Charlotte Hornets backup point guard Michael Carter-Williams won’t be ready for the Oct. 18 season opener and is “quite a ways away” from playing, coach Steve Clifford said Wednesday morning.
“I don’t see any way” Carter-Williams is available for the opener in Detroit, Clifford said at shootaround. “He hasn’t even been on the court 5-on-5 full court yet. Forget his game, there’s no way in one week, even with a talented athlete, to get in shape to play like that.”
Carter-Williams, signed to a one-year, $2.7 million contract in July, had Platelet-Rich Plasma procedures on both knees to promote healing and lessen pain in his patellas. Just recently he was cleared to start full-contact drills in the half-court. He has yet to receive that clearance for full-court scrimmaging.
A former NBA Rookie of the Year, Carter-Williams last went full court during the playoffs last season as a member of the Chicago Bulls. He was signed to back up starter Kemba Walker. The Hornets’ third point guard this season is Julyan Stone.
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The Hornets play a preseason exhibition at Spectrum Center Wednesday night against the Boston Celtics (ESPN). They are already without a starter, as guard Nic Batum will miss a minimum of six to eight weeks after tearing a ligament in his left elbow.
Batum’s replacement in the starting lineup, Jeremy Lamb, will miss Wednesday against the Celtics and Friday at home against the Dallas Mavericks with soreness in his left groin.
With Lamb out, Clifford plans to start rookie Dwayne Bacon, a second-round pick, at shooting guard against the Celtics. Clifford said starting Bacon is, in part, about not additionally tinkering with first-round pick Malik Monk’s role off the bench.
Clifford compares Bacon (6-foot-7 and 221 pounds) to former Hornets guard Gerald Henderson.
“He has natural physicality and size,” Clifford said of Bacon. “So if he learns the things he needs to do skill-wise – and he will, he’s a good worker – he has a starter’s body with starter’s quickness. He’s a talented athlete.”
Monk, the 11th overall pick in June’s draft, is second among Hornets in scoring (14.3 points per game) behind Lamb’s 15.3 this preseason. Clifford has been experimenting with Monk at point, in addition to him playing shooting guard.
“He’s not going to be a prototypical point guard, nor does he need to be,” Clifford said of the 6-3 Monk, a former Kentucky star. “It’s his quickness, and he has enough ball-handling and pick-and-roll ability to do it.”
Monk didn’t play point guard with the Wildcats, but was primarily a point guard in high school.
“I’ve been playing on the ball my whole life before Kentucky,” Monk said. “I’m comfortable with both.”
With injuries piling up this preseason, Walker said recently he no longer considers Monk and Bacon rookies, as far as them contributing on the court.
“I don’t feel like it adds pressure,” Bacon said of Walker’s description. “They just expect us to mature a lot quicker than they thought we were supposed to. I’m perfectly fine with that.”
The Hornets will again be without small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for an excused personal matter. That means Marvin Williams playing small forward and Frank Kaminsky starting at power forward.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell