Why Guard Cory Joseph Is Ready for Smaller Role in First Kings Season

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings weren't shy when the free agent signing period began on June 30. General manager Vlade Divac addressed his team's deficiencies, landing veterans to fill in the gaps that were apparent last season when his squad finished 39-43.

One of the more aggressive moves Divac made was to bring in veteran point guard Cory Joseph on a 3-year, $37 million contract. It's a lot to spend on a player who is set to back up starter De'Aaron Fox, but he's one of the better backups in the NBA, especially on the defensive end of the court.

"I'm taking on a different role here," Joseph told NBC Sports California during Friday's media day. "I'm bringing experience to a young group, and I think I can lead in that way."

Joseph logged heavy minutes with the Indiana Pacers last season. He finished the year averaging 6.5 points, 3.9 assists and just one turnover in 25.2 minutes per game. With Fox set to play major minutes this year in coach Luke Walton's uptempo offense, Joseph is likely to see a major reduction in time with his new club.

"You want to go to a place where you have an opportunity and also knowing that De'Aaron is the franchise player here, we know that," Joseph said, "but I'm here to help in any way I can possibly do that with the organization and try to win games. That's what I'm about,"

The 28-year-old Canadian has started 95 out 528 games during his eight-year career. Joseph is a role player who isn't afraid to do the dirty work, and he has played in at least 80 games in each of his last four seasons. That now includes taking the Kings' young, star point guard under his wing.

Fox will now have to go up against one of the better defensive point guards in the league every day at practice. It's a way for him to sharpen his skills on both ends of the floor.

"Defenisvely, he's going to make me a much better offensive player," Fox told NBC Sports California. "He's a savvy vet. He's been through it. He's won a championship. You do nothing but learn and get better from a guy like that. He's one of the best defensive point guards in the league and being able to go up against  guy like that in practice, it does nothing but help me."

One of the reasons the Kings were drawn to Joseph is because he understands his role in the league, and he is more than willing to sacrifice personal numbers for Sacramento's betterment.

"I've never been a starter where I've been at, but I've talked to the starters wherever I've been and when it's all said and done, we've always said that we helped each other and we made each other better," Joseph said. "I don't plan to stop that now."

Despite the hefty price tag, the Kings added a player who has made a career out of playing a physical style and focusing on the team concept.

"I know what I can bring to the table and I stick to my strengths," Joseph said. "That's why teams like the way I play, because I'm a defensive guy. Every single night I go out there and give it 110 percent, especially trying to contain whoever I'm guarding."

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Walton has his hands full trying to find minutes for his crowded rotation, but there is no question that Joseph will see plenty of action. He's versatile enough to play either guard spot, and he gives the Kings a defensive specialist on the perimeter that they didn't have a season ago.

The Kings did not bring in star level free agents, but they filled in the gaps with very good veteran role players that can support the young core. If the plan works and Joseph pushes Fox to be better on both ends of the court, he may be worth every penny to the Kings invested.

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