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Dave Joerger plays it safe with Kings’ banged-up rookies

Rookie Skal Labissiere catches coach’s eye during Kings’ summer league action

Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger says rookie Skal Labissiere is one of the best ball handlers on the team. The coach also likes the rookie's on-court hustle as the team prepares during summer league play in Las Vegas.
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Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger says rookie Skal Labissiere is one of the best ball handlers on the team. The coach also likes the rookie's on-court hustle as the team prepares during summer league play in Las Vegas.

Half of the Kings’ 2016 draft class missed Friday’s summer league opener and at least one will be unavailable Sunday against Houston.

Guard Isaiah Cousins (strained right groin) is out for the second consecutive game. Center Georgios Papagiannis (left leg) is questionable. Both sat out Friday’s 88-47 loss to Toronto in Las Vegas.

“It’s not something I generally talk about,” said Kings coach Dave Joerger of injuries. “If they can play, they’ll play, but I think you try to think about the long haul, the big picture. They both want to play, but whatever is best for them and our organization. I don’t want to rush either of them back. It’s not wise.”

Cousins said he injured his groin in a practice but that he expected to be ready for Monday’s game against New Orleans.

Papagiannis had a protective sleeve on his left knee but said it felt fine, despite the team listing him as having left knee stiffness on the official injury report.

“There’s no knee (injury),” Papagiannis said. “I don’t who is talking about the knee; it’s not the knee, it’s my hamstring.”

Papagiannis said his hamstring had been tight from all of the traveling that comes with the predraft process, but that he hoped to play Sunday after receiving more treatment.

To deal with the absence of Cousins, the Kings added David Stockton to the summer league roster. Stockton has been in training camp with the Kings the last two years and appeared in three games at the end of the 2014-15 season.

Joerger was more talkative about the Kings officially adding four players.

Guards Arron Afflalo and Garrett Temple and forward Matt Barnes and Anthony Tolliver agreed to deals with the Kings earlier this month during free agency and were able to officially sign their contracts this week.

“They’re all really good human beings, which I think is good,” Joerger said. “We want to have character people. Their skills are all a little bit different.”

Joerger noted their versatility.

“Arron can somewhat, but Garrett and Matt can play two or three positions, so that gives you some flexibility. Gives us some size at the wing, which is good, and Anthony shoots it pretty well, and I think Arron’s looking forward to having a solid situation. Not to say what he’s been in hasn’t been, but he’s kind of found a home, which will be good.”

Joerger plans to use Barnes, who played for him last season in Memphis, in multiple ways.

“You can move him around a lot,” Joerger said. “I’m going to play him at four (power forward) as much as I can. With the advent of so much small ball, he can play it. It’s hard to believe he’s 36 years old, because he stays in amazing shape, he really takes great care of his body. So you try not play him against power guys, but he can stretch the floor, make some shots and he knows what we’re trying to do. He’s a guy who’s a great, great teammate.”

The Kings also announced the hiring of two assistant coaches who have been with the team during summer league.

Bob Thornton joins the staff after spending the last five seasons in Memphis. Thornton’s previous NBA stops include the Oklahoma City Thunder (2007-11), where he was an advance scout, and as an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls (2002-04) and Minnesota Timberwolves (2005-07).

The Kings also added Larry Lewis, who spent the previous three seasons as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Before joining the Lakers, he was an assistant with the Lakers’ NBA Development League team, the L.A. D-Fenders.

Kings rookie shooting guard Malachi Richardson, who was officially traded by the Charlotte Hornets to the Sacramento Kings on Thursday, says he's been working hard to improve his overall game since last month's NBA Draft. The former Syracuse fresh

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

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