Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker has enjoyed viewing Mo Williams’ work as a spectator. He can’t wait to view it as a co-worker.
On Wednesday Walker was cleared medically to begin full practice, about five weeks removed from knee surgery. It’s possible he’ll start playing next week sometime during a three-game home stand.
In Walker’s absence the Hornets traded for Williams as a fill-in point guard. Williams has so excelled in that role (21.6 points per game, 8.9 assists per game) that coach Steve Clifford now envisions playing Walker and Williams together extensively the rest of the season.
Walker finds that a very appealing prospect.
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“He makes so many plays,” Walker said following Wednesday’s 115-91 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. “He’s so smart; he knows when to shoot and when to pass. You can see it in his numbers; he’s had some huge assist games.”
Walker is established as the Hornets’ starter. In the preseason he signed a four-year, $48 million contract extension with the franchise. But 3 1/2 seasons into his NBA career, Walker thinks there is plenty he can glean from 12-season veteran Williams.
“I’m getting a chance to watch and learn,” Walker said of his time on the sideline. “You observe. I’m glad we’ve got him because I feel like there are some things I can learn from him. I can’t wait to get out there and play with him.’
There will be some adjustments involved in them playing together, particularly on defense. But Clifford said it’s worth that risk to maximize this team’s scoring and play-making potential.
Williams has generally stayed away from the subject of playing with Walker, saying he doesn’t want to distract from the games before Walker’s return. But he said Wednesday he’d welcome the chance to mentor.
“That is my natural personality,” Williams said. “Especially with him being so young, it’s always good to have someone older around.
“I was never in that position; I was always learning on the fly. But there were guys on other teams who would help with a phone call or in the summer. Like a Chauncey Billups, who took me under his wing.”
“I’m looking forward to it, to be honest.”
The earliest Walker figures to be back is Wednesday at home against the Sacramento Kings. That would give him a couple of practices to get back his form and also to test whether his knee is ready for the rigors.
This is the first time since high school Walker has missed any significant time with injury. So he’s balancing the urgency to get back with a caution that he not have a setback.
“I hope so. That’s the plan,” Walker said of a return next week.
“I’ve been feeling good and really working to get back. I want to be comfortable. We’ll see how my workouts go and how I feel when I wake up.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell