Reno Bighorns win their first game of the season downing Texas 110-108

Charlie O. Mallonee


The Reno Bighorns finally broke into the win column on Tuesday night when they edged the Texas Legends (Dallas Mavericks)  110-108. Malachi Richardson hit a jumper with one-tenth of a second left on the clock to break the tie and give the win to the Bighorns (1-4).

The Bighorns held a four-point lead at the end of three quarters. The Reno lead fluctuated between two to six points as the Legends tried to retake the lead. With 7:58 to go in the game, Texas grabbed that lead and built it up to five points only to have the Bighorns comeback and tie things up with 4:31 to go.

The teams tied the game up three times in the final four minutes. The final tie coming with 16.7-seconds to play when the Legends Bryson Fonville banked in a three-foot jump shot to make it a 108-108 game.

Reno’s Lamar Patterson made a bad pass that was stolen by Fonville. Isaiah Cousins was able to steal the ball back for the Bighorns who called a timeout with 3.8-seconds left in the game and Reno trailing by two points.

The inbound pass went to Malachi Richardson who immediately put up a 21-foot jump shot that went through the hoop with 1-tenth of second remaining in the game which did not leave enough time for the Legends to make a basket.

The Bighorns won the game 110-108.

Bighorn scoring

  • Guard Lamar Patterson was the leading scorer in the game with 27 points. He went 12-for-14 from the free throw line. Patterson also had five steals.
  • Malachi Richardson not only hit the game winning shot – he put up 26 points and was also productive at the charity stripe hitting on 9-of-11 opportunities.
  • Skal Labissiere had a big game at center scoring 21 points in 28 minutes on the floor. He shot 9-for-16 in the game and grabbed eight rebounds.
  • Isaiah Cousins posted a double-double scoring 16 points and pulling in 10 rebounds.
  • Big Georgios Papagiannis – who was sent back to Reno from the Kings – also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.


Reno’s team numbers

  • Shooting 36-for-81 (44.4-percent)
  • 3-pointers 6-for-18 (33.3-percent)
  • Free Throws 32-for-38 (84.2-percent)
  • 47 rebounds, 16 assists, 11 steals, 3 blocked shots
  • 18 turnovers that resulted in 23 Texas points

Texas numbers


  • Shooting 39-for-87 (44.8-percent)
  • 3-pointers 8-for-24 (33.3-percent)
  • Free Throws 22-for-28 (78.6-percent)
  • 41 rebounds, 22 assists, 10 steals, five blocked shots
  • 20 turnovers that turned into 16 Reno points

Up next

Everyone in the NBA D-League has Thanksgiving off.

The Bighorns return to play on Friday night in Prescott Valley, Arizona when they visit the Northern Arizona Suns.

The Legends head back to Texas where they will host the Salt Lake City Stars on Saturday night.

The three players on Kings roster are recalled to Sacramento


Malachi Richardson-the fourth highest scorer in the D-League, Skal Labissiere and Georgios Papagiannis will enjoy their Thanksgiving dinner in Sacramento. All three players have been recalled by the Kings.

Kings head coach Dave Joerger told reporters last Friday in his pregame press conference to expect the players to go back and forth from Reno to Sacramento frequently. He also said that only two of the roster players will be in Reno a majority of the time in order to increase the number of shot opportunities for the players who are with the Bighorns. The Kings also feel it is good for the rookies to be around and practice with the veterans.

There are no option rules in the NBA like in Major League Baseball so players can move between a NBA roster and a NBA D-League roster whenever the parent club wants them to and as many times as the organization feels is appropriate for the players.

Who’s hot in the D-League?

Two of the Top 25 players who are rated most likely to make it to the NBA are on the Reno Bighorns:

  • #7 is Lamar Patterson is averaging 20.6 points and 4.4 assists per game
  • #20 is Isaiah Cousins is averaging 12.6 ppg and 3.6 assists per game
Isaiah Cousins in the NBA Summer League

Both men are a “Affiliate Players” of the Sacramento Kings assigned to Reno. That means the Kings were able to send Patterson and Cousins to Reno without sending them through the D-League Draft so they can continue to learn the Sacramento style of play. However, both players remain free agents who can sign with any team in the NBA that offers them a contract.

  • Former Kings player Ray McCallum is currently ranked as the number two player most likely to be called up to “the Association”. He is playing for the Pistons D-League entry – the Grand Rapids Drive and is averaging 18.0 points to go with 9.3 assists per game.

NBA D-League: There are eight types of players in pro basketball’s minor league


by Charlie O. Mallonee

In talking or reading about players in the NBA D-League, you will often come across different designations for players. For example, Lamar Patterson who was the leading scorer for the Reno Bighorns on Sunday is listed as an “affiliate player of the Sacramento Kings”.

