Is it time for the Kings to pull the plug on the Orlando bubble experience?
No, they can’t just pack up and leave Florida, but after being eliminated from playoff contention Sunday afternoon, the Kings are faced with playing two completely meaningless games.
Sacramento’s medical staff already has ruled starters De’Aaron Fox (shoulder soreness) and Richaun Holmes (hip soreness) out for Tuesday’s matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans, but it might be time to clear the bench.
With training camp set for November, and Dec. 1 still being discussed as the beginning of the 2020-21 season, the Kings, as well as the Pelicans, need to shift their approach to player safety for the future.
That means sitting players like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, Cory Joseph, Harrison Barnes and Nemanja Bjelica, at least for much of the game.
On Sunday, coach Luke Walton said his squad hoped to play out the final games, but that was when elimination was a possibility, not a reality.
“With so much uncertainty, we don’t know when we’ll be playing again and these last three games are a great chance for us to continue to grow and to push,” Walton said. “We need to look at it as any other game.
"This is a great chance for us.”
After losing to the Houston Rockets, this approach probably isn't appropriate or necessary. The chance of a player getting injured might not be extremely high, but if somehow it costs a veteran part of next season for a basic exhibition game, then the decision will have been a complete disaster.
The Kings brought a full roster. Yogi Ferrell deserves to show NBA teams that he can still play, despite being out of the rotation for most of the season. Justin James needs time on the court to develop, as does two-way player Kyle Guy.
DaQuan Jeffries has been a breath of fresh air for Sacramento, but like Guy, he’s on a two-way contract. Let him play 48 minutes if need be. Every minute is crucial for evaluating and building his level of experience.
Walton will need a few minutes from some of his veterans just to get the party started, but this should be development time, especially when you consider that the NBA standings for non-playoff teams was set on March 11 and wins and losses will not change how many lottery balls the Kings get on Aug. 20.
This isn’t tanking. This is the reality of the final two games of the 2019-20 season. They have zero value and the possibility, no matter how remote, of a player getting injured, should outweigh any other priority.