Traded by the Cavaliers prior to the lockout for small forward Omri Casspi and a future draft pick, Hickson entered a game Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena averaging 5.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in 19.4 minutes a night.
“I’m not having the year I wanted to have,” said the 6-foot-9, 242-pounder, who began the night shooting .382 from the field and .638 at the line.
Sacramento fired coach Paul Westphal on Jan. 5 and replaced him with former Cavs interim coach Keith Smart. Hickson has never been the quickest study when it comes to picking up new strategies, and going from Mike Brown to Byron Scott to Westphal to Smart has his mind swimming.
“Everything is a blur,” he said. “Everything is new.”
In addition, Hickson, who saw a lot of action at center during his three seasons with the Cavaliers, is being asked to play strictly power forward with the Kings.
On top of all that, the 23-year-old will be a free agent at the end of the season and fully realizes he isn’t putting up the kind of numbers that will land him a big-time contract.
“I wanted to rebuild here (in Cleveland),” Hickson said. “But unfortunately I got traded.”
Hickson started nine games for the Kings earlier in the season, but his play has been so up-and-down that he saw just eight minutes of action Friday in Detroit, where he had no points and no rebounds and didn’t get off the bench in the second half.
Hickson’s unpredictable production and lack of consistent focus were always issues with Brown and Scott, but Smart is trying to go by what he sees in Sacramento.
“He’s my favorite son,” Smart said. “I’m not going to get into that.
“I’ve heard all the stories. I know all the stories. I’m focusing on what he’s doing right now.”
Hickson averaged a career-high 13.8 points and 8.7 rebounds last season for the Cavs, but was traded soon after the team took 20-year-old power forward Tristan Thompson with the No. 4 overall pick in the NBA Draft.
In addition to needing a small forward, the Cavs made the deal for Casspi in part because they were reluctant to pay Hickson the big money he might command on the free agent market had he duplicated or improved his 2010-11 play.
“I didn’t see it coming at all,” Hickson said of the trade. “But it happened and unfortunately I’m a Sacramento King now.”
The transition hasn’t gone well.
“This is all I knew,” Hickson said of being in Cleveland. “That’s why it’s a big adjustment for me. I was here three years. But I’m not going to sit here and cry and pout.”
The other side
Though he’s started every game, Casspi hasn’t played a whole lot better for the Cavs. He entered the night averaging 7.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 22.8 minutes and was shooting .418 from the field, .313 from beyond the arc and .596 at the line.
Scott, however, said he hasn’t even considered taking the Israel native out of the starting lineup, saying it takes six months to a year for some players to fully adjust after being traded.
“Omri’s still progressing,” Scott said. “It’s coming along slower than we expected.”
The Cavs also got a draft pick in the deal with Sacramento, but it may be a while before they get to use it. The Kings keep the pick if it is in the lottery this year, in the top 13 in 2013, in the top 12 in 2014 and in the top 10 from 2015-17. If the Cavs haven’t gotten the selection by then, they get a second-round pick instead in 2018.
Brigham Young product Jimmer Fredette, chosen by Sacramento with the No. 10 pick in the draft, entered the night averaging 8.2 points and 2.1 assists. Fredette, who started six games early in the season, was shooting .375 from the field, .376 on 3-pointers and .879 at the line.
Another rookie, Isaiah Thomas, started his second straight game at point guard. The 5-9, 185-pounder, taken with the 60th pick, entered the game averaging 7.4 points and 2.5 assists.
- Daniel Gibson (ankle) and Anthony Parker (back) were still out for the Cavs, as was Anderson Varejao (wrist).
- Christian Eyenga entered Sunday shooting 3-for-19 from the field (.158) for the season. He was 2-for-6 at the foul line.
- Former Cavs guard Manny Harris had 36 points, nine rebounds and six assists Saturday as the Canton Charge defeated the Rio Grande Valley Vipers 135-132 in double overtime in NBA Development League action.