After Monday’s preseason loss to the Phoenix Suns, Keith Smart told media that tomorrow night’s starters would be the lineup that starts opening night. But after practice today, the Sacramento Kings head coach backed off that declaration.
“I’m backtracking because it was right after the game,” Smart said with a smile to media following Wednesday’s two-hour workout. “It was in the heat of the moment. I was a little upset with how we played. The emotions were high and I just said it to get the media off my back.”
In six preseason games, Smart has used five different starting lineups. He’s started just one unit more than once. Aaron Brooks, Tyreke Evans, Travis Outlaw, Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins started in consecutive contests against the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors
“We just want to make sure that the guys that are playing do the right things every single time they’re on the floor,” Smart said. “And then eventually, we’ve got five days to work and then we get ourselves ready for our first game.”
One of the Kings’ tightly contested position battles is at point guard. When a decision is made on a starter, the Kings head coach isn’t worried about any division between his lead guards. He sees that Brooks, Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette all have good working relationships with one another.
“That’s what I’ve encouraged to those guys, to be supportive of each other,” Smart said. “So don’t get caught up into starting or back-up – all that. All we want to do is play well and get out of the building with a win. That’s it.”
Everyone has their hunches about who starts game No. 1 against the Chicago Bulls. At Cowbell Kingdom, we made our predictions this morning, which you can read here.
Will any of the preseason invites make the final roster?
Since waiving big man Cyril Awere, the Kings haven’t made any cuts. It seems that they won’t make a decision on the three remaining invites until after tomorrow’s preseason finale against the Los Angeles Lakers.
“All the guys we have brought in have done a great job,” Smart said. “They should be on an NBA roster. Obviously, they can’t all be here. But overall, whichever one we keep, or somewhere down the road, they’re more than welcome on if we get an opportunity to bring them back or keep one of them.”
Coach Smart praised the growth he’s seen out of of Hamady Ndiaye, Tony Mitchell and Willie Reed. He’s seen them all get better in their three weeks as a members of the Kings.
“They’ve developed very, very well,” Smart added. “From when they first arrived here to where they are now.”
The Kings have 14 players under contract. Smart remained mum on whether they’ll carry a full 15-man roster. With league-wide cuts expected throughout the week, the Kings head coach suggested that they’d like to keep their options open.
“You kind of keep your eyes open and your ears to what’s going on around the league,” Smart said. “So that when something happens, you see how that might fit with what you’re trying to do.”
Salmons’ return remains unclear
John Salmons is still away from the team due to personal reasons. Smart spoke to Salmons yesterday, but the timetable on the veteran small forward’s return is not clear.