The Charlotte Hornets start training camp tomorrow, but kicked the week off with the annual media day. With a chance to talk with coaches and players before the season, it’s typically a more lighthearted event. Whether you followed along or are catching up, here are a few highlights from the day (and a special thanks to those who attended and covered media day today).
Steve Clifford presser
Clifford spoke with the media, providing updates on players and what he expects in the upcoming season.
He spoke highly of the work Frank Kaminsky, Jeremy Lamb, and Cody Zeller put in this summer.
Clifford speaks extremely highly of the offseason that @hornets Kaminsky, Zeller & Lamb have had & the work they've put in.— Charlotte Hornets PR (@HornetsPR) September 25, 2017
Along the same lines, he says Nicolas Batum enters training camp in the best shape of his life (pics or it didn’t happen, Cliff):
Clifford says Batum is in best shape of his life - added strength. Great shape mentally and physically. "Couldn't be happier."#Hornets— Chris Kroeger (@Kroeger) September 25, 2017
Batum opted not to play with the French National team for the first time in his career, and instead spent more time in Charlotte preparing for the upcoming season. We often hear about players coming into camp in great shape, and it doesn’t always translate to better results on the court. Given Batum’s role, its encouraging that he committed himself this summer to improve his physical shape.
It’s also encouraging to see Lamb and Kaminsky singled out for their offseason work as well (same for Cody, but we expected nothing less, right?). Both have big seasons ahead of them.
Injuries already an issue
It isn’t all good news, however. Michael Carter-Williams still hasn’t been cleared for contact drills, and it sounds as if he won’t be able to participate for a while:
SIGNIFICANT: "He won't be able to do anything for a while." -- Steve Clifford on Michael Carter-Williams' knees.— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) September 25, 2017
To make matters worse, Julyan Stone has a groin injury, meaning the team has one healthy point guard (Kemba Walker) entering training camp, who, by the way, spent the summer recovering from knee surgery. Marcus Paige, who signed a two-way contract with the team, is participating in camp, and judging from this injury news, could be called up to start the season. According to Stone, however, the injury isn’t serious.
The team could also look to rookie Malik Monk, but his fitness is far behind, according to Clifford:
"The September part has been difficult for Malik" Monk, because he lost conditioning while rehabbing his ankle -- Steve Clifford.— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) September 25, 2017
- Batum spoke with reporters as well. He says his goal is to get Dwight Howard more touches, and believes he can collaborate with Dwight much like Hedo Turkoglu did with the Orlando Magic.
- Kemba says he feels great, and says its important the team gets stops in the fourth quarter this season.
- Rick Bonnell noted a different mentality from Jeremy Lamb:
You can tell a difference in Jeremy Lamb. Seems more mature and assertive in how he perceives himself at the NBA level.— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) September 25, 2017
- Kaminsky opened up about the difficulties recovering from chest surgery two seasons ago. It sounds as if it affected his development.
- Finally, a few players and coaches were asked about the recent comments made by president Donald Trump. Here’s what Walker, Howard, and coach Clifford had to say:
Kemba on LeBron tweet defending @StephenCurry30 "It's a brotherhood.. It's cool to see him having Steph's back."— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) September 25, 2017
Dwight Howard on President Trump: "He's said a lot of things that have hurt people." Says he offers Trump love, not resentment.— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) September 25, 2017
Clifford on athletes/social activism: "Living in a democracy is all about expressing your opinions, particularly in a peaceful' manner.— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) September 25, 2017