What does that mean? There are several categories of player in the D-League, so let’s try to work our way through the basics.

NBA Affiliate Player

As NBA teams waive players in the preseason, they have the first opportunity of signing those players to their D-League affiliate.

Teams can designate up to four “affiliate players”. These player remain free agents in the NBA and those players are free to sign with any of the 30 NBA organizations. The affiliate status allows teams to keep players they like learning their system should the need arise for a player at the NBA level.

Only 22 teams can have affiliate players because not all teams have a dedicated D-League team associated with their organization.

Lamar Patterson and second-round draft pick Isaiah Cousins are affiliate players with the Kings who are playing for the Bighorns.

Isaiah Cousins Reno Bighorns – Kings Affiliate Player

Returning Players

NBA D-League teams retain the rights to any player who has played for that team within the last two seasons – as long as the team has not released that player.

The Bighorns have two returning players – forward Kadeem Jack and guard Mark Tyndale.

No. 32 Kadeem Jack Reno Bighorns Photo Credit: NBA

NBA Assignees

NBA organizations can assign players with three years or less service to their D-League affiliate an unlimited number of times. Unlike baseball with the its complicated options rules, NBA can move players up and down as often as they see fit.

For example in 2014-15, 56 different players were assigned to D-League teams a total of 195 times. Because most the development teams are in close proximity to the parent clubs, free movement between the organizations is very feasible.

The Kings have three players assigned to Reno in this designation: forward Skal Labissiere, center Georgios Papagiannis and guard Malachi Richardson.

Labissiere, Ricardson and Papagiannis Photo credit:

NBA Draft Rights Players

These are affectionately known as “domestic draft-and-stash” players. The “draft rights player” rule allows D-League teams to directly acquire players from their NBA parent team’s draft list bypassing the usual D-League player selection processes.

The Oklahoma City Thunder was the first team to use this rule in 2012 when they selected Josh Huestis from Stanford in the first round for the purposes of sending him to the D-League.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat
Josh Huestis OKC Thunder Photo Credit: Getty

NBA Draft-Eligible Players

These are players who are eligible but have not entered the NBA Draft. They can instead enter the NBA D-League and keep their NBA Draft status.

If a player signs with the D-League before the season, he is eligible to enter the D-League Draft. If the player signs mid-season, he is available to D-League teams through the wavier pool claiming process.

NBA Draft-Eligible players cannot be called up by NBA teams. This the only category of players in the D-League that has that limitation.

Players who have used  the route to eventually enter the NBA are: P.J. Hairston – who is back in the league with the Vipers, Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Glen Rice,Jr.

P.J. Hairston Photo Credit: Sergio Hentschel/Getty Images

Local Tryout Players

These are my favorite players. Guys who have not given up the dream and believe if given the chance, they can make it happen. D-League teams can invite up to five players from their open tryouts to join their training camps.

Jonathan Simmons who played college basketball at Houston attended an open tryout for the Austin Spurs in 2013. He was added to the San Antonio Spurs roster in 2015 and is now a major component of their second unit this season.

Jonathan Simmons Photo Credit: Jack Arent/Getty Images

Other ways to make the D-League

  • D-League Draft: around 200 players are signed by the league in put into a draft pool. Approximately half of these 200 players are selected on Draft Day.
  • Free Agents: there will be an influx of free agents hitting the market for the D-League as winter approaches. Players will be returning to the country from playing overseas and there will be NBA players who been released who are trying to work their way back into the league. These players are selected by the D-League teams on a rotational wavier system.

Information supplied by was used in the writing of this article

Reno Bighorns lose season opener to Rio Grande Vipers 112-103

Kings affiliate player Lamar Patterson

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings NBA D-League entry – the Reno Bighorns – opened their 2016-17 season with a 112-103 loss on the road deep in the south of Texas to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston Rockets) on Sunday night.

The Bighorns started the game very slowly and appeared ready to suffer a blowout as the Vipers shot 50-percent from the floor and outscored Reno 32-13 in the first quarter.

Things improved for the Bighorns in the second quarter as they scored 22 points but the Vipers continued to stay hot as they shot 50-percent again for the period and put up 29 points of their own.

At the half, Rio Grande Valley held a 61-35 lead over the Bighorns.

A different Bighorns team stepped out on the floor to start the third quarter. The Bighorns turned on their defensive intensity and then added improved play on offense to put themselves right back into the game. Led by Malachi Richardson’s and Isaiah Cousins’ eight points each the Bighorns outscored the Vipers 33-17 to close within 10 points of the lead after three quarters of play.

