The Kings rotation got closer to its pre-hiatus form in Sacramento’s last scrimmage, and head coach Luke Walton revealed Thursday that the team will take another step towards that goal in Friday’s seeding game opener against San Antonio.
Richaun Holmes and Harrison Barnes will both have no minutes restrictions against the Spurs, after each player made his Orlando debut in the final scrimmage against the Clippers. Alex Len is still doubtful and has yet to play in the restart.
“Harrison and Richaun will play,” Walton said on a Zoom call with the media. “They won’t have a minutes restriction, I’ll just keep a close eye on their wind and see how they look, but no medical restrictions on them.”
Holmes started and played 18 minutes Monday after averaging 28.9 minutes per game during the regular season. The team’s lob timings with Holmes were a little off, and he missed both of his field goals, but his energy was evident in other ways. He earned six free throws, making them all, and seems ready to assume a larger role.
“It felt great, just to have the opportunity to be out here playing basketball again, be out here with my teammates,” Holmes said postgame on Monday. “It felt great to be out there and looking forward to continue to compete.”
Barnes came off the bench but exceeded Holmes’ minute total, getting over 21 minutes of playing time, though far below his season average of 34.9 minutes per game. Barnes struggled with his shot early against the Clippers, finishing 2-of-8 from the field, though he did match Holmes with six free-throw attempts.
Without the minutes restriction, Barnes will likely reclaim his spot in the starting lineup in place of Kent Bazemore. The Kings have some more wing depth than they did in March, particularly with the addition of Corey Brewer, so Walton doesn’t have to lean on Barnes as much now. The Kings also have more flexibility to move Barnes to power forward, where the team has excelled this season (+2.3 point differential with Barnes at the four compared to -2.4 overall).
Whatever happens with his role, it’s good to see Barnes — and Holmes — get back to 100 percent. The Kings have an uphill battle to making the playoffs and will need all hands on deck.