There can be a negative connotation to being known as a good locker room guy.
Your best playing days are behind you. You’re great to have around as a mentor. Just don’t expect to play much, if at all.
Anthony Tolliver embraces the opportunity to be a good teammate for the Kings, but he wants his contributions to extend beyond the locker room and onto the court.
The Kings signed Tolliver to a two-year deal in the offseason because they like the professionalism and focus he can add to a team that has been lacking it. But Tolliver saw more than a chance to mentor.
“That’s one of the reasons why I’m here instead of Detroit,” Tolliver said Tuesday after practice. “(The Pistons) definitely felt like I had a role on that team, but they just had so many young guys and so many guys they wanted to play. They wanted to bring me back as a locker room guy, which is great, but I’m not in that position yet.”
Tolliver, 31, likes giving back to the game in that manner. An important component to any team is a veteran who will teach young players while not griping about his playing time.
The Kings see Tolliver as more than a spectator. Coach Dave Joerger will have to juggle minutes for Tolliver along with Matt Barnes and Omri Casspi – players he sees as having similar roles.
But Tolliver believes Sacramento will give him a chance to contribute in tangible ways.
“Maybe in a few years, with a few more miles on my body, maybe I’ll be in that position to be a locker room guy,” Tolliver said. “But right now I feel I can still compete and help teams win games. That’s why I came here to get that chance. Looks good so far.”
Tolliver appeared in a career-high 72 games last season for Detroit, averaging 5.3 points and 3.2 rebounds. The Kings hope Tolliver (6-foot-8, 240 pounds) can add an outside shooting dimension at power forward. He is a career 35.7 percent three-point shooter.
“He’s a great teammate, highly professional and can make an open shot,” Joerger said. “He can play a big defensively and can play offensively as a small. We needed shooting and he’s a little bit of a utility guy. We’ve got some duplication between he and Matt and Omri and we’ve just got to work it out.”
Tolliver is optimistic about the Kings’ chances. He said team goals have yet to be discussed, but he wants to make the playoffs, something the Kings have not done the previous 10 seasons.
The Kings are Tolliver’s eighth NBA team, so he’s seen a lot of scenarios play out over a season.
He said the Kings remind him of two of his previous teams that made surprise playoff appearances – Charlotte in 2013-14 and Detroit last season.
“Very low expectations from media, from the outside world, but very high expectations internally,” Tolliver said. “A lot of hungry guys, a lot of guys that had been written off. Guys who maybe weren’t as valued on other teams in one place right now, wanting to come here and make something of it, change the attitude of people around the league of what Kings basketball is all about.”
Preseason rotations – No Kings player has logged major minutes through the first three preseason games. Joerger said he’s managed the first half of games close to how he might in the regular season, but he plans to look at a more traditional rotation in one of the final three exhibitions. The Kings play Thursday against the Lakers in Las Vegas, Saturday against the Wizards in Lexington, Ky., and Tuesday at home against the Clippers.
“I’m a little leery about going into the regular season not having had your main guys play main minutes,” Joerger said. “I want those guys to get at least one game where (they) get up to 30 (minutes) or get close because you want to test yourself, you want to put yourself there. I don’t know when that will be.”