The Kings and Dallas Mavericks appeared to be in a contest to see who would have the fewest players available by tipoff on Tuesday night.
That’s how things work in today’s NBA. When the playoffs are out of reach, teams aren’t shy about trying to increase their odds in the draft lottery by sitting their best players to decrease their odds of winning.
The Kings sat three players against the Mavericks with the reason listed as rest. Wesley Matthews was the only Maverick who sat for rest.
The Kings had only eight players available as management continues to favor developing younger players rather than use veterans as the season winds down. The veterans don’t like it, but they understand the rest of the season is more about the future.
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If the Kings win too much and their first-round pick is outside of the top 10, they lose it to Chicago (via Cleveland) from the 2011 J.J. Hickson trade.
The Kings have a second first-round pick from New Orleans as long as the Pelicans do not get lucky in the lottery and land in the top three.
Sacramento has four games left after Tuesday. It gets trickier when neither team knows exactly who is going to play.
“Then we have to quickly change,” said Kings coach Dave Joerger. “That is our job but that’s the difficult part of it and problem for them too as we’re switching up which guys are playing.”
The Kings sat their top two point guards, Darren Collison and Ty Lawson. Center Kosta Koufos was held out for the fourth consecutive game and fifth time in six games.
Dirk Nowitzki (Achilles) and Seth Curry (shoulder) did not play for the Mavericks. The Mavs play Wednesday at the Los Angeles Clippers and aren’t inclined to play veterans in back-to-back games at this stage of the season, which made resting Matthews a logical option.
Joerger said the team still approaches every game as if the opponent’s best players will play.
“What I told the team is it’s real difficult to game plan for the other team,” Joerger said. “Because you prepare your scouting report and your video that you present and the the players can see through all the B.S. and you’re not prepared.”
Joerger said the coaches put a lot of work into their scouting reports. So when things change, they want to make sure the players aren’t caught off-guard.
“You always want to be prepared, and we take a great deal of pride in that as coaches,” Joerger said. “Not just that you’ve done the work, but showing them how they can be successful. So everything gets turned upside down two hours ago and they’re missing this guy and that guy, your video changes a little bit, your game plan changes a little bit.”
The Kings had some additions to the injury report. Arron Afflalo (lower back strain) and Anthony Tolliver (right hip strain) were also out. Rudy Gay (Achilles) and Malachi Richardson (hamstring) are already out for the rest of the season.