It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for Jimmer Fredette. The former college superstar had his $3.1 million fourth-year option declined and on top of that, coach Michael Malone broke the news to him that he was not going to be in the Kings’ rotation to begin the season.
Jimmer’s a pro’s pro. He took the news with a heavy heart, but waited for the moment when Malone would look to the end of the bench and call for no. 7. That day came on Saturday, when Jimmer entered the game in the late first quarter and played a total of 19 minutes off the Sacramento bench.
Nothing is set in stone going forward, but changes are coming to the Sacramento rotation, and Jimmer might be part of the upheaval. Following Saturday’s 96-85 loss to the Portland, Cowbell Kingdom caught up with the third-year guard as he sat quietly next to his locker.
As we spoke to the former Naismith College Player of the Year, the normally clean-cut Fredette looked distracted and slightly disheveled. Red-nosed from a winter sniffle and sporting a two- or three-day stubble, the uncertainty of the future appeared to be weighing heavily on Jimmer just six games into a long season.
He needs a consistent opportunity to show both the Kings and 29 other teams that he belongs in the NBA. Through six games, Malone has not received the effort from some of his veterans and once again, a door appears to have opened for Jimmer Fredette.
CK: You haven’t played in a few games. How surprised were you that you got the call, especially so early in this one?
JF: Coach actually told me that he was going to put me in, in the first quarter, so to be prepared and be ready. So that’s what I tried to do. I haven’t played for the first five games really, so you just try to stay prepared and as fresh as you possibly can and when you get an opportunity, try and do the best that you can.
In the first half I was definitely a little rusty. I missed some shots that I should have made and in the fourth quarter, I played much better. But we were already in such a big hole, you know, it was tough to come back. We need to do a better job of not getting in those big holes and staying up.
CK: How difficult has this been for you?
JF: It’s difficult in the fact that we’re losing basketball games as a team and for most of them, I wasn’t able to help and try to help us get wins. So that’s always difficult. But ultimately, we need to do a better job as a team. If you win basketball games, everything else will weed itself out, so that’s the main focus.
CK: It’s been a rough two weeks for you overall with the contract situation and now not playing. How good does it feel for you to actually get out there and get some minutes and get some run with your teammates?
JF: It feels good to play, of course. You want to be out there every second that you can as a basketball player. So to get some minutes and to be able to play in the fourth quarter and play decent and to help us get back into the game a little bit was a good feeling. But it wasn’t a good feeling with what the outcome was. We’ve got to be tired of losing. We’ve got to come out and play better right from the get-go and put together a 48-minute game.
CK: Do you feel like you are progressing?
JF: Definitely. I think defensively I played really well today. I think offensively I feel comfortable. I just have to shake that rust out and hopefully continue to get more minutes and as that comes, keep getting better and better. But I feel good.
CK: Has coach Malone communicated with you through this situation?
JF: At the beginning, you know, I just wasn’t in the rotation. I knew that going into it. But you still have to be a pro and keep working hard, because you never know when you’re going to get a chance. So tonight I got one. I tried to do the best I could, and hopefully I’ll be able to get some more minutes.