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Kings’ Luke Walton gives his reason for benching Buddy Hield

Luke Walton, Buddy Hield, Kings

Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton made a polarizing move on Friday. Walton benched rising star shooting guard Buddy Hield in favor of third-year wing Bogdan Bogdanovic in the starting lineup for the team’s Friday night matchup with the Chicago Bulls.

The Kings coach called the starting unit shakeup not a punishment for the 27-year-old Bahamian — nor a permanent move.

Hield was embroiled in a contract extension dispute with the Kings in October 2019. He even found himself emotional in the locker room while talking to members of the press over his situation. Eventually the Kings inked the former Oklahoma Sooner to a four-year, $94 million deal.

Bogdanovic, meanwhile, has been exclusively coming off the bench during the 2019-20 season. He has been the subject of trade rumors for awhile now. Many believe the Kings would deal the pending unrestricted free agent before he has the ability to sign elsewhere in the summer of 2020.

Trade talks have been scaled back regarding Bogdanovic in the past week. One report stated the Kings prefer holding onto the wing.

Hield is averaging 20.0 points and 3.3 assists per game for the Kings. But instead he will come off the pine for Sactown against the Bulls tonight. According to Jones, Walton wants to play Bogdanovic with stretch forward Nemanja Bjelica. Bjelica is a 43.3% shooter from deep this season while Bogdanovic shoots 37.6% from outside.

The Kings have had a tumultuous go of it in Walton’s first season as head coach, losing their last six games.