Tag: Brian Roberts

Kemba Walker

Kemba Walker to have knee surgery; Hornets looking at trades for depth while he is out


The Charlotte Hornets are not going to be able to replace Kemba Walker. He has averaged 18.8 points and 5.2 assists a game for them this season, and when he is on the court their offense jumps 3.3 points per 100 possessions. Coach Steve Clifford recently called Walker the Bobcats best player.

But Charlotte is going to have to try to replace him.

As we said could be coming, Walker is going to need knee surgery, something first reported by Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.

The team has since confirmed the news.

This is a setback for Walker, who at age 24 was having the best, most efficient season of his career.

The good news for the Hornets — currently sitting as the eight seed in the East after winning 10 of 12 games — is they could have Walker back for the playoffs, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

That would have him back likely in the middle of March, a month before the playoffs start.

The problem is, even at the bottom of the lowly East playoff race, the Hornets can’t afford a big step back while Walker is out and still make the playoffs. Right now Brian Roberts is the next point guard on the depth chart, although what this really means is the ball in Lance Stephenson’s hands more. So the Hornets are looking at trades to bridge the gap until Walker is back.

The Nets and Hornets are also talking about a potential deal involving Stephenson for Joe Johnson and other players, which could provide some scoring and ball handling depth while Walker is out. However, the Hornets could pull back in their talks due to this injury.

Report: Kemba Walker could miss six weeks, Hornets teammates Marvin Williams and Bismack Biyombo also injured

San Antonio at Charlotte

Hornets point guard Kemba Walker has missed a few games with a sore knee, and the issue could require surgery.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

That’s a big injury, but Charlotte can overcome it if all everyone else remains healthy.

Or maybe if anyone stays healthy?

Come on!

After a slow start, the Hornets have finally climbed back into playoff position. They’re still just 17-26, but in the Eastern Conference, they’re rolling.

Or at least were.

This could put the brakes on a trade with the Nets, because despite all his problems, Lance Stephenson is a quality playmaker. He won’t replace Walker, who was getting All-Star consideration, but he can ease the burden on Brian Roberts.

Marvin Williams had already lost his starting job to Cody Zeller. Maybe rookie Noah Vonleh, who was behind due to his own injury, will join the rotation.

Bismack Biyombo played well while Al Jefferson was injured and remained in the starting lineup, albeit with far fewer minutes, once Jefferson returned. Jefferson will surely start again now, and Charlotte will need him to carry a bigger load.

Steve Clifford is a good coach, and there’s still talent left for him to work with. The Hornets have a chance to remain in the playoff race. Brooklyn is just a half game back, but after that, it’s the Pistons – who have their own injury issues with Brandon Jennings – and assortment of teams probably more interested in the draft than the postseason at this point. (Plus the Pacers, who I doubt have the juice to reach the playoffs, as hard as they try.)

Kemba Walker out Saturday for Hornets vs. Pacers

Kemba Walker

The Hornets had been playing much better lately, and won five straight before dropping a close one on Wednesday against the Spurs.

The play of Kemba Walker has been the reason why.

Walker took home Western Conference Player of the Week honors, with an average of 30.3 points per game during that stretch. But he’ll be unavailable on Saturday when the Hornets face the Pacers.

From Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer:

No Al Jefferson and no Kemba Walker. No good for the Charlotte Hornets.

For the first time since center Jefferson signed with the then-Bobcats two summers ago, this franchise will play with neither Jefferson nor Walker available Saturday night against the Indiana Pacers.

Jefferson has missed eight games with a groin strain; he hopes to return Wednesday against the Miami Heat. Walker will miss his first game this season due to soreness in his left knee.

Walker sat out practice Friday and did not participate in shootaround Saturday morning. In his absence Brian Roberts will get his first start this season.

The Hornets say that Brian Roberts will get the start at point guard, and both Gary Neal and Lance Stephenson will get some time there, as well.

Stephenson has been the subject of trade rumors, with his name most recently coming up in reports of discussions involving the Brooklyn Nets. Those talks are reportedly dead for now, perhaps because it’s unclear just how much he’ll be able to contribute this season.

After an underwhelming start, Stephenson missed 14 straight games due to a groin injury. He returned for the loss to the Spurs, but in what was his first game since Dec. 17, he managed just eight points and two assists in 18 minutes off the bench.

ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets Media Day

Last season: After years of being a league-wide punchline, Charlotte took some steps towards actual respectability in 2013-14. They splurged on Al Jefferson in free agency and finished 43-39, making the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history. Under first-time head coach Steve Clifford, the Bobcats had the sixth-best defense in the NBA, holding opponents to 101.2 points per 100 possessions despite lacking a traditional rim protector. Jefferson proved a terrific signing, Josh McRoberts thrived in a stretch-four role, and Kemba Walker established himself as a quality starting point guard. They were swept out of the first round by the Miami Heat, but nonetheless made it clear that this is a team with a real future.

Signature highlight from last season: Gerald Henderson couldn’t have hit this trick shot off the top of the backboard on purpose if he tried.

