Articles | Interviews

Jerry Reynolds breaks down the Kings shortened season

The one and only Jerry Reynolds discusses the Kings pace this season, not drafting Luka Doncic and more.

The night was already a little bit off. The NBC Sports team told Jerry Reynolds they wanted him to go to the studio in the Bay Area for the broadcast of the Sacramento Kings v. New Orleans Pelicans game on March 11. NBC Sports didn't want him to do the pre- and post-game show in the concourse because of the threat of the coronavirus and the close interaction with fans.

This was tough on Reynolds because, €œthe best thing I can say about the show, in most cases, is getting to spend time with the fans,€ he said.

Reynolds obliged and headed to the Bay Area studio for the broadcast. He was fully expecting the game to be played, but was aware that it was probably going to be the last game before the season was called off. The news had already begun trickling out that the NBA was taking action to try halt the spread of the virus, and Reynolds was somewhat perplexed as to why the Kings game was still planned to be played after the announcement came in that the season was expected to be stopped after the two evening games.

€œI think most of us didn't quite understand the rationale behind that. If you called off the season, why not call off those two games too?€ he said.

Before they went on air they had heard the game in Oklahoma City had been cancelled and Reynolds credits Sam Amick of The Athletic for bringing up the connection between a referee at the Kings game that had called a game a Utah Jazz game a few days prior that (which was alarming due to Rudy Gobert's coronavirus diagnosis). This resulted in the Kings game being canceled.

For those who weren't too concerned about the virus yet, the cancellation of the NBA season set off alarm bells throughout the country about its seriousness.

Reynolds has been doing everything he can to stay healthy, but like many, he misses sports. He was kind enough to join us to chat about the Kings season. Below is part one of the interview that focuses mainly on the team as a whole. On Friday, we will share part two that discusses many of the players individually.

Let's just say for the sake of argument that the season is officially over. What are your biggest takeaways?

If I had to say one thing it would probably be disappointment. I fully expected the team to start off much better and obviously, it was just a terrible start to the season, which just took away so much excitement and hope that we all had right away. Certainly, we saw some real positive things jump out there like Richaun Holmes' play €“ it was just something I don't think a lot of people expected. I knew he was going be better than people thought, but I didn't know he was going to be that good.

Then, the early injuries to Marvin Bagley and De'Aaron Fox, and I'm not one to whine about injuries because everybody has them, but did it help the Kings? Of course not. Was it the reason for their poor start? I don't believe so for a second. Toronto has had more injuries than anybody and look at them, and they lost two of their key guys before the season to other teams. €¦ So, I was very disappointed in how the team started, and the style of play. I really didn't like any of it.

As the year went along you saw things, in my mind that wasn't very effective. The overall defense was not really improved for a long time, if ever. Offensively, it was a step back so I was disappointed in that. Now, having said all that, I think Coach [Luke] Walton, to his credit, made a lineup change moving Buddy [Hield] to the reserve role and Bogi [Bogdan Bogdanovic] back as a starter, and then started to get some really good play out of [Nemanja] Bejilica during that time. So, the team started playing closer to its ability and then sadly probably the last 20 games before the end, was playing terrific. It was really a good team.

You touched on it there, but what do you make of their improvement after the All-Star break? Obviously, the trade that brought Alex Len and Kent Bazemore here had an impact.

There's always several factors. I think as you hit on, I definitely thought the Bazemore and Len additions made a huge difference, Bazemore maybe even more so. The day he arrived the team got better because of the way he was playing. He gave them that defensive presence and wild enthusiasm flying all over the floor that they didn't have, and honestly, he was a better version of [Iman] Shumpert the year before. And then Len, in a way, was a throw in on the deal with [Jabari] Parker, but he gave consistent rim protection. Holmes wasn't able to play; he provided rim protection and size and toughness that Harry Giles is just not big enough to do. So, you simply just got better with those two guys and in my mind, their bench became one of the best benches in the league. In many games, the bench was better than the starters so that's a plus, and I would credit Luke Walton a good deal on this because he was very comfortable not only playing the bench, but staying with them. Even though Buddy wasn't happy with being moved to a reserve role, and good players shouldn't be, he started playing like Buddy buckets that we saw all of last year.

