Practice was wrapping up Tuesday at Ryerson University when assistant coach Roy Rana started talking to reporters. As a half dozen Candian journalists held out their recorders, Cory Joseph couldn’t stay away.
The Kings guard walked up to the group, wrapped his arm around Rana and started talking about how much he enjoyed working with Rana, who has coached with the Canadian national program for years.
“When I was a kid, he took care of me,” Joseph, who plays for Team Canada, said. “He’s been in the game for years.”
Rana was the star attraction at Ryerson not just because he’s Canadian, but because he coached at the university for a decade. He doled out handshakes with friendly faces he hasn’t seen since landing a job over the summer with the Kings.
To be back at Ryerson with an NBA team and all its training staff was wild.
“It’s pretty special. It’s mind-blowing to be here with all our guys, all our coaches. They get a sense of where I came from,” Rana said.
While Sacramentans might not be all that familiar with Ryerson, they’ve probably heard of the building where the practice was held: Maple Leaf Gardens. The building, which went up in 1931, was home to the Toronto Maple Leafs until 1999.
Harry Giles on the rebound
Harry Giles III was on the Ryerson practice floor for a full couple of hours. At the end, he worked with fellow forwards Trevor Ariza and Harrison Barnes. All the players repeatedly spun away from a coach who was defending them and laid the ball in the basket.
On Giles’ last rotation, he slammed the ball down and whooped, happy to be done with the drill.
Though he hasn’t played for the Kings yet this year, there’s reason to believe he could suit up soon. Coach Luke Walton said Giles will get in a game when he’s seen enough effort, strength and ability in practice.
“Minutes are earned in practice and that’s where it’s unfortunate that he’s missed so much time, because he hasn’t had the opportunity to earn minutes,” Walton said. “As he gets healthier and healthier and continues to practice and make plays, has an understanding of the offense, then he’ll earn those minutes.
“We’re excited to be having him come back but we also completely understand that it’s not like he comes back and he’s in the rotation. You gotta earn that on the practice floor first.
Kings hit the books
The Kings started the season like a high school student who hadn’t studied for a big test. Yeah, they hadn’t studied, but they were pretty sure they’d get by on natural ability.
Sacramento players and coaches talked about learning to win during a five-game losing streak to start the season while the Phoenix Suns, another team with a new coach, have roared to a 5-2 start.
With two wins under their belts – a nail-biter against the Jazz and a laugher over the Knicks – the Kings seem to have hit the books. A road trip against the weaker Eastern Conference and a few days off between games aren’t going to hurt. Coach Luke Walton said he spent time on the flight to New York going over tape with De’Aaron Fox as they put in the work necessary to right the season.
“We talked before the game about really trying to set a tone for our road trip with the first game,” Walton said after a 113-92 win over the Knicks on Sunday. “It’s important to come out with a good start, especially flying across the country. I’m really happy with our effort level.”
There’s still plenty of work to be done. The Kings are allowing an average of 110 points a game, good for 16th in the league. And though they outrebounded the Knicks 49-39, the Kings are still 24th in the league with an average of 43 rebounds a game.
Richaun Holmes says things are improving. The big man has played a role in that, averaging 11.4 points per game and 6.6 rebounds in about 24 minutes a game of work, all career highs.
“We definitely are getting better. Trusting each other more on defense. You can see the steps we’re taking,” he said. “It’s about lockin in, learning. Chemistry’s coming along well, we just gotta keep improving. … For defense, it’s communicating better, and offense, just knowing where each other are and moving the ball well.”
The Kings get their next test Wednesday night when they face the Toronto Raptors at 4 p.m. PST.
Hield meets Caribbean players
Buddy Hield made a little magic happen for some young basketball players from around the Caribbean on Sunday after the win over the Knicks. Hield, a native of the Bahamas, came out into the lower-bowl seats of Madison Square Garden to meet with about 14 kids from islands around the Caribbean.
The kids were in New York as part of the NBA’s Jumpstart Elite Camp. The group saw Nets and Knicks games, toured New York and worked out in the city. Hield gave the players a little pep talk, answered questions and posed for pictures with the group.
The camps are held throughout Caribbean islands and players were selected for the trip to New York after attending the Jumpstart Elite Camp over the summer in Trinidad and Tobago.
Sacramento Kings upcoming schedule
Nov. 6 at Toronto Raptors
Nov. 8 at Atlanta Hawks
Nov. 12 vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Nov. 15 at Los Angeles Lakers
Nov. 17 vs. Boston Celtics