Kings HC Luke Walton Says Buddy Hield's Benching Is 'Not a Punishment'

Blake SchusterContributor IIIJanuary 25, 2020

Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield rests on the bench during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Eric Risberg/Associated Press

Sacramento Kings fans apparently shouldn't read too much into head coach Luke Walton's decision to bench Buddy Hield against Chicago on Friday. The coach says he's simply trying to shake up a team that's in the middle of a six-game losing streak. 

"It's not a punishment to Buddy at all," Walton said, per ESPN's Eric Woodyard. "Buddy's been great and we expect for him to be great for us again tonight."

The Kings have been brutal this season at 15-29 on the year. They've won just three games since December 17. Walton went with Bogdan Bogdanovic in the starting lineup over Hield on Friday, but that doesn't mean the switch is set in stone. 

"It's the same message I've given all year," Walton said. "That we've had however many different starting lineups all season long and it doesn't matter. We're a team and we're struggling to win games right now so we're looking to see if different groups give us a better chance of doing that so there's nothing permanent with it."

In 44 games this season, Hield is averaging 20 points, five rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. Bogdanovic isn't far behind him at 14.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 33 games.

The biggest difference between the two, however, is that Hield recently signed a four-year, $86 million extension while Bogdanovic is currently on a three-year, $27 million deal.

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With the NBA nearing the February 6 trade deadline—and with Bogdanovic's name having come up a few times—it makes sense that Walton would want to see him in a larger role.