the fans that the Kings will “find guys who will give you better” may be an indication that he intends to make changes to the lineup or rotation. If the club doesn’t start winning more, it could be just a matter of time until a more drastic roster shakeup occurs.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Baxter Holmes of ESPN provides an update on the investigation into Suns owner Robert Sarver, noting that the firm conducting the probe has begun scheduling and conducting in-person interviews with current and former team employees. However, as Holmes outlines, former employees who signed non-disclosure agreements are still seeking assurances about their ability to speak freely to investigators without facing legal consequences.
  • There’s no indication yet that the investigation into Sarver will result in him having to sell the Suns. However, reports from Matthew Belloni of and Abigail Gentrup of Front Office Sports identify former Disney CEO Bob Iger as someone who would be interested in buying the franchise if the opportunity arises.
  • Speaking to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, veteran guard Gary Payton II expressed appreciation to the Warriors for recognizing the value in his skill set and giving him a chance to play a regular role this season. “Golden State understands what I bring to the table, my defensive skills, my off-ball cutting, screening, being able to play the dunker and just take open shots when they present themselves,” Payton said. “There are a lot of guys, like Draymond (Green), that can do a lot of different things and help win games. Not every player is going to score 30, and, I obviously don’t shoot like f–king Steph Curry, but I do damn near everything else elite. It just took one organization to understand that and realize that.”

Pacific Notes: Bagley, Gentry, George, Lakers

The Kingscoaching change has provided a new opportunity for Marvin Bagley III, writes James Ham of Kings Beat. Bagley was out of the rotation under former coach Luke Walton and reportedly refused to check into a game earlier this month. His role has increased under Alvin Gentry, who gave him 35 minutes in Friday’s triple-overtime victory against the Lakers.

Bagley appears to have a new attitude with Gentry in charge, Ham observes. Instead of posting up and clogging the lane, he has been spacing the floor and attacking the glass for rebounds. Gentry is also trusting Bagley on defense, matching him up at times with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on Friday.

On Wednesday, Bagley hit a clutch three-pointer to ice a win over Portland and responded with an enthusiastic show of emotion that has been rare during his four seasons in Sacramento.

“I was probably talking crazy, I was just hyped, man, the passion came out,” Bagley said. “It was a big play for my team, I was just happy to make it.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee examines whether Gentry can turn the Kings‘ season around and break the franchise’s long playoff drought. Gentry has plenty of experience with this situation, as this is the fourth time he has taken over a team in midseason. “Obviously, it’s a change of coaching, and, basically, there’s not a whole lot that’s going to change from the standpoint of what we’re trying to accomplish and what we’re trying to do,” he said. “It’s just getting the players to perform at a higher level, and then, obviously, finding a way to complete games.”
  • Clippers star Paul George deserves to be included in the MVP discussion, contends Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. With Kawhi Leonard sidelined, George has become an outspoken leader of the team. He’s also putting up MVP-level numbers with 25.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.9 steals per game, along with the highest usage rate of his career. “We need him to do everything that he’s doing for us to be in position that we are,” Reggie Jackson said. “I think he’s playing at the best level and he’s in the best mindset that he’s been in.”
  • The Lakers have plenty of questions after the first quarter of the season, including Frank Vogel’s job status and whether it’s time to panic over the roster following a 10-11 start, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Gentry, Simmons, COVID-19

The Sixers lost in overtime in Joel Embiid‘s return from COVID-19 Saturday, but the star center was just relieved to be back on the court, writes Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times. Embiid missed the team’s last nine games after testing positive for the virus and described it as a frightening experience.

“I mean, I really thought I wasn’t going to make it,” he said. “It was that bad. I’m thankful to be sitting here.”

Embiid started slowly, making just one of four shots in the first eight minutes of the game, but he eventually became his usual dominant self. He played more than 45 minutes and scored 42 points, with 25 of those coming in the fourth quarter and overtime.

“I didn’t think I was going to play tonight,” Embiid said. “To me, it’s a miracle I played this many minutes, but it’s good.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Alvin Gentry, who became the Kings‘ new interim coach when they fired Luke Walton last weekend, decided to join Sacramento’s staff in the offseason even though the Sixers made a more lucrative offer, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. There has been speculation that the Kings might shake up their roster in their quest for a playoff spot, but there have been no recent talks with Philadelphia about Ben Simmons, Fischer adds.
  • Simmons was seen working out at the Wells Fargo Center before Saturday’s game, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Simmons completed his session before the team’s walkthrough, then left before the game started. There has been no progress in his standoff with the team, Pompey adds, as Simmons continues to contend that he isn’t mentally ready to play, while the Sixers want him to return unless mental health experts confirm that he can’t.
  • The Sixers fell to 10-10 with the loss, but injuries and COVID-19 have hounded the team through the first quarter of the season, Pompey notes in a separate story. Saturday marked just the seventh time that all five starters have been played together, and the team has played just twice with a full roster available. “We showed the potential that we have,” Danny Green said. “With our guys being out, it just shows how great we could be. We just have to show the rhythm and that chemistry. But we never know if we’ll get that with the guys back. But that potential that we have and how good we could be, and the way we were playing without our guys, I think it shows a lot of character and how great we can be.”

