Luke Willson

What De'Aaron Fox's ankle injury means for young, snake-bitten Kings

foxusa.jpg
USATI

What De'Aaron Fox's ankle injury means for young, snake-bitten Kings

SACRAMENTO -- The hits keep on coming for the Sacramento Kings. First Marvin Bagley broke his right thumb during the season opener against the Phoenix Suns. Now De’Aaron Fox is going to miss time as well.

Fox injured his left ankle Monday during practice. An MRI at the team’s practice facility revealed that the Kings’ starting point guard has an ankle sprain and will be re-evaluated by the team in 3-4 weeks by the team's medical staff. According to a league source, Fox has a Grade 3 left ankle sprain.

Durable through his first two seasons in the league, Fox has missed a total of 10 games as a pro, including just one last season for Sacramento.

After a breakout second season, Fox is off to another good start in Year Three. The 21-year-old is averaging 18.2 points, seven assists and four rebounds in 32 minutes per game for coach Luke Walton this season.

His turnover numbers are up in the Kings’ new system, but the Kings rely heavily on his speed and quickness to breakdown opposing defenses.

The Kings dropped the first five games of the season, but they’ve won three out of their last four games heading into Tuesday’s matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers, and they currently stand at 3-6 on the year. Losing Fox for an extended period of time is a huge blow to the team, but Walton has other options at the position.

General manager Vlade Divac loaded up on point guards over the summer, adding veteran Cory Joseph to the mix on a three-year, $37 million deal. They also picked up a team option on Yogi Ferrell, which gives them additional depth.

During the preseason schedule, Walton also turned to shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic to eat some of the minutes at the point. The Kings' sixth-man is capable of stepping into a primary ball handler role alongside Buddy Hield if need be.

[RELATED: Why Hield thinks Fox can be one of NBA's best]

In addition to Joseph, Ferrell and Bogdanovic, Sacramento has a pair of rookies they can use in the backcourt in Justin James and Kyle Guy. James is on the regular roster and Kyle Guy is currently playing for the Stockton Kings on a two-way contract. Guy can be recalled and spend up to 45 days with the parent club if they feel they need more guard depth.

Injuries are part of the game, but the Kings have certainly started off the year with some bad luck.

'Hard Knocks' Episode 3 recap: Raiders' overlooked weapons get some love

'Hard Knocks' Episode 3 recap: Raiders' overlooked weapons get some love

This week’s “Hard Knocks” episode was heavy on Antonio Brown.

Surprise, surprise.

This year’s Raiders training camp has been dominated by his frostbitten feet and his steadfast desire to wear the helmet he wants despite it not being certified and failing a safety test.

Non-AB segments of this show were also featured, focusing on Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow and Luke Wilson.

Head coach Jon Gruden continues to carry the show more than anyone, showcasing a magnetic personality that is TV gold.

Let’s take a look a few non-AB things we learned on this week’s “Hard Knocks” episode:

Darren Waller’s easy to root for

Gruden often jokes that he’s trying to keep Darren Waller a secret. His talent won’t be kept quiet this fall, during what should be a breakout year for someone with unrealized potential.

Waller has no problem discussing how he set himself back. He recently celebrated two years clean and sober, and detailed how far he was willing to go for drugs of any kind, even if it meant hurting his NFL career.

“I was super burned out,” Waller said. “I wondered, ‘am I going to stick with it or not.’ I was plotting to sabotage myself on the way out of the league, so I didn’t look like a quitter. I was thinking the league would put me out of misery, and I’d just go about my business.”

Suffice it to say that didn’t happen. He served two suspensions for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy before going to rehab, getting clean and playing like he’s capable after the Raiders signed him off Baltimore’s practice squad.

Waller’s a great talent with an important role in this offense, and he’s expected to have a big year. Fans getting to know Waller on “Hard Knocks” will make the tight end easy to root for.

