Sources: Sacramento Kings guard will undergo season-ending surgery to repair torn labrum

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Sacramento Kings guard Kevin Huerter will miss the rest of the season as a result of the shoulder injury he sustained in a recent game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Huerter will undergo season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, league sources told The Sacramento Bee on Friday, confirming a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Mark Bartelstein, Huerter’s agent at Priority Sports and Entertainment, told The Bee Huerter is expected to make a full recovery in time for the start of the 2024-25 season.

Huerter suffered a dislocated shoulder when he was fouled by Desmond Bane in the first quarter of a 121-111 overtime win against the Grizzlies on March 18 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. Further testing revealed a labral tear.

The loss of Huerter is a big blow for a team that is trying to make the playoffs for the second year in a row. The Kings (42-30) were eighth in the Western Conference going into Friday’s showdown with the Dallas Mavericks, one game behind the Mavericks for the No. 6 seed. The top six teams will earn automatic playoff berths. The next four will have to earn their bids through the play-in tournament.

Kings coach Mike Brown said Keon Ellis will continue to start at shooting guard in Huerter’s absenece.

“Kev has got a good feel for the game, so there are going to be some guys who don’t have as much experience that are playing in front of him,” Brown said. “We’re younger without Kev even though Kev is really young, and because of the feel he has, and he’s been through a lot, him talking to guys, whether it’s on the bench or in practice or shootaround or off the floor, is going to be huge.”

Brown seemingly left the door open for Huerter to return if the Kings make a deep run in the playoffs, although he admitted he didn’t know anything about the timeline for Huerter’s recovery.

“He’s going to be around as much as he can,” Brown said. “We don’t know, if we go long enough, and I don’t know anything about surgery — I don’t know how long it’s going to take, who knows — but he could be back. I don’t know, but he’s going to stay engaged and try to help out as much as he can while hopefully everything goes smoothly with his surgery and he can get back in a timely manner, but he’s definitely going to be missed.”

Huerter, 25, averaged 10.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists in his sixth NBA season. He has two years remaining on a four-year, $65 million contract. The Kings were 11-4 this season when Huerter scored 15 points or more.

Huerter has started 134 of 139 games he has played for the Kings since coming to Sacramento in July 2022. Ellis, an undrafted second-year player from Alabama, has been starting in place of Huerter.

Huerter came out of Maryland as the 19th overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft. He spent his first four seasons with the Atlanta Hawks before the Kings acquired him in a trade that sent Maurice Harkless, Justin Holiday and a first-round draft pick to Atlanta.

Huerter scored 23 points in his Kings debut against the Portland Trail Blazers on Oct. 19, 2022. He averaged a career-high 15.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists last season while shooting career bests of 48.5% from the field and 40.2% from 3-point range.

Huerter played a key role in helping the Kings end the longest playoff drought in NBA history after 16 consecutive losing seasons. His 3-point shooting was critical to Sacramento’s success as the Kings took the league by storm, averaging a league-high 120.7 points per game while recording the highest offensive rating in NBA history.

This season has been more of a struggle with a series of highs and lows. Huerter’s scoring average dropped while his shooting percentages dipped to 44.3% from the field and 36.1% from 3-point range. He shot 39.6% from beyond the arc in November, 31.6% in December, 39% in January, 39.4% in February and 25% in March.

Brown moved Huerter to the bench for five games in late December and early January. Huerter returned to the starting lineup 10 days later but continued to produce mixed results. He was held to four points on 2-of-11 shooting in a Jan. 9 win over the Detroit Pistons and scored a career-high 31 points while going 7 of 12 from 3-point range in a Jan. 18 loss to the Indiana Pacers.