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De'Aaron Fox says he wants to stick with Kings long term

Since being drafted by the Sacramento Kings in 2017, guard De’Aaron Fox has steadily grown his game while helping the team take small steps forward. As he and the Kings gear up for the restart of the 2019-20 NBA season, Fox on Wednesday reaffirmed his commitment to staying with Sacramento.

“It’s all the same,” Fox said in a Zoom call with reporters at Golden 1 Center. “… I see myself being here. I want to be here.

“Obviously, you know, we want to win. Right now, I think, last year we put ourselves in a pretty good position. This year, we’re sort of in the same position to make the playoffs. That’s what we all want and continue to take the next step forward.”

The Kings have not made the playoffs since 2006, but are among the 22 teams invited to the restart in Orlando later this month. As such, they’ll have a chance at ending that drought if they can find a way to leapfrog the three teams ahead of them in the Western Conference (Sacramento trails the current No. 8 seed, the Memphis Grizzlies, by 3 1/2 games).

Fox, who cut off his stylish spikes and curls during the coronavirus pandemic and now sports a closer-cropped hair style, has one year remaining on the four-year, $24.5 million contract he signed as a rookie. He would be eligible for a five-year extension worth up to 25% of the salary cap for the 2021-22 season. Per The Sacramento Bee, Fox would have to sign his extension during the abbreviated offseason between the end of the 2019-20 season and the start of the 2020-21 season, which is tentatively scheduled to begin on Dec. 1. If that deal does not take place, Fox would be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2021.

In past conversations with The Sacramento Bee‘s Jason Anderson, Fox had expressed his desire to stay with the team even in the midst of some tumultuous times in the 2019-20 season.

Fox missed nearly six weeks with an ankle injury he suffered in mid-November, but returned to the lineup on Dec. 17. After a slow start to the season stats-wise for Fox, the third-year guard found his stride and was averaging 21 points, 4 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game before the season hiatus began on March 11.

A Jan. 24 loss to the Chicago Bulls was a bit of a watershed moment in Fox’s season. On that day, the following transpired in the Kings’ world: former lottery pick Marvin Bagley III showed up to shootaround in a walking boot, star guard Buddy Hield was moved into a reserve role vs. Chicago and the Kings lost the game, dropping them to 13 games under .500.

In the lead-up to that game, Fox talked with The Sacramento Bee and had the following to say about his future with the Kings:

“I want to be here,” Fox said. “Obviously, I want to win, but I want to do it here. It’s been, what — 13, 14 years since the last time the Kings made the playoffs? I want to be a part of the first one.

“Obviously, we all want to win. There are some things we know we need to work on as a team, and I’m here for that. Every team has gone through it, probably not as long as the Kings have, but I want to be a part of that. I want to be able to get to the playoffs with this team, and, hopefully, when I’m a veteran in this league, be able to be a (championship) contender.”

As a rookie, Fox averaged 11.6 ppg and 4.4 apg but was left off both of the All-Rookie teams. In 2018-19, he took flight and averaged 17.3 ppg and 7.3 apg to finish third in the Kia Most Improved Player voting. This season, he’s averaging 20.4 ppg and 6.8 apg while ranking among this season’s leaders in total drives.

The Kings face some roster decisions this summer with not only Fox but also young forward Bogdan Bogdanovic, who could be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Bogdanovic said in mid-October that he enjoys playing for Sacramento, but that he doesn’t want to “rush anything” in terms of a future decision.

Overall, Fox wants to stay put with the Kings and further explained his reasoning to The Sacramento Bee as follows: “My first year, we won 27 games, but every game we played at home was a packed house. There are times we’ve played in Detroit or Atlanta or somewhere and half the arena is empty, so you see the love Sacramento has for the team.

“I know the fans are frustrated. They want to win. We want to win, too, and if you’re able to win in this city, it’s going to feel a lot better than winning somewhere else.”