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De’Aaron Fox says Kings still have ‘something to play for’

De’Aaron Fox is doing what he can to keep the Kings’ season alive.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings have become almost unwatchable this season. On Jan. 10, they lost their fifth game in a row to the Cleveland Cavaliers after De’Aaron Fox missed the go-ahead bucket at the buzzer, which would have completed a spirited fourth quarter comeback.

The once-electric young squad is now slow, carefree and, honestly, kind of depressing. However, Fox is not going to allow himself or his team give up just yet.

“Obviously everyone here wants to be a playoff team and stuff like that,” Fox said after the Kings’ loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday. “You definitely don’t let go of the rope no matter where you are in the season. We still have something to play for and we can still get there.”

Fox has been constantly bashed by fans and the media for his level of play this season. Last season, Fox played at an All-Star caliber level, averaging 25 points per game, which is no small feat in the NBA.

This season, Fox is averaging just over 21 points per game — the same number of points as he did in 2019-20 — but he is shooting a worse percentage in every category. Fox’s slump has had Kings fans concerned all season, but not his teammates.

Earlier this season, Tyrese Haliburton told the media that Fox is fine and will be back to himself on no time.

“He’s missing some shots, but that’s part of it: we all go through these little slumps, it happens to everybody,” Haliburton said in November. “I think it’s being made a bigger deal than it is. I’m not concerned by it by any means.”

It looks like Haliburton was right.

Fox scored 30 points three games in a row while shooting 52% from the field. He also averaged 5.7 assists in those three games.

He came back from the league’s health and safety protocol on Dec. 26 and looked very sluggish. In his first four games back he averaged 12.5 points on 35%. Fox has since gotten his swagger back.

He is playing like he wants to win.

“You just try to do something that will create a spark, whether that’s getting a stop or a block or a steal, or something,” Fox said. “Just something that will stop the bleeding. One thing can turn a whole game and run off a few games in a row like that. It’s a long season, so you just try to create some type of energy. It’s not always offensively; it can be defensively, and it can help everyone.”

The same can not be said for some of his teammates.

There’s little room for optimism in the midst of another losing streak, but Fox, as the leader of the team, is staying hopeful.

“We just lost four in a row; if we win four, five in a row, we’re in a totally different spot,” Fox said on Sunday. You keep playing because we can control our own destiny, for sure.”

If Fox maintains his current attitude and inspires the rest of the team, maybe the Kings will become watchable again. Until then, King’s fandom awaits GM Monte McNair to finally do his job and make something happen before the trade deadline.