Luc Mbah a Moute aims to play in Sacramento Kings’ final two preseason games
Luc Mbah a Moute made his return to the court Monday, participating in his first full practice since the Sacramento Kings held training camp in Santa Barbara. Soreness in his surgically repaired right knee has limited Mbah a Moute’s playing time in the preseason.
Mbah a Moute believes that the frequency of practices earlier this month combined with a limited time for rest triggered the soreness in his knee. With practices set to be scheduled more staggered throughout the regular season, he doesn’t expect the problem to persist.
“It’s just with training camp and all the practices combined and everything, I think my knee just kind of got sore,” the 27-year-old veteran said. “So I just needed to calm it down for a little bit, but now I’m good, feeling better.”
Mbah a Moute has been limited in physical activity most of the preseason. He’s only been able to participate in bits and pieces of practice since the team returned from its one-week stay in Southern California. He did, however, appear in the Kings’ first exhibition game two weeks ago against the Golden State Warriors, but he’s sat out the previous four contests.
Mbah a Moute expects to be ready for Wednesday’s preseason game at home against Golden State. Head coach Michael Malone is also hopeful that team medical staff will clear the combo forward for action.
“Obviously I’ll confer with (athletic trainer) Pete Youngman, our medical staff to see where he’s at, what percentage he’s at and if they think he can get out there and give him some minutes,” Malone said yesterday. “Just even getting him out there for a few minutes would be good for him, good for the team. So I’ll speak to our medical guys and see where he’s at and if he has a green light to play in the game.”
The limitations on his body has cost Mbah a Moute valuable time to learn Malone’s system. He is in his first season with the Kings after being acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks in July. Unlike most of this roster, Mbah a Moute doesn’t have the luxury of familiarity on his side. So not only does the former UCLA forward have to learn a new system, but he also has to build chemistry with new teammates.
But Mbah a Moute and Malone don’t seem to be too worried about that. Malone thinks Mbah a Moute won’t have trouble picking up concepts as the veteran forward returns to full strength.
“He’s been kind of following and monitoring what we’ve been doing, what we’ve added,” Malone said. “He has a fairly high basketball IQ, so he’ll pick things up quickly.”
Over the last two years, Mbah a Moute has struggled to stay healthy because his right knee. He’s missed 57 games in the past two seasons and had surgery on the knee in 2012.
However, the recent flare up hasn’t deterred Mbah a Moute’s confidence. The 27-year-old forward claims he’s not worried about his knee slowing him down this year.
“When you have that kind of injury, sometimes you just need to take some time off, let it calm down and get back at it,” Mbah a Moute said. “So I’ve been doing that, getting stronger, continue to get stronger and think I’ll be fine. I played on it all summer, so it’s fine. I think (it was) just a matter of getting stuff started again at training camp, a little too much, too fast.”
Malone on tightening rotation and roster moves as preseason nears end
As the exhibition season comes to a close on Friday, the Kings head coach expects to tighten up his rotation. After practice Monday, he told reporters his rotation for the last two preseason games may be similar to the one he hopes to use opening night. That means certain players will see their minutes cut in favor of others as the Kings prepare for their regular season opener against the Denver Nuggets.
DeMarcus Cousins will likely see a heavier workload in these final two preseason games. Malone rested the Kings starting center in Sunday’s loss to the Blazers in Portland.
The Kings also have decisions to make regarding their last roster spot. They are currently carrying 16 players, but will only be able to carry 15 come Oct. 30. Malone doesn’t expect any moves to be made before the Kings wrap up their preseason schedule on Friday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
“That’s something that Pete D’Alessandro and I will talk about,” Malone said. “We have 16 guaranteed contract guys now. We’ll have to get that number down by one for opening night, but that’s something that we’ll discuss after our last preseason game in L.A.”