The decision to rest players isn’t as simple as giving a veteran a night off after he played 40-plus minutes.
For the Kings, if they rest their starters and lose, it could help their chances of retaining a lottery pick. But there’s also the question of putting on a show for the fans.
Entering Wednesday’s game against the Washington Wizards at Sleep Train Arena, the Kings had the league’s seventh-worst record, 29-45. If their first-round pick is outside the top 10, it goes to the Chicago Bulls.
The Kings sat starters DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Rajon Rondo on Monday, when they lost to the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center. All three started Wednesday.
Some might suppose that in a disappointing season, the least the Kings could do is ensure the home fans see the full roster. After Wednesday, they have only four more home games.
“I think that’s a discussion that may be had on an off-day,” coach George Karl said. “I think a lot of it is determined by the game, the purpose of the game. ... Thoughts come in our head after every game.”
Karl said planning to use a key player for only part of a game isn’t likely.
“I think players used to 35 minutes don’t like that,” Karl said. “I think they like the routine of a full game, rather than half of a game or two-thirds of a game. At least that’s some of the discussions I’ve had with some of the veterans.”
Sitting out key players gives minutes to young players, notably rookie center Willie Cauley-Stein and third-year guard Seth Curry, without deferring to the veterans.
The next game in which the Kings likely will rest starters is Saturday against the host Denver Nuggets in the second of back-to-back games.
Denver was only 1 1/2 games ahead of the Kings after beating the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. Catching the Nuggets only hurts the Kings’ chances of keeping their first-round pick.
The pick goes to Chicago if it is outside the top 10 thanks to the 2011 trade that sent forward Omri Casspi to the Cleveland Cavaliers for forward J.J. Hickson. The Bulls acquired the pick from the Cavaliers.
Both players from that trade were in Sacramento on Wednesday. Casspi is in his second season back with the Kings, and Hickson is a reserve for Washington.
Easy pick – Asked who he thought would win the NCAA championship, Karl didn’t hesitate.
“Yeah, I think Carolina blue is going to win again,” he cracked. “That was hard.”
Karl is a North Carolina graduate who played for Dean Smith.