Vasquez's debut is brief but positive in Kings' preseason win
10/15/2013 12:00 AM
10/15/2013 11:55 AM
His teammates would say Greivis Vasquez was just fine physically. But there was no rush to get him back on the floor until the team deemed him healthy enough to test his ankle in game situations.
Finally, an opponent was able to deal with what the Kings have seen in practice for the last two weeks.
It was only for 11 minutes, but Vasquez made his Kings debut in a 99-88 preseason win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night at Sleep Train Arena.
The 6-foot-6 point guard was the first veteran the Kings acquired under new management. He was the key player in the sign-and-trade with New Orleans for Tyreke Evans.
But Vasquez hadn't played in the preseason while recovering from offseason ankle surgery.
Vasquez started the game before checking out for good with 52 seconds left in the quarter. He had two points, two rebounds and an assist.
"It was great to be out there," Vasquez said. "It's been five months for me. My first real game after practicing so hard. It was great to be out there."
The Kings, one of the worst passing teams in the NBA last season, coveted Vasquez, who finished third in the NBA at 9.0 assists per game last season.
Vasquez has been described as a hard worker, disciplined and a player who gives maximum effort, traits not associated with the Kings in recent seasons.
The Kings also are banking on Vasquez to provide much-needed leadership.
"He's a great leader, has great passion," Kings coach Michael Malone said. "He's unselfish, a playmaker."
But the fourth-year guard has been careful not to assert himself too much early in his stint with the Kings.
"I'm trying to fit in and find my way," Vasquez said. "I think the guys will respect me as I show my game and walk the walk. I just can't walk in and start talking without doing anything on the court."
Though he wanted to play early, Vasquez said waiting was best because he didn't want to put too much strain on his body after playing through pain much of last season.
"The timing is great for me to get out on the court and show what I can do and lead this team," Vasquez said. "But it's going to take some time. It's not going to happen overnight."
The Kings will continue to be cautious with Vasquez, but his effort before Monday was already making an impression.
Even if he couldn't play in games, he wanted his teammates to know he was all in with them.
"I know what he can do," center DeMarcus Cousins said. "It's about him getting his legs under him and just getting back in the rhythm of the game. He's been away from it for a while, so he's still trying to get into it, but he's going to be a big piece to this team."
Vasquez said it was important to do as much as he could before playing in games. Practices were his only opportunities to make an impression before Monday.
"I showed them I'm not one of those players that makes excuses," Vasquez said. " I've been practicing with them the whole time; I haven't missed any practices. That shows how much I'm committed to the team and to the coaching staff."
Cousins led the Kings with 31 points and 11 rebounds against the Clippers, who sat out All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and starting center DeAndre Jordan.
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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