All-Star point guard Kemba Walker will miss his first game of the season Wednesday, when the Charlotte Hornets play the Raptors in Toronto.
Walker suffered a bruised left shoulder in a collision with LaMarcus Aldridge during the second half of Saturday’s home loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Walker returned to the game, but couldn’t practice Monday or Tuesday before the Hornets flew to Toronto for the first of two road games (they play the Miami Heat Friday).
The Hornets ruled Walker out at morning shootaround. That means Michael Carter-Williams, signed in July, will make his first start for the Hornets. Carter Williams, 6-6, was NBA Rookie of the Year with the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2013-14 season. However, his NBA career hasn’t progressed much since: The Hornets are his fourth NBA team, following stints with the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls.
Carter-Williams missed the preseason and the first 10 games of the regular season with soreness in both knees. He had Platelet-Rich Plasma procedures on both knees over the summer.
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Carter-Williams is averaging 15.4 minutes, 4.4 points and 2.5 assists. Carter-Williams played 45 games for the Bulls last season, starting 19.
Coach Steve Clifford has praised Carter-Williams’ defense repeatedly of late. However, Carter-Williams can’t deliver what Walker does; Walker averages 22.3 points and 6.2 assists, and is shooting 37 percent from 3-point range. Walker is the Hornets’ top scorer and their most reliable option in the half-court.
With Carter-Williams starting, rookie Malik Monk figures to have an expanded role Wednesday as the backup point guard. Monk’s minutes went to Carter-Williams lately. However, Monk played 17 minutes against the Spurs.
A third option at point guard, Julyan Stone, is listed as probable for the Raptors game. Stone hasn’t played since the second game of the season, Oct. 20, due to a hamstring injury.
With Walker out, it’s likely shooting guard Nic Batum will take on additional facilitator responsibility Wednesday. Batum missed the loss at Cleveland Friday after aggravating his left elbow injury.
There is no projection whether Walker might miss games beyond Wednesday in Toronto. The Hornets are on a two-game losing streak, after winning three in a row.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell