Kings

Why Kings' De'Aaron Fox likely walked away from Team USA opportunity

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Why Kings' De'Aaron Fox likely walked away from Team USA opportunity

After two weeks of build-up, Saturday’s news that De’Aaron Fox had removed himself from the Team USA World Cup roster came as a shock.

According to Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes, the Kings point guard made the decision so he could “focus on [the] upcoming season with [the] goal of making [the] playoffs," which is great for Sacramento but also slightly confusing.

Fox had been nothing but all in on the experience throughout Team USA camp in Las Vegas two weeks ago and again this week in Los Angeles. Both on and off the record, Fox expressed excitement about the process and the potential of playing for Team USA.

Fox turned heads with his speed and shooting ability, and up until halftime of Friday night’s game against Spain, he looked like Team USA’s backup point guard behind Kemba Walker.

Following the 90-81 win over Spain at Honda Center, NBC Sports California spoke to Fox, and he said was honored to wear the Team USA uniform.

“It was definitely great to play against a different country. This was my first time doing it,” Fox said. “I definitely had a blast doing it.”

When asked if he was boarding a plane for Australia the next day, Fox, like the rest of the team, had yet to be notified of they were making the squad, and said, “We’ll find out.”

Team USA Gregg Popovich announced after the game that all 14 finalists vying for 12 roster spots would make the trip to Australia, to prepare for the tournament, which starts Aug. 31 in China.

After playing just six minutes against Spain, Fox had to have some apprehension over his situation with Team USA. Dropping everything and boarding the team plane means spending a minimum of 12 days in Australia, with the potential for another 17 days in China after that.

You need to be sure about what the commitment means before jumping in with both feet. Venturing on the road with no assurances of making the squad is a tall ask, but that’s exactly what Popovich and Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo asked of Fox and others Friday night. 

While the experience could help with Fox’s development — and likely already has — it also would put a tremendous amount of wear and tear on the 21-year-old. Just in airline flights alone, he’d be looking at close to 20,000 miles with Team USA.

With the Kings already booked on an October preseason trip to India, Fox would be committing himself to nearly 40,000 miles in the air over an eight-week period leading up to an 82-game regular-season schedule. Adding to the equation, the Kings will travel the third-most miles in the NBA this upcoming season, including two trips to both New York and Florida.

Kings swingman Harrison Barnes decided to stay with Team USA, but he also started the game against Spain, and has all but secured a roster spot as one of the longest-tenured players. Barnes also is a seasoned veteran who has been through this process before and knows what lies ahead.

[RELATED: Why Fox isn't upset at one national TV game]

In the end, it’s disappointing that Fox won’t be fighting for a gold medal with the national team, but he likely made the best decision for himself and the Kings.

The NBA schedule is a brutal, and Fox is expected to carry a huge load for his team this season as it attempts to end a 13-year playoff drought. Having fresh legs and a fresh mind when training camp opens in late September is a must.
 

What De'Aaron Fox's injury means for Kings' chances in NBA restart

What De'Aaron Fox's injury means for Kings' chances in NBA restart

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.

[RELATED: Kings' Luke Walton forced to get creative at center spot in Orlando]

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.

Kings' De'Aaron Fox sprains ankle, will miss a week or more in Orlando

Kings' De'Aaron Fox sprains ankle, will miss a week or more in Orlando

The hits keep coming for the Kings.

Just as Buddy Hield and Jabari Parker returned to the floor, the Kings announced Wednesday that point guard De'Aaron Fox sprained his left ankle in practice and will be re-evaluated in seven-to-10 days.

Fox, the Kings' leader in both scoring and assists on the season, missed 17 games this season after sustaining a Grade 3 sprain on the same ankle in November. It took him time to regain his strength in the ankle once he returned, but the 22-year-old was rolling by the time the season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[RELATED: How Kings' rough start to season could be an advantage in Orlando]

The Kings didn't specify what grade sprain Fox sustained on Wednesday, but the injury was severe enough to warrant an MRI. His status will be updated sometime next week.

Fox, 22, is averaging a career-high 20.7 points per and 4.0 rebounds per game this season, as well as 6.8 assists.