Injured Charlotte Hornets guard Nic Batum told the Observer Wednesday he expects to be cleared to practice in the next 10 days, and be playing in the next two to three weeks.
That timeline would suggest Batum is recovering well from a torn ligament in his left elbow, suffered in the preseason. There was concern, after Batum suffered the injury Oct. 4 against the Detroit Pistons, that he might need surgery that could end his season. However, a specialist in Dallas confirmed in October Batum could recover without surgery.
Batum. a starter at shooting guard from France, was projected to be out a minimum of six to eight weeks. He has since been allowed to shoot and pass during workouts, but not yet cleared for contact. The team was warned Batum might feel ready to play sooner than is prudent, so exercise caution, coach Steve Clifford said last month.
Batum, in his 10th NBA season, averaged 15.1 points, 5.9 assists and 6.2 rebounds last season. His is the most consequential of several early-season injuries for the Hornets (though Jeremy Lamb has played well as a fill-in starter, averaging 17.1 points). The Hornets are 4-3 entering Wednesday night’s home game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
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Batum plans to travel with the team on the upcoming four-game road trip that runs through a Nov. 10 game in Boston. After that trip, the Hornets have four days off before a nationally-televised game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Hornets forward Marvin Williams was asked Wednesday morning what the team misses in Batum’s absence.
“His ability to keep us together on the offensive end, and keep us organized,” Williams said. “His playmaking ability for everyone; Nic knows where everyone wants the basketball. And he can score it as well.
“Defensively, he gives you a lot of versatility, the ability (at 6-foot-8) to guard (point guards) through (power forwards). With his offensive organization, he has the ability to take the pressure off a lot of people.
“He makes the game easy for you, so not having him out there is difficult at times. But Jeremy Lamb has been absolutely incredible; their games are different, but they do some of the same things.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell