Vlade Divac

What Marvin Bagley injury means for Kings during, beyond NBA restart

What Marvin Bagley injury means for Kings during, beyond NBA restart

His talent is tantalizing. His injury history is growing by the day.

These two ingredients don’t usually mix well.

Kings big man Marvin Bagley did everything right during the NBA’s shutdown. Bagley worked hard with his dad and two brothers. He gained 10 pounds of muscle. The 21-year-old had a workout partner to battle in the post and clearly got stronger knowing that he was likely to play center moving forward.

In the short term, none of that matters now. A bad step in practice Sunday cost Bagley the remainder of the 2019-20 season, however long that will last for Sacramento.

Bagley goes back to square one. He eventually will be cleared to restart basketball-related activities, but it will be well after the season ends. Hopefully, he will be able to continue his workouts with a focus on his upper body and core.

The reality for the Kings is that Bagley’s season ended Jan. 20, when he reinjured his other foot while playing 38 minutes in a loss to the Miami Heat. He played in just 13 games in what now is a completely lost season for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Before the league shut down on March 11, the Kings did not intend to play Bagley another minute down the stretch. He was close to being cleared, but he was going to watch from the sidelines with 18 games remaining on the schedule and the team in the middle of a playoff chase.

With time to heal, the Kings were willing to take a “wait and see approach” to Bagley during the restart. Once Alex Len and Harrison Barnes tested positive for the coronavirus, a door was cracked open. When Richaun Holmes got sent to his room for 10 days, Bagley became one of the few options at center, along with Harry Giles.

Holmes came back to practice Tuesday and should be ready to log minutes by the end of the week. Len is further behind after testing positive for the coronavirus for 24 consecutive days, but it’s possible his workouts can be ramped up before the Kings open their eight-game schedule against the San Antonio Spurs on July 31.

Barnes still is in Sacramento awaiting clearance from the league, but the Kings are holding a roster spot open in anticipation of his arrival in the Orlando bubble in the near future.

Giles has earned a spot in the restart with his strong play in training camp. Nemanja Bjelica also has solidified his job as the starting power forward. Veterans Kent Bazemore and Corey Brewer are ready for action as well at both forward positions.

Finding a spot for Bagley was going to be difficult even with a short-handed squad. It’s not about talent or projecting out a career at this point in the season. It’s about experience and what is best for the team in an abbreviated sprint to the finish line.

Could Bagley have earned a few minutes here and there? Maybe, but Walton would have had the difficult task of putting him in perfect situations to succeed and then hoping for the best.

The Kings’ lineup survived without Bagley for 51 games this season. In fact, they were just 2-11 when he played.

There is no question that the Kings still consider Bagley the future at either the four or the five. But at this point, he is more than a year behind in development and his inability to stay on the floor has to make general manager Vlade Divac nervous.

[RELATED: Fox close to return for Kings, making progress on ankle]

This is a disappointing end to the season for a promising young player, but it isn’t the end of the world. Bagley won’t need surgery and, he reportedly is expected to be out of a boot in a couple of weeks.

Is it bad luck? Is it something more? We don’t know, but Bagley has a few months to get his body 100 percent and try again next season with considerably lower expectations.

Kings' Kent Bazemore could envision staying for 'next couple of years'

Kings' Kent Bazemore could envision staying for 'next couple of years'

On Jan. 22, the Sacramento Kings were absolutely embarrassed on the road by a less-than-stellar Detroit Pistons team by a final of 127-106. You could tell that changes were coming before the final horn sounded.

That was the sixth straight loss for the Kings and their season looked like it was over.

When the team came out for the next contest in Chicago, Bogdan Bogdanovic had replaced Buddy Hield in the starting lineup and Kent Bazemore became a bigger piece to the rotation.

Acquired just days earlier in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers, Bazemore instantly became the high-energy catalyst off the bench the Kings hoped they were getting when they signed Trevor Ariza to a two-year, $25 million contract.

Sacramento responded to the changes in the rotation and finished the season as one of the hottest teams in the league, winning 13 of its final 20 games.

In 21 total games with the Kings, Bazemore, 31, averaged 10.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 23.5 minutes per game. He was a disruptive force on the defensive end and his energy on the court was contagious.

A free agent at the end of the season, Bazemore will have plenty of options on the open market. His ability to defend multiple positions and provide an offensive spark when needed earned him a massive four-year, $70 million deal in the summer of 2016.

It’s unlikely that Bazemore comes anywhere near that figure again this offseason, but he believes he has found a new home in Sacramento and this isn't the first time the veteran has voiced that opinion.

“This is definitely a place that I can see myself play for the next couple of years,” Bazemore said during a Zoom call with the media on Friday. “With a team with so much promise, I definitely want to be a part of that.”

General manager Vlade Divac has plenty of decisions to make during the upcoming offseason, but bringing Bazemore back for another tour of duty makes too much sense. He’s still young enough to play substantial minutes and his ability to play both the two and three allows coach Luke Walton to slide Harrison Barnes to power forward for long stretches.

[RELATED: Barnes keeps word, won't shave beard until Kings hit .500]

The NBA’s salary structure is bound to take a big hit with the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world. Sacramento likely will have to take a wait-and-see approach to the offseason, which includes decisions on free agents Bogdan Bogdanovic, Harry Giles and Alex Len.

In just a quarter of the season, Bazemore has proven his worth and the Kings aren’t done quite yet. Sacramento has eight games remaining to try and earn a shot at the playoffs. If Bazemore hadn’t come along when he did, it’s very unlikely the Kings would be in this position.

Kings sign veteran swingman Corey Brewer to fill out final roster spot

Kings sign veteran swingman Corey Brewer to fill out final roster spot

The Sacramento Kings are ready to fill their final roster spot for the NBA restart in Orlando, Florida.

The Kings announced Tuesday they signed veteran forward Corey Brewer for the rest of the season. Shams Charania of The Athletic was first with the story.

After signing a pair of 10-day contracts with the Kings last season, Sacramento inked him for the remainder of the year on February 28. Despite a strong finish with the Kings, Brewer hasn’t played a minute in the league this season.

[RELATED: NBA rumors: Kings learn details of free-agency window prior to restart]

The 34-year-old forward is a disruptive force on the defensive end and fit in perfectly with the team’s up-tempo style of play. He’s also a positive locker room presence that fit in perfectly when he arrived after a stint with the 76ers.

According to Charania, Brewer chose the Kings over “multiple potential offers.” He has experience with plenty of the roster and played for head coach Luke Walton with the Los Angeles Lakers during both the 2016-17 and 17-18 seasons.

Sacramento is allowed to bring up to 17 players to the NBA’s bubble in Orlando. They currently have 14 players under contract with the parent club and two-way players Kyle Guy and DaQuan Jeffries will join them as well. Brewer rounds out the roster as players begin reporting and prepare to start testing for the coronavirus on Tuesday.