Sacramento Kings

‘Out of my hands’: Harry Giles III speaks on Kings’ decision to decline his option

Atlanta Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter (12) shoots as Sacramento Kings forward Harry Giles III (20) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Atlanta Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter (12) shoots as Sacramento Kings forward Harry Giles III (20) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis) AP

Kings center Harry Giles III was happy to be back on the floor in his season debut against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night, but he had little to say about the organization’s recent decision to decline his option for next season.

The Kings announced Oct. 31 they were picking up rookie-scale options for point guard De’Aaron Fox and forward Marvin Bagley III. They declined their fourth-year option on Giles for $3.97 million, which will make him an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Kings will not be able to offer Giles more than the one-year, $3.97 million deal he was eligible for before the team declined his option. Other teams will not have those restrictions, meaning they could offer more money and additional years.

“That’s out of my hands,” Giles told The Sacramento Bee. “I’m just working hard to be the best player I can be.”

Giles had four points, one rebound and one emphatic blocked shot in eight minutes in a 121-109 victory over the Hawks, the first game he has played since March.

Giles wouldn’t say how the organization explained its decision to decline his option or how he felt about it, but he did address recent reports that team officials were disappointed with his summer preparation. Giles developed left knee soreness following the first weekend of training camp, causing him to miss all five preseason games and the first eight games of the regular season.

The Athletic and NBC Sports California cited unnamed sources who said Giles wasn’t physically prepared for the start of training camp and he would have to “earn” a deal for next season.

“It really doesn’t matter, honestly,” Giles told The Bee. “I was ready. Like I said, my knee was just a little swollen. People on the outside can never determine that. It’s not like anybody here said that, so outside comments are just outside comments. Anybody can make their own comments. It’s whatever. It’s irrelevant to me. I’m playing today so who cares?”

Kings coach Luke Walton was asked if he shares the view that Giles was not prepared for training camp.

“No, from what I’ve seen, he’s been very solid and working very hard since the season has started,” Walton said.

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The Kings have invested heavily in Giles’ development since selecting him with the 20th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Giles was once considered the top high school player in the country and a potential No. 1 draft pick, but he has suffered a series of injuries to both knees.

The Kings essentially gave Giles a redshirt year in 2017-18, allowing him to practice with the team while strengthening his surgically repaired knees. Giles appeared in 58 games last season, averaging 7.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 14.1 minutes per contest. He had a season-high 20 points and seven rebounds in a victory over the Hawks on Jan. 30.

Giles struggled early in the season but showed promise after brief stints in the G League. He averaged 9.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 18.6 minutes over a span of 10 games in March before a left thigh contusion caused him to miss the last 11 games of the season.

Sacramento Kings upcoming schedule

Nov. 12 vs. Portland Trail Blazers

Nov. 15 at Los Angeles Lakers

Nov. 17 vs. Boston Celtics

Nov. 19 vs. Phoenix Suns

Nov. 22 at Brooklyn Nets

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Jason Anderson is an award-winning sportswriter for The Sacramento Bee. He started his journalism career at The Bee more than 20 years ago and returned to cover the Sacramento Kings in September 2018.