Sacramento Kings’ small forward Harrison Barnes has cleared protocol and is on his way to Orlando.
The Sacramento Kings haven’t exactly been the recipients of much good luck over the past few weeks. But on Friday, they finally got some semblance of good news regarding starting small forward Harrison Barnes.
Speaking with the Sacramento Bee, head coach Luke Walton said that Barnes cleared coronavirus protocol in California on Thursday night and boarded a flight to Orlando on Friday morning.
The 28-year-old will still have to quarantine upon his arrival in Orlando, but this is nonetheless a promising development with the NBA’s restart just a week away.
Barnes originally tested positive for COVID-19 over July 4th weekend forcing the Kings’ facility to be shut down. The likes of Jabari Parker, Alex Len, and Buddy Hield have all also tested positive in the past couple of months.
Meanwhile, Richaun Holmes was forced into quarantine after he broke NBA protocol and accidentally left the bubble. Holmes is finally out of quarantine, but is still working to get ready for the team’s first game back next Friday, July 31st.
The Kings have also had to deal with injuries to the likes of De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley — the latter of which will miss the remainder of the season after injuring his foot in practice earlier in the week.
Fox, on the other hand, was able to fully participate in practice on Friday and should be good to go for next week.
Harrison Barnes’ return will provide a huge boost to the Sacramento Kings.
Walton stated that it’s unclear how long Barnes will remain out and it’s unknown if he’ll be able to play next week. However, the first-year coach sounded optimistic when discussing Barnes’ status.
“We’re going to evaluate him when he gets here. We’re going to be smart about it, but Harrison was probably the guy working the hardest building up to when he tested positive. So we’ll see where he’s at and do some physical testing, but if he’s ready to play that first game, he’ll play … As long as his baseline is at a certain level, I think he’ll have enough time to be ready for that first game, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
Barnes is one of the most important players on the team and the Kings would certainly benefit in a huge way from his return.
The veteran forward is averaging 14.7 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 38.3 percent from three-point range. On top of that, his defensive versatility to guard either the three or the four makes him incredibly valuable.
Barnes is an integral piece of the starting lineup and his ability to play power forward allows the Kings to play more small-ball. And with Bagley out, that becomes even more important.
The Kings’ fortune might finally be turning around. But of course, it’s always best to hold our collective breath when it comes to this team.