Doctor estimates when Kings' Huerter could return from shoulder injury

Doctor estimates when Kings' Huerter could return from shoulder injury originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Kings guard Kevin Huerter very well could be back on the court before Sacramento begins its potential 2024 NBA playoff run.

Huerter, who dislocated and sustained a labral tear in his left shoulder during Sacramento's overtime win against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday at Golden 1 Center, has a chance to return during the 2023-24 NBA regular season, Stanford Medicine’s Dr. Michael T. Freehill told NBC Sports California's Tristi Rodriguez on Friday.

After reviewing the play where Huerter was injured, Freehill determined the Kings guard dislocated his shoulder as he went up for a layup and Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane appeared to inadvertently pull his left arm down.

"I watched it numerous times because you always want to check what the mechanism is, but when you really slow it down, as he's going up, it looked like it got hit with a force and it just pulled it down," Freehill told Rodriguez. "Because when he's falling, it looked like he had already subluxated, or dislocated, it."

While Huerter took a hard fall at the end of the play, Freehill concluded the injury already had occurred.

Huerter enjoyed plenty of success as a sharpshooter for Sacramento last season, but he hasn't been quite as effective for the Kings in 2023-24. The 25-year-old is averaging 10.2 points on 44.3-percent shooting from the field and 36.1 percent from 3-point range, with 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 64 games this season.

Despite Huerter's recent inconsistency, the Kings certainly will take all the help they can get as they look to make their second consecutive playoff appearance next month. If the postseason began Friday, Sacramento would participate in the NBA play-in tournament as the Western Conference's current No. 8 seed.

The tournament begins April 16, but should the Kings rise to the No. 6 seed over their final 13 regular-season games, they would earn an outright playoff berth and begin their postseason run April 20. In the best-case scenario, Freehill said, a player could return from an injury like Huerter's in 10 days, though some cases could take as long as three weeks.

"Generally speaking, if he had this injury, he has an anterior inferior labrum tear, I would imagine at this point they're going to start moving him, as tolerated, with range of motion," Freehill told Rodriguez. "Probably place him on an anti-inflammatory, and that will go on over the course of the next week or so, and then they'll start strengthening him as tolerated.

"You know, sometimes you need a little extra time to get the motion back before you start strengthening, but individuals can come back from this as early as 10 days, generally speaking, or it could take outwards of three weeks. It just depends on how they come along and all the other factors that I'm not privy to that go into that."

Kings coach Mike Brown said rising second-year guard Keon Ellis will be the starting two-guard in the meantime, which is encouraging news for Kings fans during an unfortunate injury as Ellis has an impressive 7-1 record as a starter. Still, Freehill was optimistic Huerter will return sooner rather than later.

"I think that he'll get back before the end of the season -- again, that's saying that without examined him and having seen the imaging," Freehill said. "But I think just based on timeline ... right towards the end of the season [is] where you'd say, 'He's back.' "