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Cody Zeller sits out Wednesday’s practice as concerns grow over bone bruise

It doesn’t sound as if Cody Zeller will be returning to the court soon.

NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

It appears that at the moment, Cody Zeller is not close to returning to the court for the Charlotte Hornets. As reported by Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, Zeller sat out Wednesday’s practice, and Hornets coach Steve Clifford isn’t optimistic he will return soon:

Zeller has been held out of contact drills this preseason while he receives treatment for a bone bruise along his right knee. Wednesday he was held out of the entire practice.

"He’s not even doing the non-contact stuff at this stage, so he has a long way to go," said Hornets coach Steve Clifford.

Clifford’s words aren’t encouraging, and with the season starting in only a few weeks, Zeller’s availability opening night could be in doubt.

With Zeller out, Roy Hibbert will likely start at center, with Spencer Hawes filling in as backup. Along those lines, it’s possible Frank Kaminsky could see some time at center depending on the lineup. Christian Wood is another option as well.

Given how important this season is for Zeller (he’s entering the final year of his rookie contract) the hope is that this is the type of injury that will eventually fully heal, and not be one that bothers him over the course of the season.