Maybe the NBA restart wasn’t such a good idea for the Kings.
Four Kings players have already tested positive for the coronavirus. The team was forced to shut down their practice facility. Their starting center was sent to his room for 10 days for violating contact rules and now De’Aaron Fox is on the shelf with an ankle injury.
This isn’t the start the team was hoping for. But now it is the reality they are living with.
Fox underwent an MRI on Wednesday following the team’s practice. According to the official press release, the 22-year-old point guard will be re-evaluated in seven-to-10 days after sustaining a second left ankle sprain this season.
There is no word on the severity of the injury, but any injury to the Kings’ leading scorer could have a major impact on their ability to win games.
“[He’s] someone I’ve called the head of our snake multiple times this season,” coach Luke Walton said earlier this week. “We put a lot on his plate, but he’s got that ability to be one of those players.”
With Fox on the shelf, Walton will turn to veteran Cory Joseph in the short term. The veteran is a methodical game manager and a strong defensive player, but the team plays at a completely different pace when he is on the court and he doesn’t have Fox’s dynamic offensive game.
[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]
According to Kent Bazemore, Joseph has already assumed a leadership role with the team. He’s an experienced player that has made the playoffs in all eight of his seasons in the league, and he won an NBA championship with the San Antonio Spurs during the 2013-14 season.
“Cory Joseph is really running the team, he’s taken on a leadership role on the floor, getting guys in the right spot and being very vocal,” Bazemore said.
On the season, Joseph is averaging a modest 6.3 points and 3.4 assists in 24 minutes a night. He’s one of the more durable players in the league and hasn’t missed a game in the last three seasons.
With every contest being incredibly important during the restart, the Kings’ fate may lie completely in Fox’s ability to heal. That’s not an indictment on Joseph, but a statement on what Fox means to the team on both ends of the floor.
The early word is that Fox’s current injury is not as severe as the one that occurred early in the season, but it usually takes a few days to fully know the extent of the damage.
His recovery from his original injury was almost miraculous. The normal time frame for a Grade Three sprain, which is a complete detachment of the ligament, is usually around 12 weeks and sometimes a lot more than that.
After spraining his ankle on Nov. 11 at practice, he was able to return to the court five weeks later on Dec. 17.
If the Kings have any chance of snapping their 13-year playoff drought, they are going to need a less severe diagnosis and another expedited recovery.
The good news is that Fox knows the rehab and recovery program and the Kings’ training staff also has a solid understanding of what worked with the injury last time.
Sacramento has additional options at the point as well. Yogi Ferrell keeps himself in excellent shape and is ready when called upon. Starting shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic has the ability to slide over and eat time at the point as well.
The Kings have 16 days until their first game against the Spurs. If Fox is ready to play, the team has a chance to make some noise in the final eight games of the season. If he’s out long term, the road gets a lot more difficult.