New Charlotte Hornets Mo Williams and Troy Daniels didn’t want Wednesday feeling like the first day at a new school. So they volunteered for a crib session Tuesday.
“We couldn’t do anything mandatory until today, but he and Troy came in last night on their own,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said after practice Wednesday.
“They both jumped right in and picked things up well. What they did last night really helped us save a lot of time.”
Williams and Daniels were traded last week from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Hornets. A second-year pro, Daniels can be worked in slowly. But the Hornets need Williams, a 12-year veteran, to have immediate impact at point guard.
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The Hornets had a long, training camp-like practice Wednesday coming off a weeklong All-Star break. By all descriptions, Williams immediately fit right in.
“Mo is a professional; he’s been around for a long time,” said Hornets center Al Jefferson. “I don’t think he messed up one time today.”
Williams and Jefferson have been friends since they were teenagers growing up in Mississippi. They also played together three seasons ago for the Utah Jazz. Williams said Jefferson’s presence has helped smooth this midseason transition.
“It would be different going into a situation where you don’t know anybody and they don’t know you,” said Williams. “He helped me get to know everybody from the coaches to my new teammates – how they are and their personalities. And he can also do that for me” with the coaches and other players.
The Hornets become Williams’ seventh NBA franchise (he had two stints with Utah). He comes across as sharp and savvy, someone who shouldn’t be rattled by change.
“Once you get the calls down, what you do is pretty generic. There are some little wrinkles you’re not (immediately) used to, but in a couple of days it will become second-nature to me,” Williams said.
“Being with different organizations shows you it’s all really the same things, just with different names. Most likely whatever you see is something similar to what you’ve run in the past.”
Injury updates: Of the three rotation players out – point guard Kemba Walker, center Bismack Biyombo and small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – the most encouraging news concerned Kidd-Gilchrist.
He missed the past two games before the break after suffering a strained right hamstring in Philadelphia. He participated in non-contact drills Wednesday and Clifford said the plan is for Kidd-Gilchrist to practice fully Thursday. If things go well, he’d play Saturday at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Kidd-Gilchrist’s return would be significant in that the Hornets have gone 11-25 this season and last in games he couldn’t play. Also his defense would be particularly helpful against Thunder superstar Kevin Durant.
Biyombo has missed the past seven games with a bone bruise on his right knee. Clifford said Biyombo will have another magnetic resonance imaging Saturday, but it doesn’t sound like Biyombo’s return is imminent.
“Biz isn’t going to be back for a few games,” Clifford said.
“With that injury we’ve got to be careful. We don’t want him back for five games and then it’s another 15 (games missed). He’s going to have to be a little bit patient and so are we.”
Clifford said the earliest he’d expect Walker to play again is the West Coast trip that starts March 16 in Salt Lake City. Walker missed the past 10 games following surgery on his left knee.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell