No high resolution image exists...
The long-awaited, lockout-shortened Kings’ season is finally underway as training camp has opened in Natomas at Sacramento’s training facility in the Power Balance Pavilion parking lot.
Here are some observations from the second and third day of the two-week training camp.
State of the Kings Address
Each training camp, Geoff Petrie, the Kings’ President of Basketball Operations, addresses the media to discuss the offseason and his early training camp observations. This year was a lot different for Petrie as he and the staff are having to cram over a months worth of moves, discussions and preparation for the upcoming season in a two-week period.
Here are Petrie’s comments regarding various items during his stand up before the gathered media.
On how he likes the current makeup of the team - “I think at the moment, we are happy where we are. The team has been reconfigured from the last season, so a new group with the potential for what we think is improvement. They all came into camp in pretty good shape considering what turned out to be a very lengthy offseason. They seem focused and energetic and everybody’s glad to be back playing basketball.”
On major differences from last year’s campaign - “I think we are going to be a better shooting team. We’re going to be a better passing team. And I think we will be better able to attack teams offensively in more ways than we were last year.”
On how much room does the team still have under the salary cap considering the signing of Marcus Thornton (4 years, $31 million) and Chuck Hayes (4 years, $21.3 million) as well as rookies Jimmer Fredette, Tyler Honeycutt and Isaiah Thomas to contracts - “We’re still about a million dollars and change away from the minimum salary.”
On how happy he was with the general shape the players came into camp in - “Yeah, I am. In general, there are probably a couple of guys that need to lose a little bit of weight, but overall DeMarcus is ten pounds lighter than he was at the beginning of training camp a year ago. Tyreke is in better shape than he was at the start of camp last year. Marcus is within a few pounds of his game weight. John (Salmons) is in terrific shape. Fredette and all the rookies are fine. Again, considering the amount of time, we are pretty good shape that way.”
Geoff Petrie also emphasized that the team has a couple of offers out there and wouldn’t be surprised if they added another piece or two to the puzzle. At this point, it seems a backup point guard and maybe another big man could be in the mix.
He also sees the amnesty dominos to fall slowly considering that many teams are waiting to see who drops who and what other late deals some teams may be able to throw together.
The Curtain Rises
At some point during each practice, the long canvas shade that keeps the media shielded from the team’s on-court activities rises to allow the gathered newsmen and women to gaze upon the balance of Coach Paul Westpahl’s training drills.
So far this season, the curtain has risen early to allow the media a long look at will be this year’s incarnation of the Sacramento Kings.
Once practice is over, Coach Westphal give his thoughts on the days workout. Here are some of those thoughts from the second and third days of training camp.
On a potential three-guard set with Jimmer, Tyreke and Marcus Thornton and how it’s looked in practice - “It really worked well. At one point, they ran off about 12 or 15 points in a row. We were picking up full court - we’ll be doing a lot more of that this year - and creating some turnovers and early shots and they got out and were explosive. So that’s a combination that can be real effective.”
On how the young guys have looks so far - “Probably the best of everybody. I thought Whiteside had his moments, and Jimmer, Isaiah and Tyler all were excellent.”
On what might be missing from last year that you’ll need this year’s team to step up and get done - “I just think we are trying to grow as a team. We’ve added some players with some experience and some versatility and ball-handling ability. We’ll be a better shooting team. Hopefully healthier and we’ll have a little more depth.”
On whether the Kings will be more of a running team the season - “I think our personnel dictates that can extend the defense a little more effectively and I think we’re doing to try and do that.”
On how John Salmons is fitting in so far - “I think he’s doing an outstanding job! He’s a real pro and he knows where he’s supposed to be and why and he’s helping the other guys. He’s been real good at both ends.”
On J.J. Hickson - “I see a real athletic, dynamic player. He’s still feeling his way with where he’s supposed to be and why, but I think he’s somebody who can bring an element of athleticism to the game every time he comes in.”
Words from the Crown Keepers
Here are some comment from various players after a couple of workouts under their belts.
Isaiah Thomas on being a leader in college and now learning from leaders in the pros - “Because (in college) I was always was the one to lead and was telling people what to do, but now they’re telling me what to do. At the same time, when I do tell them what to do, they are listening too so it’s a mutual thing with all of us. I’m just trying to learn on the flow and learn everything from the vets and the guys that have been here a while.”
