Bobcats coach Silas intends to test out young players during next 16 games

By Steve Reed ,AP

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — With the Bobcats out of playoff contention, coach Paul Silas wants to see what his young kids can do the rest of the way.

Silas said Monday he plans to play the team’s younger and less experienced players extensively over Charlotte’s final 16 games.

That means Kemba Walker will start at point guard in place of D.J. Augustin, who has been hampered by a knee injuries. Also, Reggie Williams will continue to fill in at small forward for Corey Maggette, who could miss the rest of the season with a strained Achilles. The other starters will be guard Gerald Henderson, power forward Byron Mullens and center Bismack Biyombo.

The Bobcats are an NBA-worst 7-43 this season and have lost seven straight and 12 of their last 14.

Silas said now is a perfect time for the Bobcats to see what they have on the roster, which will help as they move forward into next season.

“We still want to win games, but the fact is we have to find out what these kids are about,” Silas said. “If we were going for a playoff berth or something like that then absolutely we would want our veteran players in there. But we’re not, so we want these guys to play and see how they react.”

Collectively this Charlotte’s new starting five has started a mere 151 games, or 425 fewer than Miami’s LeBron James.

Henderson has started 39 games this year — the most of any Bobcats player — and 69 for his career. Williams has started 30 games in his career, including 11 this season. This is the first year starting for Biyombo (25 starts), Walker (17) and Mullens (10).

“I just want to see how these guys play over a period of time,” Silas said.

Meanwhile, forward Tyrus Thomas, whom the Bobcats still over US$26 million over the final three years of his contract, is back on the bench. Thomas has struggled this season, averaging just 5.8 points and 4.2 rebounds despite starting 29 games.

Silas says he’s been pleased with the young players in recent weeks, including Mullens, who scored 20 points and had nine rebounds in a 110-107 loss to Detroit Saturday night. Although Mullens is in his third season, Silas said it’s essentially his rookie season since he only played 137 minutes in Oklahoma City.

“Hopefully they can keep it going,” Silas said. “You look at these kids and you forget that they are just kids and they’re not veteran players. It takes time for them to learn.”

The Bobcats travel to Toronto to face the Raptors on Tuesday.

Silas said Maggette will not be available at all this week and said it’s possible he may not play again this season.

It hardly makes sense for Maggette to hurry back when the Bobcats don’t have much to play for this season. If he doesn’t play again this year Maggette will have only seen action in 29 of the team’s 66 games this season because of injuries.

“That’s really up to him,” Silas said. “I know he’s out at least a week but I’m not sure (if he’s done for the season). But I’m going to play the younger guys anyway. I’d still like to have him, but the younger guys are mostly going to play.”

Maggette was unavailable for comment Monday. He received treatment and left the facility early.

The Bobcats are closing in on clinching the worst record in the NBA, which would assure them a 25 percent of the of landing the No. 1 pick in the NBA lottery and the option to take Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, the AP player of the year, should he choose to turn pro.