Kevin Huerter

Pacific Notes: Fox, Huerter, Warren, Poole, Warriors

Kings guard De’Aaron Fox exited Friday’s win over Phoenix in the third quarter and didn’t return, even though he wanted to keep playing, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. It’s unclear whether Fox, who was dealing with right hamstring soreness, will be forced to miss any additional contests, including Saturday’s against Utah.

“Until I get a quote-unquote official report, there’s always concern in situations like that,” head coach Mike Brown said after the game. “But we’ll wait and see what they say and then kind of go from there.”

While they lost Fox halfway through the game, the Kings got a boost on Friday when Kevin Huerter made his return following a three-game absence due to a leg injury. Huerter didn’t miss a beat upon rejoining the starting lineup, racking up 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting and chipping in nine rebounds and five assists in one of his best performances of the season.

“It’s great to get Kevin back on the floor,” Brown said. “His ability to create separation without the basketball is really — it’s up there with the elite guys in the league. I’ve been around some pretty good ones. He’s up there with that. Any time you have a player who is capable of that, who shoots it the way he does and draws as much attention as he does, it’s huge.”

Whether or not Fox is available on Saturday night, it has a chance to be a memorable evening in Sacramento. According to the NBA (Twitter link), the Kings would officially clinch their first playoff berth since 2006 if they win and both Phoenix and the Clippers lose.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Suns forward T.J. Warren said this week that he’s “slowly but surely” finding his footing in his second go-round with Phoenix, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Warren, who was something of an afterthought in the Kevin Durant blockbuster, didn’t play more than 13 minutes in any of his first 15 games as a Sun and was a frequent DNP-CD, but has scored 21 points in 48 minutes across his last two outings. “It’s tough coming to a team that’s pretty established and trying to find a good rhythm along the way, but it’s been solid,” Warren said. “Just looking to bring some value on both ends of the floor.”
  • Jordan Poole‘s production for the Warriors this season has been up and down, but Friday’s performance was a reminder of how he played in the 2022 postseason and what the team hopes to get from him this spring, per Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. The 23-year-old had 33 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter. More importantly, he has turned it over just once in the last two games. “Just better decision making and more mindful play,” Kerr said of Poole’s play. “Understanding that the ball is everything for us.” Poole’s four-year, $123MM rookie scale extension will go into effect in 2023/24.
  • While the defending champion Warriors aren’t concerned about their exact playoff seed, they’re certainly making it a priority to end up in the top six in the West so they don’t have to worry about competing in the play-in tournament, where one bad night could end their season, according to Kendra Andrews of ESPN. “That is dangerous,” Draymond Green said. “We’d much rather avoid that.” Golden State currently holds the No. 6 seed, with a 1.5-game lead on the top two play-in teams.

Injury Notes: Beal, Haliburton, Simmons, Huerter, Hornets

Wizards guard Bradley Beal underwent testing on his sore left knee and it revealed a “mild” knee sprain, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. told reporters, including Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Beal and Kyle Kuzma (right ankle sprain) were already ruled out of Friday’s game vs. San Antonio, and both players are considered day-to-day, according to Unseld. Friday will mark Beal’s second straight missed game and Kuzma’s third.

The Spurs — who hold the third-worst record in the NBA — might look like an easy target, but the Wizards certainly shouldn’t treat them as such. Washington has gone just 2-9 over its last 11 games — including four straight losses —  to drop to 32-41, the No. 12 seed in the East. The Wizards trail the Bulls by 2.5 games for the final spot in the play-in tournament with nine games left, so they need every win they can get.

