Charlotte Hornets

Who are the Charlotte Hornets’ starters in first preseason exhibition Friday?

James Borrego coaches his first preseason exhibition with the Charlotte Hornets Friday against the Boston Celtics.
James Borrego coaches his first preseason exhibition with the Charlotte Hornets Friday against the Boston Celtics. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Jeremy Lamb gets the first look Friday night as the Charlotte Hornets’ starter at shooting guard.

Lamb was among the five starters new coach James Borrego named at morning shootaround for tonight’s preseason exhibition against the Boston Celtics at the Smith Center. Lamb and Malik Monk are contenders for the starting spot when the regular season opens Oct. 17 at home against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The other four starters: point guard Kemba Walker, small forward Nic Batum, power forward Marvin Williams and center Cody Zeller.

Monk has a pelvic contusion that caused him to miss parts of two of the five practices in Chapel Hill. It sounds likely he’ll be available to play Friday, but he’ll be re-evaluated medically before the game.

“He went through shootaround. We’ll find out a little bit later today. I believe he’s good to go.,” Borrego said of Monk

With Batum moving from shooting guard to small forward, who starts at shooting guard is probably the biggest decision of the Hornets’ preseason. Lamb, entering his seventh NBA season, has started only 31 of his previous 356 NBA games. While he hopes to start, Lamb said he’s fine with it if Borrego chooses to continue using him off the bench this season.

“He’s had a very good camp on both sides of the ball,” Borrego said of Lamb. “I’m pleased with his effort and urgency, on the ball and off the ball defensively. And he’s making good plays - moving the ball, finding open men, shooting the ball very well. He’s off to a very good start.”

Borrego has a balancing act this preseason between preparing rotations for the regular season and experimenting with different combinations of the 19 players in camp (14 on guaranteed contracts). Borrego said the first half Friday will be like the regular season and the second half more a laboratory.

“It’s not going to be full minutes,” for the starters, Borrego said. “Kemba, he’s not going to play full minutes. I could see him playing maybe into the third quarter.

“Tony (Parker, entering his 18th NBA season) may get a first-half run, but some low minutes tonight. Everybody else, I have to figure. I don’t want Cody’s minutes to be too high right now.”

Zeller missed the end of last season with soreness in his surgically-repaired left knee, but said Wednesday he has felt no discomfort this preseason.

“Our young guys will get a lot of run,” said Borrego. “We’ll just play it quarter to quarter right now.”

The Celtics will be without guard Marcus Smart. A Celtics spokesman said Smart did not make the trip to Chapel Hill with the team because of an undisclosed personal absence.

The Hornets play the Celtics again Sunday in Boston. They have a home exhibition against the Miami Heat Tuesday night at Spectrum Center.

  Comments