Kings' Marvin Bagley (thumb) doesn't return vs. Luka Doncic, Mavericks


Kings' Marvin Bagley (thumb) doesn't return vs. Luka Doncic, Mavericks

The Marvin Bagley-Luka Doncic matchup is going to have to wait until Jan. 15 at the earliest. Bagley (broken right thumb) will not play Sunday against the Dallas Mavericks at the Amerian Airlines Center, a league source told NBC Sports California.

Bagley came into Sunday questionable as he attempts to return from the injury that has cost him the last 20 games.

The second-year pro is a huge unknown for the Kings at this point. Bagley's approaching the seven-week mark in his rehab. He was cleared Thursday to resume full-contact basketball activities, but getting practice in is difficult during the busy NBA schedule.

In his second season, Doncic, who was selected third overall behind Bagley, has developed into an NBA superstar and MVP candidate. Sacramento passed on the talented Slovenian guard during the 2018 NBA Draft, choosing Bagley with the No. 2 overall selection.

Doncic is averaging an incredible 30.1 points, 10 rebounds and 9.2 assists in 33.4 minutes per game for coach Rick Carlisle.  The 20-year-old has also led the Mavericks to a 16-6 record, which was second in the Western Conference entering Sunday. 

In addition to Bagley, the Kings continue to play without De’Aaron Fox, who suffered a grade 3 ankle sprain and a bone bruise back on Nov. 11. The Kings’ starting point guard is expected to be re-evaluated in two-to-three weeks, but is ahead of schedule.

[RELATED: NBA admits missed call at end of Kings' loss to Spurs]

Cory Joseph, who has started the last 12 games for Sacramento, was a game-time decision but is in the Kings' starting lineup again Sunday.

Kobe Bryant soaked up, enjoyed his final game vs. Kings in Sacramento

Kobe Bryant soaked up, enjoyed his final game vs. Kings in Sacramento

With the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant on Sunday morning, it gives us a moment to look back at the superstar in a different light. As a player, he brutalized the Sacramento Kings on so many occasions, but his greatness on the court isn’t what stood out. 

The 18-time All-Star wasn’t always easy to deal with. He clearly didn’t love speaking to the media after each and every game, especially on the road, when the demand for his time came from unfamiliar voices.

This isn’t uncommon amongst NBA players. There is a trust and familiarity that is built with the people who cover you on a daily basis. 

In his final visit to Sacramento on Jan. 7, 2016, Bryant was different. He laughed and smiled as Kings fans booed him one last time. When the noise turned from heckles to cheers, he acknowledged the fans that he had single handedly hurt so many times before. 

Following the Lakers' 118-115 loss to the Kings that night, he held a full press conference, even speaking on Game 7 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. 

“I don’t think anything will ever top Game 7,” Bryant said. “Not the end of Game 7, but the beginning of Game 7, the start. The announcing of the starting five, the lights going out and all those cool lights they gave everybody and just waving them around and you just kinda feel the electricity in the building. That was the best part.”

On that night in 2016, Bryant wasn’t the player he had been in past visits, but he still managed to score 28 points, with 18 of those coming in the first half. Bryant sat out the fourth quarter as his Lakers rallied and almost caught the Kings.

This was a kinder gentler Bryant than we had seen in previous seasons. He was on his farewell tour and he seemed to finally be able to enjoy the ride. He even took a moment to stop and take pictures with Rudy Gay and his son that evening, which humanized him in a way that I didn’t believe possible.

There have been very few athletes like Bryant in the history of not only basketball, but professional sports. His work ethic and focus were surpassed by none.

[RELATED: Kings lose their greatest adversary]

He spent a lifetime being in his own moment. It was obvious being around him that his intensity and passion for his craft made him great. Basketball was his obsession.  

In his final visit to Sacramento, it was like he finally found a way to be a fan again. He was able to appreciate his accomplishments and enjoy the moment.

Kings players react to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant's death in helicopter crash

Kings players react to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant's death in helicopter crash

There never will another Kobe Bryant. The Los Angeles Lakers star died Sunday morning at 41 years old in a helicopter crash.

Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were two of nine people who died in the crash on the Calabasas hills. The Sacramento Kings released the following statement to express their deepest regards to the Bryant family and those involved in the crash. 

Bryant had some of his greatest battles with the Kings and forever will be part of the franchise's story. He also helped mentor some of their brightest young players like Buddy Hield and De'Aaron Fox.

[RELATED: Kings lose their greatest adversary with Kobe's tragic death]

Kings players past and present mourned Bryant's death Sunday with multiple messages on social media. 

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Eternal Respect🙏🏽👊🏽🏀 #RIPKobeGiGi💜

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