A few familiar faces took to their old stomping grounds at the Sacramento Kings’ practice facility yesterday. Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons and Chuck Hayes practiced with their new team, the Toronto Raptors, ahead of tonight’s matchup against their old team. Salmons and Vasquez addressed the media and spoke a little bit about what it’s like to be back in Sacramento for the first time since being traded to the Raptors almost two months ago.
- Vasquez was only a member of the Kings for a few months before he was dealt to Toronto in December. But was it surreal for him to be back practicing in the headquarters of his old team? “It’s a little weird because I was here early, even before training camp,” Vasquez said. “I had a good run here (even though) I was coming off injury. But management was good to me, the coaching staff, my ex-teammates and you’re always gonna be thankful for that. But I’m in a different situation right now and I’m pretty happy with where I’m at. And I think winning really makes everything so much better. I’d rather be in a winning program right now than going through a tough time.”
- The Raptors are 20-10 since acquiring Vasquez, Patterson, Hayes and Salmons while the Kings have finally found an answer to their gaping hole at small forward in Rudy Gay. Vasquez thinks the trade was good for both teams. “I think Rudy is gonna be a great player for them in the long term,” Vasquez said. “Hopefully they keep him. Quincy (Acy) is an energy guy. I think he can play and he’s getting minutes. (Aaron) Gray is a big-time center, he can really help DeMarcus (Cousins) a little bit, get him some rest. And so far so good for both teams. It’s really helping us be a better team and we have a really good solid bench and they have a great star in Rudy Gay.”
- Though he’s no longer part of the franchise, Vasquez believes the Kings are headed in the right direction. He thinks highly of Kings head coach Michael Malone and believes he’s the right guy to turn around a franchise mired in a seven-going-on-eight-year playoff drought. “I’ll tell you this man,” Vasquez said. “I think Sacramento is headed the right way. Having a coach like coach Malone, I have plenty confidence that he’ll turn this program around.”
- Salmons on being back in Sacramento: “Yeah, I mean it’s a little weird. How long has it been? A little over a month? (Reporters tell him two months.) Feels like a long time ago, feels like a while ago since I was playing here. (It’s) just part of it, man. I just take it in stride.”
- Salmons has been dealt before, including a previous time by the Kings in 2009. However, this time he said he had “strong mixed feelings” about being shipped out of Sacramento. He holds no grudges towards the Kings for dealing him this time around, but this latest deal was a little tougher to swallow. “I took it less personal the previous time I got traded,” Salmons said. “For whatever reason, this was a little bit more – I don’t know. I’m not gonna say that I was just totally mad or mad with the organization or anything like that. It was just – I don’t know, I don’t know – it was a little tougher this time.”
- The 34-year-old veteran admits that he didn’t know what to expect when he was traded from the Raptors. He knew very little about the organization and the only player he was familiar with at the time was veteran Kyle Lowry. Salmons also added that he wasn’t sure if he would play at all, but noted that he, Patterson, Vasquez and Hayes all wanted to try their best to fit in and not disrupt the Raptors’ chemistry.