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SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 11: Tyrese Haliburton #0 and De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings talk during a break in play against the Houston Rockets at Golden 1 Center on March 11, 2021 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
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De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton Speak To Media Prior To Start Of Training Camp

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Basketball is near as members of the Sacramento Kings are beginning to arrive in preparation for next week’s start to training camp

The 2021-22 NBA season is quickly approaching as players for teams across the country begin to file into their respective gyms in preparation of next week’s start to training camp.

Sacramento Kings guards De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton spoke to local media on Monday for the first time since last season’s end of the year press conference, with both guards sharing that they have added size over the summer months.

“At some point in my playing career I would like to be playing over 200 (pounds), something like that,” Fox said of his desired weight goal. “I’m 197-ish right now, so I’m almost 30 pounds up from where I was at the draft combine (back in 2017).”

“I have always been strong for my weight, but putting on the weight was kind of difficult. As I get older, it’s been easier for me to put weight on. I’m probably not where I want to be, but at 23 years old, this is good for me. This is good for me right now.”

Fox was listed as 185 pounds at the beginning of the 2020-21 season, meaning the star guard is up 12-plus pounds from last season’s training camp.

“He looks stronger. I don’t think people realize how strong he is,” second-year guard Tyrese Haliburton said of Fox’s weight gain.

Haliburton has not been a stranger to the gym either this summer, as last season’s All-First Team Rookie guard added 10 pounds of muscle to his 6’5 frame this offseason.

“We’ve been messing with each-other,” Haliburton said of Fox. “When he texted me and asked me what my weight was, I told him I was up 10 pounds and he called me fat. Then he’s out here in these pictures and looks like he’s the Hulk or something, so I told him he’s fat. We just mess around that way,” Haliburton said laughingly.

Both guards are primed for big 2021-22 campaigns after Fox took a massive leap and showcased his ability to be an All-Star-level talent, while Haliburton put on a display that Kings fans had not seen from a rookie in quite some time.

The dark cloud of a possible NBA-worst 16-year playoff drought currently looms over the franchise, something that Fox and Haliburton spoke of on Monday.

“If I’m being honest, I don’t think any stat can put more on myself than I put on myself,” Haliburton said of the pressure surrounding the playoff drought. “I want to be a winning basketball player. We want our fans in the playoffs, we want to bring the Kings back to the playoffs. I know that guys are holding themselves accountable.”

“I wouldn’t necessarily say pressure,” Fox added. “At the end of the day, we control what we can control. Last year we let a few stretches get out of hand that ultimately cost us. We were close but not close enough, obviously…For us, we just have to continue to be able to do what we are doing and not let those short losing streaks turn into nine or ten games.”

Arguably the most notable new talent on the Kings roster is that of rookie guard Davion Mitchell, this year’s ninth-overall pick out of Baylor.

Fox and Haliburton shared their excitement on playing with the defensive-minded Mitchell, citing that the rookie can bring something to this year’s team that was sorely needed last season: a defensive presence.

“He’s good. He’s good at anticipating, he’s quick and strong. He uses his strength quickness on both sides of the ball. He just has good instincts,” Fox said regarding Mitchell’s skillset.

“For us (Fox, Haliburton & Mitchell), we all want to play together. We know we can do it,” Fox said of a potential three-guard lineup. “OKC did it a few years ago. Defensively, we know that is what we are going to have to hang our hats on.”

Mitchell has a notable work ethic, something that teammates and coaches from Baylor shared stories of during his time with the Bears. It looks as if that work ethic is only going to ramp up in the NBA.

“My biggest takeaway is how hard he works. He really is in [the gym] all of the time, it seems like he lives here,” Haliburton said of Mitchell’s work ethic. “It’s refreshing for me to see a guy working like that. It makes me work harder.”

Sacramento’s backcourt is in good hands with Fox, Haliburton and Mitchell all on the roster for a very important 2021-22 season.

More players are expected to speak to the media in the coming days as next Monday’s media day and start to training camp get closer by the day.