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Theus: Kings can't rely on talent alone

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings didn't have much to say about playing defense when they reported to training camp Monday.

Instead, the Kings listed their top priorities as togetherness, trust and a return to the playoffs after their first sub-.500 season in the last decade.

The Kings went 33-49 last season and missed the playoffs after a successful eight-year run. Coach Eric Musselman was fired after one season, and in came Reggie Theus.

The former Kings shooting guard said his new club can't rely on talent alone. They'll have to believe in each other before they can return to their winning ways.

"A lot of the theme for our season is going to be about trust and what trust really means," Theus said. "The talent level will rise, but I'm looking for more than just talent. I'm looking for guys who are going to play together and work with each other."

Theus said all five starting positions are up for grabs. Not even Mike Bibby is a lock to start in the Kings' regular-season opener at New Orleans on Oct. 31.

"I have no idea who is going to start," Theus said. "They decide that by how hard they play and what they do on the floor."

Ron Artest definitely won't be in the starting lineup in San Antonio. The eighth-year forward will begin the season with a seven-game suspension after pleading no contest in May to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge stemming from a March 5 dispute with his wife.

Once he does return to the floor, Artest -- who dropped 13 pounds from his 260-pound frame -- expects to stay focused on playing and having a better season than the previous one.

"I put myself in a position right now to come out and put up big numbers," said Artest, another constant presence in trade rumors. "I'm not worried about being the best two-way player. I'm worried about winning."

THOMAS TRIAL -- A jury indicated Monday it believes Knicks coach Isiah Thomas and Madison Square Garden committed sexual harassment against a former team executive.

There was no official verdict, but the wording of a note to the judge by jurors makes it clear they have reached decisions on the key points of the $10 million lawsuit.

Jurors reached a decision on eight of nine questions on the jury form. They were deadlocked on the one question, which asks whether Thomas should pay punitive damages. That question only becomes relevant if the jury of four women and three men first determines Thomas and MSG committed harassment against Anucha Browne Sanders.

Browne Sanders, fired from her $260,000 a year job in 2006, has accused Thomas and MSG of sexual harassment and said MSG fired her for complaining about the treatment.

TIP-INS -- The Rockets signed Dikembe Mutombo, 41, to a one-year contract, extending the center's NBA career into a 16th season. ... Pacers forward Shawne Williams was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service for driving without a license after a judge suspended a possible 60-day jail sentence. ... Cavaliers guard Eric Snow will have surgery on his left knee and likely will miss the entire preseason.

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