Kings forward Trey Lyles could be days away from a return after missing the first 11 games of the season due to a calf injury.
Lyles told The Sacramento Bee he expects to make his season debut during the team’s current six-game road trip. Lyles has ramped up individual workouts over the past 10 days and progressed to 3-on-3 for the first time Friday as the Kings prepared to play the San Antonio Spurs.
“I feel great,” Lyles said. “It’s been a little bit of a longer process than I wanted, but I appreciate the medical staff and the training staff for taking the best care of me and bringing me along at the right speed. I’m the type who would probably push it a little harder than needed, so I give a lot of credit to them for helping me along the way. The last few days, I’ve been feeling great, so I’m looking to continue to progress and hopefully be out there soon.”
Lyles, a key reserve who helped the Kings end their playoff drought last season, said he plans to play “within days.” The Kings will visit the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday and Wednesday, and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday in the final game of the trip.
“Yeah, definitely planning on being out there for this trip,” Lyles said. “I’ve got to leave it up to the medical staff to clear me, but me being a competitor, I definitely want to be out there. If you ask me, I wanted to play 10 games ago, but you’ve got to think of the season. It’s a long season. I want to be able to play as much as possible and don’t want to risk reinjuring myself just because I didn’t want to wait another day or two.”
Lyles said his primary focus now is conditioning, saying he wants to “make sure I’m able to play seven to eight minutes instead of two to three minutes.”
Lyles averaged 7.6 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 36.3% from 3-point range last season, helping the Kings win 48 games to secure the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. He re-signed with Sacramento over the summer, agreeing to a two-year, $16 million contract.
Lyles suffered a left calf strain during pregame warmups when the Kings played a preseason game against the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 18 at Chase Center in San Francisco. After undergoing an MRI, Lyles was only expected to be sidelined for a few days, but the injury didn’t heal as quickly as he hoped.
“It just took a little longer than we all expected for the treatment and the work we were putting in to take effect, but the last 10-11 days, we’ve really ramped it up. I’ve been feeling a lot better, which has been positive, and everything’s been headed in the right direction,” Lyles said. “At first, it was a little harder, a little frustrating for sure, but as I started to feel better, I think everything just kind of progressed from there.”