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Amongst a sea of change, Walton addresses relationship with Hield and new style of play

Questions remain as the Kings enter training camp.

The abbreviated training camp and odd timing of the start of the NBA schedule this season due to COVID-19 gives the Sacramento Kings a short amount of time to adjust to all the changes that occurred this offseason. Chief among those changes was replacing Vlade Divac with Monte McNair as the Kings general manager. Walton said on Tuesday’s media call that the transition from Divac to McNair has been good and that McNair has been “very easy to work with, he's very easy to talk to. He's clear on what he sees and what his plan is and he's very open to hearing my thoughts and my views on where we're at." He also said it’s hard because he had “such a great relationship with Vlade and Peja [Stojakovic].”

Other changes this offseason included not matching the Atlanta Hawks offer for Bogdan Bogdanovic, drafting Tyrese Haliburton, signing Hassan Whiteside and Frank Kaminsky and not re-signing Alex Len and Kent Bazemore. There may be a change coming in the Kings style of the play as well – and we’ll get to that in a minute. What may have not changed is Walton's communication with Buddy Hield. In October, it was reported that Hield had not been picking up Walton's calls.

Walton was asked if he has spoken to Hield recently and what his relationship is with him at the moment. He didn’t clear the air about their communication, but he did address their relationship.

"Not going to get into the in-house stuff of who I've talked to and this and that with some of that, but Buddy is a very talented player. I've always had a good relationship with him and we're excited that he's part of the group,” Walton said.


Walton was also asked about Hield returning to the starting lineup this season.

"We've got a lot of new faces here. We have to continue to look at what's going to be best for our team. And even last season, Buddy started more than half the season and when he didn't start he played a huge role for us coming in off the bench and being a dynamic 20-point a night scorer. Every decision I make is always based on what I feel is best for the group and best for the team,” Walton said. “With this training camp, this is part of what we have to see. What do we have? What groups are playing well together? Who complements who? And at the end of the day, every decision that gets made will come down to what do I feel as the head coach is best for this team giving us the best chance of winning."

Ok, then.

Obviously, Bogdanovic moving on to the Hawks opened the door for Hield to move back into the starting lineup. I can’t imagine Haliburton, a rookie who is unable to participate in Summer League and only getting a few weeks of training camp, landing the starting nod over a veteran like Hield who can shoot the way he can. Walton apparently doesn’t want to guarantee that Hield is a starter as of now though.

Of course, things could be fine and all we can do is read between the lines in Walton’s comments here, but given the history between Walton and Hield it is probably safe to say some form of mending still needs to take place. It is something we will have to keep an eye on.

Now, about the changes to style of play. Since McNair took over, we have been hearing a lot about how the Kings were going to pick up the pace again, something Walton largely abandoned last season as a way, as he described it, to focus on executing in the half court and get defensive stops. During his media call on Monday, McNair again brought up the pace the team plans to play with this season. On Tuesday, Walton was asked about the changes we may see with the style of play, especially given the additions of Alvin Gentry and Rex Kalamian to the coaching staff.

"You won't see huge changes, but there's definitely some philosophy moves that are going to be a little different this year than last season," Walton said. "One of the keys this year is we're going to play a little more five-out style in the flow of our offense. We're going to have a little more commitment from day 1, now that we have somewhat of a foundation set from last season, on how quickly we want to get the ball up the court. Defensively, some of the rotations will be different. You're going to have to really lock in and look at the little details to see any major changes."

Hmm. So there will be changes, but not huge changes. Will those small changes be enough to capitalize on Fox's speed with pace? We'll have to wait and see.

On Monday, McNair also brought up how the plethora of bigs, including Whiteside, the Kings now have on the roster will give Walton flexibility to pick and choose his lineups based on matchups.

Walton elaborated on that.

"That’s one of the things Monte and I were talking about is how much different our team looked like last year once we added an Alex Len to the group. Somebody that can really just sit in that paint and protect it for us. ... It does allow you to take different lineups and smaller lineups, and maybe players you normally wouldn't play together when you have a big fella down there to clean a lot of that up,” Walton said.

As for the Kings money man De’Aaron Fox, he addressed the potential change in the offense this season with the addition of Gentry to the coaching staff.

