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  • Hector Amezcua / hamezcua@sacbee.com

    Center DeMarcus Cousins holds his one-year-old son Amri on Monday after he signed a four-year, $62 million contract extension with the Kings.

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    Center DeMarcus Cousins speaks at a news conference on Monday with the Kings' new principal owner, Vivek Ranadive.

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    The Kings' Patrick Patterson makes like Superman during a photo op Monday for members of the team's creative services staff.

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    Carl Landry hams it up with a handsome hat at the Kings media day.

  • Randy Pench / rpench@sacbee.com

    Ben McLemore makes a playful dunk over Travis Outlaw at the Kings' practice facility.

Anticipation, excitement abound as Kings open camp

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 - 10:42 am

The buzzword was excitement, and there were plenty of smiles.

That's typical for media day, which the Kings hosted Monday at the team's practice facility, just hours after officially announcing a four-year, $62 million contract extension for center DeMarcus Cousins.

Now the focus shifts to the basketball court, with the Kings opening training camp today at UC Santa Barbara.

It's the second year in a row that camp is being held away from Sacramento. Last year, the Kings practiced at the U.S. Olympic Training Complex in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Coach Michael Malone's reasons for taking camp on the road are much the same as former coach Keith Smart's. The difference this year is the Kings have a new ownership group, front office and coaching staff, and a roster that will begin the season with at least five new players.

"There were so many new pieces, the plan was, let's get away and try to build our team," Malone said. "We want to get better defensively and put in our stuff offensively, but just as important for me was, let's get together off the court and build teamwork, chemistry and build trust, because at the end of the day, all that stuff matters on the court."

Malone was pleased that 13 of the 14 Kings with guaranteed contracts were in town for voluntary workouts last month, the lone absence being veteran John Salmons.

Malone said that was his challenge to the Kings, telling them not to just talk about becoming a better team, but show it by committing to getting better and holding each other accountable.

Malone said having camp in Santa Barbara is another step in creating an environment of accountability and camaraderie.

"Usually when you stay in the (home) city, more often than not, there's the chance players will go back to their homes, their residences and be by themselves, be with their family or whoever is there at that household," forward Patrick Patterson said. "When you go on the road, you're forced to be around each other, especially if you go to a … location that no one is familiar with (and) causes the players to be around each more than they probably would like to. It develops a chemistry; it develops a relationship."

Forward Carl Landry said the voluntary workouts were an important step in building the foundation for camp.

Landry, who signed with the Kings as a free agent after playing for Golden State last season, saw the benefit of September workouts with the Warriors, who made the playoffs.

"With the additions this whole organization has made over the last four months, it's definitely important to try and get a head start instead of us walking in the first day of training camp trying to get to know our teammate," Landry said.

Cousins played a big part in the offseason workouts, receiving credit for helping get his teammates to join him last month.

"I consider myself the leader of this team, so I take all responsibility that comes with it," Cousins said.

That responsibility begins with two-a-day workouts beginning this morning.

One of the Kings' new players, point guard Greivis Vasquez, said he is "85 to 90 percent" healed from offseason surgery to clean up loose particles in his right ankle.

"I'm going to go through camp for sure," Vasquez said. "I'm going to do everything we have to do, but I'm probably going to play limited minutes through the first couple of games because I want to be playing in April. I don't want to overload my ankle right now and not be able to play later on."

KEY DATES FOR KINGS

Today through Sunday: Training camp at UC Santa Barbara

Monday: First preseason game, at Warriors, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 14: First preseason home game, vs. Los Angeles Clippers, 7 p.m.

Oct. 30: Opening night, vs. Denver, Sleep Train Arena, 7 p.m.

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

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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