Kings Practice Recap: December 19th

Coach Jim Eyen works with new acquisition Travis Outlaw. (Photo: James Ham)

As one King leaves, a new one enters. On the heels of the shocking news regarding now-former King Chuck Hayes, the Sacramento Kings welcomed Travis Outlaw into the fold yesterday. The Kings spent a substantial amount of time working on defensive sets, with assistant coaches Jim Eyen and Bobby Jackson leading the conversation. Head Coach Paul Westphal then inserted an offensive set or two before the refs were brought in for some full-court, 5-on-5 action.

Clearly the Kings have ramped up their practices with the season only a week away. With new faces coming and going, the coaching staff appears to be building some continuity with groups of players that will spend major time on the floor together.

First impressions on Travis Outlaw: He is taller than I thought. Following the game against Golden State on Saturday, Coach Westphal talked about Outlaw playing both the three and the four. While Outlaw looks more like a natural three, there is not a huge difference in height between him and J.J. Hickson. With very long arms, Outlaw has an incredible wingspan. He is the type of player that should have an impact on the defensive end as both a team defender and weakside shot blocker. Outlaw wears a padded glove on his right hand after suffering a boxing injury during the offseason.

Injury Report

  • Chuck Hayes – Hayes failed his physical and his four-year, $21-million contract has been voided.
  • John Salmons – Right thigh contusion, listed as day-to-day. Was at practice, but limited to elliptical work. Doubtful for Tuesday night’s preseason game against Golden State.
  • DeMarcus Cousins – sprained right ankle. Back at practice with no limitations.
  • Tyreke Evans – sprained left foot. Back at practice with no limitations.
  • Adrian Oliver – Ill. Not expected to play tomorrow.

Coaches Notes and Quotes

  • Westphal on the Hayes release: “In just the short week that we have been practicing and having Chuck on the team, everybody has realized what an important, respected person he would have been on our team. He’s still important and respected, but he’s not going to be able to be running up and down with the team. It just makes you ask a lot of cosmic questions, because that’s one guy who gave everything he had, every second for himself and for the team and for others. It’s just really devastating news that he won’t be able to be with us. Our prayers are for Chuck and his family. I told the team that family, your personal integrity and relationship with God and health are the only things that are more important than basketball. Obviously what he is going through is more important than basketball.”
  • Westphal on new addition Outlaw: “He looked good. He has a lot to learn, probably more than anybody, because we are going to ask him to play two different positions. The small forward and big forward are radically different in our system and he’s going to have to learn both of them. We had him concentrate on the big forward spot today and he looked real good.”
  • Westphal on the injuries to John Salmons and DeMarcus Cousins: I think John is doubtful, DeMarcus, unless something unforeseen happens and I don’t expect it to, will be in the line-up tomorrow.
  • Westphal on who will start in place of Hayes, at least in the short term: “I expect that we will be starting DeMarcus (Cousins) and J.J. (Hickson) with John (Salmons) when he gets healthy. Tomorrow we’ll start Tyler Honeycutt, with Marcus (Thornton) and Tyreke (Evans). That’s how I expect it to go, that’s the plan.”

Players Notes and Quotes

  • Evans on the loss of Chuck Hayes: “I don’t know who’s going to start now with Chuck out, Coach will figure it (out) and we just wish the best for Chuck and we’ll have him in our prayers.”
  • Outlaw the padded hand: “It was just a freak accident,” he said. “Well, I just had surgery – two screws in it. It’s alright, I did it real early in the summer.”

Analysis

This was an incredibly somber day at the practice facility. Hayes had made an immediate impact on his young teammates, leading both vocally and by example on the floor. The Kings not only have to replace his play, but his leadership as well.

Here are some of my observations from practice.

  • Honeycutt is developing quickly. He has a smooth three-point shot that needs a few more reps. He is extremely long and lean, but he has clearly put on weight since he was drafted. The Kings love his versatility and defensive prowess, making him almost a lock to make the final roster.
  • Isaiah Thomas is making his mark as well. The pint-size point out of Washington is always all over the floor. He plays with a moxie that’s seldom seen in a rookie and fans will love him. As of today, I would also count him as a lock to make the opening day roster.
  • Travis Outlaw likes to shoot. I think the Kings were missing this type of scorer, so I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Outlaw has played most of his career off the bench and understands his role, unlike some of the younger players the Kings have played at the three in the past. Outlaw will spend plenty of time camped out on the corner, waiting for his chance.
  • John Salmons will be ready for the start of the season. I have no confirmation on this point, but the guy worked his tail off for a good 20-30 minutes on the elliptical today. Salmons hustles all day, every day – very impressive for a nine-year vet.
Video


Head Coach Paul Westphal


Tyreke Evans


Travis Outlaw


Travis Outlaw works on his shot following the conclusion of practice.

Interview footage courtesy of Kings.com.

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About: James Ham

James Ham is co-owner and senior editor of Cowbell Kingdom, providing extensive Kings coverage through news analysis, in-depth interviews with players and staff and daily coverage of breaking news. Along with providing original content for the site, including the Cowbell Kingdom Podcast and his weekly Sunday Musings column, James also provides game day coverage for NBA.com and is one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary "Small Market, Big Heart".