Kings set to reopen practice facility Monday under stringent guidelines

Kings set to reopen practice facility Monday under stringent guidelines

Harrison Barnes hasn’t shot a basketball since the NBA shut down on March 11. Bogdan Bogdanovic was shooting on his neighbor's portable hoop and both he and Richaun Holmes were waiting for baskets to show up from online purchases last we spoke.

On Thursday morning, the Kings announced the first step in what likely will be a long process of getting back to some sort of normalcy. Monday, May 11, with the approval of Sacramento County and the NBA, the Kings will reopen their practice facility to players on a volunteer basis.

Per the team’s official release, “To date, no Kings players have experienced COVID-19 symptoms and per league protocol, team medical personnel check-in daily with players to confirm that they do not have symptoms.”

There will be stringent regulations in place. Only four players will be allowed in the gym at the same time and they must use separate courts. No group activity is allowed, including practices or scrimmages.

Staff are required to wear face masks at all time as are players, unless they are on the court doing physical activities.

Players will go through temperature screenings upon entering the building and they will not have access to amenities like the locker room, showers, laundry service, saunas and water therapy.

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The team will have four separate time slots throughout the day with 30-minute breaks in between each session for cleaning. These sessions will be set up with the health and performance staff, as well as the coaching staff.

The Kings officially have 18 games remaining on the 2019-20 schedule. Many of the players haven’t seen each other in person since March 11 when the team was set to take on the New Orleans Pelicans in a huge battle for postseason positioning.

When the season was halted, the Kings trailed the Memphis Grizzlies by three and a half games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They were in a three-way tie for ninth place with the Pelicans and Portland Trail Blazers.

According to ESPN, an all players call is supposed to take place on Friday where players will have a chance to speak directly with commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts.

[RELATED: Kings' Gerould wants championship legacy like Tim Roye]

A league source confirmed to NBC Sports California that roughly half of the Kings' players still are in Sacramento at this time.

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic still looming and potential for additional waves of infections, the league has yet to set their parameters for a return, but this is a strong first step.

Kings' Kent Bazemore could envision staying for 'next couple of years'

Kings' Kent Bazemore could envision staying for 'next couple of years'

On Jan. 22, the Sacramento Kings were absolutely embarrassed on the road by a less-than-stellar Detroit Pistons team by a final of 127-106. You could tell that changes were coming before the final horn sounded.

That was the sixth straight loss for the Kings and their season looked like it was over.

When the team came out for the next contest in Chicago, Bogdan Bogdanovic had replaced Buddy Hield in the starting lineup and Kent Bazemore became a bigger piece to the rotation.

Acquired just days earlier in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers, Bazemore instantly became the high-energy catalyst off the bench the Kings hoped they were getting when they signed Trevor Ariza to a two-year, $25 million contract.

Sacramento responded to the changes in the rotation and finished the season as one of the hottest teams in the league, winning 13 of its final 20 games.

In 21 total games with the Kings, Bazemore, 31, averaged 10.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 23.5 minutes per game. He was a disruptive force on the defensive end and his energy on the court was contagious.

A free agent at the end of the season, Bazemore will have plenty of options on the open market. His ability to defend multiple positions and provide an offensive spark when needed earned him a massive four-year, $70 million deal in the summer of 2016.

It’s unlikely that Bazemore comes anywhere near that figure again this offseason, but he believes he has found a new home in Sacramento and this isn't the first time the veteran has voiced that opinion.

“This is definitely a place that I can see myself play for the next couple of years,” Bazemore said during a Zoom call with the media on Friday. “With a team with so much promise, I definitely want to be a part of that.”

General manager Vlade Divac has plenty of decisions to make during the upcoming offseason, but bringing Bazemore back for another tour of duty makes too much sense. He’s still young enough to play substantial minutes and his ability to play both the two and three allows coach Luke Walton to slide Harrison Barnes to power forward for long stretches.

[RELATED: Barnes keeps word, won't shave beard until Kings hit .500]

The NBA’s salary structure is bound to take a big hit with the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world. Sacramento likely will have to take a wait-and-see approach to the offseason, which includes decisions on free agents Bogdan Bogdanovic, Harry Giles and Alex Len.

In just a quarter of the season, Bazemore has proven his worth and the Kings aren’t done quite yet. Sacramento has eight games remaining to try and earn a shot at the playoffs. If Bazemore hadn’t come along when he did, it’s very unlikely the Kings would be in this position.

Harrison Barnes keeps word, won't shave beard until Kings hit .500 record

Harrison Barnes keeps word, won't shave beard until Kings hit .500 record


Harrison Barnes showed up for the latest edition of the Kings' Zoom call with the media still sporting his playoffs-or-bust beard. The Kings’ forward stopped shaving in mid-December, committing to letting it grow until the Kings reached the .500 mark.

“The beard is good, I think it’s plateaued a little bit,” Barnes said. “That’s been nice from a management perspective. But I think I’m excited to hopefully shave it off when we make the playoffs and keep going from there.”

At the time of Barnes' pledge, the Kings were 12-14 and facing a three-game road trip in Charlotte, Indiana and Memphis. Sacramento would go on to lose all three...and then five more to fall 10 games under .500 at 12-22.

[RELATED: Kings' Marvin Bagley, family stayed focused on hoops during NBA hiatus]

True to his word, Barnes let it grow, although he’s modified the rules slightly. He now has a .500 or playoffs mantra, which could possibly get him off the hook.

A .500 record would take an 8-0 stretch by the Kings in the Orlando bubble restart. Looking at their schedule, that is going to be difficult. But a 5-3 stretch might be enough to sneak into the play-in game, which couldbe grounds for a good shaving.

This decision was a bold move by Barnes. While the Kings have the most talented and deepest roster they’ve had in years, the franchise also is riding a 13-year playoff drought.

If the Kings don’t make it and Barnes stays true to his word, he might be able to near James Harden's beard length by the start of next season. Should that be the case, he really could use a Game 1 win to put the team over the .500 mark.