If you wanted to see DeMarcus Cousins on the court Monday night, your only chance was during pregame warmups.
Cousins, Rajon Rondo and Rudy Gay got the night off to rest as the Kings faced the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center. The Kings were in the second game of a back-to-back after routing the Dallas Mavericks at Sleep Train Arena.
Cousins has been dealing with tendinitis in his feet. Rondo has been playing with turf toe and a sore right shoulder and ankle.
“Just an opportunity for the young guys,” coach George Karl said. “It’s time to open up that window for some young guys to get that opportunity, have more responsibility and more accountability.”
I think Cuz’s foot, you don’t want to push that to the point where it gets more critical. I think Rajon is fine. He wants to be a cheerleader for DC (Darren Collison) and Seth (Curry) and a coach for them. Rudy, I think probably with this situation, back-to-backs are tedious for everybody.
Coach George Karl, explaining why he rested DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo and Rudy Gay against Portland
Veterans still filled the starting lineup, with Kosta Koufos replacing Cousins at center, Darren Collison taking over for Rondo at point guard and Omri Casspi replacing Gay at small forward. Seth Curry (shooting guard) and Quincy Acy (power forward) remained starters.
Karl said Cousins, Rondo and Gay were fine with the night off. All are healthy enough to be available Wednesday when the Kings host the Washington Wizards.
“I think Cuz’s foot, you don’t want to push that to the point where it gets more critical,” Karl said. “I think Rajon is fine. He wants to be a cheerleader for DC and Seth and a coach for them. Rudy, I think probably with this situation, back-to-backs are tedious for everybody.”
Reserve guard Marco Belinelli sat out Monday’s game because of a sore right foot, leaving the Kings with only nine available players.
Missing Moreland – Monday’s game would have been ideal to give minutes to second-year forward Eric Moreland. But he’s with the Reno Bighorns, the Kings’ NBA Development League team.
Moreland played only five games for Sacramento this season before undergoing surgery for a broken left foot. The Kings assigned him to Reno on March 19.
Karl said there is no set plan regarding when veterans will rest or when Moreland might rejoin the Kings.
“It would have been good to have Eric for this game,” Karl said. “As a coach, you always want that insurance policy.”
Lottery watch – The Kings have little incentive to win their final nine games. Entering Monday, Sacramento had the league’s seventh-worst record, 29-44. If the Kings finish outside the bottom 10, they lose their first-round draft pick to Chicago.
The Bulls acquired the protected pick in a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who obtained it in a 2011 deal with the Kings that sent forward J.J. Hickson to Sacramento for Casspi.