P.J. Hairston inactivated after missing practice without permission

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After a summer of scuffling, car-swapping and improper representationwhich followed a controversial college career – P.J. Hairston had stayed out of trouble this season.

He even had his assault-and-battery charges dropped last month, around the same time he cracked the Hornets rotation.

But it didn’t take long for Hairston to get off track.

Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:

Charlotte Hornets rookie P.J. Hairston was made inactive for Wednesday’s game versus the Boston Celtics as discipline for missing Tuesday’s practice without an excused absence.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford made that announcement at the end of his pre-game media availability. Clifford didn’t provide detail of why Hairston was absent from practice Tuesday.

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Clifford can punish Hairston, and the rookie probably deserved it. But, in the long run, Clifford’s challenge is much greater than doling out discipline. His job is to help develop Hairston into a quality NBA player, and perhaps inactivating Hairston last night will help achieve that goal. But the de facto suspension should be a means to an end, not the end itself. The lessons can’t stop here.

Hairston is talented. There’s no doubt about that. Like it or not, the Hornets’ role now is to help him maximize his talent rather than punishing him for misdeeds. Those objectives might go hand-in-hand at times, but they are not the same.

Now, it’s on Hairston to learn from this mistake and take steps not to repeat it. If his punishment helps solidify the lesson, all the better.