It’s unusual for a prominent player to suffer a season-ending injury during the first week of training camp. That’s why the news on Hornets small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is so stunning and unexpected. Gilchrist has a torn labrum in his right shoulder and Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski calls it a season-ending injury. The Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell reports that a non-surgical alternative exists that would allow him to miss only six to eight weeks, though that would increase the possibility of tearing the labrum again.
Assuming that Kidd-Gilchrist will miss most, if not all, of the season, the Hornets suddenly have a major hole to fill. They are fortunate to have another quality small forward on the roster, as they traded for Nicolas Batum during the offseason. But the Hornets were planning to pair them together, giving them a dynamic defensive duo on the perimeter.
Jeremy Lamb is the leading candidate to start at shooting guard and Marvin Williams could wind up playing more at small forward than anticipated. P.J. Hairston and Troy Daniels could also see their minutes increase at the wing spots.
The other alternatives would be to make a trade or sign a free agent. The Hornets still have their mid-level exception to offer, though the market is pretty thin at this point.
Whichever road they choose, it will be nearly impossible to adequately replace Kidd-Gilchrist. He sets the tone for the Hornets’ defense with his ability to guard four positions. It’s no secret that the Hornets’ late-season slide during the spring coincided with Kidd-Gilchrist missing the last 11 games due to an ankle injury.
Thus, our question of the day is this: Can the Hornets still make the playoffs if Michael Kidd-Gilchrist misses the season?
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