Harrison Barnes’ Kings career began on a short turnaround. He fittingly will have another one in Orlando ahead of the restarted NBA season.
Sacramento acquired Barnes in a trade from the Dallas Mavericks on Feb. 7, 2019. Then-coach Dave Joerger started Barnes at small forward the following day, playing him 37 minutes in a 102-96 win over the Miami Heat.
Now playing under Luke Walton, Barnes practiced Sunday for the first time since arriving in Orlando on Friday. There’s a good chance Barnes will suit up in the Kings’ scrimmage a day later against the Los Angeles Clippers.
“Today was a non-contact day for us with tomorrow’s game being at [4 p.m. ET], but we have him playing some 3-on-3, 4-on-4 right now since practice has officially kind of ended,” coach Luke Walton said Sunday. “He looks good. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow and if he feels well, we’ll try to get him out there a little bit in that Clipper game.”
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Barnes waited in Sacramento for 20 days trying to clear the NBA’s coronavirus protocol. Once in the bubble, he needed to twice test negative for the coronavirus before joining the Kings on the practice court.
The 28-year-old is averaging a team-high 34.9 minutes per game this season, and Barnes is yet to miss a game since joining Sacramento. The Kings aren’t getting an All-Star back in their lineup, but they are getting an extremely productive, stabilizing force in the rotation.
Barnes is the fourth King to make their way through the coronavirus protocol, and each has been a little different. Buddy Hield was back on the court and ready to roll within days, while Jabari Parker needed an extra week to get into game shape. Alex Len, on the other hand, still is trying to get full clearance to practice after testing positive well over a month ago.
Hield quickly fought through some mild symptoms, while Parker never had any symptoms. Len’s the one player who was hit hard and Barnes, according to Walton, is one of the lucky ones.
“He never got any symptoms, so I think he’s probably doing as well as he can when you’re in quarantine for a long time,” Walton said. “He looks good. He passes the eye test and he was moving around, feels confident and he wants to play. So that’s all good news.”
Monday’s scrimmage with the Clippers is the Kings’ last. Following the matchup on Monday, Sacramento will have three days to prepare for the opener of the restarted NBA season against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.
Walton said he would love to treat Monday’s game as a dress rehearsal for the season, but he doesn’t have that luxury with so many players missing time.
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On a positive note, De’Aaron Fox had no ill effects after playing in Saturday’s scrimmage and Walton also expects Richaun Holmes to make his scrimmage debut Monday after clearing protocols and working his way back into shape during practice last week.
The Kings are getting healthy at the right time, although not having the entire squad together throughout camp could cause some chemistry issues. Getting Barnes, Holmes and Fox back on the court together Monday is crucial.
With just eight games to play, the margin for error is almost nonexistent. The Kings need to hit the ground running and find their stride quickly if they hope to end their 13-season playoff drought.
Kings’ Harrison Barnes back at practice, could play in final scrimmage originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area