Here are some more injury-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Pacers All-Star Tyrese Haliburton will return to action on Friday against Boston, but second-year wing Chris Duarte will miss his fifth straight game with an ankle sprain, tweets Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. As Dopriak writes in a full story, Haliburton was a full participant in Friday’s shootaround. The third-year guard had missed the previous six games with knee and ankle injuries.
  • After being reevaluated today, Ben Simmons was diagnosed with a nerve impingement in his back, according to the Nets (Twitter link via Michael Scotto of HoopsHype). He will remain out as Brooklyn determines the best treatment for the injury long term. Based on the wording of the statement, it sounds highly unlikely that Simmons will play again in 2022/23. The 26-year-old has been out of action since February 15 due to a combination of knee and back injuries.
  • Kings shooting guard Kevin Huerter was able to practice on Thursday and is questionable for Friday’s game against Phoenix, per Sean Cunningham of Fox 40 KTXL (Twitter link). The sharpshooter has missed the past three games with a mild strain of the popliteus muscle, which is behind the knee.
  • After leaving Thursday’s loss to New Orleans with injuries, Kelly Oubre (right shoulder strain) and Terry Rozier (right foot soreness) are listed as questionable and doubtful, respectively, for Friday’s game in Dallas, the Hornets announced (via Twitter). On a positive note, rookie center Mark Williams, who has missed six straight games with a right thumb sprain, is listed as probable — there’s a good chance he’ll return to action tonight.

Pacific Notes: Reaves, M. Williams, Lue, Kings

He’s unlikely to get any votes, but Austin Reaves still appreciated the “MVP” chants from Lakers fans Sunday night, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Reaves came off the bench to deliver 35 points in a narrow win over Orlando that lifted L.A. into a tie for ninth place in the tight Western Conference playoff race.

“For them to recognize what I do — obviously not an MVP-caliber player, those guys are really good — but for them to do that for me is special, it means a lot to me,” he said.

It was a career-high scoring night for Reaves, but it wasn’t out of character. Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times points out that Reaves has become a dependable part of the offense since LeBron James was sidelined by a foot injury three weeks ago. He has failed to reach 13 points just once since James got hurt, and he has helped the Lakers post a 6-5 record without their star.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns coach Monty Williams indicated that rotation changes may be coming after Sunday’s loss at Oklahoma City, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Williams was frustrated after watching a double-digit lead slip away in the fourth quarter. “This one’s on me,” he said. “I’ve got to get guys in the game that can create a rhythm, especially on defense. We’re giving up way too many 30-point quarters, consecutively. That’s on me. I have to figure out the guys who can play together defensively as opposed to the starters to increase the momentum from an offensive and defensive standpoint.”
  • Associate head coach Dan Craig picked up his first win guiding the Clippers Sunday night, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Craig was filling in for head coach Tyronn Lue, who was able to coach the team on Saturday, but didn’t make the flight to Portland because of a non-COVID illness. Craig said Lue is expected “back soon.”
  • The Kings didn’t have shooting guard Kevin Huerter and forward Trey Lyles in Saturday’s win over Washington, and both are listed as questionable for tonight’s contest at Utah, notes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Huerter has a strain in his right knee area, while Lyles is experiencing soreness in his right shoulder.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Huerter, Kawhi, Powell, Durant

The Kings clinched a winning record on Thursday for the first time in 16 seasons, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes. While it’s certainly an accomplishment given all the losing the franchise has endured since 2005/06, the team has its sights set on loftier goals.

“I don’t think anybody on our team was coming into the season like, ‘We want a winning record,'” point guard De’Aaron Fox said. “But I think it’s good. I think it’s good for the franchise, it’s good for the city, it’s good for the fan base to finally get that out of the way.

“But, for us, we know that we still want to do bigger things.”

Sacramento has gone 10-2 since the All-Star break, holding the NBA’s best record during that span. At 42-27, the Kings are currently the No. 2 seed in the West and have the league’s top offense. With so many teams in their conference looking relatively weak, and the Kings on the verge of snapping another record-long streak (playoff drought), could a deep postseason run be on the horizon?

I do feel that that group believes in themselves,” head coach Mike Brown said, per Bontemps. “Not just because I’m telling them they’re good, but because they’ve gone out and proven it time after time after time, whether it’s individually in certain situations, or collectively as a team. When you have a team that believes, they can be dangerous. When you’ve got a collected team that believes, that can be a very dangerous team. That’s what our group is right now.”

