Peterson expected to be starter, backup PG uncertain

Wednesday, October 21, 2009
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Following today’s practice at the Alario Center, Hornets sixth-year head coach Byron Scott confirmed that Morris Peterson most likely will be the starting shooting guard when the team opens the regular season at San Antonio on Oct. 28.

“Right now I definitely think he’s going to start,” Scott said of Peterson. The sixth-year head coach said the backup point guard competition between Bobby Brown and Darren Collison is “still up in the air.”

Other notes:

• Our first look at Emeka Okafor probably won’t occur until the regular season.

“I don’t anticipate Emeka playing Thursday or Friday,” Scott said. “We just have to wait and see what’s going to happen after that.” Okafor said during Saturday’s shootaround that there is a “90 percent” chance he will be ready to play by the Oct. 28 ESPN game at the Spurs.

Scott is hopeful that the five-year pro will be able to practice by Sunday, giving Okafor three full days of practice prior to Oct. 28. “It would be nice if he’s out there with the guys (Sunday),” Scott said. “To me, it’s going to be hard (to immediately integrate Okafor). For a guy who hasn’t been playing this whole preseason, and didn’t go through training camp, it’s going to be tough. And it’s going to take an adjustment (period) for our guys to get used to him.”

Scott said Okafor’s absence and potential gradual integration would likely result in more minutes for Hilton Armstrong short-term. Even if Okafor is ready to play on Oct. 28, he probably will need some time to get back into full-fledged basketball shape.

• Ike Diogu estimated today that his chances of playing Oct. 28 at San Antonio are “75 to 80 percent.” The 6-foot-9 power forward’s knee has been improving, allowing him to participate in practices. “Hopefully everything goes well,” he said of the next week. “I’m responding well to a lot of things. I want to be out there on opening night.”

• Since 15 Hornets entered training camp with guaranteed contracts, it was going to be a tall order for any camp invitee to make the club. New Orleans released Earl Barron and Larry Owens this afternoon, reducing the roster from 17 to the regular-season maximum of 15 players.

• Asked to provide a “grade” on Julian Wright’s progress during preseason, Scott said, “If I had to give him a grade, it would probably be a B. He’s still learning, but he’s getting better. He’s starting to understand some of the things I’m talking about on both ends of the floor. The confidence level right now is OK. That’s one of the things we always talk about: Don’t pass up open shots. Shoot with confidence.”