Harry Giles will have to experience his rookie campaign next season.
The Kings announced today that despite a clean bill of health, they will keep the 19-year-old rookie from Duke out of action to help further his development, after he suffered two knee injuries.
The team said recent evaluation revealed that he is entirely healthy, having experienced no setbacks during a focused regimen that has included participation in team practices, skill and strength training.
The Kings have identified the team’s summer league schedule in July for Giles to experience his first NBA competition, which is held July 7-17 in Las Vegas.
“It’s a great decision, a decision I’m comfortable with, confident with and I believe in, because I know what the plan is going forward,” Giles told ABC10.
Earlier this month, Giles received great feedback from P3 (Peak Performance Project) in Santa Barbara; a company dedicated to applied sports science and elite therapy.
Because of the progress he's made, the next step for Giles will focus on more vigorous practice activity and individual work to continue to develop overall strength and aid ACL injury prevention.
In the meantime, as he has already for the bulk of the season, Giles will continue to participate in team practices and scrimmages.
Despite his strong desire to play, the 6-foot-11 forward understands the method to the team’s cautious approach with him.
“I see what the future holds, so for me, it’s just (about) getting better, getting more comfortable out there and getting stronger,” Giles said, following the Kings loss to Utah on Wednesday night.
It has been two years since Giles suffered the second of his two ACL tears during his high school career in North Carolina.
He suffered his first ACL tear in his sophomore season at Wesleyan Christian Academy, when he also suffered a torn MCL and meniscus in his left knee. The second knee injury, an ACL tear in his right knee, occurred in his senior season while playing for Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. Giles was ranked the top high school player in the country.
He had a third knee operation in 2016, a successful arthroscopic surgery on Giles' left knee, before his freshman season with Duke. He would appear in 26 games and average just 3.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 11.5 minutes per contest.
Since his time in Sacramento after last June’s draft, where the Kings selected him with the 20th overall pick, Giles insists he has been completely pain-free.
Back on Oct. 6, one week into training camp, the Kings announced they were going to keep Giles out until January for him to continue to rehabilitate and strengthen both of his knees.
The decision to keep Giles out of action this season comes as no surprise, particularly with the addition of assistant general manager Brandon Williams, who joined the Kings’ front office before training camp, after Scott Perry bolted for New York to become the Knicks GM.
Williams, who accompanied Giles to P3 in Santa Barbara, has experienced high profile rookies suffer injuries with the likes of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jahlil Okafor with the Sixers. Embiid and Simmons both were sidelined in their first seasons in the NBA.
Kings general manager Vlade Divac believes Giles will have a better career than even he experienced in the NBA. High praise coming from a fellow center for 16 seasons NBA - six with Sacramento where he earned a trip to the All-Star Game in 2001.
For now, Giles will continue to play the waiting game and trust the process as he treats team practice sessions as his own game days.
And as the losses mount for the young Kings team who sit presently with just 13 wins on the season and dead-last in the Western Conference, Giles looks on from the bench dreaming of the day when he can help his teammates, which will have to wait until next season.
Giles takes solace in seeing that light at the end of the tunnel, shining brighter than ever thanks to a date that he has circled on his calendar - when he’ll be able to face difference opposition from another team for the first time during July’s Summer League.
“I’m a competitor; I want to play, I want to play," said Giles, who has found the biggest boost of confidence in the noticeable improvements he’s seen in his ability and in his own physique.
“It’s a new year, (it’s time to) take it to a new level and see how far I can get and just show everyone what I’m made of in the summer time.”
Follow Sean Cunningham on Twitter: @SeanCunningham