Coach Smart and Kings players dish on the importance of communication and teamwork. Plus, get an update on Honeycutt’s progress in the D-League.
Following Friday’s contest against Atlanta, Kings players talked privately in the locker room before media availability. Initiated by veteran John Salmons and co-led by Francisco Garcia and Chuck Hayes, the meeting focused on taking personal accountability and putting a more concerted effort on both ends of the court.
“We just put it all on the table,” said DeMarcus Cousins postgame. “(We) talked about what we feel like we needed to do and what it’s going to take to help this team (get) better.”
Saturday, Kings Head Coach Keith Smart praised his team’s conviction and self-critique.
“When I was a player, I did the same thing because it gets to a point where everything the coaches are saying, it has to come from within the team,” said the Kings leader. “When a team can get to a point where it polices itself … that’s when you start making big (strides).”
Following preparation for Sunday’s matchup with Brooklyn, Salmons revealed the meeting accomplished its main purpose, adding there was a noticeable difference in the team’s outlook during practice.
“We had a good film session,” said No. 5. “(We) saw things that we weren’t doing right and saw that even though we lost the game, we weren’t that far off from putting together a good one.”
Hayes believes forthright conversation is beneficial to the Kings development.
“It’s very healthy – if you can’t talk to your teammates about anything, then you can’t do your job with your coworkers,” said No. 42.
“We’re coworkers, we’re employees, we’re family, we’re brothers – we should be able to talk to each other about anything.”
The big man explained rather than pointing fingers, players responded positively and valued every opinion.
“We’re not holding (any) grudges, we’re not holding (any) animosity – it’s a respect and a love for each other,” said Hayes. “You have to take the constructive criticism from the coaches and from your teammates as a positive of them trying to help.”
After recognizing the importance of commitment to rectify its previous shortcomings, Jason Thompson believes the team is ready to turn the corner.
“The guys came with a different mindset (today) – more focused and looking in the mirror and asking, ‘What can I do?’” said No. 34. “If it’s not scoring, it’s being better on the defensive end, talking and being a better teammate.”
Isaiah Thomas echoed his teammate’s sentiment, adding positivity and honesty are instrumental in finding success.
“(The meeting) was something we needed,” said the UW product. “At the end of the day, it’s about sticking together and trusting each other.”
“We were dialed in (today) – Coach talked a lot, we talked a lot amongst ourselves and just tried to figure out what’s going wrong,” he added. “Hopefully, there’s a change and we’ll be ready for it.”
– Smart revealed he expects to utilize a different starting lineup Sunday against the Nets in order to create greater scoring opportunities with improved ball movement.
“If we share the ball, move the basketball for the pass to make a play, then we shoot about 45 percent as a team,” he explained. “If we simply try to go one-on-one, we shoot around 30 (percent).”
– The Kings leader has kept in close contact with forward Tyler Honeycutt, who was assigned to Sacramento’s NBA Development League affiliate Reno Bighorns on Nov. 7 and scrimmaged with the team Thursday.
“I want him to understand that I haven’t forgotten about him, that I am paying attention to what’s happening with him,” said Smart. “(Reno Head Coach) Paul (Mokeski) will start giving me updates, too, on what he’s doing.”
Smart added while he expects No. 9 to practice and train with the Kings when time and respective schedules permit, it’s currently important for the forward to bond with his Bighorns teammates during the squad’s training camp.