Sacramento, Calif. • A few days ago, Jimmer Fredette was completely out of the Sacramento Kings’ rotation.
The former BYU star was stuck behind rookie Ben McLemore and veteran Marcus Thornton at shooting guard. He had only played six games all season, and while fans chanted his name at EnergySolutions Arena when the Kings came to town, he didn’t see a minute of action against the Jazz.
But Sacramento’s trade for Rudy Gay has opened a door.
With the departure of Greivis Vasquez, Fredette will “get first crack” at being the team’s backup point guard, coach Mike Malone said, who must eventually decide between Fredette and rookie Ray McCallum
It’s a position Fredette hadn’t played all year — and it certainly showed on Monday in his first outing at the one-spot. Against the Jazz on Wednesday, however, Fredette seemed to have knocked at least some of the rust off.
“Maybe a little bit,” he said after the Kings’ 122-101 loss. “I was able to get some shots up tonight but it’s tough coming in and we were definitely down by a lot. That was the biggest thing: we didn’t play well as a team. So myself, it doesn’t really matter right now. It’s just about how we played.”
Fredette scored a season high 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting. He also had two rebounds and an assist, with just one turnover, in 12 minutes on the floor.
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins sat the entire second quarter against the Jazz after picking up two fouls in the first quarter. Malone said the decision was due in part to the Jazz’s lineup.
“Utah was small at the time and I had one big in the game,” he said. “If we put him back in the game it was very likely that he’d pick up his third foul off of [Enes] Kanter.”
Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray, all of whom arrived in California from Toronto a few days ago, were unable to play against the Jazz because Vasquez had been held up dealing with visa issues and was unable to complete his physical in Canada before Wednesday’s game.
Even if the guard had been able to make it in time for the game, Malone said he would not have played his new trio.
“I wouldn’t feel comfortable playing guys that have not gotten at least a shootaround in,” he said.
Jazz coach Ty Corbin doesn’t have the same reservation. He called on D-League signing Diante Garrett to play earlier this year just hours after inking a deal with the Jazz. Garrett’s performance helped secure the team’s first win of the season.
— Aaron Falk