The Vipers came out in the fourth period with the realization that they needed to step up their game or they faced the possibility of losing a contest they once had under their control. Viper forward Isaiah Taylor scored 12 points and dished out five assists to lead the charge as Rio Grande Valley went back up by as many as 16 points. Reno did not lay down in the final quarter. The Bighorns scored 35 points led by Malachi Richardson’s 11 points and Lamar Patterson’s 10. Reno outscored the Vipers 35-34 in the fourth.

When the final buzzer sounded, Rio Grande Valley had defeated Reno 112-103.

Kings fans will recognize the names of the Bighorn players who made a difference

  • Lamar Patterson – signed to Reno as an affiliate player to the Sacramento Kings- was the Bighorns leading scorer with 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Patterson was an impressive 9-for-18 from the field. He played 32 minutes.
  • Malachi Richardson – who came to the Kings from Charlotte in exchange for Marco Belinelli – added 22 points. He went 4-for-12 from the floor including hitting on 3-of-6 from 3-point range. Richardson also went 11-for-16 from the free throw line. He played 38 minutes.
  • Other former Kings roster players who had an impact were center Georgios Papagiannis who scored 15 points in 29 minutes on the floor. Second-round draft pick and affiliate player Isaiah Cousins scored 14 points. Forward Skal Labissiere put up 9 points and grabbed 11 points in his 31 minutes of playing time.
  • Chane Behanan – who played in Mexico last season and for Rio Grande Valley the year before that – added eight points in 13 minutes of playing time

Rio Grande Valley Vipers

  • The Vipers scoring was led by forward Isaiah Taylor who is an affiliate player of the Houston Rockets. He scored 24 points and hit four 3-pointers. Taylor distributed seven assists in his 31 minutes on the floor.
  • Three other Viper player players scored in double figures: Kyle Wiltjer (22), PJ Hairston – who has played in the NBA – added 15 points and Le’Bryan Nash scored 21 off the bench.
  • The Vipers outscored the Bighorns 60-44 in the paint

What’s coming up for the Bighorns

The Bighorns travel to Austin where they will play two games with the Austin Spurs. They will play a game on Tuesday at 9:00 AM PST and on Thursday at 5:30 PM PST. The Bighorns will then head home for their home opener on Saturday, November 19 with the Oklahoma City Blue.

Kings: Trade rumors and roster moves


rudygayinjuryby Charlie O. Mallonee

The NBA preseason came to an end for the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night. Now comes the tough job of setting the final roster to begin the regular season. The Kings must be down to 15 players by October 24 and they have 18 players on the roster right now.

To complicate the issue, many teams are evaluating their personnel and are realizing that they do not have the players they need or do not have the players they want to keep for the beginning of the new season. That has caused an uproar of rumors to rise up as “leaks” from reliable sources are reported and repeated about trade deals that teams would like to make or are thinking about making before the start of the season.

The Kings have figured prominently into some of those rumors. If the rumors are to be believed, the Miami Heat are ready to ship point guard Goran Dragic to the Kings in return for Rudy Gay and Darren Collison. Why would the Heat be willing to make this deal? Miami is now in a rebuilding mode after the loss of Dewayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Gay will opt out of his contract at the end of the season and Collison’s contract expires. The money from those contracts plus the money available from Bosh being off the books would give Miami approximately $42-million to spend in 2017-18 season to spend on free agents.

For the Kings, they would receive a high quality player that they would control through the 2018-19 season. Dragic does have a player option in 2019. Dragic would give them a quality point guard to go with Serbian shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic who the Kings anticipate signing before the beginning of the 2017-18 season.

There have also been rumors that a deal with Miami might happen that would send DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay to Miami for Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic. Such a deal cannot happen immediately because Whiteside cannot be traded by league rule until December 15 because he just signed a four-year $98-million contract. The Kings are not going to wait until December to move Gay because his value is falling daily because of his ability to opt out of his contract at the end of the season. That is not to say a Whiteside for Cousins deal could not happen but they will not be tied together with a deal involving Rudy Gay.

On Wednesday, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported that the Kings are pursuing Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio. Rubio – who is owed $43-million over the next three years – is expected to become the Timberwolves back up point about 20 games into the season when number five overall draft pick Kris Dunn takes over the point. Then, Rubio is expected to become expendable. The Kings are trying to expedite the process.

Roster Move

The Kings officially announced on Wednesday afternoon that guard/forward Lamar Patterson has been waived. Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Vlade Divac made the announcement.

The Kings claimed Patterson off waivers from the Atlanta Hawks during the off-season. Patterson played his first season in the NBA with the Hawks in 2015-16. He was drafted in 2014 out the University of Pittsburgh by the Detroit Pistons and round up playing the season in Turkey.

