Charlotte Hornets

Hornets can move on minus Jeff Taylor, Steve Clifford says

Jeffrey Taylor
Jeffrey Taylor Ingham County Sheriff's Office

Troubling as the Charlotte Hornets found Jeff Taylor’s arrest, coach Steve Clifford said Monday the roster has the depth to compensate for Taylor’s absence.

Taylor, a small forward, was charged with domestic violence Thursday following a late-night incident at a hotel in East Lansing, Mich. The Hornets on Friday told Taylor he can’t participate in any team activities until the NBA completes an investigation into his conduct.

“We take domestic violence as a very serious matter. It’s something we don’t take lightly,” Hornets general manager Rich Cho said Monday. “It was something where we felt as an organization it was appropriate to act decisively and quickly.”

Taylor will be on paid leave, and it’s unclear just how long he might be away from the Hornets, who open training camp Tuesday morning at UNC Asheville.

Cho said he has spoken with Taylor since the incident but didn’t share details of their conversation or anything the Hornets have learned about what happened in Michigan.

Taylor, 25, was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault of a woman with whom he had a dating relationship. He was also charged with assault and battery on a hotel employee and destruction of hotel property. Taylor pleaded not guilty and has an Oct. 8 pretrial court date in East Lansing district court.

Cho offered no detail on what caused Taylor to be arrested. Cho said to his knowledge there is no video of the incidents that led to police being called.

Cho was asked Monday about the charge against Hornets rookie P.J. Hairston in Durham over the summer, when Hairston was accused of twice punching a teenager during a pickup game at a YMCA. Asked what differentiates Hairston’s circumstance from Taylor’s, Cho said: “Every situation is a little different. In this case we felt like it was the right thing to do.”

A former second-round pick of the Hornets, Taylor was expected to be a reserve on this season’s team after missing most of last season with a ruptured right Achilles tendon.

“Jeff was competing just to get in our rotation,” coach Steve Clifford said during the team’s media day later Monday. “The caliber of our wing talent (shooting guards and small forwards) is night-and-day from the beginning of last year. We didn’t have Gary (Neal) and obviously Lance (Stephenson) and then P.J. Hairston.

“Instead of six guys competing for four spots (in the rotation) now we have five guys for four spots.”

Clifford said the Hornets have enough alternatives for the minutes Taylor might have earned that the onus is on Taylor to be ready once his legal situation is resolved.

“He and I talked about it the other day – it’s not ideal,” Clifford said.

“As a coach you hope for the best and plan for the worst. You’ve got to coach the guys who are here.

“From a player’s point of view, there are going to be times you’re out, whether it be injury or suspension or whatever. How they deal with it – as maturely and professionally as they can – will determine where they’re at when they do come back and are able to play. So it’s a personal-responsibility thing.”

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