Practice Report: Price Out, Hickson and Barton Back In
A few quick items of note from the Trail Blazers' Oct. 14 practice in Tualatin prior to flying out for Monday's preseason game in Sacramento.
• Ronnie Price (right ankle sprain) did not practice and will not travel with the team to Sacramento for Monday night's game . Head coach Terry Stotts said Price's ankle is improving, but not to the point where he'd be ready to go Monday against the Kings. In fact, Stotts said they're hopeful Price, who was on crutches after rolling his ankle against the Suns on Friday night, is available for the regular season opener on Halloween night, so it's possible he won't play through the rest of the preseason.
• While Price sat out Sunday's practice, both JJ Hickson (bruised rib) and Will Barton (strained hamstring) returned to practice and are expected to play against the Kings on Monday. Barton has miss both preseason games and a significant number of practices waiting for his hamstring to heal, while Hickson missed only one practice and and one game (against the Suns) after bruising his ribs in the victory against the Lakers.
• Guard/forward Justin Holliday practiced with the Trail Blazers on Sunday after being claimed off the waiver wire on Friday. I assume he'll be available for Monday night's game, though with only one day of practice, I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't play.
• Head coach Terry Stotts said he hadn't given much thought to who would start Monday against the Kings, though he did say he'd probably go back to the lineup he used against the Lakers, which featured JJ Hickson as a starter at center. Rookie Meyers Leonard started in Hickson's place versus the Suns.
• In position news, Terry Stotts noted that Nicolas Batum, the starter at small forward, is "probably my first choice as a backup two." Ronnie Price's injury means Nolan Smith is now the primary backup at point to Damian Lillard, which means Smith's minutes at off-guard are now up for grabs. It sounds like Stotts would like to give those minutes to Batum, who played some shooting guard last season, rather than Will Barton, Sasha Pavlovic or Adam Morrison, at least for the time being.
Stotts was also asked if playing Barton at point guard was an option, something that had been mentioned earlier in camp. While Stotts said he saw Barton as a ballhandler who could make plays, he stopped short of saying he would play the rookie out of Memphis at the point.