SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A new era for the Sacramento Kings officially begins Wednesday evening, as the season opener against the Denver Nuggets is the first game under new General Manager Monte McNair.
Aside from challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, McNair’s first offseason in the role was highlighted by multiple big moves in an effort to guide the Kings back toward the playoffs.
Star point guard De’Aaron Fox signed the largest contract in team franchise history with a five-year, $163 million maximum extension that features a clause that could potentially reach supermax status at $195 million. It was McNair’s first move of the free agency period and a signal that Fox is a centerpiece of the franchise’s long-term plans.
Fan-favorite Bogdan Bogdanovic is now a member of the Atlanta Hawks after Sacramento declined to match a four-year, $72-million offer sheet. Late in the season, Bogdanovic took over the starting shooting guard role after Buddy Hield was benched.
Hield and Fox both experienced success in the four-game preseason under a faster-paced game plan, a style of play McNair said he wanted head coach Luke Walton to implement in place of the slower style of play the team operated under last season.
The Kings received high praise following the NBA Draft after selecting Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton with the 12th overall pick. In a post-draft news conference, McNair said Haliburton “was the best talent available to us and we don’t pass up talent. I think he’ll be a great complement to De’Aaron, I think they’re going to be a great tandem on both ends.”
The Kings head into the season with a bevy of young talent and veterans in Fox, Hield, Haliburton, Harrison Barnes, Nemanja Bjelica, Richaun Holmes and former first-round pick Marvin Bagley – who has been hit with injuries in his first two years as a pro.
Sacramento also added defensive big man Hassan Whiteside to the team this offseason with a one year deal. Whiteside was drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft and only played in one regular-season game his rookie year. Whiteside has spent time with the Miami Heat and most recently, the Portland Trailblazers, while also spending time overseas and in the NBA’s developmental league.
In addition to Luke Walton being brought back as the head coach, McNair’s reshaping of the front office led to the signing of former New Orleans’ Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry as the Kings’ associate head coach.
Wednesday’s game against the Nuggets is the first of a shorter 72-game season, a result of the pandemic delaying the 2019-20 season. Sacramento was invited to participate in the NBA’s 8-game bubble in Florida to determine the remaining seeding for the playoffs, but failed to make any sort of splash by only winning 3 games.
No fans will be allowed at Golden 1 Center for at least the first half of the new season, which runs through March 4. The league will then take a one-week break before returning to play from March 11-May 16.