Sacramento Kings

Kings’ lineup set; its chemistry, not so much

Sacramento Kings' Darren Collison, center, tries to pass Brooklyn Nets' Brook Lopez, left, during a pre-season match held in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Brooklyn Nets won 129-117.
Sacramento Kings' Darren Collison, center, tries to pass Brooklyn Nets' Brook Lopez, left, during a pre-season match held in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Brooklyn Nets won 129-117. AP

Kings coach Michael Malone knows how he wants to start games when the regular season begins Oct. 29.

The lineup isn’t unexpected, as it’s the same group that started the first exhibition game.

Darren Collison and Ben McLemore will start at guard, Rudy Gay and Jason Thompson at forward and DeMarcus Cousins at center.

That was the starting lineup for Monday’s 106-99 exhibition loss to the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center.

Entering training camp, only Cousins and Gay were certain starters. But it would have been a shock if Collison, who the team’s prized free agent, didn’t start at point guard.

Thompson came into camp in the best shape of his career to reclaim the starting spot at power forward.

McLemore’s competition at shooting guard was rookie Nik Stauskas.

Malone said Monday’s game and Friday’s exhibition finale against the Los Angeles Lakers in Las Vegas are important for that unit.

“Give that starting group a little bit more time together to try to jell and create some chemistry,” Malone said. “Give them an identity.”

There’s also the matter of sorting out the rotation off the bench. Malone likes Ramon Sessions as a replacement for Collison or complement to him.

Stauskas, Reggie Evans, Omri Casspi, Derrick Williams and Carl Landry figure to play key roles as reserves to start the season.

“We’ve got a lot of guys,” Malone said. “It’s going to be impossible to play seven, eight guys off the bench. We definitely have some depth and versatility.”

Health report – Casspi (lower back stiffness) and Stauskas (left shoulder rotator cuff tendinitis) sat out the game.

Gay (left ankle) was back in the lineup after missing Saturday’s exhibition game against Maccabi Haifa of Israel.

Malone said even if Gay had not rolled his ankle during Friday’s practice, he wanted to give him at least one game off during the preseason after his time with Team USA over the summer.

Cousins, who also played for Team USA, sat out a game last week in China to rest a sore heel.

The Spurs sat forwards Tim Duncan (rest), Tiago Splitter (calf) and Kawhi Leonard (eye infection). Guard Patty Mills has been out after shoulder surgery during the offseason.

Broadcast work – Former Kings guard Bobby Jackson will be a part of the Comcast pregame and postgame show for the Kings as an analyst.

Mitch Richmond, a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and former Kings All-Star, was announced as an analyst last month.

Jackson most recently was an assistant coach in Minnesota after serving as an assistant with the Kings for two seasons.

Jackson played six of his 12 NBA seasons with Sacramento and was the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2003.

“I am thrilled to join Comcast SportsNet’s Kings broadcast team and to share my thoughts and the knowledge of the game that I gained through my experiences as a collegiate and professional player and coach,” Jackson said in a statement. “I look forward to offering my basketball insight and commentary to the many passionate Kings fans across the Sacramento region.”

Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

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