Key offseason moves: After Utah matched the Hornets’ massive offer sheet to Gordon Hayward, Charlotte shifted gears and signed Lance Stephenson to a three-year, $27 million deal. They lost McRoberts to the Heat and traded Brendan Haywood to the Cavs but brought in point guard Brian Roberts and veteran forward Marvin Williams to fill out the bench. The Hornets are also adding two first-round picks in power forward Noah Vonleh (No. 9) and point guard P.J. Hairston (No. 26).

Keys to the Hornets’ season:

Which Lance are they getting? The Hornets’ top summer signee is a game-changer on the defensive end and an explosive scorer. But, as witnessed during the Pacers’ second-half collapse last season, Stephenson can also be a major liability when his head isn’t in the right place. Good Lance has the perfect skill set to take the Hornets to the next level; Bad Lance has a questionable shot selection, gambles too much on defense and causes needless distractions (like the LeBron ear-blowing incident). Charlotte gave him a lot of money, making the gamble that they’ll get more of the former than the latter. Hopefully, they’re right.

How good is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist? Despite a hand injury that sidelined him 19 games in 2013-14, MKG continued to blossom as a defender, playing a major role in the Bobcats’ success on that end. Still, the 2012 No. 2 pick is a complete unknown offensively — his jump shot is notoriously bad, and he hasn’t become a reliable scorer in other ways, either. Kidd-Gilchrist and Stephenson should be a lockdown defensive combo on the perimeter, but in order to reach his ceiling, MKG will need to become a factor on offense in some way. That jumper may never be consistent, so improving his scoring around the basket is probably the way to do that.

Who fill the void at power forward? The loss of McRoberts hurts, more than a lot of people may realize. He was a uniquely skilled power forward capable of spacing the floor and making plays, and a versatile defender who was a big part of the Bobcats’ success on that end last season. His departure leaves a hole next to Big Al in the frontcourt, with three leading candidates to pick up those minutes.

2013’s No. 4 overall pick, Cody Zeller, is the likeliest to start, at least early on. Zeller overcame an awful start to his rookie season and put together a solid final stretch. Per Basketball-Reference.com, before the All-Star break, Zeller was averaging 5.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game while shooting 38.0 percent from the field; after the break, those numbers jumped to 7.7 points and 4.8 rebounds with a 50.7 percent shooting clip. Both sample sizes are much too small to draw any definitive conclusions, but Zeller seemed to figure things out as the season progressed. He still has a ways to go defensively, as most rookie big men do, but the signs are encouraging, and he should see the lion’s share of minutes at power forward when the season kicks off.

Williams has played small forward for most of his career but will likely see most of his minutes at the four position this season. He’s a become solid outside shooter over the last two seasons in Utah, but he isn’t nearly the passer McRoberts is. At the start of the season, Clifford may feel more comfortable starting a veteran over one of the two young guys competing for minutes, but Williams is probably best suited as a reserve at this point.

Vonleh is a total question mark. He fell to No. 9 in the draft because of a lack of polish, and that was before undergoing surgery last month for a sports hernia that will limit him for most of training camp and possibly the first part of the season. Back injuries are scary regardless, but it’s especially not ideal for a player going into his rookie season. The injury only decreases Vonleh’s chance of finding consistent minutes and solidifies him as a long-term project, even if the Hornets envision him as the long-term starting power forward.

Why you should watch: They’re a few years away from contending, but the Hornets are one of the up-and-coming teams in the Eastern Conference. Jefferson is one of the most gifted and underappreciated low-post scorers in the league and no player can singlehandedly win or lose a game for his team quite like Stephenson can. Charlotte should absolutely be in your regular League Pass rotation. Plus, they’ve got some killer new uniforms to go with the name change.

Prediction: 44-38. The Hornets are no longer a “surprise” team — with this roster in the weak Eastern Conference, they should be expected to make the playoffs barring a catastrophic injury. They have the defense, especially with Stephenson in the fold, to give a contender headaches in the first round and maybe even make win a playoff series if they get the right matchup.

Hornets re-sign Jannero Pargo

Cleveland Cavaliers v Charlotte Bobcats

Brian Roberts hovered between No. 2 and No. 3 point guard in New Orleans, but he’s in line to be Kemba Walker’s primary backup in Charlotte.

When the Hornets signed Roberts, there was a chance they’d add another backup point guard and bump Roberts down the bench. But Charlotte’s latest signing – Jannero Pargo – makes Roberts the clear front-runner for No. 2 point guard.

Pargo’s agency confirmed the signing:

Shams Charania of RealGM:

I’m guessing Pargo will receive the minimum salary, $1,448,490 – $533,247 of which would be paid by the NBA.Pargo, 34, probably doesn’t have much left in the tank. But he averaged career highs in points (20.2), assists (7.7) and steals (2.1) per 36 minutes with Charlotte last season. Though that was in a career-low 242 minutes, the fit warrants him returning. He might have just figured out how to play well in Steve Clifford’s system.