Eric Moreland is popular with his Kings teammates for his energetic play and because they’re never sure what zany thing he might say.
The second-year forward, who missed 41 games because of a fracture in his left foot, was in uniform when Sacramento lost 123-108 to the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night at Sleep Train Arena.
Kings coach George Karl opted not to play Moreland. Karl said it’s been difficult to get him in playing shape with the team having a limited amount of fullcourt practice.
Moreland was injured in practice Dec. 16 and required surgery.
He was a star of the Kings’ 2014 summer-league team and earned a roster spot as an undrafted rookie from Oregon State. He was cut in August before his contract for this season became guaranteed, but he re-signed and made the squad.
Moreland is 6-foot-10, athletic and brings an attitude that embraces playing defense – a lot of the things the Kings could use on the court.
There’s just no guarantee there will be playing time available.
“I think Eric’s an NBA player, but how do you get him minutes to build some type of continuity and confidence in his skills?” Karl said. “It’s kind of a quandary for me. I think Willie (Cauley-Stein) is a guy that needs as many minutes as I can give him and (Quincy Acy has) been very good in that energy role, helping us throughout things. I trust Kosta (Koufos) and Cuz (DeMarcus Cousins), so he’s a fifth big.”
Moreland played in five games this season before his injury.
“The window (to play) might open up in the next 15 games,” Karl said.
Depleted backcourt – Rajon Rondo (right thumb sprain, right shoulder contusion and turf toe), Marco Belinelli (sore right ankle) and Ben McLemore (fractured finger) were all out with injuries Wednesday, leaving the Kings with only three healthy guards.
Darren Collison started at point guard in place of Rondo, and James Anderson started at shooting guard. The only other guard available was Seth Curry.
Collison led the Kings with 23 points, Anderson had 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting and Curry added 11 points in 34 minutes.