The Kings and Grizzlies have had some exciting games so far this season. The Kings currently lead the season series 2-1, but the Grizzlies have held double digit leads in every matchup. It’s been over a month since the last matchup and things are much different now than they were back on December 22nd. The Grizzlies have totaled just 3 wins since the late December loss to the Kings. Meanwhile the Kings are just 2 games outside of the playoffs as they’ve continued their early season success.
The Kings have exceeded expectations for most this season. Have the expectations changed with the team just outside the playoff hunt 48 games in? Or is something like making the playoffs just a cherry on top for this year?
I wouldn’t say that the playoffs would just be a cherry on top. It would be more like another sundae on top of the sundae. This year has already been an enormous treat for Sacramento’s fans, but there’s no doubt that a playoff berth would be a monumental achievement -- one fans will be desperate for if the Kings are still in the running down the stretch. Expectations have changed, but even if the team comes up short, this season will be looked back on as a success.
Marvin Bagley III got his first career start earlier this week and dropped 20 and 10. National fans have slept on Bagley since the Kings took him over Luka. What has impressed you the most with Bagley so far this season?
Surprisingly, my answer has to be his defense. Even the draft analysts who were highest on Bagley thought that defense would be the weakest part of his game. That’s not been the case at all. He has shown really nice instincts protecting the rim and has the quickness to get out toward the perimeter when he has to. Right now he’s being asked to play a lot of power forward, but eventually he will slot in to the 5. What he’s shown on defense suggests to me that he will more than capable of handling those duties on both sides of the floor.
Earlier this year, Dave Joerger had some issues with certain members of the Kings front office. What was going on there and has it been resolved, or is Joerger in hot water with the Kings front office?
I can’t offer much insight to the interworkings of Sacramento’s staff and front office, but I’d be happy to recap what has been out there in the media for months now. Allegedly, there was a disagreement between Coach Joerger and assistant GM Brandon Williams around playing time distribution -- specifically for Marvin Bagley’s minutes. Someone leaked the notion to the media that the disagreement could eventually lead to Joerger’s dismissal if things didn’t change.
Coach Joerger obviously didn’t appreciate that and has made his opinions clear on the matter. Some tension probably still exists, but it appears to have been dying down over time. Ultimately, no, I don’t believe that Joerger is in any hot water with the front office. His success this year has made him hugely valuable, to a degree that no Kings coach has achieved for years.
The Grizzlies have been a hot mess lately and have put both Marc Gasol and Mike Conley on the trade block. Do you think the Kings would be interested in a potential trade for either player, considering their relationship with Joerger?
Despite the connection to Dave Joerger, I can’t see a scenario where Sacramento has interest in either star. It’s just not a good fit for the Kings timeline. A move for either player would probably force the Kings to break up their young core, and I can’t imagine that is something they would be interested in doing. Things are going well for the Kings for the first time in a long time, and any major move like that would probably be too risky.
Buddy Hield has had a phenomenal season for the Kings this year. Has he solidified his role as backcourt partner to De’Aaron Fox for the years to come?
Absolutely. Buddy has proven to be one of the best shooters in the entire NBA, and that’s exactly what De’Aaron Fox needs alongside him. Quite frankly, he may be the best shooter in the world right now who is not named Steph Curry. I’m sure the Kings will do whatever they can to keep Hield in town long term.
Bonus Question: The biggest issue for the Kings this season seems to be figuring out their Small Forward situation (Grizz fans can relate) as they’ve tried different players in that role. With the extra cap space the Kings have, who is your ideal SF for the future of the Kings?
This is a tough question, as I have to take into account what type of players would realistically want to come to Sacramento. I could just say “Kevin Durant” and be done with it, but I know that isn’t happening. We at Sactown Royalty have thrown a lot of names around, but it feels like the best possible solution would be Tobias Harris or Khris Middleton. Even players of that caliber have been out of Sacramento’s grasp in the past however.
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