“Knowing the way the Pelicans have played the last couple of years, they’re getting up and down the floor. They’re going to play fast, not necessarily shoot the ball fast, but they’re going to get the ball down the floor quickly,” Fox said. “It’s a fun style to play and it’s a harder style to guard … so with the type of players that we have on this team we know that we can get the ball up and down the floor.”

Walton was asked what areas he would like to see an incremental improvement in with Fox.

“I think the biggest jump for him will come when he consistently is making that three-point shot and getting to the foul line,” said Walton, who also mentioned the improvement Fox made toward the end of last season in both areas.

Fox finished last season 12th in the league in free throw attempts per game (6.7). He finished at 29 percent from three.

There are many questions surrounding this team as the season fast approaches. The first preseason game set for next Friday after all. We’ll keep you updated throughout this shortened training camp period.

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December 1, 2020 8:09 pm

Walton has gotta be the least articulate coach in the league.

December 1, 2020 8:39 pm
Reply to  KGB-Ball

Something he and Vlade have in common.

December 2, 2020 6:57 am
Reply to  KGB-Ball

The apple does not fall far from the tree.

Last edited 1 month ago by SmallBallReject
December 2, 2020 7:00 am

Please don’t insult the great Bill Walton. He is a national treasure.

December 2, 2020 1:16 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

And that nation is Tuvalu.

December 2, 2020 5:56 pm
Reply to  BeTheBall

See for yourself @

December 2, 2020 11:12 pm
Reply to  BeTheBall

Please don’t insult Tuvalu.

December 2, 2020 7:27 am
Reply to  KGB-Ball

Imagine going to a staff meeting with Vlade, Luke, and Peja? Good god

December 2, 2020 10:35 am
Reply to  dhackett

Dumb and Dumber and Dumberer.

December 1, 2020 8:54 pm

That did not give me much confidence in Walton. Not that I had much to begin with. He just doesn’t seem like the right coach for this team. I’ll reserve full judgment until later in the season.

December 1, 2020 10:39 pm
Reply to  HumboldtCPA

Walton is not the right coach for any team. He’s a terrible non-coach and a dipshit.

I hate Vlade for leaving his poop on our lawn. Hopefully McNair grabs a plastic bag and throws this shit out.

December 1, 2020 8:57 pm

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December 1, 2020 9:07 pm
Reply to  Kosta

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December 1, 2020 9:08 pm
Reply to  Kosta

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December 1, 2020 9:26 pm
Reply to  Kosta

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December 1, 2020 9:37 pm
Reply to  Kosta

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Last edited 1 month ago by Kosta
December 2, 2020 6:28 pm
Reply to  Kosta

Your future Interim Head Coach!

Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
December 1, 2020 9:20 pm

He has like the most apathetic, disinterested face ever.

December 1, 2020 10:09 pm
Reply to  Klam

I hate his face.

December 2, 2020 7:02 am
Reply to  NorCalKingsFan


December 2, 2020 2:25 pm
Reply to  NorCalKingsFan

His face is dumb looking. Like he’s pretending like he knows whats going on when in reality he is way out of his depth. He likely won’t have another head coaching gig after this one, he’s just not that bright

December 1, 2020 10:06 pm

Lose Alton is the right guy for this team right now. An underwhelming coach who gives zero thought about coaching at this level will lead us straight into a top-5 lottery pick next year!! If you don’t like that you don’t like kangz basketball!

December 2, 2020 3:29 pm
Reply to  02kingsfan

Downvoting Luke Walton fan—reveal yourself! (I have a morbid curiosity.)

December 1, 2020 10:06 pm

I give it 3 months tops for Luke to get fired.

December 2, 2020 6:59 am

Walton can coach us until a lottery spot is secure and the vets are traded for young or draft assets.

December 2, 2020 7:16 am


December 1, 2020 10:18 pm


December 1, 2020 11:56 pm

This is bad

December 2, 2020 12:25 am

Luke Walton has clearly not been watching the tap.

December 2, 2020 10:32 am

He’s been lurking from the tap, perhaps.

