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Kidd-Gilchrist Returning To Play This Season

JANUARY 29TH, 2:33pm: Kidd-Gilchrist has received clearance to play in games and is expected to be available tonight against the Trail Blazers, the Hornets announced.

JANUARY 6TH, 2:57pm: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vowed today to return to action this season, three months after suffering a torn labrum in his right shoulder that appeared likely to cost him all of 2015/16, reports Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. The team is hesitant to release a timeline for his recovery, but coach Steve Clifford thinks Kidd-Gilchrist will indeed return to play in games before the regular season is through, Bonnell notes.

“For sure. No question I’m going to play this season,” Kidd-Gilchrist said to Bonnell. “I’m going to play. It’s a matter of when now.”

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports originally reported that the former No. 2 overall pick faced a six-month recovery, though he later deemed him likely to miss the entire season, largely a semantic difference, since the end of the regular season was about six months out from the time of his injury. Regardless, Kidd-Gilchrist looks like he’s beating projections, Bonnell writes. The team recently cleared Kidd-Gilchrist for all non-contact activities, and the next step would be for him to resume contact drills, Bonnell points out.
The Hornets have also surpassed expectations, compiling a 17-17 record thus far, and that’s made a playoff berth a more likely proposition than it seemed when the injury took place. The loss of Kidd-Gilchrist, to whom the Hornets gave a four-year, $52MM extension before the season, seemed to doom the team’s postseason hopes. Instead, it’s been the loss of Al Jefferson to injury and a drug-related suspension that’s dragged the team down of late. Charlotte has lost the last seven games in which Jefferson didn’t appear. Jefferson, a free agent at season’s end, is projected to miss about another five weeks with a tear in the lateral meniscus of his right knee.
Charlotte could have sought a disabled player exception worth $3,165,702, but they’ve held off. The Hornets have until January 15th to submit an application to the league, but the NBA only gives those exceptions out if the injured player is substantially likely to miss the rest of the season, which no longer appears the case for Kidd-Gilchrist.

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