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Kings look to improve defense heading into training camp

Kings look to improve defense heading into training camp

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Mike Brown has history with De’Aaron Fox.

The first-year Sacramento Kings coach, who spent the last six seasons with the Golden State Warriors as an assistant, first got a glimpse of Fox while helping at an Adidas Nations Camp. Fox was in high school at the time.

Brown said he saw elite defensive traits back then that can translate to the present. Brown will get a look at Fox and the rest of the Kings when the team opens training camp on Tuesday.

“I’m excited that the potential is there,” Brown said. “He is a remarkable young man ... just knowing the potential that he has and seeing it back in high school at Adidas Nations and also seeing it in flashes out here when we are playing pickup.”

Brown has bonded early with his 24-year-old star guard. He attended Fox’s wedding over the summer and said it was “probably the greatest wedding I’ve been a part of.”

Multiple Kings players arrived in Sacramento weeks ahead of Monday’s media day. The players have been participating in closed-door workouts and scrimmages. They have also bonded outside of the facility — something that was instilled by Brown.

“The fact that we have had so many guys back in Sacramento (is huge),” Fox said. “I’ve been here for a month. We have had guys here before I even was here. Guys are ready to go, play for each other and go out there and win games.”

The theme of training camp will be defense. Sacramento has ranked as one of the worst defensive units in the league since the start of a 16-year playoff drought. The Kings last made the playoffs during the 2005-06 season.

“Having a defensive-minded head coach, he is going to emphasize defense,” Davion Mitchell said. “The culture he came from, where they were really good defensively, he’s going to try and bring that to our team.”

Sacramento, in the offseason, signed Malik Monk to a two-year, $19 million deal. Fox and Monk were teammates at Kentucky during the 2016-17 season.

“We talk everyday,” Fox said. “To be with him every day now is definitely a great thing. ... We are throwing passes to each other that nobody else on the team will throw.”

This is Fox’s first training camp with big man Domantas Sabonis, who was acquired at last season’s NBA trade deadline. They only managed to play in 15 games together last season.

“I’m excited,” Sabonis said. “It’s only going to get better. The more we play together, the more we will know our habits and what we like ... we get a training camp together and as the season goes on our chemistry is going to get better and better.”

This is the first training camp for Keegan Murray. The rookie from Iowa has picked up on what Brown has preached defensively.

“It will be good for me to experience (his coaching),” Murray said. “Obviously at Iowa a lot of the stuff we did was offense. I’m excited to learn that new stuff on that side of the court.”

Multiple Kings teammates have been impressed with what they have seen from the 22-year-old forward, including Mitchell, who is one of the top defenders on the team.

“He’s a quiet guy, but you can see how confident he is in his game,” Mitchell said. “He’s dynamic. He can do everything on the floor, shoot the ball, play without the ball.”

Sabonis also had high praise for Murray. They're projected to start in the front court this season.

“He's been great," Sabonis said.

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