Trey Lyles brings an edge and added sense of accountability to Sacramento

Dec 7, 2023, 7:00 AM | Updated: 8:53 am

Trey Lyles #41 of the Sacramento Kings reacts after a play in the first quarter against the Golden ...

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 28: Trey Lyles #41 of the Sacramento Kings reacts after a play in the first quarter against the Golden State Warriors during the NBA In-Season Tournament game at Golden 1 Center on November 28, 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 Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Around the 5:30 mark of the second quarter during Monday night’s NBA In-Season Tournament action, Trey Murphy III missed an above-the-break triple. Trey Lyles and Jonas Valancuinas battled on the glass as the shot went up.

Lyles was attempting to box out the seven-footer, which came with a level of physicality. After the Sacramento Kings secured a long rebound, the two began running down the floor, and Valancuinas’s elbow struck Lyles in the chest.

Taking exception, he retaliated and pushed the New Orleans Pelicans’ center, eventually earning a technical foul from the official.

After declaring he saw no ill-intent or dirtiness from Valancuinas, Sacramento Kings head coach Mike Brown said Wednesday he thought “the officials missed it.”

“It’s a grown-up game, and it’s fun,” Brown continued. “It is a kid’s game on one hand, but there are a lot of stakes out there, emotions are high, and you’ve got to stand up for yourself. As long as you don’t cross the line, I’m all for it.”

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Despite the technical, that moment doesn’t seem to qualify as crossing the line in his mind. Physicality has been Sacramento’s primary point of emphasis since preseason. To improve defensively, that needs to be embraced by all members of the roster, and Lyles provides a needed edge on the floor.

The Kentucky alum, who missed the first 13 games with a calf strain, said he would never instigate an altercation but would defend himself and his teammates when needed.

A handful of teams and players around the association will try to gain an advantage with a bully-ball style of play. After Wednesday’s practice, Trey Lyles said he “will definitely not allow things to go overboard.”

“I (will not) just let them walk all over us or whatever, from a team aspect,” Lyles said. “There comes the point and time in the games that we’ve got to stand our ground, and a couple of those times happened the other night.”

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Coach Brown reiterated that “nobody wants to be a pushover” when asked about the incident. He also agreed it can be a rallying point for teams.

While star point guard De’Aaron Fox is vocal on the court (mainly regarding fouls or no-calls), the Kings benefit from Trey Lyles’s toughness to the group. He’s the type of teammate you want to battle with, someone you know will have your back.

Even while injured, his vocal presence made appearances mid-game. With 53 seconds remaining in Sacramento’s In-Season Tournament game against the Golden State Warriors, Lyles (in street clothes) called Malik Monk to the sideline. He told the guard to lock back in (using more… fiery wording) after he failed to box out Andrew Wiggins on the other end.

Lyles being comfortable enough to hold his teammates accountable in that way speaks to the team’s culture and the relationship he’s developed with his peers.

At last season’s exit meeting, when Lyles was headed into free agency, he made it clear that he wanted to return to California’s capital.

In that vulnerable press conference, he expressed that being on four teams in his first seven seasons created a hesitancy to build off-court relationships. Last season, he managed to escape that mindset and fully embraced his newfound NBA home.

“Not being comfortable or (not) feeling like everybody’s comfortable with me talking has hindered me in the past,” Lyles said. “But, here, it’s a great platform. Guys respect me. I respect everybody, and I think they know I want the best for them and for the team, so everybody accepts it with open arms.”

Now, his increased comfortability is showing its benefit both on and off the court. While still regaining his rhythm and creeping toward optimal conditioning since returning six games ago, Trey Lyles provides a clear edge to the Kings. His energy helps bolster their self-belief and sense of team culture.

When is the next Sacramento Kings Game?

The Kings will travel to Phoenix on Friday night, where they will face Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns for the first time this season.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Suns coverage, beginning at 4:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 6:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Phoenix.

Upcoming Schedule

  • Friday, December 8th – Sacramento Kings @ Phoenix Suns – 6:00 PM PST
  • Monday, December 11th – Sacramento Kings vs. Brooklyn Nets – 7:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, December 12th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Clippers – 7:30 PM PST
  • Thursday, December 14th – Sacramento Kings vs. Oklahoma City Thunder – 7:00 PM PST
  • Saturday, December 16th – Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz – 7:00 PM PST

** NBA In-Season Tournament Knockout Round

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