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Michael Kidd-Gilchrist says “no question” he will return this season

Charlotte Hornets v Houston Rockets

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 31: Donatas Motiejunas #20 of the Houston Rockets battles for a rebound with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14 of the Charlotte Hornets during their game at the Toyota Center on December 31, 2014 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

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Early in the preseason, the Hornets lost Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to a shoulder injury, and the presumption was that he’d be out the entire year. That’s part of what’s made their success this year so surprising — many people, including myself, thought their playoff hopes were dead in the water once MKG went down, but they’re 17-17 and very much in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

As a bonus, they might not be without Kidd-Gilchrist for the whole season. On Wednesday morning, he seemed confident that he’s going to play at some point this season.

Via Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer:

Kidd-Gilchrist was recently cleared for all non-contact activities, following shoulder surgery in October to repair a torn labrum. If he progresses successfully in non-contact drills, he could be cleared in the coming weeks to start contact drills, the next step toward playing.

Kidd-Gilchrist’s original timetable suggested a six-month recovery time. So far he appears well ahead of that schedule.

“For sure. No question I’m going to play this season,” Kidd-Gilchrist told the Observer Wednesday at shootaround. “I’m going to play. It’s a matter of when now.”

Kidd-Gilchrist tore the labrum in his right shoulder in early October during an exhibition against the Magic in Orlando. He had surgery days later and the original projected recovery time was six months.

Kidd-Gilchrist suffered the injury in early October, meaning it’s been about three months since he had the surgery that originally put him at a six-month recovery timetable. It’s unrealistic to expect him back before the All-Star break at the earliest, even if he’s way ahead of schedule. Still, the Hornets weren’t planning on having him back this season at all, so if they can get a month or two out of him during the stretch run of the season while they fight for playoff positioning, that’s found money.