December 2, 2020 2:27 pm

he certainly was trying to “tap” something in a certain hotel room which we won’t discuss any further

December 2, 2020 12:29 am

We’re going to have a little more commitment from day 1, now that we have somewhat of a foundation set from last season, on how quickly we want to get the ball up the court.

Changes won’t be noticeable, there will be some philosophical changes, and this? What is this 5th grade basketball?

December 2, 2020 12:34 am

Demoralizing to look forward to the season and see that guy at the helm.

Last edited 1 month ago by CarmichaelRave
December 2, 2020 2:27 pm
Reply to  CarmichaelRave

unless our goal is to lose

December 2, 2020 3:09 am

Supreme asshatery.

I’m not sure what’s worse, his coaching or the way he represents his coaching in the media.

December 2, 2020 3:38 am

I genuinely don’t get how this guy survived 3 years in Los Angeles and one year with LBJ. Amazing how little skills he has as a coach and a professional got him paid this much for doing sooooo little……..for so long…..

December 2, 2020 3:58 am
Reply to  02kingsfan

What did Walton even do as a coach on the warriors? Did he just get the players Gatorade?

December 2, 2020 7:04 am
Reply to  Bbmuteman

he made their pregame pbj sandwiches

December 2, 2020 10:08 am
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

I mean, I can’t start my day without coffee and a good pbj sandwich.

December 2, 2020 8:29 pm
Reply to  Bbmuteman

The warriors 28 game win streak started it, the lakers fell for it and now we get fucked.

December 2, 2020 7:01 am
Reply to  02kingsfan

“Airhead surfer dude” may go down better in LA …

December 2, 2020 4:33 am

Anyone catch Sam Amick on the Athletic NBA show? He says the Kings are willing to tank this year because no fans will be in the building to witness the horror show.

Can we out-tank Presti & OKC?

Tankathon here we come.

December 2, 2020 7:08 am
Reply to  socksofthewiz

I think we’re the fourth worst team in the league after Det, Cle and OKC. If Fox were to miss significant time I’d say we’re right there as the worst. Maybe Fox can take a one year sabbatical to help the tank?!

December 2, 2020 9:48 am
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

This is mystifying. How is this team going to end up worse than all those eastern conference teams that had way worse records?

I figure we’ll have the 10th or 11th worst record (again).

December 2, 2020 10:28 am
Reply to  Otis

Which 10 or 11 teams do you think have less talent on the roster than the Kings do? I can come up with about 5 but it’s a pretty big stretch to come up with more than that. The Hawks should be a lot better. The Hornets should be at least marginally better with Hayward. The Wizards are getting Wall back but who knows where he’s at or how he looks. In the West I see maaaaaybe the Thunder as being worse though I don’t think they’ll be nearly as bad as some do.

December 2, 2020 10:50 am

“The Hawks should be a lot better” – maybe? 11 games better?

Most of these teams come in far behind the Kings, a team that seemed to underachieve last season. So I’d expect the Kings to end up in that 33 to 35 win range, and don’t see most of these other lesser teams making that type of leap.

We lost Bogie. But Fox should be better. And theoretically, Holmes will play more. It appears Hield will be used more to his strengths. I just don’t see this team dropping down into the 20’s in wins.

Or are we saying this is the year that the East is going to get better? Which year is this now?

December 2, 2020 11:15 am
Reply to  Otis

I would expect Atlanta to be better yes. Maybe even 11 games better. We’ll see. I don’t think there’s any question they have a more talented roster than the Kings do. I expect the Kings to be worse. Fox is a good not great player though it’s possible he takes another leap. I don’t have any reason to believe Holmes will play any more than he did last year nor do I see a ton to suggest Buddy will be used to his strengths this year. Nothing Luke Walton said in his press conference yesterday gave me any confidence he knows what he’s doing. I think Luke Walton is a horrendous coach and that he will fail miserably again at putting his players in a position to succeed. If we had a better coach I’d probably feel differently.

Again, just based on roster talent, how many teams do you think have are less talented that the Kings? I pulled up the rosters for every team in the league and the only ones I think are without question less talented are the Cavs, Pistons, Knicks and Thunder. I think we’re in a tier with the Wizards, Spurs, and Hornets. Maybe we finish at the top of that tier and we are in the 8th or 9th slot. I think that’s possible.

