Henry expects to play within two weeks

Thursday, January 5, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Xavier Henry has learned quickly that trade rumors – and trades – are part of life in the NBA. In recent weeks, the 20-year-old heard his name and that of then-Memphis teammate Greivis Vasquez come up in rumored deals. On Dec. 23, Vasquez said goodbye to Henry and the Grizzlies, in a trade that brought Vasquez to New Orleans. Henry didn’t know it at the time, but he would soon follow in Vasquez’s footsteps.

During a Jan. 1 game at Chicago, Memphis All-Star power forward Zach Randolph suffered a knee injury that will keep him out for the next six to eight weeks. Even though Henry is a shooting guard, he seemed to sense that Randolph’s extended absence from the lineup might have an effect on his own future. He was proven correct just two days later.

“(I was) a little bit (surprised by the trade to New Orleans),” Henry said. “But at the same time, when I saw (Randolph) go down and heard it was a significant injury, I knew that (Memphis) needed a big man. I knew from previous talks, with Greivis and me being mentioned, that I was probably the other one (who would be traded).”

Henry learned Tuesday that he was headed to New Orleans; he arrived in the city the next day. Unfortunately for the 6-foot-6 wing, he’s also temporarily dealing with an injury. Henry sustained torn ankle ligaments in mid-December, but hopes to be back on the court relatively soon. “I think I’ll be out there in the next two weeks,” Henry said. “I have a good estimation of 10 days. I’ve been doing running, cutting, things like that.”

Monty Williams believes Henry can play shooting guard or small forward. At the moment, there are more minutes available at the 3, due to Trevor Ariza’s injury absence. Eric Gordon is the starting 2, while Marco Belinelli is serving as Gordon’s backup. “I always believe that I could play 2 or 3,” Henry said. “And if I come in hard, play hard and work hard on defense, I’ll have an opportunity here.”

“When he’s healthy, he’s going to play for us, because he can do a number of things on the floor,” Williams assessed. “I told him my biggest issue with guys is defending and competing, playing hard. Offensively, he has some things that you can’t really teach. He’s got a good feel for the game. He can shoot the ball, not to range yet, but he can shoot to 18 or 19 feet. He’s just got to get himself healthy. We’re looking forward to that.”