The Sacramento Kings medical staff remains one of the hidden gems of the NBA. The on-court struggles and front office shakeups have overshadowed what has been an elite group. Since the 2005-06 season, the Kings have lost the fifth fewest total games lost to injury. Unfortunately Sacramento is the only team in the top-10 that hasn’t made at least one trip the Conference Finals over that same stretch.
Led by Director of Sports Medicine Pete Youngman and head athletic trainer Manny Romero, the Kings endured a bit of a down year during the 2016-17 season thanks to one costly injury. Forward Rudy Gay missed the second half of the year after tearing his Achilles tendon, costing the team 41 games and $6.7 million in salary lost. It was the team’s most expensive isolated injury since Shareef Abdur-Rhaim underwent knee surgery during the 2007-08 season.
The front office displayed their confidence in Youngman and Romero, orchestrating a draft night trade to acquire Harry Giles, despite the fact that the talented rookie has undergone three knee surgeries since 2013. The innovative team appears up to the challenge as they have designed “a measured and sustained progression plan designed to improve physical strength in his surgically repaired knees.”
The 2017-18 season will present another interesting challenge for Youngman and Romero as the roster is comprised of young talent like rookies Giles and De’Aaron Fox as well as proven veterans like Vince Carter and Zach Randolph. Appropriately balancing the varying demands of each subset can be difficult but look for Youngblood, Romero, and the rest of the Sacramento medical team to continue their sustained success.