Sacramento - While local media members came out of the woodwork to catch an inside glimpse at the new Golden 1 Center Tuesday morning, the Sacramento Kings quietly opened training camp in the adjacent practice facility. No fanfare. No frills. Just basketballs, hoops and a group of tall guys wearing shorts and sneakers.
The Kings appear to be flying under the radar and that is a good thing. Dave Joerger, Omri Casspi and rookie Skal Labissiere all came over to the small media contingent who actually came to the arena to report on basketball. Like Media Day on Monday, training camp opened without any drama. A finely oiled machine despite a new building, new coaches and 11 new players.
"It was a non-contact practice, so we certainly didn't go live," Joerger said. "Give guys a chance to pick things up and what we're trying to do, especially on the defensive end."
According to Joerger, NBA rules limit the amount of contact drills each team is allowed per day. During the first week of training camp, that number is somewhere around three hours per day, which Joerger was reserving for the team's afternoon practice.
Plenty of players have been in Sacramento logging time with the team's train staff and coaches for weeks. Some have been in town for months.
Joerger was quick to compliment Labissiere and fellow rookie Georgios Papagiannis, who have both been working overtime to prepare for the season.
"Skal's put on 10 points, he's worked extremely hard all summer, he's been really great," Joerger said. "Papa, the last four weeks has worked his tail off in the weight room and on the court. I think he's down seven or eight pounds."
Papagiannis put his number closer to 12 pounds lost when he spoke on Monday and folks around the team thought Labissiere had put on closer to 20 pounds of muscle while working all summer with trainers in Sacramento.
"I just came here ready to work after summer league," Labissiere told the small group of media. "I knew what I had to do. I was in there with the strength and conditioning coach everyday. Our chef came back. So I'm in there every morning with him."
The focus early in camp will be on the defensive end, which is a refreshing change for many of the Kings' players that have been around a while.
"It's really aggressive," Casspi said of what he has seen so far from Joerger's scheme. "Obviously it's protect the basket first and the ball, obviously. There won't be a lot of switching like we did last year."
Joerger is known around the league for his defensive game plans. Before injuries wiped out most of his starters last season with the Grizzlies, he had one of the game's best interior defenses. The Kings have different personnel, but a lot of the scheme will remain the same.
"You want to do what's best for the group you have," Joerger said of his approach to implementing a defensive system. "Generally we played with two big in Memphis with Marc (Gasol) and Zach (Randolph). So we'll try and do some things there, and then I anticipate us playing a lot more small ball this year."
It's just one day, but the players appeared to be welcoming the change in ideology from their new head coach.
"I think the attention to detail is something we haven't seen yet," Casspi said. "The terminology is a bit different, but it's not going to be too complicated. It's something we're going to work on throughout the year."
Golden 1 Center unveiled
After hosting season ticket holders and select groups over the weekend, the Kings opened their doors...and giant roll-up windows, to the press on Tuesday. Judging by the response of the impartial, Kings fans will floored by the new building.
Highlights of the tour included the giant scoreboard that is both 4K resolution and the size of three semi trucks stacked on top of each other. There are amazing sightlines and a bridge overlooking both the floor and the city of Sacramento featuring a Sierra Nevada Brewery garden.
The building is 100 percent solar powered. 90 percent of its food comes from within 150 miles of the stadium. Digital boards light up the entire space and the overall aesthetics of the building will wow everyone that walks in the door.
According to team president Chris Granger, the team is pushing the NBA hard to host the 2020 NBA All-Star game. The Sawyer Hotel, which shares the courtyard with the arena and is owned by the franchise, is expected to open in the spring. The surrounding downtown area is a mecca for development, giving Sacramentans a central hub to call home.
The team will host an open house on Saturday where upwards of 50,000 people are expected and on Sunday, they have already sold out for their annual Fanfest.