Isaiah Thomas on what the coaches are looking for from him - “Just to play hard and come in and bring energy and that’s what I’m going to do whether it’s score for myself or make plays for my teammates, I’m gonna do whatever I can to help the team win and get more wins. That’s my job!”
Isaiah Thomas on getting acclimated to the Sacramento area - “I’m trying to get lost just to see if I can find my way back to the hotel and things like that. I’m just trying to get more comfortable on the court and off.”
John Salmons on his expected leadership role with the team - “I’m just being myself man. I’m not the real vocal type. I just try to come in and be a professional and lead by example. I try and come in everyday and work hard and play the right way.”
John Salmons on what has impressed him the most so far in camp - “They way they share the ball. They are all looking to find the open guy, hitting cutters. I’ve been surprised by that the most.”
John Salmons on having a former teammate - Bobby Jackson - as a coach now - “I guess the longer you play, the more ex-teammates you have as coaches (laughs). Bobby’s cool. Bobby was cool when I was here. We always got along well so we’ll get along well with him as a coach.”
J.J. Hickson on putting in extra time after practice working on his shot - “It’s very important. I’m trying to get better every day. I’m trying to get better with the team so I think it starts with the individual first. I’m gonna get my extra work in when I need to.”
J.J. Hickson on being traded from Cleveland - “I was real surprised. I started in Cleveland. They taught me everything I know up to now. I’m gonna try and come here and let my defensive principals from Mike Brown and Byron Scott roll over into this team.”
J.J. Hickson on what his best attributes are - “I think I’m best when I’m running the floor. Setting screens against the offense real quick. The scoring is icing on the cake but I’m going to do what I have to do to make me and my teammates better.”
Tyler Honeycutt on what he’s already picked up on from the veteran players - “The movement on the floor, reading screens, staying in space and running. (Francisco) Garcia’s been talking to me a lot so I’m listening to him.”
Tyler Honeycutt on Garcia’s mentorship - “He’s been kind of looking over me like a big brother telling me where to go and making sure I’m on the right spots on the floor.”
Tyler Honeycutt on the speed of the game - “It’s like going from high school to college, now it’s college to the big boys. Everybody’s taller, faster, stronger, smarter and more athletic so I’m just trying to get used to that. Getting in the weight room to get stronger.”
Jason Thompson on the new crop of talent and the future of the Kings - “It’s starting to be good. It’s good that everyone is here and healthy. We’re just getting the reps in and putting in the offense, getting used to our defensive principals and get some continuity.”
Jason Thompson on helping the young guys - “Everyone started mature. We’re easing into things with Jimmer and Tyler and Isaiah and just giving them tips and helping them out as we’re learning as well.”
Chuck Hayes on settling in - “There is a lot of energy in the building with the youth and the excitement. I’m learning. I feel like a rookie. I’m learning guys style of play. Learning where they like to shoot the ball, their strength, their weaknesses and trying to get some kind of chemistry with them on the court.”
Chuck Hayes on if he’s, at 6’6”, always played in the middle - “I’ve always been the center from elementary to junior high a little bit in high school and a little bit in college. So playing the position was never foreign to me. I’ve always been the big kid. If you asked to me play point guard, I’d look terrible, but playing center to me is something I’ve been doing my whole life.”
Chuck Hayes on his defensive mindset going against bigger guys night after night - “Every game is a marathon. It’s a 48-minute game. The point is I just try to outwork and outlast my opponent, my guy individually. I try and wear him down and make him uncomfortable. There will be some moments where he’ll get the best of me, but you got to expect that because everybody is a professional. But throughout the 48-minute game, I have to be able to outlast him when it matters.”
Jimmer Fredette on the rush to get ready - “It’s been really exciting to start my first training camp and to start with the team. Everything is pretty accelerated because our first exhibition game is coming up real soon, but we’re doing a great job of trying to stay focused, get the plays down and get our defensive scheme down and all the terminology. It’s a learning process right now, but it’s going well.”
Jimmer Fredette on what about his game will help this team and it’s cohesiveness - “The biggest thing is just to go out there and play my game. If you show them respect, they’ll show respect back to you. Get them the ball when they’re open and take your open shots and hopefully you make them. That’s how you gain respect by going out there and playing as hard as you can, making the right decisions and being a good teammate.”
Tomorrow in The Court Jester, a conversation with the former head honcho of the Golden State Warriors and new Kings' assistant Keith Smart.