Someone approached Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford recently, asking what it will take for rookie Malik Monk to escape the doghouse.

Clifford says no doghouse exists: He likes Monk’s potential, envisioning a bright future for the former Kentucky guard.

But the future isn’t the present. Clifford feels it’s not only his prerogative to coach Monk as he has, it’s also his obligation.

Monk, the 11th overall pick, played sustained minutes Saturday for the first time in five games. He totaled 17 minutes – all in the second half – of the Hornets’ 106-86 home loss to the San Antonio Spurs. In the previous four games Monk had totaled four minutes, including two “Did Not Play – Coach’s Decisions” against the Los Angeles Clippers and Washington Wizards.

Saturday was a logical juncture to re-insert Monk into the rotation. The Hornets were horrible offensively in the first half (29 points on 10-of-45 shooting). The starters mostly looked dead-tired, after the one-point road loss Friday to the Cleveland Cavaliers.