The Sacramento Kings have been the most snake-bitten team in the NBA when it comes to the coronavirus. After Buddy Hield, Alex Len and Jabari Parker tested positive for the coronavirus prior to the team leaving for Orlando last week, the Kings now have to deal with the loss of Harrison Barnes, who also tested positive back in Sacramento, and Richaun Holmes, who is quarantining after accidentally leaving the bubble to pick up food.
Their absences have forced head coach Luke Walton to try and prepare his team without three players who are expected to be a big part of the rotation, including a starter in Barnes.
“There’s a lot of tricky parts about losing Harrison, but one of them is he plays a lot of three and four for us,” Walton said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. “So, right now, what we’re doing, you see a lot of a lot of time going to Bazemore and and Corey Brewer. Daquan’s getting some good opportunities out there and he actually had another very solid practice today for us. But we’re kind of just splitting those minutes up, and again, really trying to reevaluate groups that are playing well together. Now that we have Buddy back, we’ll see some more time with Buddy and Bogi on the floor together. But it’s by a committee, right now.”
Walton will need to continue to get creative with his lineups until Barnes, Len and Holmes return. They’re still getting instructions from the strength and conditioning team, according to Walton, but they will undoubtedly be behind-the-curve when it comes to being in game shape.
Still, Walton understands the challenges ahead, and is trying to keep everything in perspective.
“Well, it’s kind of the message we’ve been hitting since even before coming out here. Every week, we’re going to go through a lot,” Walton said. “Players are going to be joining us, players are going to unfortunately be leaving us, and there’s just going to be so many unknowns that we have to be ready to react and adjust to everything, and this is just another example of that.”
The silver lining for the Kings is that Marvin Bagley III is healthy and back with the team after missing all but 13 games before the NBA season went on hiatus on March 11. Sacramento has depth up front, with Harry Giles also getting the chance to increase his role minus Len and Barnes.
“Take the positive: Marvin’s getting a ton of reps right now. The only bigs we have out right now are Marvin and Harry so they’re both getting a lot of reps and they’re both playing great,” Walton said. “They look good, they’re moving well, and they’re getting 100% of the reps right now. So, that’s that’s what we have and that’s what we’re going with and we’re very, very pleased with the output we’re getting from both of those guys right now.”
The Kings will take the floor for the first time since March on July 22, when they’ll take on the Miami Heat for a scrimmage game.