The contrast was hard to miss: Sean May running wind sprints with the strength-and-conditioning coach, and the rest of the Charlotte Bobcats shooting free throws.
This wasn’t punishment, it was preparation. Three days from the season-opener in Cleveland Thursday, May is still chasing starter’s conditioning. And his coach is still considering contingencies.
May and reserve small forward Adam Morrison are returning from knee surgeries that kept them out all last season. The difference between the two is May is a projected starter, and his coach has watched him play foul line-to-foul line much of the preseason.
“He’s made a lot of progress the last three days,” coach Larry Brown said of May, who started all eight exhibitions at power forward.
So what does Brown realistically expect of a May, who Brown previously described as being 50 percent of what he needs to be?
“If he gives us five or six minutes a half – (playing) hard – I’ll be happy with that,’’ Brown said after Monday’s practice.
That still leaves 19 minutes a half without May, and Brown is adapting. He still isn’t sure of the rotation, but his options appear to be free agent Andre Brown or playing one of two small forwards – Jared Dudley and starter Gerald Wallace – against power forwards.
“Early, you might have to go small,” Brown said of asking a small forward to match up with an opposing power forward.
Playing an undersized lineup can only make it harder to rebound for a team that has never been strong on the boards. Brown indicated Monday that could mean playing more deliberately to limit the number of possessions in a game.
That would be a concession, Brown said, to lacking depth.
“We’d still run off blocks and steals,” Brown said. “But we won’t be as helter-skelter (attacking the basket). More sets and more plays.”