SACRAMENTO, CALIF. – Rookie guard Buddy Hield on Monday faced the Timberwolves for the third time this season as well as the second time in little more than two weeks, but with his second team.
The shooter whom Wolves basketball boss and coach Tom Thibodeau examined studiously before the 2016 draft scored 17 points for New Orleans at Target Center earlier this month. He suited up for Sacramento on Monday, nine days after becoming one of the featured pieces in an unexpected trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans.
Thibodeau looked long and hard at Oklahoma’s Hield, Providence’s Kris Dunn and Kentucky’s Jamal Murray before selecting Dunn fifth overall in the June draft.
Thibodueau was asked how much he considered Hield.
“A lot,” he said. “I’m a big fan. He’s a great worker. He has the skill [shooting]. He’s terrific, a good kid.”
Of the three players Thibodeau contemplated, Murray, drafted seventh overall by Denver, has distinguished himself the most so far.
“All three are really talented guys,” Thibodeau said. “There’s not a big difference in any of them. I think all three guys will have terrific careers.”
The Kings essentially traded their All-Star center for Hield and a first-round pick, even if Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and a second-round pick were included, too. An ESPN.com report suggested Kings owner Vivek Ranadive was fixated on obtaining Hield, believing he has Stephen Curry-like potential.
When asked about Hield, Kings coach Dave Joerger said: “He’s a really nice guy. He’s a high-character guy. Very mature, 23 years old. Got his feet on the ground. He’s a terrific human being.”
Karl-Anthony Towns was reunited with Kentucky brother Willie Cauley-Stein, the second-year Kings forward now stepping forth onto a bigger stage with Cousins gone.
Stein went for 29 points and 10 rebounds in Sacramento’s first game after the trade, a Thursday victory over Denver. In Saturday’s loss to Charlotte, he had two points and two rebounds.
“Real happy for him,” Towns said. “He’s getting an opportunity right now to play the game, play a lot more minutes. Like I told him, it’s up to him to take advantage of these minutes. … He’s extremely God-gifted athletically and physically, and I think his ability as a basketball player is a little underrated. He has a lot to show.”
After last week’s trade, the Kings started former Wolves Anthony Tolliver and Kosta Koufos at power forward and center, respectively, until Monday, when Cauley-Stein started in place of Tolliver.
• Tuesday is Kris Dunn bobblehead night at the DePaul-Providence game, but he already has had several of them shipped to him. “It doesn’t look like me now, but when I had that haircut it would have,” Dunn said. “They did a good job.”
• Kings veteran guard Arron Afflalo missed his third consecutive game because of a hamstring injury.
• A movie buff in his very limited spare time, Thiboudeau had Sunday’s Academy Awards and its wacky, unscripted ending on in the back while he worked. He was much more educated about last year’s best picture nominees during a season off from coaching than he was about this year’s top prize, won by “Moonlight.” “I certainly didn’t see as many films this year,” he said with a chuckle.