Hunter Renfrow keeps taking shots

Fifth-round rookie receiver and Clemson product Hunter Renfrow didn’t sing well last week and got flak for it, even from stand-up comic/Gruden impersonator Frank Caliendo. His hairline looks like it’s receding, and even Derek Carr has given him guff for it.

This best set-up and put down came this week, when Gruden said he wanted players who were bigger, faster and well-conditioned. Then he put up a picture of Renfrow shirtless at the NFL combine, sporting an uninspired physique.

It was a funny exchange Renfrow took in stride, and it was followed up by the fact he had an excellent training camp with a real shot to make a major contribution this season.

The best Renfrow dig came from defensive line coach and proud Clemson alum Brenston Buckner, who dropped this line: "When he first got to Clemson, some of the guys thought he was [an equipment] manager.”

Luke Willson can’t skip leg day

The “Hard Knocks” crew hung with veteran tight end Luke Willson during this episode, showing him on a boat with his dad, saying the Canadian looks like a hockey player and showing him knocking some helmets against Arizona.

Oh, and Willson’s dad said Luke always wanted to be a Hanson brother. The best part of Willson’s screen time was him relaying a request from Jon Gruden, that he get bigger calves.

I can understand why Willson’s podium session this week didn’t make the cut, considered he (jokingly) accused “Hard Knocks” editors of making it look like Johnathan Abram lit him up when he didn’t. He also downplayed his Canada connection just before heading up to Winnipeg.

[RELATED: Gruden says AB isn't Raiders distraction: 'All-in, ready to go']

AB makes stat nerds blush

Man. We couldn’t make it through this post without bringing up Antonio Brown. Sorry. His quote was too good to ignore, though we promise it has nothing to do with his feet or his head.

He was working with a private analytics expert, who was breaking down his speed and yards run compared to other top NFL receivers. Brown’s work rate is off-the-charts, and he clearly liked seeing that backed by numbers.

It prompted this gem, that stat nerds undoubtedly loved: “Women lie. Men lie. Analytics don’t.”

Raiders training camp battles: Questions at tight end behind Darren Waller

Raiders training camp battles: Questions at tight end behind Darren Waller

Editor’s note: We’ll take a look at several Raiders training camp battles leading up to the first full-squad practice on Saturday, and then we’ll update their progress throughout the preseason. We continue with the tight ends.

Raiders head coach and offensive mastermind Jon Gruden has some fun things planned for Darren Waller. The tall, athletic receiving tight end will move around the formation in search of favorable matchups.

At 6-foot-6 and 255 pounds with a 4.46-second 40-yard dash, Waller is a tough matchup for anyone. He will be heavily involved in the passing game, and has worked hard to not be a liability when asked to block.

Those blocking duties primarily will be assigned to others. Lee Smith considered himself another lineman and was an excellent blocker, but his offseason release means someone else will have to fill that role.

Several candidates will vie for that job and maybe one other in a competitive tight end group. It’s a bunched pack heading into training camp, difficult to predict which guys besides Waller will make it.

Count Foster Moreau as a frontrunner. Position coach Frank Smith vouched hard for him this offseason, and fourth-round picks almost always get a few years to prove their worth. Derek Carrier returns with two years left on his contract, but none of it is guaranteed. Veteran Luke Willson is in the mix, alongside 2018 practice squad staple Paul Butler and veteran Erik Swoope.

It’s hard to count anybody out right now in what looks like a relatively even race. If Waller’s a lock and Moreau’s virtually the same, that puts four guys in the running for one, maybe two gigs.

Competition there should be fierce, played out in camp and preseason games. Special teams performance is key in this battle, as is performance as a true in-line tight end. Waller insurance would also be nice, though his unique skill set is tough to replicate.

[RELATED: Raiders have several combinations they can use at safety]

Finding a proper mix of tight ends is important in several areas, and a good crop on the 53-man roster adds further dimensions to what Gruden can do offensively.

Early edge: Waller is a lock; Moreau and Carrier positioned for remaining spots