The Sacramento Kings are still nursing back to health three of their major offseason acquisitions. Greivis Vasquez, Carl Landry and Luc Mbah a Moute are easing their way back on the court while battling what the team might consider a few minor injuries here in October.
Vasquez, who has yet to appear in a game this preseason, practiced today. The Kings are being cautious with the fourth-year guard out of Maryland as he continues to recover from offseason ankle surgery. According to head coach Michael Malone, Vasquez is still on track to make his debut Monday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Landry is suffering a strained quad and like Vasquez, has yet to play in the exhibition season. The Kings performed an MRI on the 30-year-old forward and are expected to get the results sometime today. A timetable for Landry’s return to the court is not yet known.
Mbah a Moute, meanwhile, is experiencing soreness in his right knee. This is the same surgically-repaired knee that bothered him in his last two years in Milwaukee. Mbah a Moute sat out Thursday’s game in Las Vegas after playing in the Kings’ first outing against Golden State.
“I give Pete (Youngman) and our medical staff and Chip (Schaefer), those guys credit,” Malone said after practice today. ”They’re trying to help him rehab, get it stronger, get him back on the court. But I think what he has is something that he’ll have to deal with throughout the season.”
Their injuries have created opportunities for others. Against the Lakers in Las Vegas, Travis Outlaw and Jimmer Fredette earned starting nods and performed well in their on-court stints. Outlaw scored 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting while Fredette had seven points on 3-of-6 attempts from the field. Both also showed heady play on the defensive end of the floor.
“One man’s loss is another man’s opportunity,” Malone said. “So we will continue to move in the right direction no matter who’s healthy.”
Coach Malone continues to praise the play of his two rookie draft picks. The first-time head coach says that both Ray McCallum and Ben McLemore are maxing out on their opportunities to play here in the preseason, especially on defense. Malone noted how impressed he was with McCallum’s defense on Lakers’ backup point guard Steve Blake on Thursday and that McLemore has bought into his “team defensive concepts”.
“Those guys are doing everything that we asked of them and I just can’t be prouder for them and how much they improved from Summer League up to now,” Malone said.
Following practice, McLemore noted that he’s not having trouble picking up coach Malone’s system. He does feel he can get better in certain areas on defense such as his closeouts on shooters, movement of his feet and overall communication.
On offense, the 20-year-old rookie feels comfortable. He’s building chemistry with teammates, who are learning where to find him on open spots on the floor.
“It’s been great for me so far,” McLemore said Saturday afternoon. ”Just having a real point guard, distributing the ball and getting me open and also getting myself open. It helps me a lot to score and get myself open. It makes (the game) much easier for me.”
Malone on Fredette’s defense
In his first appearance of the preseason, the third-year guard demonstrated a few improvements on the defensive side of the ball. Here’s coach Malone’s assessment of how Fredette is coming along in that aspect of his game.
Everybody always says well, Jimmer he can’t guard, he can’t guard. When I was in Cleveland, we had some guys that were not considered great defenders, but we had great team defense behind them. If you have a team defensive system, you can hide guys at times. And to Jimmer’s credit the other night, he moved his feet, he contained penetration, he fought guys in the post, so I was very pleased with the defensive effort he gave. And you know with him, you get shooting and you get a high basketball IQ, a guy that’s going to make a play for his teammate and make the right reads. So he did good job in his minutes, especially in that first half.