December 2, 2020 11:20 am

I think talent wise, we’re in about the tier we were in last season (and the one before) – in the 17 to 22 range in the league.

Luke Walton doesn’t inspire confidence in me either. But he’s not going to be tanking. We’re still (IMO) the team that won 38 for Joerger – while that was probably an overachievement, I wouldn’t say it was by more than a few games.

December 2, 2020 11:18 pm
Reply to  Otis

Walton isn’t nearly as good of a coach as Joerger.

December 2, 2020 11:16 pm

Minny could be worse than the Kings.

December 2, 2020 1:21 pm
Reply to  Otis

I think we’ll be much worse. We have 1 playmaker, 1 shooter, and 0 defenders. Couple that with Walton’s amazing gameplanning and adjustments, and that’s a recipe for a bottom-5 team. 20+ wins with the lack of talent on this roster would be a pretty big achievement.

December 2, 2020 2:24 pm
Reply to  BeTheBall

Again, I’m mystified. Take a look at the top minutes guys from Joerger’s team two seasons ago (39 wins):

Buddy Hield
De’Aaron Fox
Willy Cauley-Stein
Bogdan Bogdanovic
Nemanja Bjelica
Marvin Bagley
Iman Shumpert

Bogdan’s playmaking is a loss, and they’ll certainly have to figure out how to work around that – but outside of that, it’s pretty much the same team, just with better options than WCS (Holmes/Whiteside).

And I’d be shocked if Fox doesn’t continue to improve.

I just don’t see a recipe for a 10 to 15 game dropoff, unless there are major injuries.

December 2, 2020 4:28 pm
Reply to  Otis

You’re not wrong. Joerger was more effective at optimizing players. Thus far, players have had to improve despite the current coach. Maybe the new assistant coaches will be a better fit, but I hope not!

December 2, 2020 11:20 pm
Reply to  BeTheBall

I’d say the Kings probably have 2 playmakers (Fox & Hali), 2 shooters (Buddy & Bjelly) & 1 defender (Holmes).

December 2, 2020 4:09 pm
Reply to  Otis

Aren’t the schedules geographically skewed so the Kings will play on the West Coast against all of the other other teams who are good. the crap teams in the east will play each other and will do better as they are of similar skill levels?

December 2, 2020 11:23 pm
Reply to  Murf

I believe teams will play 3 games against every team in their own conference & 2 games against every team in the other conference.

December 2, 2020 2:34 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear’s power rankings place the Kings 26/30 or 5th worst. Who is worse? Pistons, Knicks, Cavs & Bulls. B/R has the Kings 26/30 as well, they switched out the Bulls for OKC. 5th worst works for me.

Last edited 1 month ago by socksofthewiz
December 2, 2020 7:28 am
Reply to  socksofthewiz

That sounds like Vivek Ranadive reasoning.

December 2, 2020 7:36 am
Reply to  socksofthewiz

Meanwhile GS is willing pay 80 million to have Kelly Oubre on the team next year. Our cheap ass team is willing to throw away another year to save a couple bucks on a coach. I understand we are tanking next year and they don’t care what we think, but I have to assume we’d be better off getting a system in place rather than waiting a year and letting the players flounder.

December 2, 2020 10:44 am
Reply to  cbrody

Oubré isn’t making eighty million dollars next season.

December 2, 2020 11:41 am
Reply to  andy_sims

But adding him significantly inflates their luxury tax bill. So the decision to add him included the willingness to add roughly $80MM to their overall bill.

December 2, 2020 11:46 am

Ah, quite true, thank you.

December 2, 2020 2:29 pm
Reply to  cbrody

except in our front office’ eyes, we were supposed to be competing for a playoff spot each season leading up to this one

December 2, 2020 4:10 pm
Reply to  cbrody

To be fair the Warriors are in their win now window

December 2, 2020 9:46 am
Reply to  socksofthewiz

If we’re tanking, we’re going at it pretty terribly.

December 2, 2020 5:07 am

I see this team constructed to get out and run after a made shot or defensive rebound, looking at attacking the defense before they can get set. If the Kings walk the ball up court consistently, then something is wrong and people need to be fired.

