The Kings were dealt a blow yesterday when De’Aaron Fox suffered an ankle sprain during practice. Despite the team not planning to reevaluate him for another 7-10 days, at which point Sacramento will have already played its first exhibition game, Luke Walton told the media that he remains positive about his starting point guard’s status.
Fox injured the same ankle earlier in the year, suffering a grade-3 sprain that caused him to miss 17 games, but had seemingly returned to full health by the time the league went on hiatus. Now, the team has to hope that this current sprain is just a blip and not indicative of deeper issues.
“I wouldn’t say there’s a level of concern at all,” Walton said Thursday. “Ankle sprains are a part of the game, a big part of the game of basketball, so it’s just something that you know when you start spraining your ankles you just got to pay that much more attention, dedicate that much more time in a weight room to strengthen everything around, you know, the ligaments and do everything you can to not continue to have ankle problems. But it’s something that most every NBA player goes through at some point in their career.”
Walton went on to emphasize that the quality of treatment in Orlando is equivalent to what Fox would be receiving at home, and potentially even better, given the fact that Fox is in proximity to trainers and the ultra gene machine at all hours of the day.
In Fox’s absence, Cory Joseph has been promoted to the first unit, which has also given Kyle Guy a chance to get more run in practice. Guy only played four NBA minutes this season, but he showed out as the starting point guard in Stockton. In a normal July, Guy would be getting serious minutes in Summer League, so it behooves his development for the Kings to utilize him in Orlando, even if it’s only in practices and scrimmages.
“It’s been a blast,” Guy said of getting back to basketball in the bubble. “Definitely been getting a little bit more reps out, especially today obviously with Fox sitting out for a while, so I’ve had the opportunity to just learn from Fox himself, from the vets, Cory, both Coreys, and others, so just gonna try to take it all in and make the most of the opportunities.”
All 22 teams will be dealt curveballs throughout the restart, even if it seems like the Kings have been particularly snake-bitten thus far. The players and Walton continue to say that they just have to control what they can control and be adaptable, like they have throughout the season. The team used 19 different starting lineups in their first 64 games, and that number may go up in the coming weeks.
“The message isn’t so much falling back on what we went through this year,” Walton said. “That definitely has been pointed out, but it’s more on just getting ready to embrace anything right now, and you always draw on former experiences to feel comfortable in those situations. But what we’re hammering home right now is, look, things are gonna change every day for all the teams that are active in this thing, so just be ready for it. Be ready.”
Ideally, this is the last hurdle the Kings will have to overcome in the midst of their postseason push, but even if it isn’t, they’re capable of powering through.