The Kings voided the contract of recently acquired forward-center Chuck Hayes on Monday, saying in a release that he failed his physical.
The move came four days after the Kings announced that an echo stress test performed on Hayes, 28, revealed a heart abnormality. He had not practiced or played with them since that announcement.
A projected starter who signed a four-year, $21.3 million free-agent contract Dec. 9, Hayes was expected to play a key role in the Kings' offense and serve as a physical, vocal presence on defense.
"We're not going to be able to replace him," Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie told The Bee on Monday afternoon. "He was one of the best defensive frontcourt players in the league and a really unique player we thought would facilitate some offense.
"We'll take a look at what we can do, but it's not going to be the same."
In a statement released Monday, Petrie said notifying Hayes of the failed physical was "one of the most heartbreaking moments of my professional or personal life."
Hayes has undergone further testing on his heart, but specifics about his condition have not been released. Messages left for Hayes' agent Monday were not returned.
Monday evening, Hayes posted to his Twitter account, "Thank you everyone for your prayers and support, taking the next step to get healthy and back on the court, much love."
Kings coach Paul Westphal said he waited to tell the team about Hayes until after practice Monday. As the session wound down, players and coaches left the practice floor for a meeting that lasted a few minutes.
"It just makes you ask a lot of cosmic questions, because that's one guy that gave everything he had, every second, for himself and for the team, and for others," Westphal said. "And it's just really devastating news that he won't be able to be with us. Our prayers are for Chuck and his family.
"Like I told the team, family and your personal integrity and your relationship with God and health are the only things that are more important than basketball. And obviously what he's going through is more important than basketball."
Westphal said forward J.J. Hickson likely will start when the Kings play the Warriors at 7 tonight at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento's second and final exhibition game.
Hayes, who attended Modesto Christian High School, played with Houston the last six seasons. He averaged career highs of 7.9 points and 8.1 rebounds last season.
Though small for a post player he's listed at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds Hayes brought to the Kings a likeable veteran presence and reputation for physical play and made a quick impression on coaches and teammates.
"Everybody on the team had a good vibe with Chuck," guard Tyreke Evans said. "He was one of our leaders on defense; he did all the talking Knowing that we don't got him, it's probably going to hurt a lot."
As the Kings look for ways to replace Hayes, among the available free-agent big men is Samuel Dalembert, who played last season in Sacramento.
Asked about the possibility of bringing back Dalembert, Petrie said: "We've stayed in touch with him periodically along the way. We'll see what develops here in the next few days and go from there."
The news about Hayes came after Boston announced over the weekend that forward Jeff Green will miss this season because of an aortic aneurysm that was discovered during his training camp physical. He reportedly was to have surgery Monday.
Notes Center DeMarcus Cousins (right ankle sprain) is expected to play tonight, Westphal said. Small forward John Salmons (right quadriceps contusion) is doubtful, and rookie forward Tyler Honeycutt is set to start, Westphal said. Rookie guard Adrian Oliver, who missed practice Monday because of illness, is questionable to doubtful.
Newly acquired forward Travis Outlaw practiced with the team for the first time. The Kings on Saturday were awarded Outlaw in a waiver claim under the NBA's amnesty waiver procedure.
Outlaw wore a small brace on his right wrist during practice he broke the wrist in a boxing workout during the lockout but participated in all drills. He said afterward the wrist is "doing great."
Westphal said Outlaw faces a steep learning curve as he will be asked to play small and power forward, positions that are "radically different" in the Kings' offense.