Kings head coach Keith Smart said J.J. Hickson (hip pointer)Â is improving but will not be available for tonight's game against the New Orleans Hornets.
"He's doing much better," Smart said. "He was on the crutches at first, then he was walking gingerly, and now he's able to do some work on the elliptical and bike. So he's coming along."
Smart said any timetable for Hickson's return is up to team doctors.
ThisÂ will be the fourth game Hickson has missed since he fell hard on the hip after going up for a rebound in the Kings' loss to the Los Angeles Clippers last Tuesday. He is averaging 4.9 points and 5.1 rebounds a game.
* There was a new face at the Kings' practice facility this morning working with center Hassan Whiteside after the team's shootaround.
Clifford Ray, the former center and longtime coach in the NBA and CBA, will be working with the Kings as a consultant primarily for the team's big men when the team is at home, Smart said.
Ray began his coaching career in a part-time role with the Dallas Mavericks in 1987 and was most recently an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics from 2006-10, according to an NBA.com bio.
He was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers' coaching staff in 2002-03 -- when Smart took over as the Cavaliers' interim head coach partway through the season -- and Smart said the two coached together in the CBA as well, where Smart got his start with the Fort Wayne Fury. Smart called Ray "my mentor."
"He just has a way of talking and communicating with bigs who perform like a five-man," Smart said.
"I've seen all the guys that I've had, big guys that he's worked with, how they developed and developed mentally, how they developed to understand the game from the five position," Smart said. "That's really good teaching that our guys need to understand."