John Salmons trying to grow in his new role

John Salmons acknowledges that his transition from starting small forward to Kings reserve hasn't been easy.

After starting the first 28 games in which he played this season and struggling offensively, Salmons was sent to the bench Feb. 17 in Detroit, making way for Isaiah Thomas to become the starting point guard.

"You never want to get benched, or demoted, or whatever the case may be," Salmons said Thursday. "But you've got to get over your pride and try to continue to try to help the team win.

"I didn't really have an argument for starting because I wasn't playing well. You've just got to roll with it."

The move has created a new role for Salmons.

Shortly after removing Salmons from the lineup, coach Keith Smart said he began having Salmons practice initiating the offense.

Earlier this season, Salmons often headed to a corner and waited for the ball to come to him. In recent games, Salmons has been more of a facilitator when the second unit is on the floor.

For Salmons, it's not new ground. He was drafted as a point guard, he said, and still prefers the position, though he has not played it regularly for several years.

"This way, I put the ball in his hands, which allows him to be a play-maker," Smart said. "He can take a shot when he needs to, and he can also move the basketball."

On the second unit, Salmons adds another option for the Kings to run the offense through, along with guard Jimmer Fredette and forward-center Chuck Hayes.

Smart said having Salmons run the offense at times allows Fredette to get to spots and drive or shoot off of a pass.

"John initiates a lot of things by just taking pressure off of some of our guards and allowing them to kind of roam off of screens, and that's been good so far," Smart said.

With Salmons mired in one of the worst shooting slumps of his 10-year career before the All-Star break, Smart said he watched film of Salmons' past seasons and saw that he had success playing in the middle of the floor as opposed to a wing.

Salmons, averaging 7.3 points a game after averaging 12.5 points over his eight previous seasons, agreed that being more active on the offensive end has helped to improve shooting.

Salmons is shooting 39 percent this season, but in the six games since the All-Star break he has made 58.8 percent (20 for 34) and scored in double figures in three of the past four games.

He also has 12 assists in the past six games, while committing nine turnovers.

"I think I'm getting more comfortable with it every game," Salmons said. "I'm just riding it out."

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