Harrison Barnes, Richaun Holmes Likely Won't Be Sidelined Longterm

James has played positions 1-through-4 at different points of his career. Having the ability to also play the five is unprecedented, but it’s something he may need to do when Anthony Davis sits this season. Having lost to the Kings on Saturday, the Lakers dropped to seventh in the Western Conference (10-11).

  • Kings forward Harrison Barnes and center Richaun Holmes both missed Saturday’s game, but interim coach Alvin Gentry is confident the duo won’t be sidelined for long, James Ham of ESPN 1320 tweets. Barnes is day-to-day with a sprained right foot, while Holmes is dealing with a non-COVID-related illness.

Two Warriors Assistants Could Receive Consideration For Kings' Coaching Job

Before he became the controlling owner of the Kings, Vivek Ranadive was a minority stakeholder in the Warriors, and he still has a “stubborn fascination” with his old team, writes Marc Stein at Substack. According to Stein, there’s buzz in league circles that a pair of Warriors assistants – Mike Brown and Kenny Atkinson – will be among the candidates who receive consideration for the Kings’ head coaching job if the team doesn’t retain Alvin Gentry beyond this season.

Fox, Haliburton Remain Off-Limits In Trade Talks

Pincus Thinks Kings Could Be Among Most Active Teams At Trade Deadline

  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report tries his luck at predicting which teams could be most active in trade talks leading up to the February deadline. Lottery teams like the Kings, Thunder, Magic, and Pistons are among those Pincus views as the best candidates to make moves.

Kings Notes: Gentry, Christie, Fox, Ranadive, Thompson

Alvin Gentry wanted to avoid the “interim” tag after taking over head coaching duties when the Kings fired Luke Walton on Sunday, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic.

Sources tell Amick that Gentry was unsuccessful because the front office believed it had another viable candidate in first-year assistant coach Doug Christie. Even though general manager Monte McNair, assistant GM Wes Wilcox and chief strategy officer Joe Dumars all supported Gentry, having Christie as an option gave the organization leverage in its negotiations with Gentry.

Gentry received a raise as part of his new duties, Amick adds, and he has a contract that runs through the end of next season. However, his future as the head coach in Sacramento will depend on how successful he is at turning the team around. Amick notes this is the fourth time in his career that Gentry has received this type of promotion, and he was able to earn long-term coaching stints with both the Pistons and Suns.

As the lead assistant, Gentry already had a huge influence on Sacramento’s offensive strategy, so other than possibly increasing its pace, the team won’t look much different with him in charge.

“This is not about making mass changes or changing philosophies or anything like this,” Gentry said. “I think we’ve got a good system in place. So I think what we have to do is we have to have our players perform better. I’ve got to be better. All the other coaches have to be better, and our players have to be better. I think it’s a group thing.”

There’s more from Sacramento:

  • The Kings’ next major decision should be determining whether they can build a contender around De’Aaron Fox, Amick adds. Fox has gotten off to a terrible start in the first season of his five-year, $163MM extension, shooting just 42.1% from the field and 24.% from three-point range. Three-guard lineups with Tyrese Haliburton and Davion Mitchell haven’t been effective, observes Amick, who wonders if a roster upheaval may happen before the February 10 trade deadline.
  • Gentry is the sixth coach in eight years for owner Vivek Ranadive, writes Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee. Ranadive has a history of being impatient, Biderman adds, and his desire for change caused the organization to part with Michael Malone, who has become a perennial playoff coach in Denver.
  • Tristan Thompson, who was acquired over the summer to provide veteran leadership, said after Monday’s loss to the short-handed 76ers that it will take an organization-wide effort to recover from the poor start (video link). “I think everyone has to look in the mirror,” said Thompson, who also publicly expressed frustration with the team’s situation last week. “It’s not only just players. Yes, it’s a player’s league … but in terms of building a team, it takes a collective group. It takes everyone from the top to the bottom. From ownership to the trainers, to the equipment managers, to the players, to (the physical therapist), to the GM to the assistant GM. It’s all of us.”

Fox Says Team Has To Keep Pushing

  • De’Aaron Fox said it was a bit of a shock that Luke Walton was fired at this stage of the season, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. However, he added that the Kings have to put that behind them quickly. “You’ve just got to keep on pushing,” Fox said. “Obviously, you have some guys who have been through it in the middle of a season before, but you can’t go into the game worried about what happened. We’ve still got games to play.”