Kings’ Luke Walton expresses concern for Zion Williamson, hopes he’s OK

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The Sacramento Kings are living a bit of a nightmare in the Orlando bubble. Four positive coronavirus tests put them behind early. Losing Richaun Holmes for 10 days didn’t help and now De’Aaron Fox is down with an ankle injury. 

Welcome to the NBA restart.

Sacramento isn’t the only team struggling to piece together a rotation. The Kings came out of practice Thursday morning to the news that New Orleans Pelicans big man Zion Williamson departed the bubble to tend to a family emergency. 

“First, I just hope that everything is okay with whatever family stuff he has going on, obviously that’s more important than basketball,” coach Luke Walton said when asked about Williamson’s sudden departure.

This is the new normal, unfortunately. The bubble is in place to keep the players safe from the coronavirus pandemic that is consuming the world, but that means their loved ones are on the outside in a very unsettling time.

We are still in the first week or two of this experiment. It is only going to get more difficult as injuries pile up and the players move past the newness of the bubble concept and begin to get homesick and stir crazy.

“For us, the message has been the same,” Walton said. “Every team is going to have to deal with a lot of chaos. The NBA has done an amazing job of putting this thing together, but just with what’s going on with the world we’re living in now and with the spread of the corona being everywhere and with players coming back, like what we’ve experienced certain guys getting hurt, people having to leave for whatever reason … “

“It’s going to be a huge factor,” Walton added. “What team that can kind of accept the chaos and have guys ready to step up and make plays.”

How the players deal with the uncertainty of everything around them is now part of the factors that go into determining who will advance. None of this should be normalized, but it is the reality of the world we now live in. 

The Kings are in a chase with Williamson and the Pelicans for the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs. While they are dealing with their own issues, there is no doubt that they have Williamson and his family in their thoughts and prayers. Life is much bigger than basketball.

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