And then third, and most importantly, De'Aaron Fox started playing like a young star-type point guard and I thought showed a good bit of leadership €“ I still think there's quite a bit of room to grow there, by the way. And I think coach Walton to his credit, allowed De'Aaron to push it and all the sudden the team got to playing at a pace that probably fit them better. In my mind, there's never a downside to playing fast because if the worst thing that happens is you don't get a good shot in transition, you're setting up your offense 4 or 5 seconds faster, which I€˜ve always thought I don't see a downside to that either.

Luke Walton said early in the season that the team had to learn how to play in the half court and learn how to play like a team that can win in the playoffs once they get there. That was his reasoning for not playing with pace. What was your point of view on that?

I understood part of it, and totally didn't understand the other part of it. The part I understood and totally agree with him is that the team needed to become better in the half court because I think most of us understand that if you're going to be a good team down the stretch of games you have to be effective in the half court. You don't get to just fly up and down the court all the time; the opposition has something to do with that and the game gets more physical in the end, it always has. So you have to be able to execute in the half court if you're going to win close games and certainly if you get to the playoffs...

What I didn't agree with, I'm not quite sure how much better the half-court offense is. I mean it's one thing to say that, it's kind of like saying we're going to focus on defense, but if you aren't stopping people any better then it's just words, and so we saw a little bit of that. Where I did disagree with coach is not understanding that the team had had a lot of success playing fast last year. I agree that doing exactly what the team did last year would make no sense because it sort of did flame out and teams in the league adjusted, and also the team's half-court offense just wasn't good enough as the season went on. I totally agree with his thinking process, but I wasn't seeing the results to be honest. Had they maybe came out of the gate and decided they were really going to push it and play fast while they worked on the half-court offense and defense I think success might have come earlier.

Do you think if the season had continued and the Kings had kept playing the way they were that they would have made the playoffs?

I think they had a great chance. And I know a lot of the fans will say, 'well you're just being a homer,' of course I'm a homer, but I do believe that. I think they were playing better at that time than Memphis or New Orleans. New Orleans would have been the team that scared me more than anybody because I think they might be more talented even though they're much younger. And then, you can't discount Portland because of Damian Lillard. Having said all of that, getting to 38, maybe 39 wins would have got you in the playoffs and I thought the Kings had a chance to get there. They also had a chance to get the tie breakers, which my feeling was that it probably would have come down to that. I think the Kings were 7-3 over their last 10 and that was better than any of the other teams. So, was it homerism? Sure, to some degree, but I think it's also based on the most important analytic €“ that's called wins and losses in the last 10.

Where are you on the decision to not draft Luka Doncic? Obviously, it looks like Luka was the better pick, what do you think of the decision process there with Vlade Divac taking Marvin Bagley over him?

Well, there's no doubt that if he could do it over again he would do it over again, I think. It was one of those things, I didn't know enough about the draft at that time, just what little I had seen of Luka, a few highlights and games, and then Bagley, or Deandre Ayton, or Trae Young, or whoever. I was one to say, €˜well Vlade and Peja [Stojaković] would probably have a better feel of this than I would for sure and if they think that Bagley is the better prospect then I'm OK with it.'

I guess my initial feeling before the draft was I thought Luka seemed like maybe the sure pick of all of them because my own feeling is that Europe is so much better than the college game, and I think a lot of fans still haven't quite understood that. The top European teams are just way better than North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky and those teams. So, when a guy is maybe the best player in that league and the MVP, that puts his stock pretty high as opposed to 30 or 40 years ago North Carolina, Duke or Kentucky would have went over to Europe and kicked the shit out of the European teams, and now it's just the opposite.

What do you think needs to happen to make this team better over the offseason, whenever the season begins?

