The Charlotte Hornets are running out of point guards, after the team announced Monday that Julyan Stone will miss 4-6 weeks with a strain of his left hamstring.
The Hornets play the Bucks in Milwaukee Monday night. The other backup to starting point guard Kemba Walker, Michael Carter-Williams, has yet to play this season with soreness in both knees. The Hornets’ injury report lists Carter-Williams as out for the Bucks game.
Hornets general manager Rich Cho told the Observer Monday the team plans to ride out the injuries for now. The Hornets do have an open roster spot, but the payroll is close to the NBA luxury-tax threshold of about $119 million this season. The Hornets signed former North Carolina point guard Marcus Paige to one of the NBA’s new two-way contracts, but Paige is inexperienced and the plan is for him to spend most of the season with the G-League Greensboro Swarm.
The Hornets say Stone, signed over the summer after playing last season in Italy, suffered the injury in practice Sunday and did not fly to Milwaukee with the team.
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Starting out 1-1, the Hornets have been plagued by early-season injuries and an excused absence for small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Shooting guard Nic Batum is out at least another month with a torn ligament in his left elbow. Center Cody Zeller is out with a bruised right knee.
Kidd-Gilchrist was away from the team for 12 days following the death of his grandmother in New Jersey. Kidd-Gilchrist rejoined the team Saturday, but coach Steve Clifford said Sunday that neither Kidd-Gilchrist, nor Zeller, would be available to play versus the Bucks.
Walker is having a brilliant start to his season, averaging 25 points, 6.5 assists and five rebounds. He leads the NBA in free throws attempted at 12.5 per game. It’s unrealistic for Clifford to add to Walker’s minutes; he is already tenth in the league at 36.5 per game.
The immediate option behind Walker at the point would be rookie Malik Monk. While Monk played shooting guard his one college season at Kentucky, he was a point guard in high school and Clifford experimented with Monk at the point in the preseason.
Carter-Williams, a former NBA Rookie of the Year, signed a one-year, $2.7 million contract with the Hornets in July. He had Platelet-Rich Plasma injections over the summer to address soreness in both knees.
Carter-Williams couldn’t play in any of the team’s five preseason exhibitions or the first two games. However, he fully participated in practice Sunday, so he might be close to being available for games.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell