The Kings pulled an about-face this morning ahead of their 3 p.m. game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, announcing they had assigned guard Ray McCallum to the Reno Bighorns of the Development League and then rescinding the assignment an hour later.
Head coach Michael Malone just explained the reasoning behind the move (or non-move), first clarifying that McCallum hadn’t actually left the team today before they decided to keep him around for the game.
“He’s like Elvis - he never left the building,” Malone said.
“We’re playing a team that likes to play a lot of small ball,” Malone continued. “They’ll play three ball-handling guards out there at times with Jarrett Jack, Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving, so (we) just felt why not have Ray around today in a game that he might be able to play in.”
Malone, who added that McCallum is “probably one of our better perimeter defenders,” did make it sound like the first-year guard will be headed to the D-League soon. He has one previous stint in Reno this season, averaging 22 points in three games between Nov. 21 and 27.
With the Kings, McCallum, the second-round pick in the 2013 draft, has appeared in just seven games for an average of 2.4 minutes.
“He just needs to play,” Malone said. “He’ll go down to the D-League, get extended minutes, have the ball in his hands.
“Obviously in college, playing for his father, (he was) a very good player. But he also has to be able to run his team, be more of a playmaking guard at times, know how to get his teammates shots, find out where they’re most effective and put those guys in position to have success.”
* The Kings have won back-to-back games for the first time this season and today will try for their first three-game winning streak since Dec. 5-8, 2012. Malone said there is some significance in that before the Kings leave for a six-game road trip.
“We knew going into this five-game homestand that we had a chance to establish ourselves as a consistent team and we did not do that in our first two games,” he said.
“To beat Portland and Orlando, and now we have a challenge with the Cleveland Cavaliers today -- it’s another opportunity for us to defend our home court and prove that we can be a consistent team.”
* Prediction time: The Kings face a team, who much like themselves, are adjusting to a new key player after a trade.
The Kings, however, have the advantage of having their new players for a month while Luol Deng hasn't even been a Cavalier for a week.
That should be enough to help the Kings end the game with their first three-game winning streak of the season.
Kings 103, Cavs 100.
My record: 18-16
Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. Read his online reports at blogs.sacbee.com/bay-area-baseball.