Sacramento Kings open training camp with full contact practice in Santa Barbara

Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, Greivis Vasquez and Ben McLemore at training camp practice. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

SANTA BARBARA – The Sacramento Kings wrapped up the first half of their first day of training camp this morning.  The team practiced at the Pavilion Gym located at the Recreation Center on the campus of UC Santa Barbara.  Below are some notes and quotes from this morning’s practice.

  • Head coach Michael Malone, general manager Pete D’Alessandro and owner Mark Mastrov scouted Santa Barbara as a site for training camp back in August.  To stay focused, the team is staying at a hotel about 20-30 minutes away from Isla Vista.  In case you were wondering about what distractions a group of mostly-20-something-year-old NBA players could face around UCSB, the Princeton Review recently ranked the college the No. 2 party school in the country.  “I’m gonna see this gym, my hotel room and the ride in between 101 North,” Malone joked when asked whether he plans on taking in any of Santa Barbara’s picturesque scenery this week.
  • Malone on the point guard battle between Isaiah Thomas and Greivis Vasquez: “What I loved today was you got two highly competitive players fighting for a starting job on this team that pushed each other, but pushed each other the right way.  They weren’t trying to hurt each other.  They weren’t trying to do anything dirty, but they pushed each other the right way.  They helped each other off the floor.  They were giving each other high fives afterwards, knowing that this is a competition and no matter what happens at the end of the day that we have two very talented point guards that are gonna hopefully lead us to wins this year.”
  • Malone is happy about the progress rookies Ray McCallum and Ben McLemore have made since summer league.  Malone applauded McCallum’s willingness to do the little things and noted that McLemore’s shooting ability becomes more apparent when he plays alongside more talented players.
  • Greivis Vasquez said that today was his first day back on the court since having surgery on his right ankle, which he put on ice after practice.  He was able to participate in practically every drill and take on contact during the morning session.  “My ankle just feels a little bit sore,” Vasquez said  “It’s expected, but I’m just happy to be here.  Happy to be in training camp, (have the) first practice out of the way.  Now we gotta stay focused, come back later on tonight and get another great one.”
  • Vasquez spoke highly of Isaiah Thomas, telling media that he “loves that kid”.  Vasquez is clearly relishing the competition between him and Thomas, but was mindful to remind everyone that they are teammates first and foremost.  “One thing we got clear is (that it’s) not about ‘we gotta be the heroes’,” Vasquez said.  “We gotta help this team win.  As long as it goes (down that line) and we think about (the) Sacramento Kings, thats the most important thing for both of us.   Today in practice, obviously we went at each other and we tried to get each other better.  Because at the end of the day, we’re trying to get this team better.”
  • Vasquez is embracing the opportunity to be a leader on this team.  He sees himself, Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins as the three leading voices for this year’s Kings squad.  “I think we’re pretty much the voice of the team and we just gotta be on the same page,” Vasquez said.  “Because like I said man, it’s fun when you win.  It’s not about highlights, or being a hero, or me coming over here trying to be the man or trying to change the whole thing.  Nah, I’m not trying to come over to do that.  I’m here to help.”
  • Jimmer Fredette is open to playing wherever coach Malone plays him.  He continued to emphasize that he feels most comfortable at point guard, but noted that he could see himself working well in off-the-ball situations.
  • Jimmer on what he noticed about the the veterans who’ve been added to the team.  “The biggest thing is that they’re team guys.  They’re guys that want to win and they’re gonna do anything it takes to win.”
  • Jason Thompson on today’s battle at power forward: “I mean it’s nothing that I haven’t seen before.  Just like you got a competition with the other blogs and everything like that.  We all try to do one thing, try to be successful, so I’m not really worried about the guys who’s playing (the same position as me).  I know what I can do and anything I can do to help the team out is gonna be the best thing for myself and the best thing for you guys.”  Carl Landry and Patrick Patterson are expected to push Thompson for his starting position at the four this year.
  • Per NBA rules, teams are only allowed to practice for a total of three hours a day.  When the Kings have two-a-days, they organize workouts into two one-and-half hour sessions.  Today’s morning workout was a full contact session  while tonight’s practice is non-contact.  Malone said this evening’s practice will focus more on teaching the offense, understanding spacing principles, improving conditioning and working on shooting.  Tomorrow’s practice plans flip with the morning session becoming a non-contact workout while the evening session becomes full contact.
  • Prior to opening camp, players were not put through any conditioning tests.  Malone has instructed them to hook up with new strength and conditioning coach Chip Schaefer at least two times this week for workout sessions.


Jonathan Santiago
Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.

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