The first thing you have to do is keep the players you want to keep. At the end of the season let's say you end strong, but you don't get there then you don't want to cop-out and say you had a great year, you didn't because you needed to make the playoffs. That doesn't mean many of the players on your roster couldn't be part of a playoff team, an important part. Having said that, there may be some guys you'd say maybe they played roles this season, but we need to get better and this might not do it by keeping this particular player or if we can make trades, whatever. I think the roster as such is not quite good enough. €¦. I would be looking at the draft pick, a player, or two and think trade more than draft. Think trade, free agency, any way you can get a player, or players, that you think you can plug in and make you better, that's what you better do. I think the least thing this team needs is another 19-year-old guy who is not ready to help you play and win. It would be different if this was a proven veteran team like the Kings of early 2000s and you can have a Gerald Wallace who is really good and probably needs to play, but not quite good enough. This team needs to be a playoff team, so whatever it takes to get in the playoffs. I know a lot of fans are excited about the next 19-year-old guy, but in my mind, some 25-year-old guy that's proven he can really play, last time I checked that should work just fine.

***

You can catch Jerry on his podcast The Jerry Reynolds Show. He says he has an episode coming out soon with Whitey Gleason.

We will be posting the second part of our interview with Jerry on Friday.

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Vlawde
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April 21, 2020 12:08 pm

First! Plus seeing how my user name translates. Howdy y’all!

HeuristicLineup
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April 21, 2020 12:11 pm

Hi, first time caller, long time listener. I just wanted to say Hi.

I’ll take my answers off the air.

Klam
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Nostradumbass 18
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April 21, 2020 12:44 pm

Nothing better than opening TKH with an exclusive interview with Jerry. Well done.

TheFifthMookie
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April 21, 2020 3:19 pm
Reply to  Klam

Local content by local celebrities written up by locally interested writers

Greg
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April 21, 2020 7:47 pm
Reply to  TheFifthMookie

What a concept!

ForKingsandCountry
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April 21, 2020 12:50 pm

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

DeuceMason
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April 21, 2020 1:04 pm

Jerry Reynolds is the GOAT.

HeuristicLineup
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April 21, 2020 1:38 pm
Reply to  DeuceMason

No, you’re the GOAT

BabyGiraffe
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April 21, 2020 2:25 pm

No, I’m the GIRAFFE

ArsLegendi
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April 21, 2020 2:28 pm

Jerry really knows how to politely and gracefully address some hard truths.

Gregoryl
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April 21, 2020 3:55 pm
Reply to  ArsLegendi

And he swore. I’m totally OK with this interview.

OutofServicePervis
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April 21, 2020 8:05 pm
Reply to  Gregoryl

Yeah Jerry said shit!!

ForKingsandCountry
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April 21, 2020 6:04 pm
Reply to  ArsLegendi

Yeah I’ve always admired his ability to speak the truth while still supporting the organization. It’s a shame it never rubbed off on another broadcaster who shall not be named.

TheFifthMookie
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April 21, 2020 9:54 pm

I wonder if we could get the KH to use some form of [redacted] instead of his name

ScottyPop
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April 21, 2020 6:16 pm
Reply to  ArsLegendi

Love the straight up honesty.

Now, if only we could get that from the rest of the local media instead of all of the shilly shilliness

DepressedKingsFan
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April 21, 2020 2:34 pm

surprised this name wasn’t taken.

KGB-Ball
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April 21, 2020 2:36 pm

Very happy with his candor. Can’t help but wonder if Jerry’s feeling a little more free to voice his criticisms these days.

SavageBeast
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April 21, 2020 2:51 pm

The boys are back in town!

ajon_es
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April 21, 2020 2:52 pm

Love me some big Jerry

dadysir
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April 21, 2020 3:21 pm

Usually just a lerker looking forward to a better year next year glad to see this site up and running. I got the email at 12:30 could’nt get the link to connect figured site was overloaded with Kings faithful and finally got in!!! I would think it a shame to let Basemore and Len get away I’m not too big on Bagley a one dimensional young player that can’t stay healthy is trade bait for me. I’m old and like my center 7foot and wide blocking shots and getting rebounds was pleasantly surprised with Mr Len.

dirty530
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April 21, 2020 3:36 pm

All these takes are spot-on and seemingly in line with everything us fans have been saying all season. I have to admit I’m a bit surprised to hear him saying it so openly and honestly, but I appreciate it!

Dirty5Thirty
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April 21, 2020 5:03 pm
Reply to  dirty530

Dang, I thought I was so original

HumboldtCPA
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April 21, 2020 3:41 pm

I’ll get to the article another time, just wanted to say what’s up and hope you all are doing well!

