Charlotte Hornets

If Charlotte Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can’t play in opener, then who?

Charlotte Hornets small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is no given to be ready to play in Wednesday’s NBA season opener against the Pistons in Detroit.

Kidd-Gilchrist has been away from the Hornets for about a week, tending to an excused personal matter. Coach Steve Clifford said Sunday Kidd-Gilchrist might not be ready to start – or even play – in the team’s first regular-season game.

“It’s not going to be easy,” for Kidd-Gilchrist to be ready to play Wednesday, Clifford said.

If Kidd-Gilchrist is unavailable, Clifford could move Marvin Williams from power forward to small forward, and start Frank Kaminsky at power forward. However, Clifford said Sunday he could also start Jeremy Lamb, back from a groin injury, at small forward and rookie Dwayne Bacon at shooting guard.

Bacon, the 40th overall pick in June, started the last two preseason exhibitions while Lamb was out. He looked relatively solid in those starts, playing more than 30 minutes each time. Bacon made six of his 11 3-point attempts in the preseason. He averaged nine points and five rebounds.

“Terrific. Not (just) good, terrific,” Clifford said of Bacon’s preseason. “When I watched him in summer league, I said, ‘Down the road, he can be really good: Down the road.’

“In the two exhibitions (Bacon) started, he played an all-around game. He guarded (Boston’s Gordon) Hayward and (Dallas’) Wesley Matthews, and he did a good job. He has size, strength and toughness. If you watch him, he’s progressing: He works better, he practices better. And he’s from a work background, playing for (Florida State coach) Leonard Hamilton.”

Clifford said Bacon’s learning curve has accelerated dramatically: “He’s picking things up so, so much better than I’d have ever thought” as a rookie.

Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell

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