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • Kings shooting guard Kevin Huerter is questionable for Saturday’s game in Washington, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. It was initially believed that Huerter sustained a mild hamstring injury on Thursday, but the team actually referred to it as mild strain of the popliteus muscle. As Anderson writes, the popliteus is located behind the knee and helps protect the lateral meniscus as well as providing stability to the joint. Huerter is considered day-to-day with the injury.
  • Kawhi Leonard has been ruled out of Saturday’s game against Orlando due to right knee injury management, tweets Mark Medina of It’s the first of a back-to-back, and the Clippers‘ star forward has yet to play in back-to-back games this season. There’s a good chance he’ll suit up on Sunday in Portland.
  • Clippers guard Norman Powell continues to be sidelined with a left shoulder subluxation. He was unable to practice on Friday and will miss his sixth straight game on Saturday, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “He’s going to be out for a little bit longer,” head coach Tyronn Lue said. “… He’s out.”
  • Suns star Kevin Durant was able to get some shots up during Thursday’s shootaround, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. However, the 34-year-old forward will still be out at least two more weeks, which is when he’ll be reevaluated. “It’s just part of his progression,” head coach Monty Williams said. “He hasn’t done anything outside of that. We obviously have to not just be careful, but a lot of boxes need to be checked.”

Kings’ Huerter Has Hamstring Injury, MRI Clean

MARCH 17: The MRI on Huerter’s hamstring injury came back clean, confirming the team’s belief that the injury isn’t significant, reports Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Agent Mark Bartelstein tells Woj that Huerter will be considered day-to-day going forward.

MARCH 16: Kings shooting guard Kevin Huerter sustained a right hamstring injury during Sacramento’s bout against the Nets on Thursday night, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). He has been ruled out for the rest of the game, James Ham of ESPN 1320 Sacramento reports (via Twitter).

The Kings will conduct further imaging on the hamstring on Friday to determine the exact nature and severity of the ailment, Woj adds.

Sean Cunningham of Fox 40 KTXL tweets that Sacramento believes Huerter may have suffered a mild hamstring strain. A source informs Cunningham that Huerter is feeling hopeful about the injury and there’s a sense of optimism within the organization that it’s not a serious issue.

During his first season with the Kings, Huerter has emerged as a crucial role player for the 41-27 club, currently the West’s No. 2 seed. Across 65 starts for Sacramento, the 6’7″ swingman is averaging a career-high 15.2 PPG on .489/.410/.712 shooting splits. He’s also contributing 3.2 RPG, 3.0 APG and 1.1 SPG.

Huerter was initially drafted by the Hawks in 2018 with the No. 19 pick out of Maryland, and proved to be a key part of the team’s run to the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals. After Atlanta brought in Dejounte Murray this summer, Huerter was moved for a future first-round pick in a cost-cutting move. He has thrived with his new club thus far.

Pacific Notes: Durant Vs. Irving, Clippers, Huerter, Russell

Kevin Durant is downplaying Sunday’s matchup against Kyrie Irving, calling it “just another game,” writes Jamal Collier of ESPN. The former teammates shocked the league when they signed with the Nets as free agents in 2019. They went through nearly four tumultuous seasons before both requesting trades last month, with Durant going to the Suns and Irving being sent to the Mavericks.

“I understand the entertainment aspect and a lot of people on the outside got the game circled on their calendar, but for both teams, just regularly scheduled programming,” Durant said. “Getting back to work and seeing how you can get better as a unit.”

Sunday’s game will be just the third for Durant with Phoenix, which has posted two comfortable wins since he returned from an MCL sprain. Irving is a little more established in Dallas, and he’s excited about facing Durant for the first time since their partnership dissolved.

