Yogi Ferrell

Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic ruled out with sore right ankle vs. Pacers

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Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic ruled out with sore right ankle vs. Pacers

Just when it appeared that the Sacramento Kings were 100 percent healthy, shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic has had a setback.

Coach Luke Walton’s leader of the second unit will miss Friday’s contest against the Indiana Pacers with right ankle soreness and is listed as day-to-day.

Bogdanovic, 27, has missed two games previously, one with left hamstring tightness and another with a sore right knee. The Kings are 0-2 in the games that Bogdanovic has sat.

In his third NBA season, Bogdanovic is averaging 14.6 points, 3.9 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 27.7 rebounds per game. He played substantial minutes in the World Cup leading up to the start of training camp, but he came into the season in the best shape of his life.

[RELATED: Six moments that defined an emotional Kings decade]

With Bogdanovic sidelined, head coach Walton will rely on De’Aaron Fox to carry the load for the second unit. The Kings’ starting point guard will come off the bench for a second straight game after missing 17 contests with a grade 3 left ankle sprain.

In addition to Fox, veteran Yogi Ferrell may see time with the reserves as well. Ferrell has played in 22 games this season for Sacramento filling in for either Fox or Bogdanovic.

De'Aaron Fox returns to Kings after missing 17 games with ankle injury

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USATI

De'Aaron Fox returns to Kings after missing 17 games with ankle injury

The wait is over. After a series of injuries, the Sacramento Kings are back to full strength Tuesday night when they take on the Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum Center.

According to coach Luke Walton speaking to the media before Tuesday's game, point guard De’Aaron Fox will return for Sacramento for the first time in 17 games, Walton added Fox would be on a minute's restriction, and according to long-time radio voice of the Kings, Gary Gerould, Fox will come off the bench as he works his way back into action.

The 21-year-old point guard was injured at the end of practice on Nov. 11 and he’s missed five weeks with a grade 3 ankle sprain.

Before injury, Fox was averaging 18.2 points, seven assists and four rebounds in 32 minutes per game for head coach Luke Walton. He has recovered quicker than expected and has been on the court playing with full contact since Thursday.

With Fox on the shelf, Cory Joseph has kept the Kings in the race for the postseason with his steady play.

Not nearly the offensive threat that Fox is, Joseph is averaging 5.8 points and 4.7 assists in 31.5 minutes as a starter.

Joseph is a defensive specialist who rarely turns over the ball. The Kings will get an immediate boost on the offensive end with Fox’s return.

The veteran point guard has also struggled with lower back pain for the last two weeks, but played through the issue to help the team post a 4-2 record since the injury.

In addition to Joseph, Yogi Ferrell has stepped in and provided a lift off the bench for Sacramento. The four-year veteran averaged 6.5 points and 2.1 assists in 16.2 minutes per game during Fox's 17 game absence.

Fox is the second young Kings player to return to the game in the last week. Second-year forward Marvin Bagley missed 22 games with a broken right thumb before making his comeback Wednesday against the Thunder.

[RELATED: Willie Cauley-Stein opens up about time with Kings]

In three games since his return, Bagley is averaging 12.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per game off the bench for the Kings.

With Fox’s return, the Kings now have 15 healthy bodies on the roster for the first time. There is no early word on a minutes restriction for Fox, but it’s likely he will need a few games to return to full strength.
 

Kings rookie Justin James provides silver lining in disappointing loss

Kings rookie Justin James provides silver lining in disappointing loss

The Sacramento Kings walked into Friday evening’s game knowing they were short-handed and they were going to need everyone on the roster to contribute. Unfortunately, they played like a team expecting to lose and sure enough, the prophecy was fulfilled.

Coach Luke Walton’s team didn’t play to their potential and lost 116-97, but there was at least one bright spot for the team.

Rookie Justin James came to play. It took him a little while to get his bearings, but with Bogdan Bogdanovic, De’Aaron Fox and Trevor Ariza all out due to injury, the Kings were light at both the guard and small forward position.

“I felt good out there, I was just playing my game,” James told reporters following the game. “I had a lot of mishaps defensively that I’m not too happy about, but coach called on my number and I was ready to play.”

James had played a total of 15 minutes over four games coming into Friday. Against the Nets, he more than doubled that total and came away with a career-high 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting in 32 minutes of action. He also added three rebounds, three assists and a steal during his time on the court.

“Very impressed with him,” Walton said in his postgame scrum. “He’s come a long way in the short time we’ve had him. But to see him out there and the way he was compete...he was playing smart. As far as the play calls and just reading the game, taking on the defensive challenge, a bright spot in a bad night, Justin was very good for us.”

Starting point guard Cory Joseph was questionable leading up to the game and managed to play just 22 minutes. James ran the point for stretches, flanked by players like Buddy Hield and Yogi Ferrell.

“My versatility, being able to guard and spread the floor on offense,” James said of what he can bring to the team. “And just do whatever coach needs me to do.”

It wasn’t always pretty, but the effort and energy was there from the 6-foot-7 guard. He showed off his floater, challenged De’Andre Jordan on a near highlight-reel dunk and even hit a pair of 3-pointers.

At this point, James simply is organizational depth, but the second-round pick might be able to help out, especially if Bogdanovic and Ariza continue to miss time.

He’s made an impact with his positive energy and when he’s not playing, he is cheering his teammates on from the bench with vigor.

That boundless enthusiasm carries over to practice where he is a sponge trying to take everything in.

“He’s one of the most talkative players I’ve been around, but I think that’s helping him,” Walton said. “Every practice and he never shuts up, really. I think because of that, he knows then offense, he knows the play calls. There was one play out there he was directing veterans on the team at where to go. He knows what an amazing opportunity this is for him and he’s doing everything in his power to make it work. He made a nice case for himself tonight.”

[RELATED: Richmond thinks Fox will be next All-Star guard for Kings]

Depending on where Bogdanovic is health-wise, James may get another shot to step up when the Kings visit the Washington Wizards on Sunday. Even if Bogdanovic is a go, Walton may turn to his bouncy rookie with Ariza being away from the team during the road trip.

James made a positive impression. That can’t hurt his chances going forward as the Kings try to survive an early rash of injuries.