Will Buddy Return to the Kings’ Starting 5?


When the Kings new General Manager Monte McNair decided not to match Atlanta’s offer to restricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic, it made perfect sense that Buddy Hield would slide back into the starting lineup as the shooting guard next to De’Aaron Fox.

After a breakout season in the 2018-19 season, Hield started last season as the Kings’ two guard, then midway through the season, head coach Luke Walton made a switch.  He moved Bogdanovic into the starting lineup and had Hield come off the bench.  It seemed to work well, as the Kings won 13-of-20 games with Hield providing a “microwave” spark coming off the bench before the pandemic shut the NBA down.

But Hield wasn’t happy.  He didn’t like coming off the bench.  He believes he should be a starter.  Just before the NBA “bubble”, Hield tested positive for COVID-19.  He made it back just before the Kings began playing, but Hield struggled and often sat for long periods of time in the fourth quarter during the Kings’ dismal 3-5 record in the “bubble”.

Hield didn’t hide the fact that he was unhappy coming off the bench and that he didn’t like Walton.  There were reports during the offseason that Hield wouldn’t return Walton’s phone calls.  So it was not a surprise that Hield was the subject of many trade rumors during the short offseason.

McNair though seems to value Hield for his elite ability to shoot from long distance.  He said so in his initial media session and then he repeated that in another session earlier this week.  McNair also said that he had talked with Hield and his agent and that they were all on the same page and McNair expected him to thrive in the Kings’ new system.

Sure sounds like Hield is headed back to the starting lineup, but maybe nobody told coach Walton.

Seems like a very lame response by Walton and not exactly the vibe we got from McNair.  Could Hield come off the bench?  Is Walton going to start rookie Tyrese Haliburton ahead of Hield?  That doesn’t seem to make any sense, especially to start the season.

As for Hield, he downplayed the issue of starting or coming off the bench when he met the media on Saturday.

Buddy also said there is no problem between him and Walton.

Hield’s former coach in New Orleans Alvin Gentry is now part of Walton’s staff.  The Kings’ shooting guard is looking forward to having Gentry in Sacramento.

Hield says his main focus is just winning games and turning things around in Sacramento.

So Buddy Hield is saying all the right things.  At least for now, it seems that all is right in Sactown with Buddy and Walton.  Will it last?  Stay tuned.  This will be one of the more interesting stories to follow in the new season.

Follow us on Twitter @Kings_Lead for the latest Kings news and insight. 

About Dave Andrade

Sports Director, KRCR-TV Redding 1968-81; Shasta College football & basketball play-by-play; marketing rep; retired, but still doing a daily sports report & commentary for KKXS 96.1 FM, Redding; contributor at Kings Lead

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