Michael Malone The Kings' coach is worried more about a lack of effort than losses at summer league.

Kings' lack of effort a cause for concern

Published: Friday, Jul. 19, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2013 - 3:13 pm

LAS VEGAS – Wins and losses don't matter much in summer league – except, maybe, when your team loses all four of its games, three by double-digit margins.

The 0-4 record might not be significant, but the Kings also haven't earned any points with their performance in Las Vegas, leading coach Michael Malone to question his players' effort.

The Kings wrap up summer-league play today at 3 p.m. against the Atlanta Hawks. Because of the new tournament format, Wednesday's 92-54 loss to Minnesota means the Kings will play the minimum five games.

"Every time you take the floor you're representing the franchise," summer-league coach Chris Jent said. "You're representing yourself, you're representing the (NBA Development League affiliate Reno) Bighorns, and to compete like that has got to sting and carry into (today)."

When summer league began, Malone's primary goal was to establish a standard for work ethic and defense for draft picks Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum and other players who might be invited to training camp and have an opportunity to play for the Bighorns next season.

Even after Wednesday's blowout loss, Malone still wasn't talking wins and losses, instead focusing on the players' effort.

"It gets hard (to watch), but we'll use film for Ben and Ray and use this for teaching," Malone said. "The best time for teaching is after a loss. We'll use this as a teaching opportunity for those guys, and hopefully (today) we'll play better."

Based on the first four games, there are plenty of teachable moments for their two draft picks.

One concern about McLemore's game before last month's draft has shown up throughout the summer-league games. McLemore, who needs to improve his ballhandling and better protect the ball, is averaging 3.5 turnovers.

McCallum has shown he can finish around the rim and set up his teammates as a point guard. But Malone wants McCallum to be wary of dribbling too much and finding himself in bad positions on the floor.

Malone said both players need to be "a lot more mentally tough and focused in what we're trying to do" because some of the work in practice is not carrying over into games.

McLemore acknowledged that Malone's message hasn't been executed during games, with Wednesday's loss the worst example.

"We're not even worried about the offensive end," McLemore said. "We've just got to lock down on defense. That was our biggest thing when we got here for training camp and that coach Malone stressed."

Malone reminds players that summer league gives them an opportunity to showcase their skills, and not just for the Kings, but also for other teams here and overseas.

"The bottom line is we can't play the way we played the last few games and expect good things to happen," Malone said.

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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