Rookie Nik Stauskas might have been the most popular King at Rogers Arena.
Stauskas, who was born in Etobicoke, Ontario, said he was nervous for his preseason debut in the Kings’ 99-94 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.
The first-round draft pick had 12 points off the bench, and the crowd cheered all of his baskets.
“It helped just hearing the love that I had from the crowd and seeing my family in the stands,” Stauskas said. “It was cool.”
Never miss a local story.
Stauskas made 4 of 8 shots, including 2 of 5 from three-point range.
The former Michigan star said nothing surprised him about his debut.
“I understand that I’m a rookie and I’m white, so people are going to attack me at all times,” he said. “Just coming out there in the game, I felt it right away.”
Stauskas and fellow Kings rookie Sim Bhullar, who is also Canadian, had a meet-and-greet with fans after the game.
Bhullar, a 7-foot-5 undrafted free agent, played the final 19 seconds. He would be the first player of Indian descent to play in the NBA if he made the roster.
The NBA Development League is Bhullar’s most likely route to the NBA as he continues to work on his conditioning and gain experience.
“I’m glad I got a chance to play,” Bhullar said. “It was good to hear the ovation from the crowd.”
First five – Malone’s first starting lineup of the preseason was Darren Collison and Ben McLemore at guard, Rudy Gay and Jason Thompson at forward and DeMarcus Cousins at center.
Malone has said Cousins and Gay are the only two players who definitely will start this season. Collison is no surprise considering he was Sacramento’s biggest signing in free agency with a three-year, $16 million deal.
McLemore ended last season as the starting shooting guard. Thompson was in and out of the starting lineup last season but is having a good training camp.
Malone plans to experiment with different lineups throughout the preseason.
Still searching – Contrary to a report over the weekend, the Kings have not hired a new coach for their D-League affiliate.
It was reported that the Kings hired former NBA player and coach Darrell Walker to coach the Reno Bighorns. Walker is a candidate, and the Kings plan to look at more possibilities for the job. Walker attended practice Friday.
The vacancy was created when Joel Abelson left for a job with the New York Knicks. The Kings would like to hire a coach for the Bighorns in the next seven to 10 days.