“I’m looking forward to it — playing against the Suns, playing against the new-look Suns with KD,” Irving said. “I think it’ll be an exciting time just for us to compete again with each other. He’s my brother for life, but when we’re stepping out there, I’m looking forward to the competition, friendly competition.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers coach Tyronn Lue is trying to stave off any panic after watching his team fall to .500 with five straight losses, writes Janis Carr of The Orange County Register. L.A. is suddenly in the midst of a tight race just to make the playoffs, but Lue believes the team is close to putting things together. “The losses hurt, but we have played some good basketball in stretches and we’ve played against some good teams as well,” Lue said. “So (my job) is to challenge us to see where we are at after acquiring our new pieces through trades (who came in) not knowing what we want to do offensively and defensively. I thought our new guys have done a good job. (I need to) just try to get those guys up to speed and keep doing the good things we have been doing.”
  • Kevin Huerter wasn’t around for any of the Kings‘ darkest days, but he’s thrilled to be part of the group that’s about to break a 16-year playoff drought, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Acquired from the Hawks last summer, Huerter is impressed by the passion he’s witnessed from Kings fans. “I haven’t seen the lows that this city has gone through, so for me it’s great,” he said. “There’s so much excitement around the city. It feels like everybody here is following us. You can’t go in public without everybody saying they’re seeing the Kings.”
  • D’Angelo Russell was hoping to return from a sprained right ankle on Sunday, but the Lakers have already ruled him out, tweets Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Russell, who has played in just four games since being acquired at the trade deadline, was able to scrimmage this week.

Jayson Tatum, Damian Lillard Headline 3-Point Contest Field

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, and Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton will participate in this weekend’s 3-point contest in addition to the All-Star Game, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The eight-man field will be filled out by four non-All-Stars, according to Charania: Lillard’s Blazers teammate Anfernee Simons, Haliburton’s Pacers teammate Buddy Hield, Heat guard Tyler Herro, and Kings wing Kevin Huerter.

Some of those names had been previously reported, but Charania is the first to reveal all eight participants.

The eight-man field includes just one player who has previously won the event. Hield was the 3-point champion back in 2020 when he was still a member of the Kings. He also has the highest 3PT% of any of this season’s participants at 42.3% — that ranks 11th in the NBA among qualified players in 2022/23, so none of the league’s top 10 shooters are participating.

Last year’s winner, Karl-Anthony Towns, remains sidelined for the Timberwolves due to a calf strain, so he won’t get the chance to defend his title.

Markkanen will be the hometown favorite, with the event scheduled to take place this coming Saturday in Salt Lake City.

Pacific Notes: Johnson, Leonard, Huerter, Green

New starting Suns power forward Cameron Johnson is undergoing a positive on-court evolution in accordance with his new gig, reports Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports.

“Getting more used to that on a night-in, night-out basis, and also finishing the game, man, that’s something that I love doing,” Johnson said of his adjustment to the new responsibilities of the role. “Being in there and being part of that critical thinking on top of high-level basketball portion of the game, it’s a lot of fun.”

Through seven contests for the West’s top-seeded 6-1 Suns, the 6’8″ Phoenix forward is averaging a career-best 14.9 PPG on .457/.440/.727 shooting splits, along with 3.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, and 1.3 SPG.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers star forward Kawhi Leonard only lasted two regular season games before knee issues flared up. L.A. head coach Tyronn Lue has provided a minor update on the state of the five-time All-Star’s health, noting that Leonard is “doing better and moving in a positive direction,” per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link). Youngmisuk adds that Leonard will sit out the team’s upcoming two Texas road games. In his two healthy games for the Clippers, Leonard has played limited minutes as a reserve, averaging just 21 MPG.
  • New Kings shooting guard Kevin Huerter has thus far managed to thrive with Sacramento following an offseason trade from Atlanta, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “My role has the potential to expand a little bit more here,” Huerter said. “Just the way we’re built, the personnel, a lot of that has to do with (Sacramento center Domantas Sabonis), playing through a five man.” The 6’7″ swingman is averaging 18.9 PPG, with a slash line of .506/.518/.789. He is also chipping in 3.9 APG, 2.9 RPG, and 0.6 SPG.
  • While wondering whether Warriors star power forward Draymond Green would be as special in another team’s system as he has been in an 11-season partnership with Golden State that has yielded four NBA titles, Zach Lowe of ESPN reports that the team has yet to discuss any potential deals for the 32-year-old big man, and at present does not intend to explore trades that would send him out of town. Green, who has a $27.6MM player option for the 2023/24 season, punched teammate Jordan Poole in the face during a practice altercation, and had to spend a portion of the club’s preseason away from the other Warriors. The team opted to extend the contracts of Poole and starting small forward Andrew Wiggins ahead of the 2022/23 season, but did not do so with Green.

