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Haliburton moves into Kings' starting lineup with Bagley out

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The wait is over. After putting up big numbers off of the Kings' bench this season, rookie Tyrese Haliburton is stepping into the starting lineup, where he might stay for a very long time.

With Marvin Bagley out of action for the foreseeable future with a broken fourth metacarpal in his left hand, head coach Luke Walton is moving Harrison Barnes to power forward, Buddy Hield to the wing and starting Haliburton in the backcourt alongside De’Aaron Fox.

"We'll give it some time," Walton said. "It will be at least for the near future and then we'll continue to evaluate what's best for our group. Everything is always based on what's best for the team." 

Haliburton is averaging 12.5 points, 5.2 assists and 1.4 steals in 29.5 minutes per game for the Kings this season. He's shooting 48 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from 3-point range.

The 21-year-old guard is still on a minutes restriction after missing time with a sore calf leading up to the All-Star break. He played 28 minutes in the Kings' loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Monday and is likely cleared to play in the 30-32 minute range as the team's sports science group monitors his improvement.

RELATED: Frustrated Haliburton says he has been 'awful' since returning

As for Bagley, it's a tough blow. The 22-year-old stayed healthy for most of this season after struggling with injuries last season and seeing time in just 13 games. The Kings have yet to release a clear plan for treatment on his injured left hand, but he's likely out a minimum of 4-6 weeks.

 

"We'll miss Marvin a lot," Walton said. "He was making some great progress."

The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft was posting 13.9 points and 7.4 rebounds in 25.7 minutes per night. Before the setback, he had played in 37 of the team's 39 games this season, all of which were starts.

In addition to Haliburton jumping into the starting lineup, the Kings are getting some healthy bodies back. Veteran center Hassan Whiteside has been cleared to return to action after sitting out the last eight games due to the league's health and safety protocols.

According to Walton, Whiteside will once again step into the backup center position for the Kings.

Rookie Robert Woodard III is also available to play against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday after straining his left hamstring in the G League bubble. Woodard played very well for the Austin Spurs, but he has seen just 17 minutes of action over six games this season for the Kings. 

Lastly, two-way player Chimezie Metu is improving, but still out of action after breaking his left wrist in the Kings loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on February 14. He is increasing his workouts, but will need more time before being able to return to full contact.