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Kings use layoff to fine tune for regular season

Costa Koufos makes a basket against teammate Omri Casspi during training camp at UC San Diego's RIMAC Arena on Wednesday, Sept., 30, 2015.
Costa Koufos makes a basket against teammate Omri Casspi during training camp at UC San Diego's RIMAC Arena on Wednesday, Sept., 30, 2015. hamezcua@sacbee.com

The Kings have known their opponent for their season opener for some time, but there’s no rush to put in a detailed plan for Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Sacramento’s final preseason game was Saturday, which gives the Kings 10 days off before facing the Clippers.

“We did a little bit this morning before practice started, but overall we’re just tightening on the things we need to work on,” center Kosta Koufos said. “And as it gets closer to game time, we’ll focus more on the Clippers.”

The Kings were pleased with their preseason performance overall, but the team’s 5-1 record isn’t the most important thing; coach George Karl liked that passing improved and turnovers decreased over the six games.

118 Turnovers forced by the Kings during six preseason games

Karl saw need for improvement on offense – the Kings shot 44.1 percent overall and 29 percent from three-point range – but he praised the defense, which held teams to 42.4 percent shooting and forced 19.7 turnovers per game.

Karl would like to give the Kings at least one more day off before the season.

“You’re never going to get everything done, so you’ve got to prioritize the few practices that we have left to have some type of betterment and development,” Karl said.

Karl said he began looking at the Clippers on Wednesday. Los Angeles improved its depth and has designs on winning an NBA title.

“We talked about pin-downs and covering (guard J.J.) Redick, that’s what we talked about mostly. And of course Chris Paul in transition,” Karl said. “We talked about those two things, but I think we’ll probably wait until Saturday, Sunday to go strong.”

Though he said he doesn’t know the full makeup of his starting lineup, Karl said some players will have to be happy as “insurance plans,” because there won’t be enough playing time for everyone.

There are things Karl still has to sort out as he implements his style of play. Though he said the full starting lineup is yet to be determined, he said some players will have to be happy as “insurance plans,” because there won’t be enough playing time for everyone.

Point guard Rajon Rondo, forward Rudy Gay and center DeMarcus Cousins are locked in as starters. Karl could go with Koufos or rookie Willie Cauley-Stein alongside Cousins and Gay in the frontcourt.

In the backcourt, James Anderson’s defense has earned him a chance at starting at shooting guard. Ben McLemore started every game for the Kings last season, but there is more competition for playing time this season than in the past two seasons. Karl is comfortable with Darren Collison and Marco Belinelli coming off the bench.

But even when the regular season begins, Karl said it could take time to settle players’ roles.

“I think training camp will go into the regular season,” Karl said. “When you play seven games in 11 nights, that’s just basketball, that’s just playing. I would think the whole month of November we’re going to have to be tinkering, fixing a bit, taking some things out of the playbook and putting some things into the playbook. It’s a new group.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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