Saturday trade acquisition Jerryd Bayless was anticipated to arrive in New Orleans Sunday and make his practice debut Monday at the Alario Center. New Orleans head coach Monty Williams, who worked with Bayless while both were in Portland over the last two seasons, provided this scouting report after today's practice: “To say that Jerryd is a prototype point guard, that would be false. But I think he’s a guy that can play the point, and also morph into that combo shooting guard who can disrupt defenses with his penetration. He’s gotten a lot better at shooting threes and he’s tough. He’s 6-3, 205 pounds. He has nice size to him… I think he can play along with Chris (Paul) against certain guys.”
Williams complimented Bayless’ work ethic, saying that the third-year pro often was found late at night working on his game in Portland’s practice facility. “He’s driven,” Williams said. “He wants to get better. He’s a guy who works too much, if you can (do that). He’s in the gym at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, and not just there – he’s getting up a thousand shots. It’s a good trade for us. We’re excited to have him.”
Although Bayless played significantly more in 2009-10 for the Trail Blazers than he did as a rookie in 2008-09, Williams believes there is still room for the player to improve, given additional opportunities to contribute. The 22-year-old was stuck behind accomplished veterans in Portland such as point guard Andre Miller and All-Star shooting guard Brandon Roy. “Guys have to play in this league to get better,” Williams said. “You can develop in practice, but in order for guys to do what they learn, they have to play. He has an opportunity to play here; (Portland) has so many guys at that position. They’re logjammed at the wing spot and guard spot.”
Other notes from Sunday’s practice:
• Marcus Thornton strained his left Achilles tendon in practice. He’s listed as day-to-day.
• The roster now includes 16 players, meaning at least one player will be cut by Monday’s deadline. Williams said he expects the Hornets to keep 15 players. “More than likely we’re going to go in with 15,” Williams said.
• Williams said he hopes to finalize his rotation in the next day or so for Wednesday’s opener vs. Milwaukee. However, the recent moves, such as the Bayless trade, make the process a bit more complicated. “Once we get Jerryd in here, we’ll be able to set it a little bit better,” Williams said. “Barring an injury, Jerryd’s going to play. He’s got to figure out the sets and all that, but he’s a guy that can help us. The rotation isn’t set; I’m going to sit down with the coaches tomorrow probably and set that. I wouldn’t say it’s set in stone yet.”