Kings coach Dave Joerger joked last week that he would petition the league for extra time for training camp, a necessity given how many new players he has this season.
Of course, that’s not going to happen, so six days after training camp began, the Kings faced the San Antonio Spurs for their first preseason game Monday at Golden 1 Center.
The reality is the Kings aren’t in the mode of winning exhibition games just yet. There is still a lot to learn.
“The mindset will be training camp will continue,” Joerger said prior to the game. “Tonight kind of interrupted ‘training camp.’ Over the course of 10 or 11 days you have just one game. It breaks it up a little bit.”
It’s not just that the Kings have a lot of new players. Six on the roster have never played in the NBA.
Joerger said that part of Monday’s focus was making sure all the rookies knew the basics – what time they needed to be dressed for the game, where to find things they needed and other fundamentals that come with game day.
It’s all a part of learning.
“We had a really good scrimmage (Sunday) it, was a good opportunity to see some things, see some guys, see some combinations,” Joerger said. “Training camp will continue (Tuesday) and we’ll figure out which guys are playing which minutes, which nights in the preseason that’s left.”
The Kings only play six preseason games. The NBA cut down the number of games to help start the season earlier. The Kings had eight exhibitions in previous years.
“The most important thing is to try to get better every day,” Joerger said. “We’ll by no means be a finished product by opening night, so it’ll be a work in progress for a long, long time.”
Going with the vets – Joerger started his five most experienced players Monday. George Hill and Garrett Temple started at guard with Vince Carter and Zach Randolph at the forwards. Kosta Koufos started at center.
Joerger started the second half with De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Skal Labissiere and Buddy Hield on the court.
The only King ruled out due to injury was rookie Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehabilitation).
Giles was also held out of summer league.
Rudy’s rehab – Former King Rudy Gay joined the Spurs in the offseason as a free agent, choosing to opt out of his deal with the Kings while recovering from a torn Achilles.
Gay did not dress for the game, but did make the trip to Sacramento, where several old teammates and coaches greeted him.
Gay had surgery in January and was expected to be ready for training camp.
“He’s done well,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “Obviously anytime you go to a new system it takes some time. He’s been willing and came in pretty good shape. He came back more quickly than I thought. When they said he’d be ready for training camp I was surprised.”
He’s out – Willie Cauley-Stein fouled out of the game in the third quarter, having played just 15 minutes. His sixth foul appeared to actually be a foul on Labissiere, but the call was not changed.
Joerger pleaded for the call to be changed. Popovich got a chuckle out of the situation.