Former Sacramento columnist and Kings beat writer Marty McNeal has passed away

Tragic news in the sports media world today, as a writer every Kings fan should know has passed away after battling a brutal disease. Here’s the Sacramento Bee reporting:

Marty McNeal has passed away? Those words just don’t seem plausible because anyone who knew the former Kings beat writer for The Sacramento Bee would agree that Martin McNeal was timeless.

He was a life force. He was pure New York swagger. He was not tall but had the intellect and bravado to cut NBA players down to size with his hilariously profane style of “conversating” that was so funny, you couldn’t get mad at him even when you were his target.

McNeal died Thursday in a hospital in Dallas, where he and his family had moved recently after nearly 30 years in Sacramento. His wife Beverly and his son Phillip were at his side. McNeal was 64 and had been battling leukemia.

Kings General Manager Vlade Divac issued the following statement on the passing of McNeal, the team’s beat writer for Bee from 1992 to 2005:

“I am deeply saddened to learn about the passing of my friend Marty Mac. I’ll never forget his incredible sense of humor and he will be forever remembered as a truly iconic figure in both the Sacramento and national media landscape.

“Marty possessed a unique storytelling ability unlike any other, as he tirelessly covered our team and this franchise during countless memorable moments, including some of the best years of my career. He had a magnetic personality, fiercely loved the game and was a legendary writer that inspired and entertained readers of all ages. He was also a beloved mentor and loyal friend to many, as well as a loving husband and father who will be greatly missed.

“On behalf of the entire Kings organization, I want to express our deepest condolences to his wife Beverly, son Phillip, and the entire McNeal family as we keep them all in our hearts, thoughts and prayers during this most difficult time.”

Kings 2020 NBA draft glance

Here’s the Sacramento Bee with a glance at the 2020 NBA draft, currently scheduled for June 25 but subject to change due to the global coronavirus pandemic, with the Kings in mind:

The Sacramento Kings have a lot to consider between now and the 2020 NBA draft. Questions are more plentiful than ever with the season on hold, including where the team’s first selection will end up.

It appears Sacramento’s first-round pick will be in the lottery. The exact position of the draft slot would be determined by chance. All teams that fail to make the playoffs will have a shot at picking at the top of the draft, with the best odds going to the teams with the worst records.

As it stands, Sacramento would have a 1.3 percent chance at the first overall pick and a 6.2 percent chance of landing in the top four. It’s also possible the teams behind the Kings in the standings could jump into the top four, bumping Sacramento down. The current chance the Kings pick 13th is 7.6 percent and the chance they fall to 14th is about 0.1 percent.

Kings coach Luke Walton has watched every episode of Tiger King on Netflix

Here’s the Sacramento Bee answering the question you’ve all been asking: how much of the Netflix show “Tiger King” has Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton watched?

During a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Walton offered his thoughts on social distancing, homeschooling, the threat of COVID-19 and two documentary series that are keeping America entertained: ESPN’s “The Last Dance” and Netflix’s “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”

“I have watched every episode of ‘Tiger King,’” Walton said. “I had no idea what it was about, but it hooked me.”

Walton said he is sheltering in place with his family at their Sacramento-area home, where they are adhering to recommendations and orders from health officials. In his first press briefing since the NBA postponed the season March 11, Walton quipped that he was speaking to reporters from his car outside the house “because it’s the only place I can get any quiet in the quarantine life.”

Now you know.

I haven’t actually seen it yet. Because it’s been described as a car crash that people can’t look away from. Which isn’t exactly the best advertisement for a series. But like most of you, and like Walton, I’m sure at some point I’ll hit that Play button and struggle to look away.

Kings launch program to connect with community during coronavirus

One by one, organizations across the NBA, sports, and the world in general are adapting to our present reality: dealing with coronavirus. Teams have to protect their players and staff, and once they have a handle on that, they’re able to look around and see what they can do for others. Here’s the Sacramento Bee reporting on the Kings:

The Kings are launching a program entitled “In This Together,” a wide-ranging effort to engage and connect with the community during the coronavirus crisis through online activations, health awareness, physical and educational activities, business support and more.

The initiative is part of a league-wide campaign to help the global NBA community through difficult and unprecedented times as the world wrestles with a global pandemic. The NBA, which hasn’t played a game since its first player contracted the coronavirus on March 11, has encouraged teams to develop programs in four categories: Know the Facts, Acts of Caring, Expand Your Community and NBA Together Live.

We’ll keep sharing stuff like this with you, but starting this week will resume also putting up pure basketball content as well. We’ll be posting an exclusive player interview with you later today.

No surprise, Kings suspend basketball operations activities

The coronavirus crisis is putting a stop to many things around the world, including most sports competition. Since last Wednesday night, NBA games are on hold. Individual teams can choose to maintain certain levels of activity. But almost all of them that we know of have trimmed activity down to a minimum, with most or all employees working from home.

As for the Sacramento Kings, here’s the Sacramento Bee:

The Kings suspended basketball activities Tuesday night in response to a directive from county health officials, the latest development in the abrupt and increasingly complete shutdown of the NBA due to the coronavirus.

The Kings issued a statement saying all basketball operations activities at the team’s Golden 1 Center practice facility have been suspended until further notice. The team noted that no Kings players have exhibited coronavirus symptoms. The organization acted in accordance with a directive from Sacramento County health officials to “stay at home.”

