Charlotte Hornets backup point guard Michael Carter-Williams’ season is over if he elects to have surgery on his sprained left shoulder.
Carter-Williams suffered that injury in the first half of Sunday’s road loss to the Toronto Raptors. Though he played in the second half, using a brace, the Hornets ruled him out for Tuesday’s home game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Coach Steve Clifford said rookie Malik Monk will back up starting point guard Kemba Walker at the point Tuesday.
Julyan Stone will be the third option at point guard, and the Hornets have called up Marcus Paige from the Greensboro Swarm (though he likely won’t be activated Tuesday).
Hornets coach Steve Clifford said Carter-Williams is consulting with doctors to determine the best course of treatment: Either to attempt to rehab the injury, or to go ahead and have an operation that would end his season. Carter-Williams will be an unrestricted free agent in July, after signing a one-year, $2.7 million contract last summer.
“He’s going to have to make a determination whether to try to strengthen it, or go ahead and get surgery,” Clifford said of Carter-Williams at shootaround Tuesday morning. “We won’t know for a couple of days.”
Carter Williams averages 16 minutes, 4.2 points and 2.7 assists this season. Though he has shot poorly (33 percent from the field) this season, Clifford values his defense, particularly because at 6-6, Carter-Williams can match up with shooting guards in the same backcourt with Walker, allowing Walker to play some off the ball.
It’s unclear how much time Carter-Williams might miss if he chooses rehab, rather than surgery. But it appears inevitable Monk will have a bigger role, possibly for the rest of the season. At 28-36, the Hornets are six games behind Miami and Milwaukee, in a tie for the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
This three-game home stand starting tonight (versus the Sixers, Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix Suns) is critical to any chance of the Hornets continuing to pursuing a playoff spot. Clifford said Tuesday the Hornets probably have to win at least two of the next three to have any shot at the post-season. If the Hornets are out of the chase, expect to see the younger players (Monk, Dwayne Bacon and Willy Hernangomez) play more the rest of the season.
Williams misses shootaround
Power forward Marvin Williams missed shootaround Tuesday with a migraine headache, and could be out for Tuesday’s game. If Williams can’t play, Frank Kaminsky would make his fifth start of the season, with Treveon Graham as the backup power forward.
MKG on Simmons
The key defensive matchup tonight will again be Michael Kidd-Gilchrist guarding Sixers rookie Ben Simmons, a 6-10 player starting at point guard, with Markelle Fultz injured. Simmons finished last week’s victory over the Hornets in Philadelphia with 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Kidd-Gilchrist finished that game with five fouls in 31 minutes.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell