De’Aaron Fox’s smooth debut, plus other summer league highlights

De’Aaron Fox could have been nervous, maybe should have been nervous, but when the ball was tipped the rookie from the University of Kentucky looked much like he did for the Wildcats — fast, smooth and in command.

Playing his first game since Kentucky bowed out of the NCAA Tournament in the Elite Eight on March 26, Fox scored 18 points as his Sacramento Kings opened summer leaguue play in Las Vegas with an 89-85 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

A capacity crowd came out to see UCLA rookie Lonzo Ball make his summer debut for the Los Angeles Lakers, and Fox and his teammates were forced to wait in the tunnel as the Lakers and Clippers went to overtime. Fox finally got on the floor well after the scheduled 10:30 p.m. EDT starting time.

Was he nervous?

“Of course,” Fox told the Sacramento Bee. “I didn’t have more nerves for my first NBA game than I did for any other game. I’m nervous before every game no matter who we’re playing.”

None of that seemed to matter when Fox led his Kings teammates, which included ex-Cat Skal Labissiere, onto the floor as the starting point guard.

“I was really comfortable out there,” Fox told the Bee. “Nothing really came as a surprise to me, the way they played, the way they defended, I feel like I was really ready. People gave me really good advice coming in and I went out prepared.”

In addition to his 18 points, Fox compiled five steals, four assists, three rebounds and a blocked shot. He committed just one turnover in 27 minutes. The only downside — outside of the Kings’ defeat — was his 0-for-3 shooting from three-point range. Fox, the No. 5 overall pick in last month’s NBA Draft, made only 24.6 percent of his three-point attempts in his one season at Kentucky, a statistic many cited to explain Fox’s selection behind point guards Markelle Fultz (No. 1 to Philadelphia) and Ball (No. 2 to L.A.).

Kings summer league coach Jason March said the team is just scratching the surface with how it can deploy Fox.

“He showed he can get in the paint whenever he wants,” March told the Sacramento newspaper. “We didn’t put him in as many pick-and-rolls as I probably will going forward but there was a little bit of a strategy with that. We wanted him to execute offense and run some plays and some sets.”

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Labissiere, who played one season at UK before the Kings drafted him late in the first round in 2016, finished with 10 points in 28 minutes. The 6-foot-11 Labissiere also blocked two shots but had only one rebound.

North Carolina rookie Justin Jackson scored 18 points to Match Fox for the Kings. Second-year player Buddy Hield scored 16. Ex-Cat Dominique Hawkins, who is also on the Kings’ summer league roster, did not play Friday night.

Marquese Chriss led 19 Phoenix with 19 points. Josh Jackson, the No. 4 pick out of Kansas, finished with 18 points and eight rebounds. Former Cat Tyler Ulis, who is recovering from ankle surgery, will not play in the summer league.

Fox has the day off Saturday before the Kings return to action against Memphis on Sunday night.

Summer league highlights

▪ Ex-Cats Mychal Mulder and James Young squared off in Toronto’s 96-93 win over New Orleans. Mulder scored six points on 3-for-6 shooting in 17 minutes and missed his two three-point attempts. Young scored 12 on 4-for-9 shooting, including 2-for-5 from three-point range, in 23 minutes.

▪ Ex-Cat Archie Goodwin tied for team-high scoring honors in helping Brooklyn beat Atlanta 75-72. Goodwin finished with 14 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes.

▪ Ex-Cat Kyle Wiltjer, who was dealt to the Clippers in the recent Chris Paul trade, scored two points in eight minutes in his L.A. debut as the Clippers beat the Lakers 96-93.

Murray resting

Former UK standout Jamal Murray, who just completed his rookie season in Denver, is not playing in the summer league as he recovers from surgery in late April to repair core muscle-related injuries.

“At this time I don’t want to force it,” Murray told “It’s good to be out there, working on my conditioning, how I’m moving, all of that; just get back to basketball movements.”

Murray, who is expected to be 100 percent for training camp this fall, averaged 15.1 points, 5.0 assists and 3.6 rebounds for the Nuggests in April. For the season, Murray averaged 9.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists, playing in all 82 games.

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Kentuckians in Vegas

Brooklyn Nets: Archie Goodwin (UK)

Chicago Bulls: Cameron Payne (Murray State)

Houston Rockets: Chinanu Onuaku (Louisville)

Los Angeles Clippers: Kyle Wiltjer (UK)

Miami Heat: Bam Adebayo (UK)

New Orleans Pelicans: James Young (UK)

Philadelphia 76ers: Las Vegas roster not yet announced. Alex Poythress (UK), Aaron Harrison (UK) and Isaiah Briscoe (UK) played for the Sixers in the Utah Summer League.

Phoenix Suns: Tyler Ulis (on roster but not playing after minor ankle surgery in May)

Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox (UK), Skal Labissiere (UK) and Dominique Hawkins (Madison Central, UK)

Toronto Raptors: Mychal Mulder (UK)

Utah Jazz: Donovan Mitchell (Louisville)

Washington Wizards: Isaac Humphries (UK)

Rosters without players with Kentucky ties: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs.

Las Vegas Summer League schedule

All times Eastern

Saturday, July 8

Cox Pavilion

4 p.m. – Washington vs. Memphis (ESPNU)

6 p.m. – Portland vs. Utah (ESPNU)

8 p.m. – Miami vs. San Antonio (ESPNU)

10 p.m. – Houston vs. Cleveland (ESPNU)

Thomas & Mack

4:30 p.m. – Dallas vs. Chicago (NBA TV)

6:30 p.m. – Toronto vs. Minnesota (NBA TV)

8:30 p.m. – Boston vs. L.A. Lakers (ESPN)

10:30 p.m. – Philadelphia vs. Golden State (ESPN2)

Sunday, July 9

Cox Pavilion

4 p.m. – Atlanta vs. New Orleans (NBA TV)

6 p.m. – Milwaukee vs. Brooklyn (NBA TV)

8 p.m. – Utah vs. L.A. Clippers (NBA TV)

10 p.m. – Memphis vs. Sacramento (NBA TV)

Thomas & Mack

4:30 p.m. – Phoenix vs. Dallas (ESPN)

6:30 p.m. – Minnesota vs. Denver (ESPN2)

8:30 p.m. – Portland vs. Boston (ESPN2)

10:30 p.m. – Philadelphia vs. San Antonio (ESPN2)

Monday, July 10

Cox Pavilion

4 p.m. – Atlanta vs. Chicago (ESPNU)

6 p.m. – Brooklyn vs. New Orleans (ESPNU)

8 p.m. – Denver vs. Toronto (ESPNU)

10 p.m. – L.A. Clippers vs. Milwaukee (ESPN2)

Thomas & Mack

4:30 p.m. – Miami vs. Washington (NBA TV)

6:30 p.m. – Houston vs. Phoenix (NBA TV)

8:30 p.m. – Golden State vs. Cleveland (NBA TV)

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10:30 p.m. – L.A. Lakers vs. Sacramento (NBA TV)

Tuesday, July 11

Cox Pavilion

4 p.m. – San Antonio vs. Portland (NBA TV)

6 p.m. – Chicago vs. Washington (NBA TV)

8 p.m. – Miami vs. Dallas (NBA TV)

Thomas & Mack

4:30 p.m. – Utah vs. Memphis (ESPNU)

6:30 p.m. – Philadelphia vs. Boston (ESPN2)

8:30 p.m. – Golden State vs. Minnesota (ESPN2)

Wednesday, July 12

Seeds 9-24 will play in 8 games at the below times and locations:

Cox Pavilion: 4 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Thomas & Mack: 4:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 13

Seeds 1-8 will play against the winners of July 13th games at the below times and locations:

Cox Pavilion: 4 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Thomas & Mack: 4:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m.

Friday, July 14

Losers from games on July 13th and July 14th will play at the below times and locations:

Cox Pavilion: 4 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. (ESPN Family of Networks)

Thomas & Mack: 4:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)

Saturday, July 15 – Quarterfinals

Winners from games on July 14th will play at the below times:

Thomas & Mack: 4 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. (ESPN2/ ESPNU)

Sunday, July 16 – Semifinals

Winners from games on July 16th will play at the below times:

Thomas & Mack: 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. (ESPN2)

Monday, July 17 – Championship

Winners from games on July 17 will play at the below time:

Thomas & Mack: 10 p.m. (ESPN)