Jman1949
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April 21, 2020 3:55 pm
Reply to  HumboldtCPA

Now that comments are open again for this article…

comment image

Klam
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April 21, 2020 4:15 pm
Reply to  HumboldtCPA

Welcome back, Humboldt!

Dirty5Thirty
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April 21, 2020 5:04 pm

Love Jerry. He’s honest, but more importantly he’s a fan just like us…. “of course I’m a homer”

LukashoulbeaKing77
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April 21, 2020 5:06 pm

Man, this is why everybody loves Jerry. Sure he’s a homer but not a shill like Grant Napier

JoeEnzyme
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April 21, 2020 5:52 pm

Great to be a part of the new website. Hilarious to read Jerry dropping an S bomb.

ScottyPop
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April 21, 2020 6:14 pm

Wow. Awesome, man.

Kfan
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April 21, 2020 6:45 pm

Sweet!

33teeth
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April 21, 2020 7:50 pm

Great read! More please!

OutofServicePervis
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April 21, 2020 8:06 pm

Jerry is awesome. If anyone hasn’t read Reynolds Remembers, I highly recommend it

RobHessing
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April 21, 2020 8:55 pm

National.
Treasure.

MyHumbleOpinion
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April 21, 2020 8:58 pm

Jerry tells it like it is. Great interview.

Carl
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April 21, 2020 8:58 pm

Jerry Reynolds is a Sacramento treasure. Jerry’s candor, grace, sheer love for the fans and team and his basketball knowledge are unmatched in this town. He’s one of the few public people I would probably have to say hi to and thank if I ever met him.

Klam
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April 21, 2020 9:04 pm
Reply to  Carl

The last Kings game I attended over the Christmas holiday when I was back in Sac, during the end of halftime my Dad and I were walking around the arena, and I noticed Jerry was taking photos and chatting with fans at the Comcast booth he works at with Koz, Doug, and James Ham. We wanted to get a photo, but there were a lot of people crowding around him and it was almost time for him to get back to work, so we unfortunately couldn’t. Hopefully someday!

Kingsguru21
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April 21, 2020 9:51 pm

Very good stuff, but that’s how things go when Jerry is concerned. Looking forward to the 2nd installment. Well done Blake.

jcwkings
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April 21, 2020 10:34 pm

Jerry deserved to call Luka as a King, the closest thing to Larry Bird we’ve seen.

RikSmits
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April 21, 2020 10:52 pm

Great to have Jerry give a bit of support to TKH by giving an in-depth interview and not just providing fluff content but some honest (yet polite) points of criticism on several issues.

I tip my hat to you Jerry, and to you, TKH staff.

KDsBurnerAccount
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April 21, 2020 11:16 pm

Jeez, Jerry is so real. He won’t sugar coat anything.

I wish I could’ve seen him coaching in his day.

HunterSThompson
April 22, 2020 9:28 am

Didn’t we all know that behind that aw-shucks grandfatherly exterior was a guy who would say that European basketball would kick the “shit” out of US college powerhouses? So pleased to see that he is really the absolute best thing about the Kings….

FoxForceFive
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April 22, 2020 11:15 am

Having spoken with some other people within the organization, I was pleasantly surprised that their opinions align closer with the fans (on things like: drafting Luka, Buddy’s words vs. his play, referee treatment of De’Aaron, Walton’s impact [or lack thereof] on the team compared to the previous year, etc.), and it isn’t just toeing the company line. This was just a couple people in non-public positions, but it was refreshing to not be fed the usual generic lines.

HoustonJP
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April 22, 2020 3:53 pm

Great interview of Jerry!

There are a lot of gems in Part 1 of the interview. One that was really interesting to me was his feeling that the Kings might want to move a player(s), perhaps their draft pick for an established 25 year old player. I can’t disagree with his reasoning.

KH management, savvy decision to run this story in one of your first days in business. Keep it up.

Everyone in here that is excited to be reading stories and posting comments on KH, raise your hand.

Bitgod
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April 26, 2020 6:05 pm

Wait, wait…Jerry cursed? GASP.

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