Willie Reed rejoins Sacramento Kings on last minute notice

Willie Reed on defense against the Golden State Warriors (Photo: Steven Chea)

Willie Reed got the news late. The Sacramento Kings were calling him up from the D-League for Tuesday’s match-up against the Oklahoma City Thunder. There was just one problem.

The 23-year-old big man was still in Reno.

Reed quickly packed his things then hightailed it through the Sierra. He was listed as active for Tuesday’s game, but didn’t leave for Sacramento until 25 minutes after the ball had tipped-off.

He made it to Sleep Train Arena in time before the final buzzer, but didn’t play. No surprise considering he had no shootaround, no pregame and no halftime warm-up to prepare himself for his potential NBA debut.

“I give Willie credit,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said of Reed. “Last minute, (Reggie Evans’) a late scratch so we have Willie come in and so he’ll fly with us up to Portland. It’s good for us to just have another body and if we need to put him in, I know he’ll be ready.”

Reed joined the Kings two weeks ago after the team signed him for the remainder of the season. The 23-year-old big man was then immediately assigned to the Reno Bighorns after spending much of this year playing for the D-League’s Springfield Armor.

“I think I can bring some athleticism, some energy,” Reed said of what he thinks he can contribute as the Kings wind down their season. “One thing I do is I play hard. I rebound the basketball, I block shots, so I think that’s one of the things I can bring is just rebounding, blocking shots and athleticism.”

Reed is no stranger to Sacramento. He signed a training camp deal with the Kings in 2012 and appeared in four preseason contests before being waived. His play last year with the Kings left a strong impression on Kings Director of Player Personnel Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who is one of the few holdovers from the old Geoff Petrie regime.

“He really liked my athleticism and how I played hard all the time,” Reed said of Abdur-Rahim, who also serves as the general manager of the Bighorns. “And just being able to talk with him and being able to ask him what I needed to work on and things like that, I think I took that with me to Springfield in the D-League and just continued to get better.”

Reed played two season at Saint Louis University before declaring himself eligible for the 2011 NBA Draft. He went unselected and has since spent most of his time playing in the D-League. In five games with the Bighorns, Reed averaged 13.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in roughly 25 minutes a contest.

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About: 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.