Buddy Hield had no idea he’d be given ‘the keys’ so soon

NBA players aren’t normally traded in the middle of their rookie seasons, especially when they were selected with the sixth overall pick in the league’s most recent draft. But Buddy Hield found himself in this rare situation Sunday night, after he was traded to the Kings as part of the deal that sent DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans.

A day earlier in New Orleans, Hield joined FOX Sports for a one-on-one interview courtesy of his partnership with Panini, and part of our conversation touched on what it was like to have to wait for his true NBA opportunity. He had no idea it would come so soon.

FOX Sports: What’s it been like for you your first year in the NBA? All the players are pretty much in the same situation coming into the league. Growing up, in college, you’re the man. You’re the best player on every team you’ve played on, then you come into the NBA and it’s a completely different situation. How has that been an adjustment for you?

Hield: I’d be lying to you if [I didn’t say] it sucks, but that’s reality. Before I came into college, I had to wait my turn to get my opportunity. It’s a game of opportunity, so when you get your opportunity you’ve just got to take advantage of it. When coaches give me the keys and say, go to work, then I’ll get it. But right now there’s Anthony Davis, and he’s still young, too. So I’ve just got to keep on developing and be the player I want to be.

FOX Sports: You mentioned coaching, how’s Alvin Gentry been to play for in comparison to some of the other coaches you’ve had over the years?

Hield: He’s cool, he’s pretty laid back.  He’s chill, I like him. He’s a funny guy, and he’s a player’s coach. He’s always laughing, always having a good time. I like him because he’s a player’s coach.

FOX Sports: And what’s it like playing with Anthony Davis, arguably one of the league’s top five players?

Hield: He’s fun. He’s versatile — outside, inside, defense, runs the floor. Just like a big guard, I always tell everybody, he’s a big guard playing the four position that can score the ball efficiently.

FOX Sports: What’s his personality like with you and the other players?

Hield: He can be goofy at times. He’s funny, he’s chill, man. He’s a chill guy. Sometimes he doesn’t say anything, but sometimes he’ll get on his box and start making jokes, posting pictures and stuff like that. He’s cool.

FOX Sports: So tell me about working with Panini, what’s it like to sit here and sign a million of these cards? A lot of kids covet this autographed merchandise from their favorite players, and now you’re the one sitting in this chair. What’s that feeling like?

Hield: The feeling’s great. I remember having these cards, trading cards growing up. I don’t know what happened to them. It’s cool that the kids now, sometimes I’m on Instagram or something, they’ll say ‘I’ve got a Buddy Hield card’ and it’s cool to see. I’m just thankful to be in this situation right now. I’m blessed, because as a kid I used to collect cards, and now people are collecting my cards. They’re showing love on Instagram, and that’s kind of cool.

FOX Sports: You mention Instagram, social media has kind of become the new autograph, right? If you were to comment on somebody’s Instagram, they’d freak out. If you were to retweet them they’d flip out. So what’s that like, do you engage with fans on social media that much?

Hield: No. [Laughs] Sometimes they say some stuff and I want to engage back. Sometimes I’ll comment on a picture of me, a video of me or I’ll send something to one of my friends. But I don’t really engage with fans, unless it’s something positive. Other than that, nah.

FOX Sports: How often do you read your mentions? Do you only check them after a good game, or after a bad game will you dare to take a look and see what’s going on?

Hield: Everybody reads their mentions. Unless you’re getting blown up so much you can’t keep up with it, but I see mentions every day. I read mentions every day — good, positive, bad, no matter what. I mean, it’s life. No matter what they’re saying to you, if you’re doing good or bad, somebody always has something to say.