The Kings roster is now down to 17 players. They must make another two cuts before October 24 to have their roster at the league mandated 15 players.


Kings beat the Wizards 124-119 to wrap up “Big Blue Madness Weekend”



Photo credit: Charles Bertram Lexington Herald – Leader

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards met in a NBA preseason game to wrap up the “Big Blue Madness Weekend” which kicks off the NCAA basketball season for the Kentucky Wildcats. The game featured four former Wildcats – DeMarcus Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere and the Wizards’ John Wall.

The Kings won the game 124-119 for those who care and there were many people in Kentucky who did not seem to care. The Rupp Arena where the game was played has a seating capacity of 23,000 for basketball. Basketball fans in the Lexington area have to drive three hours (192 miles) west to Indianapolis to see a NBA game, so you would think a game in their own backyard would be a big draw. You would be wrong. Just 8,472 people showed up to see a game that featured four former Wildcat professional players.

The score will tell you that the game was not one that featured much in the way of defense. In fact, the final score has more in common with the 2015-16 Kings than it does with the new edition under the guidance of Dave Joerger.

The Kings were led in scoring by DeMarcus Cousins and Darren Collison who put up 22 points each. Before getting too excited, do not forget that Collison will not be with the Kings for the first eight games of the season while he serves his NBA mandated suspension.

Omri Casspi scored 16 points in 22 minutes on the floor while Willie Cauley-Stein put up 12 points, grabbed five rebounds, had four steals and added one block shot in his 22 minutes of playing time. Lamar Patterson scored 14 points in 12 minutes of playing time coming off the bench.

Ben McLemore got the start at shooting guard in the game and played a team-high 29 minutes but had a tough game. He scored just eight points- five in the first half which came with less than two minutes to play and three points in the second half. McLemore shot just 2-for-6 from the floor and was 0-for-1 from beyond the 3-point line. He was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Joerger is giving McLemore the playing time but young guard does not seem to be giving the needed production back in return.

Sacramento shot an impressive 60.0-percent (42-for-70) from the floor and were an outstanding 9-for-19 (47.4-percent) from 3-point land. The Kings went 31-for-38 (81.6-percent) from the charity stripe. They had 26 assists but turned the ball over 27 times. The Kings out-rebounded the Wizards 40-32.

The Wizards shot 48.5-percent (47-for-97) from the field and went 8-for-31 (25.8-percent) from beyond the 3-point line. Andrew Nicholson was their leading scorer with 19 points. John Wall – who is recovering from knee surgery – played 22 minutes and scored 11 points.

Kings head coach Dave Joerger started all three of his former Kentucky players – Cousins, Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere. Labissiere went scoreless in 16 minutes on the floor but did haul in four rebounds, block two shots and got two steals.

The Kings Rudy Gay, Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Isaiah Cousins and Matt Barnes were held out of the game by head coach Dave Joerger for rest and to give others playing time.

The Kings are now 3-2 in the preseason and will play their final warm up contest on Tuesday night in Sacramento against the Los Angeles Clippers. The first game of regular season will be played on Wednesday, October 26 in Phoenix.

Reports: Kings sign NBA veteran point guard Ty Lawson


by Charlie O. Mallonee

Adrian Wojnarowski’s “The Vertical” on Yahoo! Sports is  reporting that the Kings have have signed veteran free-agent guard Ty Lawson to a one-year contract. The source of the information is reportedly from within  the league.

Lawson met with the Kings on Sunday in Sacramento and was to go on to New Orleans to meet with the Pelicans officials this week. Apparently, the Kings made Lawson an offer and that made a trip to New Orleans unnecessary.

Ironically, Lawson played for former Kings coach George Karl in Denver and there were rumors that Karl wanted Lawson in Sacramento last season. Now, Karl is gone and Lawson is now a King.

Lawson joins a backcourt that has gone through a major makeover. Gone are Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli and Seth Curry. In are guards Arron Afflalo, Garrett Temple, Lamar Patterson and rookie Malachi Richardson. They will join returning guards Darren Collison and Ben McLemore.

Lawson split his time last season between Houston and Indiana. The Rockets gave up a first-round pick to Denver during the off-season to acquire the veteran guard. Lawson agreed to a buyout in March and signed with the Pacers to finish out the season.

Lawson averaged 5.8 points and 3.4 assists per game for Houston mostly coming off the bench. He has averaged 13.1 points and 6.2 assists per game for his career in the NBA.

The 28-year old Lawson played his college ball at the University of North Carolina and his high school basketball was played at the famed Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia.