It appears the Charlotte Hornets will play their season opener in Detroit Wednesday with neither of their projected starters at the wing positions.
Shooting guard Nic Batum is out several more weeks with a torn ligament in his left elbow. Small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is still away from the team, with an excused personal absence.
Even if Kidd-Gilchrist is back and practicing Tuesday, he’s missed about a week of the preseason, including three of the team’s exhibition games. Coach Steve Clifford said Sunday it would be difficult for Kidd-Gilchrist to be ready to play Wednesday under these circumstances.
Jeremy Lamb, back from a groin injury, will fill one of those two starting spots. The other could change game to game, based on matchups, and that could affect playing time for others as well.
Clifford’s options are either to move Marvin Williams from power forward to small forward, and start Frank Kaminsky at power forward, or start second-round rookie Dwayne Bacon with Lamb.
The more Williams plays small forward, the more center Cody Zeller will play power forward, alongside fellow center Dwight Howard.
“Where we’re at right now, a lot of the minutes will be determined by matchups on the other side,” said Clifford.
The Hornets ended their preseason schedule Friday with five players unavailable. Since then, Lamb, Treveon Graham and Julyan Stone have been able to practice fully. But Clifford said the injuries have definitely been an impediment to preparation.
“You’re not going to be where you want to be; it’s just not possible,” Clifford said. “I like the way we’ve practiced, our progress. But it’s the health part of it.”
Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell