Sacramento Kings sign Skal Labissiere to partially guaranteed deal

Aug 21, 2023, 4:14 PM | Updated: 5:07 pm

(Photo by Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)...

(Photo by Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)

(Photo by Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)

A familiar face will be back in the 916 once NBA training camps open next month.

Skal Labissiere, the 28th pick from the 2016 NBA Draft, has signed a partially guaranteed deal to return to the team that drafted him, the Sacramento Kings.

According to The Athletic‘s Shams Charania, the deal is for one year, meaning that the Haitian forward will battle it out for a full roster spot once camp opens during the last week of September.

Labissiere spent the 2016-19 seasons with Sacramento before being traded to the Portland Trail Blazers on February 6, 2020 for a second-round pick.

The 6’10 forward averaged 8.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 0.6 blocks per game over 106 appearances (40 games started) with the Kings while logging minutes at the power forward and center positions.

Labissiere displayed his ability to be a stretch big during his time with the Kings, shooting just under 48 percent from the field and 35 percent from three-point range during his first stint in Sacramento.

Following the franchise-altering trade that sent All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans in February 2017, Labissiere benefited from a bump in playing time during the final stretch of the 2016-17 season.

Over the final 25 games of the season, the then-rookie turned heads while averaging 10.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game on 54 percent shooting from the field and 37 percent from deep.

Labissiere’s monster 32-point, 11-rebound performance against the Phoenix Suns on March 15, 2017 had Kings fans feeling like the forward was on the precipice of becoming one of Sacramento’s franchise cornerstones as the search for a Cousins-less identity began.

YouTube video

While Labissiere’s impressive finish to the 2016-17 season and solid 2017-18 campaign instilled hope among the Kings’ fanbase, the Kentucky product was pushed out of the rotation at the start of his third NBA season amid the emergence of new forwards Nemenja Bjelica and Marvin Bagley III.

Following Labissiere’s trade to Portland, the big man has struggled to find a new basketball home, playing just 33 games with the Blazers in 2019-20 (his last NBA season) before logging stints in the NBA G-League and Baloncesto Superior Nacional, a Puerto Rican Basketball League.

During the 2022-23 season with the G-League’s Mexico City Capitanes, Labissiere averaged 8.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game while converting just under 50 percent of his field goal attempts over nine appearances.

Although it was a limited sample size, the 6’10 big’s ability to block shots was on display with Mexico City, much like his college career where he swatted 1.6 shots per game with Kentucky.

YouTube video

Labissiere’s partially guaranteed contract puts him in a similar position to fellow main roster hopefuls in center Neemias Queta and veteran big man Nerlens Noel, who will also be batting it out for an opening night spot on Sacramento’s 15-man roster.

The Kings lack defense and need to bring in a player that can patrol the paint, meaning that shot-blockers like Noel and Queta will receive plenty of attention during training camp. Although Labissiere has yet to prove that he can be a rim protector at the NBA level, his recent stretch in the G-League proves that he can be another intriguing option for Sacramento during the preseason.

NBA teams are allowed to carry 21 players on its roster for training camp, and the Labissiere signing puts the Kings at 18 players (including two-way contracts in Keon Ellis and Jalen Slawson).

13 of Sacramento’s current 18 players on its training camp roster have guaranteed deals, meaning that there are two full roster spots available for the taking before the regular season tips off on October 25th in Utah.

Will two of Labissiere, Noel, and Queta make the opening night roster, or will Kings GM Monte McNair continue to bring players in for camp competition?

Expect McNair to make a two more signings to reach the max limit of 20 training camp roster spots as the reigning Pacific Division champions aim to round out an already deep roster–one that could use a boost on the defensive end, of course.

2023-24 Preseason Schedule

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

2023-24 Regular Season Schedule

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

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