Kings' Harrison Barnes clears COVID-19 protocol, heading to NBA bubble

ByDave McMenamin via ESPN logo
Friday, July 24, 2020

The Sacramento Kings, seemingly snake-bitten since the NBA restart was set in motion last month, saw the clouds begin to part a bit Friday.

Forward Harrison Barnes cleared the league's COVID-19 protocol and boarded a flight for Orlando on Friday morning, coach Luke Walton said. And young starDe'Aaron Foxtold reporters that he has recovered from a sprained left ankle.

"I was able to get up and down with the guys today, and I felt great," said Fox, who suffered the injury July 15 and could be available for the Kings' scrimmage against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday if he doesn't experience any discomfort after Friday's practice.

Barnes tested positive for the coronavirus in early July, shortly before the Kings flew to Orlando as a team. His recovery took nearly three weeks before he was able to register two consecutive negative tests.

"We're happy to be getting him in here, and then he'll have to start his two-day quarantine once he gets here and pass that protocol before he can join us on the court," Walton said in a video conference Friday. "But a big step for us as far as getting him out here."

Sacramento has also had Buddy Hield, Jabari Parker and Alex Len rejoin the team in Orlando after recovering from COVID-19.

Hield led the Kings with 19 points in their first scrimmage, against the Miami Heat on Wednesday. Parker had nine points and three rebounds. Len, who arrived to the bubble after Hield and Parker, did not play as the team is managing his workload as he gets into game shape.

Earlier in the week, the Kings determined Marvin Bagley III would miss the remainder of the season because of a lateral right foot sprain that he suffered during practice in Orlando.

Starting center Richaun Holmes also finished a mandatory 10-day quarantine for inadvertently violating the perimeter of the NBA's campus at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex last week.

The Kings (28-36) trail the Memphis Grizzlies by 3 1/2 games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with eight seeding games remaining. If they are in ninth place when the seeding games finish, and within four games in the standings of whichever team is No. 8 at that point, they would force a play-in scenario in which they would need to beat the eighth-place team two games in a row to earn a postseason berth.

Barnes, who is growing a scraggly beard, has vowed not to shave it until one of three things happens: Sacramento reaches .500 or makes the playoffs, or the season ends.

Walton had grown a bit of a beard himself to show solidarity with Barnes while he recovered from COVID-19, but the coach was clean-shaven after Friday's practice.

"I got news that Harrison was coming," Walton said. "I told Harrison last night when we talked, that now that he's on a flight out, the beard is coming off. He tried to convince me that now that means that it's a good-luck beard. But, no, the beard is done."