Charlotte Hornets small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder that could require surgery.
Kidd-Gilchrist suffered the injury Saturday, late in the first half of a preseason road victory against the Orlando Magic. Kidd-Gilchrist underwent an MRI Monday that revealed the damage to his shoulder.
The extent of the injury was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.
Kidd-Gilchrist is scheduled to meet with team orthopedist Dr. Marcus Cook Tuesday to go over his options. If he elects to have surgery, Kidd-Gilchrist would be sidelined about six months, ending his season.
An informed source confirmed it’s more likely than not that Kidd-Gilchrist will have surgery. In the alternative, he’d be out six to eight weeks to rehabilitate the joint. But if he chooses that route, he’d be prone to another tear in the future.
Kidd-Gilchrist is the Hornets’ best defender, sometimes describing himself as the team’s “middle linebacker.” Over the summer the Hornets signed him to a four-year, $52 million contract extension that will kick in next season.
When Kidd-Gilchrist doesn’t play his absence is costly. The Hornets had a 5-20 record when he didn’t play last season with three separate injuries – a stress reaction in his right foot, a hamstring strain and a left ankle sprain. They were 28-29 when he played.
“When he’s on the floor, we play well,” Clifford said the day Kidd-Gilchrist signed his extension. “When he’s not on the floor, we don’t.”
Clifford considers Kidd-Gilchrist one of the NBA’s top wing defenders. Two summers ago, working with then-Hornets assistant Mark Price, Kidd-Gilchrist improved a highly flawed jump shot.
“He’s got a very high basketball IQ,” Clifford said. “He’s very verbal with his teammates. He always knows what’s going on and that leads to good team play.”
Kidd-Gilchrist’s style of play frequently puts his body at risk. He suffered a concussion as a rookie when his head hit the floor in a road game against the Houston Rockets. He missed four games his rookie season, 20 games in his second NBA season, and 25 last season.
The Hornets selected Kidd-Gilchrist second overall in the 2012 draft, one spot behind Kidd-Gilchrist’s Kentucky teammate, Anthony Davis.
With Kidd-Gilchrist out, Clifford will have to make over the rotation. One option could be moving newcomer Nicolas Batum from shooting guard to small forward. Batum played primarily small forward in his seven seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers before the trade to Charlotte in June.
If Batum becomes the starter at small forward, Clifford has a variety of options at shooting guard: Jeremy Lamb, Troy Daniels and P.J. Hairston. Point guard Jeremy Lin can also play shooting guard.
The Hornets also plan to sign 10-year NBA veteran Damien Wilkins, an NBA source confirmed Monday. At 6-6 Wilkins can play both small forward and shooting guard.
Bonnell: 74-358-5129: @rick_bonnell