After coming off the bench in 31 of his first 33 games this season, rookie guard Tyrese Haliburton was moved into the Kings‘ starting lineup on March 17 and remained there for the team’s next 12 games. However, he has once again been a reserve for the last two, with head coach Luke Walton explaining that he likes having Haliburton lead the second unit. The 21-year-old is taking that decision in stride, as he tells Sam Amick of The Athletic.
“I’m not tripping off that,” Haliburton said. “At the end of the day, I’m a basketball player. I’m not just saying this because it’s a media answer. Like, Buddy (Hield) yelled at me yesterday because I told him this and he was like, ‘Oh, don’t give me the media answer.’ But it’s the truth. I’m a basketball player at the end of the day, so I’m coming out here to compete every night. If you put me off the bench or start me or however many minutes, I’m going to value those minutes and compete.”
Haliburton spoke to Amick about a handful of other topics, including how he ended up falling to No. 12 in last November’s draft. The rookie guard said he thought briefly that he’d be picked by the Wizards at No. 9, but they opted for Deni Avdija instead.
Addressing a rumor that he had a hand in orchestrating his draft-day slide because he was focused on playing for the Kings, Haliburton acknowledged that he liked the idea of playing in Sacramento and that he didn’t see a fit with the Hawks, who had the sixth pick. However, he dismissed the idea that he discouraged the top 11 teams from selecting him.
“There’s all these stupid rumors going around that I told everybody not to pick me because I wanted to go to Sac at 12. Like, come on now, are you crazy? I would never,” Haliburton said. “These teams just didn’t pick me, you know? It is what it is.”
Here’s more on the Kings:
- De’Aaron Fox has been hit by the NBA with a $20K fine for his public criticism of the officiating, the league announced in a press release. Fox’s comments came after Sacramento’s 128-112 loss to Utah on Saturday, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee details.
- The Kings will welcome fans back to the Golden 1 Center for the first time this season beginning on April 20, per a team release. Approximately 1,600 frontline workers will attend that first game — subsequent games will be open to more fans, with the capacity gradually increasing.
- Sacramento is one of many teams around the NBA with a player currently on a 10-day contract. Damian Jones will be eligible to sign a second 10-day deal with the Kings when his current contract expires on Friday night. If one side or the other wants to end the relationship, Sacramento will open up a spot on its 15-man roster.