It's tanking season, which is a confusing concept for Kings rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic.
"It’s a tough period of the year," Bogdanovic said. "I’ve never been in this situation, so I don’t think that way. I'm not relaxed, I approach every single game the same way, just looking to compete."
Tanking is the worst-kept secret in the NBA, and it's something that is foreign to Bogdanovic after successful years as a pro in Europe.
Well the "T word" is not in the Kings' vernacular. Players want to win and the coaches aren't trying to throw games. With the current roster and sitting veterans, the losses will come.
Still, that doesn't mean it's time to relax.
Bogdanovic's approach is key, and needed, to what the Kings want to be in the future. His version of relaxing was taking a couple of days off after a busy All-Star weekend, and he's almost apologetic in stating he's needed some extra days off at this stage of the season.
What Bogdanovic does believe in is playing the right way at all times. That's the only way to make this part of the season worthwhile.
That can be a problem when several young players are out to prove their worth in the league. That can lead to bad decisions, forced shots and forming bad habits, all in the name of making a name for themselves in the NBA.
It's an argument for not having as many young players as the Kings have. That leaves coaches and veterans to keep the youngsters in check, as the Kings have moments of young players trying to prove themselves instead of making the proper basketball play.
"It’s definitely a situation where if you do see some guys taking some tough shots, you’ve got to go film," said guard Garrett Temple. "And even during a game, during a timeout you tell them, 'That’s not a good one, you’ve got to swing the ball, we’ve got to play the right way.' You’ve got to build the right habits so when you do build enough experience, when you do get enough talent, it can translate into playing good basketball."
Kings coach Dave Joerger is quick to stop any discussion of tanking when it's mentioned in media sessions. Ask him anything about the game, but do not bring up tanking, unless you want no comment.
Managing the situation is tough enough. Some nights the Kings have been so overmatched it's not as if he has to try to lose.
Joerger drills the fundamentals. He's trying to make sure players do not stray from what's right on the court.
That's a challenge because the Kings collection of young talent is all at similar stages of their career, except for Bogdanovic because of his age (25) and international experience.
"It’s just part of the process," Joerger said. "Keep working with guys and showing them video and what are expectations are. And the role that they’re in may or may not be the same that it is a year or two years from now, but you try to develop as many as their skills as possible and keep teaching whenever there’s a teachable moment."
Bogdanovic and Temple said they see signs of growth in the commitment to play right. The tough part will be maintaining that through this part of the season as vacation plans become closer to reality.
"That starts from practice," Bogdanovic said. "As long we keep working hard in practice, we’ll always be competitive and try to win these games because if you practice hard, you don’t want go there and lose the game, you don’t want to play bad."
Bogdanovic's MVP performance in the Rising Stars game All-Star weekend was spectacular, and he hasn't slowed down.
He's averaging 15.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists in seven games since the break, including shooting 46.9 percent from 3-point range over that span.
Zach Randolph made the rookie mistake of the night Sunday when he ran onto the court to celebrate Skal Labissiere's game-winning 3-pointer, picking up a technical foul because the New York Knicks had not called a timeout.
Who says the veterans always make the right decision? Luckily for Randolph, it was something he could laugh about.
The Kings host Orlando on Friday, looking to sweep the season series with another Eastern Conference team. The Kings have already won both games against Brooklyn and Philadelphia this season.