Grab and go, look for easy and efficient shots before the defense can set. If nothing is there, then settle into the half-court offense. It does not seem that difficult.

December 2, 2020 2:30 pm
Reply to  Hobby916

that was the plan until Walton came on board

December 2, 2020 6:28 am

With Gentry on board I would hope a possible in season fire is a little more possible (granted without a longterm commitment). As these Media scrums demonstrate in part, its more than conceivable that Gentry could win the players ears over Luke. The hopeful schemes align to that direction as well. Maybe wishful thinking.

Regardless Luke Walton should not be coaching this team in a years time.

Last edited 1 month ago by nonstripedzebra
December 2, 2020 7:09 am

Walton is gone next off season if not in the second half of this season.

December 2, 2020 7:14 am

So whose career will the Kings destroy this year?

December 2, 2020 9:35 am
Reply to  Marty

Hopefully Vivek’s

December 2, 2020 7:43 am

The weakest link in the chain is by and far Walton at the moment. Fine for this season, but I don’t feel his leash with McNair will last all that long.

December 2, 2020 8:07 am

I have two thoughts about what Walton said:

1) Does he just wing these answers without any forethought?

2) Does he think he’s fooling anyone?

He hasn’t proven that he’s a good coach, yet his answers come across as someone who thinks the players must fall in line with his directions. There is a fine line that is being walked with him being the coach of the tank versus really really pissing off and alienating the players. It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a lot of back door meetings or messaging going on with the FO/other coaches and players along the lines of “bear with it this one year and he’s gone”.

December 2, 2020 9:42 am
Reply to  NinjaFetus

What is it he said you don’t like? If you dont like his style or personality, I get that, but that is not what I am interested in. I am interested in the substance of what he said. I don’t see anything substantively I would object to.

You say “his answers come across as someone who thinks the players must fall in line with his directions”. Um, he’s the coach.

You are saying as the coach that he should NOT try to implement his vision for success? He should NOT create structure and guidance to maximize talent? You seem to be inferring the coach should just offer suggestions and whether players choose to accept them is up to them? That is not a system for anything but chaos.

I get it if you think Walton sucks but baseless criticism does not help the case against him.

While he is the coach he has the authority to try to realize the vision he has for the team. It is inherent to the job title.

Of course there is give and take within this context, feedback from players and assistants, but the authority ultimately rests with the coach.

If you strip him of his authority, if players can override his philosophy and agenda with their own, you don’t have a team, you have a rudderless ship.

Believe me, when Walton deserves criticism, I will let him have it. He was way too committed to Cory Joseph at times last year for example. There are many other blunders he has made I have wiped from my memory. But I take exception to fans who offer hollow critique bc it clouds the tangible malfeasance.

If you have some valid criticism to offer as I perceive it, in regards to this coach or any of the players, I will be the first to endorse it. The last thing I am is a homer for the Kings, but I also do not stand by idly when spurious complaints are made. If I misinterpreted what you said let me know.

December 2, 2020 12:19 pm
Reply to  kings4ever

No prob, I don’t want to come across as baseless bashing. Maybe I’m reading into it too much.

This is the part that really struck me as not really matching up:

You won’t see huge changes, but there’s definitely some philosophy moves that are going to be a little different this year than last season,” Walton said. “One of the keys this year is we’re going to play a little more five-out style in the flow of our offense. We’re going to have a little more commitment from day 1, now that we have somewhat of a foundation set from last season, on how quickly we want to get the ball up the court. Defensively, some of the rotations will be different. You’re going to have to really lock in and look at the little details to see any major changes.”

I think we all can agree that the product that showed up on the court last year was, well, not good.

Yes he’s the head coach until he isn’t, and as much griping as I have with that nothing I say makes a difference in that. But I feel it’s obvious that he doesn’t do an effective job at leading this team of players, or what he is trying to teach isn’t translating across on to the game floor from practice. If he is trying to be successful in teaching or setting up a structure I don’t think it’s going well. He has the authority as the head coach which was given to him by a FO that is no longer with the organization and the new FO is building out his assistants with some that have a LOT of experience, but I don’t think he has the respect of the players which allows him to build on his authority and ultimately help that translate into success. I could be wrong since we don’t get to see that part of a team process, but just my outside view. It came across more “do as a I say, not as I do” to me. Again, could just be my interpretation of it.

