Who would pass on a trip to the Bahamas?
Buddy Hield would.
The NBA invited Hield to his native country to be part of the first Basketball without Borders Camp held on the islands. Most would have understood had he desired to assist the camp, which runs Wednesday through Friday, the day the Kings open summer league play in Las Vegas.
Instead, Hield stayed in Sacramento to practice with his team.
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“This is my job,” Hield said. “I’ve got to be here. This is more important.”
The shooting guard did not want to miss the chance to play with his new teammates, as well as those he spent 25 games with last season after being acquired from New Orleans in the DeMarcus Cousins trade.
Hield earned All-Rookie First Team honors, but he still has a lot of catching up to do in Sacramento.
“No doubt – I’m learning the terminology,” Hield said. “It’s fun and coach does a great job, no matter which coach is teaching us. Coach (Jason) March is doing a good job, coach (Dave) Joerger or Vlade (Divac), whoever jumps in, they’re just giving us the right things we can learn from. And the plays and everything, I’m just learning day by day and getting used to it – learn all the options to the plays.”
Hield averaged 15.1 points for the Kings without knowing all his options. Practices can be scarce for NBA teams during the season, so it took Hield time to adapt to his new system.
“By the 10th game here last year I kind of got what was going on,” Hield said. “But day by day, as a basketball player, you start to adjust and you know where your shots are coming from. So you had to pick up quick and watch a lot of film. Now it’s just second nature for me. When they throw something out, I’m the first to know it and I’m adapting really quick.”
Hield believes his offseason work will show at the start of next season, but his education will be ongoing.
Not only is he learning some of the Kings’ terminology for the first time this summer, he’s also doing it during summer league among inexperienced players. March, a Kings assistant coach who will guide the summer league team, said Hield’s unfamiliarity shows at times.
“We stopped the practice today and talked about a couple of different situations that I think the answers would have been there for him if he had a training camp with us last year,” March said. “But now he’s starting to hear it, how we say it, from Day One. Obviously, he heard it last year, but now we’re able to take the time to teach it more and see different things. It’s part of the process for these young guys as they grow, and we’re going to see it for a long time.”
The Kings will be an extremely young team and has reached agreements to add veterans George Hill and Zach Randolph, but Hield sees himself as someone who can assist the rookies.
“We added new vets to the team but I’m still going to take a leadership role,” Hield said. “I’m going to come here and try to be the leader the young guys need me to be.”
NBA Summer League
The Kings will play at least five games in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. After three preliminary round games, the 24 teams will be seeded in a tournament, with the championship July 17.
Game 1: Friday, July 7, vs. Phoenix, 7:30 p.m., Thomas & Mack Center, ESPN2
Game 2: Sunday, July 9, vs. Memphis, 7 p.m., Cox Pavilion, NBA
Game 3: Monday, July 10, vs. L.A. Lakers, 7:30 p.m., Thomas & Mack Center, NSCA