Jorge Gutierrez is a man of few possessions.
That’s just how he has learned to function over several seasons in the NBA’s Development League. You never know when an NBA team might call. If one does, you’ve got to scramble.
“I don’t really carry a lot of things. Home is still Mexico. So I pack light in the D-League,” said Gutierrez, the newest Charlotte Hornet.
Gutierrez, who is 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, was playing point guard for the Canton (Ohio) Charge when Hornets general manager Rich Cho reached out to his agent. The Hornets had made a two-for-one trade that acquired shooting guard Courtney Lee from the Memphis Grizzlies.
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That deal opened a roster spot, but also gave up third point guard Brian Roberts. Hornets coach Steve Clifford considers a third point guard a priority, so Cho searched through the Development League for a fill-in.
So Gutierrez jumped on a plane last week to catch up to the Hornets in New York City. Took him next to no time to pack up his life.
“It’s in Canton, Ohio – not too much to do there other than play basketball. So I carry one bag, that’s it – not many things with me,” Gutierrez said at practice Tuesday.
Gutierrez, 27, is staying at a hotel that adjoins Time Warner Cable Arena. He concerns himself with nothing but learning the Hornets’ system because he has so little time to prove he should stick with the franchise beyond this initial 10-day deal.
He probably won’t get into a game, playing behind Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin, so his platform is practice: Learn the plays and terminology, run the second unit when he gets the chance and make Walker and Lin work.
“I needed to get used to the team right away because you only have 10 days to prove yourself,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez has been pursuing the NBA since he completed his college eligibility at California in 2012. He’s played previous 10-day stints with the Nets and Bucks, in both cases playing for coach Jason Kidd.
Kidd also played at California, and Gutierrez has somewhat modeled his game on how Kidd performed in a long NBA career.
“I think his vision of running a team is similar to how I play,” Gutierrez said. “I’m a defensive-minded guy. I think I’m a pass-first kind of point guard. He was one of the greatest at passing the ball in the fast break. I’m certainly not saying I can be as good as he was, but I think we’re kind of similar.”
Gutierrez is the only Mexican in the NBA. His predecessor was former Charlotte Bobcat Eduardo Najera, who played 13 NBA seasons for five franchises.
Gutierrez moved to Denver at 15, looking for a stronger level of competition. He transferred his senior year to basketball power Findlay Prep in suburban Las Vegas, where Cal signed him to a scholarship.
Gutierrez played professionally briefly in Mexico and would have options in other countries. But he refuses to give up on the reason he originally left his family to move to Colorado.
“I left home when I was really little with a vision of making it here. Going to a different country is really tough. I don’t want to take for granted how hard it was to move,” Gutierrez said.
“If at some point I decide I can’t play in the NBA anymore, then I’ll go somewhere else. But I won’t give up on this easily.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell