Kings bench shows why trade deadline move needed in loss to Mavs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SACRAMENTO — After not making any drastic moves at the NBA trade deadline, Kings general manager Monte McNair said it was an intentional process with the hope of keeping the team’s chemistry intact.
The Kings are third in the Western Conference for a reason, so there’s no need to mess with that, right?
While addressing the media Friday, McNair spoke highly of the Kings’ core, but also of the depth and pieces around De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis.
“Our starting lineup is one of the best, if not the best, in the NBA,” McNair told reporters Friday afternoon. “Our bench units mixed in there have been fantastic as well. Our guys have shown they can compete with any team in the league. For all these reasons, we want to continue to let this group grow and gel together and continue on the improvement path that they’ve been set on.”
Nine hours later, the second unit couldn’t back up McNair’s confidence in it.
Sacramento’s bench scored a total of 24 points in the Kings’ 122-114 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night at Golden 1 Center. It had seven first-half points, with four of their six bench players contributing zero points after the first two quarters.
Meanwhile, the Mavs’ bench scored 43 points, of which three players finished in double digits. Thirty-four of them came in the first half and every single Dallas player had at least one bucket at the time.
Malik Monk had eight points on 3-of-7 shooting, two rebounds, four assists and a block in 15 minutes. Terence Davis had nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field and added three treys.
After going scoreless in the first half, Chimezie Metu got going late and finished with seven points on 2-of-2 shooting and had three boards.
Trey Lyles went scoreless for the second straight game, and he didn’t even attempt a shot in Friday’s contest. Davion Mitchell, too, didn’t score. His first attempt came in the second half, and he failed to connect on his four shot attempts — two from behind the arc.
First-year guard Keon Ellis, who was solid for the Kings in two of the final three games of their seven-game road trip, provided little help offensively, too, never attempting a shot.
Now with a coach like Mike Brown, offense has never been a main focus. Brown cares more about how players can contribute in other ways. Mitchell’s been a great example of that with his defense.
But is that enough? Friday’s game says no.
The Mavericks, who made the blockbuster move to acquire Kyrie Irving to pair with Luka Doncic, now are just one game behind the Kings in the Western Conference standings. Just behind them are the Phoenix Suns, who, too, made a big move to land Kevin Durant, putting him alongside Devin Booker and Chris Paul.
The West got tougher, meanwhile, the Kings essentially sat back and watched.
And they paid for it big time on Friday.
“As things change with our competitors, that can change that calculus but we also don’t want to be reactionary just to be reactionary. We’ll never do that,” McNair said in the press conference. “The West is always tough. I’ve been in the West for 16 seasons and this is no different. We think we’re in a really good spot but we have 28 games left so we’ll have to go and fight it out with some really good teams.”
It’s one game, but the Kings will need to prove McNair right if they truly want to stay competitive in the tight Western Conference. The good news for Sacramento, though, is that it’s not too late to add more pieces to their puzzle this season as they push to make a playoff appearance for the first time in 17 years.
They can look into the NBA buyout market, where teams can make the necessary adjustments by adding veterans for more depth, something they desperately needed Friday.
“We’ll continue to look at opportunities that can help our team, [but] at the same time, not just our starting lineup, but our depth has been great,” McNair said. “We’ve had 10, 11, 12, 13 guys help contribute. We’re confident in our roster top to bottom but, of course, if there’s opportunities to continue to help that present, we’ll look at those.”
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The Kings have to hope they can figure it out and back up McNair’s belief in them. Otherwise, things could get ugly down the stretch for Sacramento.