The philosophy part also kind of bugs me. This team in the last year of Joeger was starting to build an identity into a play fast team, or at least one that pushed the pace as much as possible, and it worked for a good while. Then Walton comes in and tries to establish a half-court defensive team that clearly wasn’t built for that. Going into this year, I think we are starting to see that McNair is trying to emphasize playing faster than last year with the players being brought in, at least at barging prices. Also, based on what McNair has offered in the press to date. But with Walton I don’t get the feeling that he himself is buying into that approach, to a point that he wants to double down on what he thinks was accomplished last season. He is going to go with what he thinks is the correct moves, and while yes he should as he’s the head coach, he has to be able to adapt to the players on the roster. McNair has embraced advanced stats and things like that to build success, but Walton has the joke of “watching the tape” attached to him, whether fairly or not, implying that he’s going more by an eye-test than anything else to back up what he thinks is working or not. I would be surprised if he doesn’t take into account any type of stats or numbers.

Maybe I’m being too cynical and need to wait to see what happens on the court.

Also, I know sports interviews are usually not very deep and filled with cliches but when Walton says them they come across more….weird and clichey than usual. Not sure if that makes sense, but just what I take out of it.

December 2, 2020 12:51 pm
Reply to  kings4ever

Walton has done virtually NOTHING right as a coach. Prove me wrong!

December 2, 2020 6:38 pm

No refutes!

December 2, 2020 8:19 am

What he is saying about Alex Len is fact. We became a legitimate playoff contender when Len was added to the roster. Then he missed a lot of time before the Bubble games and that hurt us. (Holmes was hobbled too).

Our collapse in the Bubble was poor coaching, poor shooting, but also our center position was in disarray. Harry had the opportunity to step up and failed.

Len took up a lot of room in the paint and set high picks to free our guards. It was night and day vs a non-rim protector or disinterested and ineffective pick setter. So Whiteside filling the role of Len, being equal or better, is going to be excellent for us. It is encouraging the GM and coach are on the same page on this.

Playing 5-out will be great for Fox of course. It will be interesting to see how many low post touches Bagley gets ? I wonder if we may use him as high post or midpost, or if he is going to have to get comfortable playing on the perimeter with more face up opportunities?

My initial thought is that Bagley may struggle in this offense, but is up to him to figure it out, not for us to cater to him.

December 2, 2020 8:55 am

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Last edited 1 month ago by RobHessing
December 2, 2020 8:58 am

Walton is at his best at home watching tape

December 2, 2020 9:19 am
Reply to  dhackett

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December 2, 2020 9:24 am

It would be pretty sick if Mcnair brought Dave Joerger back and we started playing the right way (fast) again and made it to the playoffs. There’s almost a 0% chance of this happening but I do believe we would have made it to the playoffs with Joerger simply given our improvement as a team with him.

December 2, 2020 10:34 am
December 2, 2020 10:35 am

He suuuuuuuucks. Just like the Vlade hire, you could see this was going to be a disaster as soon as he got hired and it’s played out exactly as I would have expected. I just hope that having him here doesn’t stunt the growth of any of our young players because I think he could actually do harm to the organization this year.

December 2, 2020 2:55 pm

Just curious if the Kings have resolved the Mechanic’s Liens filed against the team for $6.3 million?

Last edited 1 month ago by Bill2455
December 2, 2020 3:33 pm

I am predicting what Walton will say after the first loss: I have to go back and look at the tape.

December 2, 2020 4:11 pm

Should have said and I think what he means is… If Buddy is running with the second team, it’s not because he’s not one of our top players, it’s because his shooting is more valuable there and would provide continuity between the units and maintain our aggressive attacking style for the entire 40 minutes.

Buddy theoretically should fit well with either Cojo or Tyrese on that second unit. Maybe Justin James on first unit.

December 3, 2020 11:02 am

Blah blah blah blah. Dead man walking.


[…] was a little odd, then, to hear Luke Walton's comments the following day, in which he downplayed any significant changes for the team's system, although […]

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