Haliburton’s Season Ends as the Kings Make One Last Push for the Play-In

Before Kings fans could even begin to celebrate Tuesday’s win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Adrian Wojarnowski dropped a report which bore both good and bad news to Sacramento.

The good news: Tyrese Haliburton has no ligament damage to his left knee, won’t require any surgery, and is expected to make a full recovery.

The bad news: the star rookie will sit out the rest of the season.

On Sunday night against the Dallas Mavericks, Tyrese was dribbling the ball down the court during a fast break. On a behind the back move, Haliburton stepped on his defender’s foot around mid-court and lost his balance, causing all but his left leg to lunge forward before hitting the floor. The result of his trip up: a hyperextended left knee.

Before the injury, Haliburton had been playing phenomenally since taking over the starting point guard role after Fox was ordered to sit out due to health and safety protocols. 

In the five games he started in place of Fox, Haliburton lead the Kings to a 3-2 record while averaging:

T. Haliburton33.1.472.3551.

Tyrese’s season ending injury is truly a shame. He was playing some of his best basketball since filling in the starting point guard role while climbing back up the rookie ladder. Now, his Rookie of the Year campaign will most likely end with his season and the Kings add another name to their injury list.

Although Haliburton may not bring home any more hardware following his excellent rookie year, he made his name in the league with exceptional play throughout the season. He won two Rookie of the Month awards as well as being rated as high as number one on the rookie ladder.

Haliburton’s season-ending knee hyperextension adds insult to injury because not only will Tyrese not be able to make his case for the ROY any longer, the Kings will be without one of their best players as they make one last effort for a push for the play-in.

The Kings have now won 4 straight games, sit 2.5 games out of the 10th seed with 6 games remaining. Two more of these contests come against the bottom-dwelling Thunder as well as a matchup against the current 10th seed in the Spurs.

Haliburton’s presence would really have made a difference in the final battle for that last play-in tournament spot. With Fox and Barnes yet to return to the lineup as well, Sacramento is arguably down their three best players.

If the Kings realistically want to win out the rest of their games, relying on Buddy, Holmes, and Bagley alone might not be able to cut it.

But before we count this team out entirely, we should give them some credit. Buddy has helped lead the way in the two and a half games without Haliburton, Fox, or Barnes, while Holmes, Bagley, and the rest of this team have risen to the occasion when their names have been called.

The Kings play San Antonio tonight in a game that could either make or break their season. With Fox and Barnes’ availability still uncertain, this ragtag group of players will need to come out as strong as they did the last four games in hopes of cutting the deficit towards the 10th seed.

There should always be hope for every Kings game and tonight is no exception. And the future gives us every reason to stay positive. This team has a realistic chance of extending their winning streak to five games by the end of the night, and it’ll be immediately followed by two matchups against the 21-46 OKC Thunder, a team the Kings just beat on Tuesday.

On the contrary, the teams the Kings need to surpass to grab the 10th seed don’t have it as easy as Sacramento. The Spurs and the 11th seed in the Pelicans end their season with the 1st and 6th toughest strength of schedules giving Kings fans even more reason to believe that a miracle is in the works for Sacramento.

Kings Remaining ScheduleSpurs Remaining SchedulePelicans Remaining Schedule
5/7 vs Spurs5/7 at Sacramento5/7 at Philadelphia
5/9 vs Thunder5/8 at Portland5/9 at Charlotte
5/11 vs Thunder5/10 vs Bucks5/10 at Memphis
5/13 at Memphis5/12 at Brooklyn5/12 at Dallas
5/14 at Memphis5/13 at New York5/14 at Golden State
5/16 vs Jazz5/15 vs Suns5/16 vs Lakers
5/16 vs Suns

Hope is still alive, even if by a single thread. Hopefully Barnes and Fox can return soon to give the Kings the much needed boost this team will require to end their season winning out their games. But until then, Walton’s squad needs to continue to show their grit and fight for victory tooth and nail.

With steep odds of grabbing the 10th spot in the West, Haliburton’s absence surely makes it even more difficult to pull off a miracle. But beware, this team has been full of surprises this year, and they may have one more trick up their sleeve.

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