Ray McCallum went from a Kings team for which he started the final 30 games last season to a San Antonio Spurs squad that already had an All-Star starter in Tony Parker and a proven backup in Patty Mills. But you won’t hear McCallum complaining.
“I feel like I’m in a great situation,” McCallum said. “I’m happy to be (with the Spurs), feel like I have a great opportunity to learn and get better.”
In July, the Kings traded McCallum, their second-round draft pick in 2013, to the Spurs for a second-round pick next year. McCallum became expendable when the Kings signed Rajon Rondo to a one-year contract, planning to have Rondo share time with Darren Collison at point guard.
McCallum, 24, landed with one of the NBA’s most stable and successful franchises in the Spurs, who visited Sleep Train Arena on Monday night.
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McCallum averaged 7.4 points and 2.8 assists in 68 games last season, and he improved those numbers to 11.2 points and 4.3 assists over his final 30 games while starting for the injured Collison.
So far this season, McCallum has played sparingly, totaling 11 minutes in three games. But before Monday’s game, he said he’s taking a long-term view of his situation.
“Going to a team like the Spurs early in my career I think is going to help me in the long run, because of the great players around me and the coaches,” McCallum said. “I’m trying to soak up all the knowledge I can.”
McCallum said he has long studied film of Parker and relishes the chance to watch the 33-year-old veteran play and go against him in practice. He said Parker also has been a willing tutor as McCallum learns the Spurs’ offense and the tendencies of coach Gregg Popovich.
“Just how (Parker) runs the team, the way he’s so crafty, his footwork, the way he finishes around the rim, there’s a lot of things he does really well,” McCallum said. “Everything he does, I’m sitting there watching and learning.”
McCallum said the trade was unexpected and he enjoyed his two seasons in Sacramento, leaving with “a lot of good memories.”
“We were a close team, we all hung out, and I really enjoyed all my teammates,” he said. “The fans and everyone, they were always good to me. I really enjoyed my time here, and it feels good to come back.”
Short-handed in backcourt – Collison (strained left hamstring) and Seth Curry (sprained right ankle) were inactive Monday. That left the Kings thin at guard, where coach George Karl said he planned to play Rondo for at least 40 minutes and might use at least one timeout just to give Rondo a breather.
Rondo played 44 minutes against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. Karl said the veteran guard “recovers quickly, but he did get tired a little bit.”