Pacific Notes: C. Johnson, Payne, Kings, Schröder, Wall

The Suns will be without a pair of rotation players for the rest of the preseason, the team announced today (Twitter link via Kellan Olson of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM). Cameron Johnson is out with a right thumb sprain, while Cameron Payne is dealing with a right finger sprain. Both Johnson and Payne will be reevaluated in a week, per the Suns, so it’s unclear at this point whether they’ll be ready to for the start of the regular season.

Here are a few more notes from around the Pacific:

  • Kevin Huerter is expected to be the Kings‘ starting shooting guard when the regular season tips off, but the starting power forward job remains up for grabs, head coach Mike Brown told reporters today (Twitter link via Sean Cunningham of FOX40 Sacramento). KZ Okpala and No. 4 overall pick Keegan Murray appear to be the top contenders for that spot.
  • According to Cunningham, the Kings aren’t expected to make any cuts until after their second preseason game on Sunday. The team has just 12 players on guaranteed contracts, with five veterans and rookie Chima Moneke in camp on non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed deals, vying for back-end roster spots.
  • Dennis Schröder‘s arrival stateside has been delayed due to a visa issue, but he’s scheduled to fly from Germany to Los Angeles this weekend to report to the Lakers, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Head coach Darvin Ham previously stated that he doesn’t expect it to take long for Schröder to find his rhythm once he joins the team.
  • John Wall is embracing the opportunity to play a secondary role alongside Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George this season after years of being a go-to option in Washington, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. “Like I told (George) and Kawhi when I came here, my job is to make the game easier for them so when the fourth quarter comes around they’re not having to waste all that energy to make all the plays,” Wall said.

Kings Notes: Starting Lineup, Barnes, Sabonis

While De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and Harrison Barnes are locked in as starters, two spots in the Kings‘ starting lineup remain up for grabs, head coach Mike Brown said this weekend.

“Obviously, Fox is going to start for us. Domas is going to start for us. HB is going to start for us,” Brown said, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “But we’re kind of up in the air a little bit with the two and the four spot, and there are some guys that we feel have a real good chance to start for us in those spots, but we’re going to keep mixing those two spots around to see what we can get.”

Kevin Huerter started as shooting guard during the Kings’ presseason opener vs. the Lakers on Monday, while KZ Okpala got the nod at power forward. However, neither player had a big night, while Malik Monk and Keegan Murray – two other contenders for those starting spots – combined for 24 points, 12 rebounds, and three steals.

Brown won’t make any decisions based on one night, but with the start of the regular season just two weeks away, every preseason game will be an important one as the Kings consider their options.

Here are a few more notes out of Sacramento:

  • Barnes, who is entering the final season of a four-year deal, isn’t oblivious to the fact that his name has popped up frequently in trade rumors over the last year or two, but he’s preparing to spend his full contract year in Sacramento, Anderson writes for The Sacramento Bee. “You know how the NBA is,” Barnes said. “I check Woj. I check Shams. They’ve still got me here, so as far as I’m concerned, this is where I’m supposed to be and I’m going to give it my best effort.”
  • Speaking to Mark Medina of, Sabonis discussed the Kings’ playoff chances, his chemistry with Fox, and how having the defensive-minded Brown on the sidelines will impact the team. “He’s a defensive coach, and he’s definitely trying to make life easy for us in terms of the terminology,” Sabonis said of Brown. “The defensive stuff we’re doing is going to help us out. It’ll depend on us. He’s giving us all the answers and the system of how we want to play as a team. Defense is about effort and competing. If we compete every game, it’s going to be tough.”
  • Making the play-in tournament is a “completely reasonable goal” for the Kings, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who previews Sacramento’s season and projects the team to finish 10th in the Western Conference with a 37-45 record.