The Kings will finally get an opportunity to scrimmage against players other than their own teammates this Wednesday, as the exhibition phase of the NBA restart begins. But they’ll be without at least four of their players for that first preseason game, and potentially five.
Head coach Luke Walton confirmed Monday that De’Aaron Fox, Richaun Holmes, and Alex Len will all be out against the Heat Wednesday. Fox suffered an ankle sprain last week in practice and is still a couple days away from being reevaluated. Holmes finishes his 10-day quarantine tomorrow for inadvertently leaving the bubble to pick up food, but Walton doesn’t expect him to be ready to go after missing 10 days of practice. Len arrived in Orlando over the weekend but has not yet practiced as he continues to get back in shape after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Len tested positive back on June 22 and said he continued to test positive for 24 consecutive days. He said he had a little bit of chest tightness and lost his senses of smell and taste about two weeks in. Once he tested negative twice, Len went through cardiac and pulmonary tests to make sure his heart and lungs are fit to play and he has been cleared, but it seems unlikely that he will be ready for any of the scrimmage games as the Kings ease him back slowly.
“They just told me to take time, they’re not going to rush me till I’m back healthy 100%,” Len told the media Monday. “They don’t want to risk any injuries so you got to take it slowly, I’ve been inactive for almost a month, so they want it take it slow, make sure I’m comfortable being back.”
The Kings are also without Harrison Barnes, who remains in Sacramento after contracting the coronavirus. They are now also down Marvin Bagley, who suffered a foot injury in practice Sunday. The severity of that injury is unknown. However, it seems to safe to rule out Bagley as well for Wednesday’s exhibition.
That leaves the Kings with a 12-man roster, but only one center in Harry Giles and two power forwards in Nemanja Bjelica and Jabari Parker. Giles and Bjelica are obviously comfortable manning the frontcourt together after starting 14 of the last 16 games before the hiatus, but Parker has appeared just once in a Sacramento uniform and was also late to training camp after testing positive for the coronavirus in June.
This is the story of the Kings season, though. The team has continuously had to power through injuries and it is their resilience that has the Kings in position to still challenge for a playoff spot, as Walton noted Monday.
“Every year, certain teams are going to kind of get hit with this type of stuff. And to me it’s all about how we respond to it, Walton said. “I think all year long, from a slow start to injuries to everything else, our guys continue to just bounce back, bounce back, bounce back, and because of that I feel great about where we were as a group towards the end of that season.”
The Kings are once again being forced to bounce back. Their season depends on it.