The Kings signed guard Orlando Johnson to a 10-day contract Wednesday. Johnson was a second-round draft pick of the Kings in 2012 before his draft rights were traded to Indiana for cash.
Johnson was waived by Indiana last week.
A 6-foot-5 guard with a desire to play defense, Johnson is the kind of player Kings coach Michael Malone wants on the roster.
It also helps that Johnson played for Indiana, a team that plays good defense and fosters the kind of culture the Kings would like to build.
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Malone didn’t speak about Johnson as if he’d only be around for 10 days.
“I know he’s going to come in here for 25 games and push all the guys around him,” Malone said. “He’s going to be one of the first guys here and last guys to leave and on top of that he’s a talented player.”
More Malone on Johnson:
“We can’t get enough guys that want to work hard, want to push the guys around them and are willing to buy in to the culture that we need to create here. I think Orlando represents all those things. I’m not trying to make him out to be Michael Jordan, I don’t want everybody to get carried away. But I think he’s a nice addition at this stage of the season, we’ll see it how goes and go from there.”
Johnson didn’t play much for the Pacers this season, averaging 9.0 minutes in 38 games. But the lessons Johnson learned with the Pacers are the kind Malone has preached all season.
“They taught me the right way to play the game,” Johnson said Wednesday after practice. “It starts with being a selfless player, playing for each other and doing it on the defensive end.”
Malone is familiar with Johnson because he worked out for him when Malone was still coaching with Golden State.
Malone’s message to Johnson before practice with the Kings was simple.
“I want him push all the guys around him,” Malone said. “I told him this morning you’re not coming in trying to fit in, I don’t want you to try to be everybody’s friend. I want you to go at people’s necks.”
Johnson did not need that reminder.
“I knew what I was coming here for,” Johnson said. “I want to go at everybody. I’m coming in to stick and I’m going to show them I’m going to be a player in this league.”
Malone said Johnson is a good team defender, capable individual defender and possess a high basketball IQ -- qualities the Kings have lacked in recent seasons.
Malone said Johnson would be available for Friday’s game at the Los Angeles Lakers.
“We got him, it’s a 10-day contract, he’s in great shape, he knows how to play,” Malone said. “He picks up things fairly quickly and a lot of the things we try to do defensively are things Indiana tries to do so there’s a good chance he plays (Friday) night.”
Johnson will backup Ben McLemore. His addition would mean less or no playing time at shooting guard for Travis Outlaw.
Johnson said any disappointment about not being with the Pacers any longer is tempered the opportunity he has with Sacramento.
“I think if we can get the right defensive mindset we can start turning things around here because that’s where it really starts at,” Johnson said. “If we want to take our games to the next level, it starts on the defensive end. I learned a lot in that organization (Indiana) and I just want to try my best to help in that regard.”
• Johnson played high school basketball at Palma High School in Salinas. He began his college career at Loyola Marymount before transferring to UC Santa Barbara. Johnson was the Big West Player of the Year in 2010 and an All-Big West selection from 2010-12.
• Johnson’s signing continues a trend of the Kings looking to add more size to their backcourt. Gone are smaller shooting guards Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette. Like Johnson, McLemore is 6-foot-5.
Rookie point guard Ray McCallum is 6-foot-3..The only guard that’s not tall is Isaiah Thomas.