Domantas Sabonis, Kevin Huerter recap day three of training camp

Oct 6, 2023, 11:30 AM

Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings reacts during the second quarter against the Golden St...

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 30: Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings reacts during the second quarter against the Golden State Warriors in game seven of the Western Conference First Round Playoffs at Golden 1 Center on April 30, 2023 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Sacramento Kings concluded their third consecutive day of training camp on Thursday night and Domantas Sabonis and Kevin Huerter addressed the media following a spirited scrimmage.

Sabonis, who signed a five-year, $217 million extension with Sacramento last offseason, shared that the organization aggressively pursued an agreement. Going into the summer, an extension was not on the All-Star center’s mind.

“Things happen in the summer,” Sabonis said. “An opportunity became available, and I’m happy the franchise believes in me and I can be here for a long time now.”

Sabonis has been transparent about his search for an NBA home. After being drafted by the Orlando Magic, he was traded to Oklahoma City before playing a single game. The center spent just one season with the Thunder before being re-routed to the Indiana Pacers as part of the Paul George trade. Four and half years later, he was moved to the Sacramento Kings and hopes to be here to stay for the long haul.

“When I got traded and I walked about and I got a standing ovation from the fans. I care about all that stuff,” Domantas Sabonis said. “The fans have been big to me and my family and everyone here.”

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The Gonzaga alum highlighted his partnership with Fox and the organization’s trust in them to lead. Fox and Sabonis were awarded All-Star and third-team All-NBA honors in the 2022-23 season en route to the Kings’ first postseason appearance in 17 years.

Having a dynamic guard like that, a superstar, that can do everything – offense and defense – it means everything,” Sabonis said. “You guys saw it last year. For me, as a big, to play with someone like that makes life so much easier.”

With his future no longer in question, the focus fully turns to the upcoming season.

The keyword all offseason and camp has been physicality. Being up into the ball, fighting through screens, and not allowing the offense to freely navigate the floor. Finding a way to accomplish that without fouling. It starts with Fox pressuring the point guard, and that energy has been infectious through the camp’s infancy.

“It’s been really good. It’s been physical,” Huerter said on Thursday night. “It’s what training camp is supposed to be like, us beating each other up a little bit. We’ve had four or five practices up to this point. Just getting after it. It was nice to finally just be able to scrimmage and play here. So, it’s been good. I think guys are feeling it a little bit. Tomorrow will be a good film and shooting day, but it’s been a good three days.”

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The Sacramento Kings ranked 24th in defensive rating last season. While the physicality is expected to improve on both ends, it’s primarily being implemented to strengthen their defense. Their depth has been altered, but the core remains.

When Huerter was asked what a realistic expectation is for their defensive growth, he thinks they’ve got to show it first.

“It’s tough to tell. You got to do it in a game,” Huerter said. “But, I know that the effort’s there so far in camp. We just keep going back to guys trying to play more physical, being in the right spots, taking charges, being there for teammates, and just got to sustain it.”

Domantas Sabonis, Kevin Huerter, and the rest of the Sacramento Kings will head to Vancouver this weekend for their preseason debut against the Toronto Raptors. We will see if their physicality is notably increased and how that impacts the game.

Sacramento Kings 2023-24 preseason schedule

  • Sunday, October 8th – Kings @ Toronto Raptors – 5 p.m. PST (Preseason Opener)
  • Wednesday, October 11th – Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers – 7 p.m. PST (in Anaheim, CA)
  • Sunday, October 15th – Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 p.m. PST
  • Wednesday, October 18th – Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7 p.m. PST
  • Thursday, October 19th – Kings vs. Utah Jazz – 7 p.m. PST

2023-24 regular season schedule

  • Tuesday, October 24th – NBA regular season begins
  • Wednesday, October 25th – Kings @ Utah Jazz – 6 p.m. (Season Opener)
  • Friday, October 27th – Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 p.m. (Home Opener)

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