Kings forward Marvin Bagley III still not cleared to return from broken thumb

Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III (35) reacts after a basket against the Chicago Bulls on March 17, 2019, at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif. (Paul Kitagaki Jr./Sacramento Bee/TNS)
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By Jason Anderson The Sacramento Bee (TNS)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox and forward Marvin Bagley III were both on the floor doing light work following practice Friday, but neither is ready to return to the lineup.

There was hope Bagley would be back when the Kings (7-10) play the Denver Nuggets (13-3) on Saturday at Golden 1 Center, but he still hasn’t been cleared for contact, coach Luke Walton said.

Bagley has missed more than five weeks since breaking his thumb in the season opener against the Phoenix Suns. Fox has been out since severely spraining his ankle nearly three weeks ago.

Walton said Bagley has been ruled out for Saturday’s game against the Nuggets and Monday’s game against the Chicago Bulls.

“Marvin is much closer than De’Aaron is, but it’s one of those things that he hasn’t been cleared to go contact yet without (a brace) on,” Walton said. “So will he play tomorrow or Monday? No, but is he getting closer? Yes.”

Bagley has missed 16 games since suffering a nondisplaced fracture of his right thumb in the team’s season opener against the Phoenix Suns on Oct. 23. The Kings initially said Bagley would be out four to six weeks.

Bagley underwent X-rays as part of an examination last week before the Kings set out on a four-game trip. The team’s medical staff determined he wasn’t ready to return.

The Kings announced Bagley would be reevaluated when the team returned to Sacramento following Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Walton said Bagley was reexamined Friday.

Walton will have to decide how to use Bagley upon his return and which of the team’s other big men he should be paired with if he steps back into the starting lineup.

Since Bagley was injured, Richaun Holmes has replaced Dewayne Dedmon as the starting center. Nemanja Bjelica has played well in place of Bagley at power forward, but Bjelica struggled over the past four games, making 11 of 37 (.297) shots from the field and 2 of 18 (.111) from 3-point range.

Bagley averaged 14.9 points and 7.6 rebounds in a backup role as a rookie last season. He had 14 points and 10 rebounds in the season opener before he was injured by Suns center Deandre Ayton in the final minutes of a 124-95 loss.

Fox suffered a grade-3 ankle sprain at practice Nov. 11. The team said he would be reevaluated in three to four weeks. He was seen moving lightly on his feet following Friday’s practice, shooting mid-range and 3-point shots with mixed results.

Bagley was shooting 3-pointers and throwing down dunks, but he was still wearing a brace on his thumb.

Walton said forward Trevor Ariza has rejoined the team after missing the recent road tripe for personal reasons. Ariza will not play Saturday, but he should be ready to return against the Bulls on Monday.

In another roster move Friday, the Kings announced they assigned forwards Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan to their G League affiliate in Stockton.

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