Sacramento Kings

One former King showed out against his old club. Why he still has love for Sacramento

Rookie Skal Labissiere catches coach’s eye during Kings’ summer league action

Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger says rookie Skal Labissiere is one of the best ball handlers on the team. The coach also likes the rookie's on-court hustle as the team prepares during summer league play in Las Vegas.
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Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger says rookie Skal Labissiere is one of the best ball handlers on the team. The coach also likes the rookie's on-court hustle as the team prepares during summer league play in Las Vegas.

Skal Labissiere hasn’t had much of an opportunity to play this season.

After appearing in 13 games for the Kings, he was traded right before the NBA deadline to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Playing time has been more scarce with his new club. Entering Wednesday, he played 23 minutes over eight games and scored just two points.

So when he got the chance to start, he made the most of it.

Labissiere played 41 minutes and recorded his first double-double of the season with 29 points and 15 rebounds in a 136-131 victory over his former team Wednesday, the last day of the regular season.

“It was fun,” Labissiere said. “I haven’t had that much fun on a basketball court in a while. This year has been a roller coaster for me.”

The 6-foot-11 forward bulked up in the offseason in hopes it would lead to better results on the floor for the Kings. However, he ended up with more DNP-CDs than appearances, sitting out 41 games with Sacramento.

Once he got to Portland in a trade for Caleb Swanigan, he said the team reached out to him immediately.

“The day I got traded here, they welcomed me,” Labissiere said. “Dame (Damian Lillard) was the first guy who texted me to welcome me.”

While his teammates were receptive, the third-year forward hasn’t exactly been welcomed to coach Terry Stotts’ rotation.

Before Wednesday, his longest stint was five minutes.

He scored the first basket of the game and kept it rolling to earn his sixth career double-double. He said it wasn’t any sort of revenge game against his former club.

“It wasn’t so much about Sacramento, it was more about getting that opportunity, going out there and having fun with it,” Labissiere said.

Now, he’ll be on his first postseason team as the No. 3 Blazers match up against the No. 6 Oklahoma City Thunder.

“It’s my first playoffs,” he said. “I don’t know about the intensity yet. It’s different watching on TV than being a part of it, but I’m excited about it.”

He’s also excited about all the love he’s received from his former teammates and other people he’s known from his Sacramento playing days. He exchanged hugs, handshakes and more with Kings players and coaches, as well as media members from California’s capital city.

“It’s family over there,” Labissiere said. “When I got traded from Sac, people from the organization that I’d see every day, they got my phone number just so they could text me and tell me ‘thank you.’ It’s love out there.”

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