Greivis Vasquez The 26-year-old Venezuelan appreciates that Pete D'Alessan- dro's first trade was for him.

Point guard Vasquez eager to join Kings

Published: Saturday, Jul. 13, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Monday, Jul. 15, 2013 - 6:58 am

LAS VEGAS – Pete D'Alessandro's first conversation with Greivis Vasquez after the Kings' general manager agreed to trade for him was memorable.

Vasquez, a 6-foot-6 point guard, expressed excitement about joining the Kings.

"He's a player and a model of what we're looking for as a team," D'Alessandro said. "… I'm excited for us. I'm excited for our fans. I'm excited for his teammates."

Vasquez, acquired in the three-team trade that sent Tyreke Evans to New Orleans, said he can't wait to move to Sacramento and begin preparing for next season.

In a phone interview Friday, Vasquez was appreciative that D'Alessandro brought him to Sacramento.

"His first trade was for me," said Vasquez, a 26-year-old Venezuelan. "I'm not going to let him down."

After New Orleans acquired All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday from Philadelphia on draft day, Vasquez became available.

When the Pelicans made an offer to Tyreke Evans, a restricted free agent, D'Alessandro had an opportunity to acquire Vasquez.

Last season, his third in the NBA, Vasquez averaged career highs of 13.9 points and 9.0 assists. The latter figure was third best in the NBA behind the Celtics' Rajon Rondo (11.1) and the Clippers' Chris Paul (9.7).

Vasquez's passing skills give the Kings an opportunity to improve ball movement, which was often minimal last season as players resorted to one-on-one play.

The Kings want unselfish players who will be accountable, and Vasquez fits the bill.

"I think I can showcase my leadership skills, my talent and things that people haven't seen yet," Vasquez said. "I want to be the leader. I want to be the guy people follow. I didn't come here to score 40 points. I came here to make my teammates better."

The Kings admittedly were often selfish with the ball last season. They finished 25th in the NBA with 20.8 assists per game.

That selfishness often created tension on the court, and Vasquez is expected to help change that climate.

"I think as he sets the tone, that kind of basketball is contagious," Kings coach Michael Malone said. "When the ball starts moving around, then nobody cares who gets the credit. You pass up good shots to get great shots, and Greivis will set the tone for us from Day One.

"So we're ecstatic to have him. He's definitely part of the new identity we're talking about. He's kind of a great example of what we're trying to build."

Malone also said Vasquez has the size to play multiple positions.

Vasquez said he already has reached out to Kings fans via Twitter. He will wear No. 10 because his former number, 21, was worn by Vlade Divac and has been retired by the team.

Vasquez, who had offseason surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle, said he's about eight weeks from being cleared and will be ready for training camp.

"This was the place I wanted to be," Vasquez said. "I heard a couple of other teams were trying to get me, but I felt this was the best situation for me. New coach, new GM, new owner – it's just a fresh start."

Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

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