Kings coach Dave Joerger wants to see Skal and Willie play together
Teams resting players isn’t uncommon these days, but usually that’s done with the idea of preserving star players for the postseason.
That’s not the reason the Kings have to sit veterans, still the team gave three key players the night off as part of planned rest for Monday’s game against the Orlando Magic at Golden 1 Center.
The announcement was made after coach Dave Joerger’s pregame media session that Arron Afflalo, Kosta Koufos and Ty Lawson would not play.
The decision gives the Kings a chance for extended looks at younger players.
Also, Kings’ management has no incentive to win games down the stretch. More losses means the team has better chance of keeping its top-10-protected draft pick. The Kings began Monday at 25-41, the sixth-worst record in the NBA.
They are on an eight-game losing streak and are 1-8 since the team traded All-Star DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Kings were 1 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference before the trade. They entered Monday six games out of the postseason race.
With three players resting and Tyreke Evans (sore left ankle) also out, that left the Kings with nine available players. Rookie guard Malachi Richardson (hamstring) is still out and forward Rudy Gay (achilles) is gone for the season.
Setting a not-so-strong lineup with the draft in mind is not new for the Kings. The team held starters out of games late last season to help keep their top-10-protected draft pick, too.
That decision angered fans in Utah last season when Cousins, Gay and Rajon Rondo were among Kings held out of the final game of the season in Houston.
The Rockets clinched a playoff spot against the shorthanded Kings and prevented Utah from a shot at the final playoff spot in the West.
After Saturday’s loss to Denver, Joerger said there were no plans to alter the lineups and play more young players even as the team fell in the standings.
“These guys are playing good,” Joerger said. “I played Buddy Hield 30 minutes. I played Willie Cauley-Stein 35 and a half (minutes). I played Skal (Labissiere) 20. I could play them 48, but I don’t think that’s what’s best for them.”
New starting lineup – Afflalo and Koufos usually start, so resting them changes the lineup.
Darren Collison started with Hield in the backcourt. Garrett Temple, Labissiere and Cauley-Stein completed the starting five.