SACRAMENTO -- There is a dark cloud hanging over Golden 1 Center and it just won’t go away.
As practiced opened up on Sunday, members of the media were hit with a group text that has Kings fans shaking their heads. An MRI revealed that starting center Richaun Holmes has an injury to the joint of his right shoulder. The team will re-evaluate the injury in 2-3 weeks.
“It’s another hit,” coach Luke Walton said. “It’s kind of been one of the main themes all year - next guy up. Richaun has been one of our most consistent, solid players all year. By committee, we have to pick up all that we’re going to lose by not having him out there.”
Losing Holmes is a huge blow for the Kings. The 26-year-old signed a two-year, $10 million free agent deal with Sacramento over the summer and he’s instantly become not only a fan favorite, but one of the team’s MVPs on the court.
The 6-foot-10 center is averaging 13.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 29.4 minutes per game. Signed as an insurance policy, Holmes overtook veteran Dewayne Dedmon on the depth chart after just four games.
As much as he brings on the offensive and defensive end, Holmes’ energy is something the Kings will struggle to replace. He hustles on every possession and plays with a force that the team desperately needs. With him on the shelf, the Kings are going to need more from everyone in the rotation.
“Everybody’s got to do more, everybody’s got to give that extra 10 percent that he gives every play,” Hield said. “We’ve got to do it collectively as a group. It’s going to be hard not seeing him on the court, but we’ve got to figure it out.”
The Kings have been a triage unit all season long. They’ll walk into Monday’s game against the Orlando Magic with an injury list so long it will likely take two tweets to send out.
Hield recommended praying to Jesus following the last game. He gave a similar response on Sunday, but this time, he pointed to an even higher power and also pointed out the strange nature of the Kings’ injuries.
“We have to dig deep, we have to take care of our bodies better,” Hield said. “A lot of them are not like we’re trying to get hurt, like freak accidents. We didn’t plan for it to happen. We’ve got to stay prayed up, man. Go to God for guidance and protection as we play out there and just try to keep guys healthy.”
Marvin Bagley broke his thumb in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter in the opener. De’Aaron Fox severely sprained his ankle in practice. Holmes tried to rip the ball through three Warriors players and got the ball stuck in one of their chests.
Whatever the reason for the rash of injuries, it’s plagued almost every player on the roster. The team has already missed 76 games due to injury through 39 games after tallying only 75 over games last year.
Harrison Barnes was able to make it through most of practice after taking a shot to the right thigh in the Kings’ loss to the Bucks on Friday evening. Bagley survived practice as well and is expected to return to the court Monday after an eight-game absence.
Cory Joseph nearly missed a game last week due to illness and sat out the training session on Sunday after his fever returned. Nemanja Bjelica also missed practice with a sprained right ankle, but he played 40 minutes with the injury on Friday and is expected to suit up against Orlando.
Luke Walton on the Kings string of injuries: pic.twitter.com/p7ctIwUE92— James Ham (@James_HamNBCS) January 12, 2020
Lastly, Bogdan Bogdanovic is still out with right ankle soreness. The 26-year-old wing has missed the last four games with the injury, which pushes his games missed total to nine on the season. He is not expected to suit up on Monday, although he is progressing.
“As far as on the court stuff, the most he’s done is stationary shooting, which to me doesn’t really indicate that you’re ready to play,” Walton said. “We’re not going to rush him back, but I know Bogi and I know he’s dying to get back out there on the court.”
With so many players questionable or out, it’s a chance for Walton to look at some other options. After struggling with a knee issue early and then being out of the rotation, Harry Giles has started the previous two games for Walton’s crew.
Giles is averaging nine points and 6.5 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per game and he’s cleaned up two major weaknesses in his game. While the sample size is small, the 21-year-old big has just two turnovers and five personal fouls combined in his two starts and he’s starting to find a little bit of a rhythm with the club.
“He’s got his opportunity and now he needs to take advantage of it,” Hield said of Giles. “Like I said, it’s next man up. God works in mysterious ways. He wasn’t getting a chance to play and now he’s getting his chance to play and he gets a chance to prove himself. That’s what it’s all about.”
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Giles has split time with veteran Dedmon, who was also out of the rotation before the injury to Holmes. The two will continue to play, but don’t be surprised if Bagley sees time at the center spot as well as Walton attempts to get him back in the rotation after missing 30 games this season with two separate injuries.
This is the hand Walton and the Kings were dealt so far this season. Maybe their luck will change in the season half of the year, but there are no promises.