SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Monday night's game was sort of a homecoming for Nik Stauskas.
The Sacramento Kings selected him with the eighth-overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. But the honeymoon ended shortly after his arrival in the capital city of California. The team gave up on the shooting guard and shipped him to the 76ers after just one season.
Even though Stauskas takes the high road, he's always motivated to show the Kings they made mistake.
"There's always a part of you that you want to prove yourself," said Stauskas, whose squad lost 102-100 Monday night to his former team at Golden 1 Center with a left knee bruise. The game ended too late for this edition.
He'll also say publically that Kings general manager Vlade Divac did him a favor sending him to the Sixers. Stauskas knows he wouldn't have gotten the same opportunity to play by staying in Sacramento.
"At the end of the day does a part of you say it sucks that a team gave up on? Yeah. I guess so," said Stauskas, who finished with four points on 2-for-4 shooting Monday in 18 minutes, 59 seconds. "No one wants to be given up on. But at the same time, I think they did me a favor by sending me here. So I'm not really mad about it."
The 6-foot-6, 210-pounder averaged career bests in points (9.5 per game), rebounds (2.6), shooting percentage (44.5), three-point percentage (38.9) and minutes played (26.0) heading into Monday's game.
Stauskas had a rough rookie campaign in Sacramento, averaging 4.4 points and shooting 36.5 percent. He made 48 of 149 three-pointers for 32.2 percent.
The Sixers acquired him, Carl Landry and Jason Thompson from the Kings in exchange for 2015 second-round acquisitions Arturas Gudaitis (47th overall) and Luka Mitrovic (60th) on July 9, 2015. The Kings also threw in a 2018 protected first-round pick and the options to swap 2016 and 2017 first-rounders to complete the deal. The Sixers traded Thompson to the Golden State Warriors 22 days acquiring him. Landry played in Philadelphia last season before being waived on Aug. 31.
Meanwhile, Stauskas is turning out to be a solid reserve.
"I think he wants to prove that people made a mistake," coach Brett Brown said. "I think that's what you hope he would do and that's what you hope he would say. He may take a politically correct road, but down deep I hope that's what he's thinking. But he has put in the time. He has had a good year.