Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets coach says Hairston must apply himself

Charlotte Hornets guard P.J. Hairston
Charlotte Hornets guard P.J. Hairston jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford said before Tuesday’s home game against the Los Angeles Lakers that rookie P.J. Hairston would again be inactive.

Hairston was deactivated for Sunday’s road game against the Orlando Magic. Two sources confirmed Hairston missed a weight-training session Sunday before that game.

Clifford said Hairston, a first-round pick and former North Carolina star, has fallen behind both Jeff Taylor and Troy Daniels in the rotation among shooting guards and small forwards. Clifford said that could easily change over the remainder of the season, but that would involve Hairston applying himself better as an NBA player.

“P.J., to me, has the chance to be a very good player,” Clifford said. “His approach has to be where he is constantly learning what the NBA game is about. He’s hasn’t done that well.

“He hasn’t been terrible, nor has he done as well as I would like.”

Hairston was in the playing rotation for about 25 games earlier this season but has made one game appearance in the past 11 games. Clifford said he met with Hairston Tuesday morning to address expectations.

“Potentially he could be a starter. He can shoot with range and rebounds for his position,” Clifford said. “But he hasn’t developed any way to play to make his teammates better.”

Clifford said Hairston has gotten this far on talent and competitiveness and now “if you want to be a good player, you’ve got to learn this league.”

Clifford reiterated he feels no special obligation to play Hairston or fellow rookie Noah Vonleh because they were first-round picks: “Throwing people in to play minutes they haven’t earned is not a good thing.”

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