The Charlotte Bobcats took their first injury blow of the preseason Thursday when the team announced reserve center Brendan Haywood will miss at least 12 weeks with a stress fracture in his left foot.
Charlotte-based foot specialist Dr. Bob Anderson diagnosed the injury. Haywood is scheduled to have surgery next week to place two screws, stabilizing a navicular bone. Based on that recovery schedule, Haywood would miss at least the first nine weeks of the regular season.
Haywood, a 7-footer entering his 12th NBA season, had been limited in training camp at UNC Asheville by soreness in his left foot. The injury was originally described as a sprain, and he sat out the Bobcats’ first exhibition game Tuesday against the Atlanta Hawks.
Haywood was not at practice Thursday.
Though Haywood would have been third on the depth chart at center, behind Al Jefferson and Bismack Biyombo, this is still a blow because capable centers are so hard to find.
“First of all, on a personal level, I’ve seen how hard he’s worked all summer to keep his body in shape so he had the best chance possible to be ready for the regular season,” said coach Steve Clifford. “Everything was done with a good schedule. You feel for him.
“From a team standpoint, it’s a hit. He’s our biggest guy, he’s our best basket protector. When he got on the floor the day that he got hurt, he was moving well.”
Haywood tried participating in practice Monday, but had to sit out.
Clifford was asked if missing Haywood might induce the Bobcats to bring in another center this preseason. Beyond Jefferson and Biyombo, the Bobcats have free-agent center Patrick O’Bryant, who didn’t play against the Hawks.
“I think they’ll keep options open. If somebody became available, who (Bobcats executives) Rich (Cho) and Rod (Higgins) thought could help, I’m sure we have the flexibility to add somebody to the roster,” Clifford said.
O’Bryant is a former first-round pick of the Golden State Warriors who hasn’t played in the NBA since 2010.
“He’s been fine,’’ Clifford said of O’Bryant. “For somebody like him it’s doubly hard. He’s coming in and learning something totally new. In another situation (where there wasn’t a new coaching staff and new big men also adjusting) there’d be more of an opportunity to learn from the other guys.
“But he’s a bright guy, he’s got good size and he’s skilled.”
Two guards cut: The Bobcats made their first cuts of the preseason, sending home free-agent guards Troy Daniels (Virginia Commonwealth) and Abdul Gaddy (Washington). That leaves the roster at 16, with 13 guaranteed contracts. The NBA regular-season maximum roster is 15.
Midwest trip: The Bobcats leave on a three-game preseason trip, playing the Miami Heat in Kansas City on Friday, the Bucks in Milwaukee on Saturday and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Canton, Ohio, on Tuesday.
None of these games are televised, but there is radio play-by-play on WFNZ-AM 610.