Basketball operations staff will continue to work remotely, but the team’s practice facility is closed.

Unfortunately, this topic will continues to dominate the news world these days. We’ll keep you updated.

No Marvin Bagley return yet for Kings

Sacramento Kings power forward Marvin Bagley III continues his recovery from a left midfoot sprain and is progressing through his reconditioning plan which includes on-court running activities and skill work in addition to his ongoing strength regimen.

The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings (28-36) are preparing to play the New Orleans Pelicans (28-36) on Wednesday at Golden 1 Center. The teams are tied for ninth in the Western Conference, four games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed in the playoffs.

The Kings are in an interesting place. Making a wild push for the playoffs isn’t actually so wild a concept. It’s an unusual position, but for the Kings, that’s a good thing. Things are happening. The franchise has reason to believe. Not necessarily in the current postseason push, but with a good offseason, making the playoffs in 2020-21 would be an actual realistic goal.

But for now the wait for Bagley’s return continues.

Kings waive little-used forward Anthony Tolliver

The Sacramento Kings waived forward Anthony Tolliver today.

Acquired on January 21, 2020, Tolliver appeared in 9 games this season for Sacramento and averaged 1.0 points (.176 FG%, .133 3pt%, .500 FT%), 1.2 rebounds, 0.3 assists and 9.1 minutes per game. The 12-year NBA veteran has averaged 6.2 points (.415 FG%, .373 3pt%, .770 FT%), 3.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 19.6 minutes per game in 706 career games (101 starts) with 9 teams; San Antonio, Portland, Golden State, Minnesota, Atlanta, Charlotte, Phoenix, Detroit and Sacramento.

Per the Sacramento Bee:

The Kings traded for Tolliver in a January deal that shipped Kent Bazemore and Tolliver to the Kings in exchange for Trevor Ariza. Tolliver played with the Kings in 2016-17 as well. His minutes dropped to from about 17 a game with the Trail Blazers to about 9 a game with the Kings as Sacramento has a logjam of big men…

The move allows Tolliver to join a playoff contender that might have more need for a big man.

The Kings are 25-34 this season, which is the 11th best record in the Western conference. They’re being led in scoring by De’Aaron Fox at 20.0 points per game, and Buddy Hield at 19.9 PPG.

Kings hand Clippers another loss

Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles, the Kings came to town and beat the Clippers, 112-103. In the win, Sacramento got 20 or more points from starting guards De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic as well as backup forward Kent Bazemore. The Clippers were still without starters Patrick Beverley and Paul George. Here’s the Sacramento Bee:

The Kings went nearly two years without beating the Los Angeles Clippers. Now they’ve done it twice in three weeks…

Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 20 points for the Kings (23-33), who have won eight of their last 12 games. De’Aaron Fox finished with 19 points and eight assists. Harry Giles III recorded his first career double-double, posting 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Kawhi Leonard had 31 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Clippers (37-19). Lou Williams came off the bench to score 24 points.

The Kings made a franchise-record 21 3-point goals in a 124-103 victory over the Clippers on Jan. 30 in Los Angeles. The Kings snapped a 10-game losing streak against the Clippers with the win, beating them for the first time since March 26, 2017.

And the LA Times:

Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 31 points and was even serenaded with “MVP” chants less than a week after the Clippers’ star was named the most valuable player of the NBA All-Star game. His dunk with 57 seconds remaining trimmed the Clippers’ deficit from eight to six, but Kings guard De’Aaron Fox answered with a layup of his own with 39 seconds remaining to effectively shutter the Clippers’ comeback and continue his torture of the Los Angeles defense.

The Clippers added a lot of depth recently, but a clear picture of the team as a whole won’t be visible until Pat and PG13 are back in action.

Kings forward Marvin Bagley remains out at least three more weeks

Although Kings forward Marvin Bagley III (left midfoot sprain) continues to progress through the reconditioning process, under the supervision of the team’s physicians and in coordination with foot specialist Dr. Martin O’Malley at the Hospital for Special Surgery, he is not yet ready to return.

Bagley recently incorporated stationary shooting and partial-weight bearing conditioning activities into his regimen, in addition to ongoing strength work.

An update regarding Bagley’s status will be provided in three weeks.

Health updates on Kings players De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III

Kings guard De’Aaron Fox (back spasms) exited Thursday’s game versus Minnesota with 10:02 remaining in the first quarter. A precautionary MRI conducted this morning revealed no structural damage and he will be listed as day-to-day moving forward.

Kings forward Marvin Bagley III (left foot) exited Thursday’s game versus Minnesota with 4:05 remaining in the third quarter. He will be evaluated by a foot specialist tomorrow and an update will be provided as appropriate.

A third-year guard and fifth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft out of Kentucky, Fox has accrued averages of 17.6 points (.465 FG%, .333 3pt%, .686 FT%), 4.0 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.1 steals and 29.3 minutes per game in 14 games (12 starts) for the Kings during the 2019-20 season.

A second-year forward and second overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft out of Duke, Bagley III has averaged 13.7 points (.459 FG%, .214 3pt%, .800 FT%), 6.9 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.4 steals and 23.6 minutes per game in nine games (three starts) for Sacramento this season.