The Kings’ rotation has been altered in the wake of Rudy Gay’s season-ending ruptured left Achilles’ tendon.
That’s a given. But in the midst of an eight-game trip with little practice time, the Kings are going with the flow, so to speak, as they adjust.
As for the starting lineup, coach Dave Joerger stuck with Garrett Temple in place of Gay to go with Darren Collison, Arron Afflalo, DeMarcus Cousins and Kosta Koufos on Saturday night against Chicago.
But the lineup and Joerger’s approach remain in flux. And they might not be sorted out until the end of the trip next month.
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Before Saturday’s game, Joerger was not ready to discuss what he wants the Kings to improve in the second half of the season.
“Probably give that more thought (Sunday), I guess,” Joerger said. “It’s just part of the road trip. We’ve got a long journey here, being on the road, and then coming off the road, you have to try to figure out what direction we’re going to go and different guys you’re going to play.”
6.3 Rudy Gay’s rebounds per game, second on the Kings
If the trip goes badly and the playoff chatter around the team subsides, the Kings could give young players more minutes.
For now, Joerger is trying to get by game-to-game to see what unit works best in Gay’s absence.
“I think (the lineup) is effective, especially against bigger teams, teams that play more traditional or what used to be traditional,” Joerger said. “It’s a lot easier to try to keep bodies in front of bodies. We played small last night (at Memphis), and it hurt us on the glass throughout the game and just is what it is. This is a team in Chicago that rebounds the ball very well, so tonight is a night you go that way, I think.”
The Kings were outrebounded 58-35 in Friday night’s loss at Memphis, helping the Grizzlies to an 18-4 advantage in second-chance points.
“It’s difficult,” Joerger said. “You look at how they out-physicaled us at the wings.”
That’s another area where the Kings will miss Gay. His 6.3 rebounds per game rank second on the team. At 6-foot-8, 230 pounds, Gay also had the strength to deal with wings such as the Grizzlies’.
Omri Casspi remains out with a lower leg injury. Rookie Malachi Richardson saw some time in the first half against the Bulls for the first time all season.
Joerger prefers not to increase Matt Barnes’ minutes because at 36, he’s the Kings’ oldest player by five years.
So it’s easy to see why Joerger won’t rely on one player to replace Gay, also the Kings’ second-leading scorer at 18.7 points per game.
There’s no way to fill that void as the roster is constructed, so Joerger will be flexible.
18.7 Rudy Gay’s points per game, also second on the Kings
“Just be a buncha different dudes running in and out of there,” Joerger said. “Trying to find something that fits as you go through it.”