When the Kings traded John Salmons to Chicago with Brad Miller on Feb. 18, 2009, they viewed the deal as one that would help the team rebuild for the future.
Salmons was averaging a then-career-high 18.3 points, but the Kings were looking to shed salaries and begin developing young players.
The Kings were 11-44 on the day of the trade and well on their way to the worst record in the NBA with 17 wins.
Salmons went on to be a key player in playoff runs for the Bulls that spring and the next season in Milwaukee. Meanwhile, the Kings continued to wallow near the bottom of the standings.
The Kings, still seeking their way out of the basement of the Pacific Division, reacquired Salmons by sending Beno Udrih to Milwaukee in a three-team trade that included Charlotte on the night of the NBA draft.
Salmons, entering his 10th season, returns wiser and is expected to be a leader on a team short on experience among some of its key players.
Thus far, Kings coach Paul Westphal has been pleased with the veteran's presence.
"I try to take pride in being a professional, anyway," Salmons said. "Even if I wasn't in this role, that's what I try to be. I try to come out and play hard, try to bring it every day in practice, try to bring it in every game. Just try to play the right way and lead by example."
In Westphal's first two seasons as Sacramento's coach, he has started several players at small forward.
He has wanted one that could be relied on defensively while also being a threat on offense.
The primary small forwards have been Francisco Garcia, Donte' Greene and Omri Casspi, who was traded to Cleveland.
Greene hasn't been consistent on both offense and defense, and Garcia, who has been a starter and reserve, has battled injuries the past two seasons.
Westphal's desire to add Salmons centered on his versatility on offense and ability to defend. Salmons can score multiple ways, can handle the ball and defend all perimeter positions.
It also didn't hurt seeing Salmons excel for Chicago and Milwaukee in the playoffs. Salmons averaged 18.1 points in seven playoff games for the Bulls in 2009 and 17 points for the Bucks in 2010.
The Kings looked at small forwards prior to the draft, but with improvement both wanted and needed soon, a rookie would not immediately help the situation.
"There's no substitute for experience, especially in the NBA these days when players are coming out after one year," Westphal said. "And usually your top players come out after very little college (experience)."
Salmons said he matured as a player while in Chicago and Milwaukee. The lessons he has learned are ones Westphal would like to see instilled in young players, too.
"You can definitely pick things up just from watching (Salmons)," rookie forward Tyler Honeycutt said. "And if you're curious and you ask him, he's willing to help you. If I've got any questions, I'm going to ask him."
Playing on playoff teams also showed Salmons the kind of drive it takes to contend for championships.
"You can't take plays off. No games off. It's nonstop, going hard," Salmons said. "When you're not in that situation (on a winning team), you don't realize how hard it is. It definitely helped me prepare better and get ready for those situations."
So far, Salmons has been everything Westphal had hoped he would be. He showed up for camp on time, focused and in shape.
The coach has praised Salmons' play during camp, and the veteran can be seen sticking around after practice for extra work.
"When you can have a player who has a lot of basketball left but still has experience, it helps your team a lot," Westphal said.
Injury update Guard Tyreke Evans (sprained left foot) and center DeMarcus Cousins (sprained right ankle) did not finish Wednesday's practice.
Both are listed as day-to-day.