Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford says it might take at least two more exhibitions for him to figure out the best course in filling in for injured small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
But here are two possibilities to keep in mind: Either start P.J. Hairston at shooting guard with Nic Batum at small forward, or use Marvin Williams at small forward as much as power forward.
Either way Clifford is trying not to create a domino effect where several players change roles. He has said he likes the idea of making Jeremy Lamb the first wing player off the bench.
Hairston didn’t shoot particularly well at Orlando summer league, but he spent time later in the summer training with former NBA player and coach John Lucas. That resulted in some needed weight loss.
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Clifford has called Williams a “prototypical” power forward in the current NBA style – 6-8 or 6-9 with the 3-point accuracy (36 percent last season) to help spread defenses out of the lane.
Williams started the first two exhibitions after coming to training camp in exemplary condition. He says he’s comfortable playing either position, but he has acknowledged that at 29 he’s not as athletic as in his early 20s when he started at small forward for the Atlanta Hawks.
“I want to get a better (sense) of playing groups – who plays well together,” Clifford said after practice at Shenzhen City Arena. “A lot of it will be in practice, but I want to see it in games.”
Kidd-Gilchrist is expected to miss the season after having right shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. The Hornets are in China for two exhibitions against the Los Angeles Clippers in Shenzhen and Shanghai.
More running than contact
The Hornets practiced for about two hours Friday after losing two days to the flights from Charlotte to Shenzhen. No new injuries Friday, with Clifford saying this workout was more about getting in a good run and shooting drills than a lot of scrimmaging.
“We didn’t do much contact today. We did more running,” said Clifford, his team shaking off jet lag. “We’d been off for two days. We’ll do more contact tomorrow.”
Clippers coach Doc Rivers on ex-Hornet Lance Stevenson’s adjustment to the trade to Los Angeles: “Lance is doing good. He’s playing at his pace. We’re trying to put him in the right place all the time offensively. Defensively is probably where he needs to learn the most: team defense. But he’s going to be an asset for us.”
What positions will Stephenson play as a Clipper?
“I tend to try to say ‘guard’ more than anything else. He’s off-the-ball, but we want him to be the weak-side attacker.”
Stephenson was dealt to the Clippers in a trade that brought Spencer Hawes and Matt Barnes to Charlotte. Barnes was dealt on to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell