Charlotte Hornets point guard Jorge Gutierrez is about to turn what started as a 10-day audition into an end-of-season contract and a likely playoff appearance.
The Hornets plan to sign Gutierrez for the rest of the season Friday, a knowledgeable source said Thursday. The second of two 10-day contracts for Gutierrez expires Friday and under NBA rules, the Hornets would have to sign him for the rest of the season to retain him.
Gutierrez came to the Hornets from the Canton (Ohio) Charge of the NBA’s Development League. He replaced point guard Brian Roberts, who was traded to the Miami Heat as part of the package that acquired starting shooting guard Courtney Lee from the Memphis Grizzlies.
Gutierrez hasn’t played much behind Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin, but his performance (primarily in practice) has drawn praise from Hornets coach Steve Clifford.
“He’s done a good job. He’s very smart and picks things up quickly,” Clifford said following pre-game shootaround Wednesday. “He has a toughness about him and a high IQ.”
How does Gutierrez’s toughness come out?
“Every time we do contact (in practice) or he plays in games, he’s a rock,” Clifford said. “He’s physical and not going to back down from any challenges.”
The 6-3 Gutierrez, the only Mexico native currently playing in the NBA, spent his teen years in Denver and suburban Las Vegas before playing college ball at California.
As a Hornet he has appeared in three games, averaging three points and an assist.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell