The Charlotte Hornets, looking to return to the playoffs in 2017-18, received some bad news regarding small forward Nicolas Batum. On Thursday, an MRI revealed that an elbow injury will require a 6-8 week absence.
There has been no official decision on how to treat a tear to his ulnar collateral ligament, meaning the recovery time could differ from the initial prognosis. In 77 games last season, Batum averaged 15.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 5.9 APG. That all-around game will be sorely missed.
"He just got tangled up," Clifford told reporters. "It was one of those kind of contact/collision plays where his arm got stuck between two guys. He was in a lot of pain."
In the meantime, head coach Steve Clifford will turn to veteran swingman Jeremy Lamb. As the season progresses, the Hornets could also rely on rookie Malik Monk. Monk, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, enters the league as one of the most heralded shooters in college basketball. And although he doesn’t bring Batum’s level of defense, Clifford might be able to replace some of his offense with the first-year man from Kentucky.
The Hornets enjoyed a busy offseason. They added center Dwight Howard to help with rebounding and Monk was a surprise pick–as he was expected to go far earlier than 11.
The Hornets will open their regular season schedule on Oct. 18 against the Detroit Pistons, the same team Batum injured his elbow against.
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