Sacramento was hit with a gut punch when MRI results on point guard De'Aaron Fox revealed a Grade 3 ankle sprain that will keep the talented 21-year-old off the court for the foreseeable future. Fox will be re-evaluated in 3-4 weeks, but that time frame isn't realistic for a return.
Before the Kings ventured to Los Angeles to face the Lakers on Friday evening, Fox hobbled out on crutches to speak to the media.
"After I got the MRI and the X-ray, before I got the results, I knew I was going to be out for a while," Fox said media members. "It wasn't like any ankle sprain I had before."
The injury happened at the end of practice Monday. Head coach Luke Walton had the team going through a halfcourt drill and Fox rolled the ankle and limped off the court early.
Initially, Walton and the rest of the team didn't think much of the injury, until they checked back in with Fox in the training room a little while later. Despite leaving the court on his own, the Kings starting point guard knew something wasn't right instantly.
"When it happened, I tried to walk and couldn't walk and I was like, something's wrong," Fox told media members in Sacramento on Thursday. "I heard it pop. It happened so quickly that no one saw it until we watched the film and we saw what happened. Things like this happen."
This is the first major injury for Fox in his career. He started 81 out of 82 games last season for Sacramento and the one game he missed was a decision made by the team after he had logged substantial minutes over a tough stretch in the schedule.
Fox went home Monday and braced for the news, knowing that it wasn't likely going to be good.
"I kind of expected it, but at the same time, my heart dropped," Fox said. "I'd never missed time like this. This will be more time than I've missed in my first two seasons combined."
There is no timetable for Fox's return, although he is not expected to need surgery. A Grade 3 sprain is the most severe of the sprains and includes a full tear of the ligament. Recovery time can take 6-12 weeks and it's unlikely Fox will see the court again before the new calendar year hits.
"I'm not going to get back out there until I know I can play and I know I'm 100 percent and I'm able to help the team," Fox said.
"I'll be re-evaluated in three weeks, it could take six weeks, some players have been out for months, so you never know with a sprained ankle," Fox added. "I'm just taking it day-by-day and taking my time with it."
Walton is now tasked with filling the void left by Fox, who is averaging 18.2 points, seven assists and four rebounds in 32 minutes per game this season.
Cory Joseph started in the Kings' win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday and likely will continue to get the call with the starting unit. Bogdan Bogdanovic, who led the Kings with 25 points and 10 assists against Portland, likely will play plenty of point guard as well in the coming weeks as the team attempts to survive in Fox's absence.