Michael Malone encouraged by offseason commitments from Sacramento Kings
The culture change in Sacramento may be on-going, but there’s reason for Michael Malone to feel happy about its progress this offseason. Several players have shown up to work out so far in the capital city, which is an encouraging development for the Kings head coach.
Quincy Acy, Derrick Williams, Ray McCallum, Ben McLemore, Travis Outlaw, Jared Cunningham and DeMarcus Cousins are seven players who’ve come to work out with coaches and teammates so far this summer. Malone calls it “a positive sign” and that it demonstrates his players’ commitment to getting better for next year.
“The fact that we have eight roster players in our gym in June is a great step in the right direction,” Malone said after the draft on Thursday. “I can’t imagine they’ve had that here before. My 12 or 13 years in the NBA, to get that many roster players in the gym in the middle of June is very hard to do.”
Several players who have worked out in Sacramento will play on the Kings’ summer league team in Las Vegas. In addition to Acy, Williams, McCallum and McLemore, Malone revealed that Cunningham will also be on their team’s roster. The 23-year-old guard out of the bay area was signed by the Kings for the remainder of the season after initially inking a 10-day deal with the franchise at the end of March.
“My hope is that when we start summer league in Vegas, we’ll have a lot of our roster players on that team,” Malone said.
The Kings head coach also stated that he’s gotten commitments from some of his veterans to come work out with the summer league team in Vegas. Cousins as well as Rudy Gay have both assured Malone that they’ll spend time with the Kings’ younger players. Last year, Jason Thompson, Jimmer Fredette, Marcus Thornton and Isaiah Thomas all made trips to sin city and spent time working with the Kings’ coaching staff.
“The fact that we’ll have a bunch of our vets coming in can only help our chemistry, can only help our camaraderie and can only help us get off to a much better start than we did (last year) this coming season,” Malone said.
Get to know Sim Bhullar
Yesterday, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com was first to report that the Kings had added Sim Bhullar to their summer league roster. Standing at 7-foot-5, the 21-year-old center out of New Mexico State was the tallest prospect in this year’s draft.
The Kings are very familiar with Bhullar’s game. The Canadian big man worked out for the Kings a week ago prior to Thursday night’s draft.
“Sim’s got a real soft touch,” Kings assistant general manager Mike Bratz said last week. “I mean, he does. I mean, the guy’s huge. To his credit, he’s really worked hard these last couple months. He’s in pretty good condition. He’s moving much, much better up and down the floor. He’s got a chance. You just don’t see guys that big. I mean, he’s big.”
In addition to his height, Bhullar is also in possession of a large frame. The former Lobos big man weighs in at 360 lbs.
“Coaches told me I have a good frame to work with,” Bhullar said of the feedback he got from the Kings following his pre-draft workout last week. “Good skill level. I can really shoot the ball. I got good hands. It’s just the cardio, getting my body in shape and I’ll be a hell of a player. That’s what they pretty much told me.”
One of the main knocks on Bhullar is his conditioning. According to Draft Express’ scouting report on Bhullar, it’s a “work-in-progress” as he tended “tire rather easily as you would expect for a person his size”.
Bhullar is confident it’s a weakness he can address. Now that school is out of the way, he’s been able to focus all his attention on making his dream of playing in the NBA a reality.
“I’ve been getting my touch better in the game, my feel better, just being able to move around the court and just getting a better feel for the game because I’ve just been in Vegas working with a bunch of pros,” Bhullar said. “I’ve been going at the intensity level and the speed of the game.”
Bhullar is apparently not the only player with roots in Canada that the Kings have reportedly invited to Las Vegas. According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, the Kings have also added Wichita State’s Nick Wiggins, older brother of first overall pick Andrew Wiggins, to their roster. Nik Stauskas, the Kings’ first round selection in this year’s draft, is also from Canada, hailing originally from Mississauga, Ontario.
In addition to Bhullar and Wiggins, the Kings are also inviting Oregon State’s Eric Moreland to their summer league roster according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Like Bhullar, the undrafted big man out of Houston worked for the Kings prior to the draft.
Updated 5:21 pm: Story changed to reflect that power forward Willie Reed was cut by the Kings Saturday. Real GM was first to report.