When De’Aaron Fox went down with a left ankle sprain in the middle of last week, the Kings’ season appeared all but over. Less than a week later, Sacramento's starting point guard already is back on the court in a limited role.
“He looked good, he’s getting up and down,” Walton said. “He’s still not doing any contact, but he’s definitely making some good progress and I’m expecting him back with us soon.”
A notorious quick healer, Fox is the one player the Kings can’t live without. The front office designed the team around his ability to push the tempo and his speed is what drives the Kings’ offense.
“He just turned his ankle a little bit, he’s going to be fine,” veteran Corey Brewer said of Fox. “It’s always good to see him running around out there and shooting and just working on his game.”
The Kings will take it easy with regards to Fox. He won’t play in Wednesday’s scrimmage against the Miami Heat and there is a possibility he doesn’t see action in Saturday’s game against Milwaukee as well.
With so many injuries and coronavirus-related issues, the Kings will need some luck if they hope to walk into the restart with a reasonably healthy rotation.
On a good note, center Richaun Holmes returned to practice after spending 10 days locked in his room for violating NBA protocol rules in the bubble. Holmes bolsters the Kings’ front line, which has been hit hard by injury and positive coronavirus tests.
“Even though he looks great and getting up and down a little bit, we’re going to take our time and ease him into it,” Walton said of Holmes.
Sacramento's training staff filled Holmes’ room with training equipment, including a punching bag, in an attempt to keep him in the best shape possible.
The plan is to have Holmes fully ready to go by the restart opener on July 31. That might be a more realistic target date for Fox as well.
Sacramento still is awaiting the results of Marvin Bagley’s MRI, although his season is in doubt after injuring his right foot Sunday in practice. Alex Len still is working his way back after 24 consecutive days of testing positive for the coronavirus.
Harrison Barnes, the fourth and final player to test positive for the coronavirus, still is in Sacramento awaiting two consecutive days of negative tests. If and when he is ready to join the team, it will take time to get him back up to speed and in full game shape.
With 10 days remaining before the season restart, there is still a small window for Barnes to recover and make his way back into the lineup, although he is fully at the mercy of the virus. The Kings will hold a spot open for their starting small forward with the hopes that at some point, he will arrive in the bubble.
In the meantime, Walton has no choice but to play the hand he’s dealt. Three of his five starters aren’t currently practicing. There is an opportunity for young players to get some burn in practice, but also for veterans to learn new positions in case of an emergency.
The Kings aren’t the only team facing adversity in the Orlando bubble, but they’ve been hit hard early.