Oh no. Here we go again. As the New Orleans Hornets were finishing up final preparations
for their regular season tipoff tonight against San Antonio , head coach Monty Williams delivered frightful news fit for Halloween. Guard Eric Gordon, the team’s top offensive player, would be out indefinitely due to recurring knee issues.
Gordon has missed the entire preseason schedule due to knee soreness and the team had hoped that by resting him for the month he would be ready to start the season. That not only didn’t happen -- but to make matters worse no one either knows why Gordon’s knee continues to give him problems or is not saying.
"He's going to be out," Williams told reporters following a shootaround Wednesday morning at the New Orleans Arena. "The way I understand it, he's going to be out indefinitely until we get some more clarity on what's going on, so I don't have to answer these questions every day and give you guys the update. We'll just go from there."
What? Are you kidding me? How do you go an entire month of sitting out and now it’s getting worse, by sitting and resting the knee? I didn’t go to medical school (only play Dr. Kattengell on my radio show) but conventional wisdom leads one to believe that if it is only October that by say March when teams make a push for a post-season spot, that knee won’t be healthier with minutes on the floor under it.
According to a Nola.com report, Hornets general manager Dell Demps didn't clarify matters any further. "He's processing some information right now and he doesn't have any comment," Demps said. "We don't have any comment right now. We're processing information and we will, at the appropriate time, give a statement."
Hornets fans have heard this before. Gordon was the centerpiece to last season’s Chris Paul trade to the Los Angeles Clippers. Gordon would only play nine games, however, missing 50 games in the shortened year due to a knee bruise which required surgery in February.
The knee bruise became a bit of a joke around town as the team never really seemed to be able to diagnose or say what was the cause of the lingering issue with Gordon's knee.
Gordon did not speak with reporters following shootaround and was escorted out of the arena by a member of the Hornets media department. Gordon began full contact practice back on Sunday but on Tuesday following practice said “there are no guarantees” that he would play in the regular season opener.
Not helping matters with fans, during the offseason Gordon made his feelings known that Phoenix was the place he wanted to play. The Suns offered him a four-year $58 million max-deal and Gordon was unhappy that the Hornets didn't offer him a five-year max deal that could have been offered, which prompted his famous “heart was in Phoenix” remark. Fans at that time expressed unhappiness with the guard’s attitude -- and one can imagine this doesn't help things.
"I've checked with Doc," Williams said, "but for him to explain to me what's going on with his body and then have Eric feel a certain way doesn't matter. You know what I'm saying? If Doc says one thing and the guy is feeling another, then you have to . . . what am I supposed to say?”
“Call him Erica Gordon,” one caller to my show “The Sports Hangover” commented. Jimmy tweeted me, “EG will never suit up for the Hornets again in a game. Practice yes game no. Trade him NOW!!!”
“EG's last tweet "in two days its on and poppin" At least he's working the concession stand popcorn machine,” tweeted DMB Family to me showing that we still have a solid sense of humor around these parts. Comments on the Nola.com story show a fan base that either believes Gordon is faking, disgruntled or simply is a player who refuses to play though an injury.
By no means am I saying Gordon is faking. I’m neither in his body nor a doctor that is privy to his medical records that can determine if he is healthy or not. "I'm sure it's got to be medical. A guy just can't not play. It's got to be medical,” Williams added when talking about the frustration. “At this point of the year, everybody is excited to play. I'm sure it's medical."
The problem is Gordon hasn't exactly won everyone’s benefit of the doubt. Gordon tweeting about Indiana’s game from the locker room while the Hornets were on the court playing a game of their own last season is still fresh in people’s minds. Granted, he was hurt, ruled out of that game -- but a player can sit on the bench and be a part of the team. Tweeting so the whole world can see that you aren't interested in your team’s game isn't good. Gordon then had a national commercial for a shoe store in which it shows him next to an Indiana University jersey not a Hornets jersey. That didn't help.His "just chilling" acting in the spot prompted my nickname for him: "Just Chill."
Add that his "I love the Suns" comments came while he was trying out for the U.S. Olympic team seemingly healthy, and you can really see why this latest news isn't going well with fans. Let’s not forget the infamous picture he tweeted of himself running up sand dunes in California.
What is tough is that the team needs him. Gordon is easily the best offensive threat the Hornets have and is a player that is capable of dropping 20 points a game no problem. His loss hurts the team’s chances at winning basketball games. The Hornets were 21-45 last season mainly because their offense lacked scorers and that’s something that Gordon brings as he has averaged 18.2 points per game in four NBA seasons.
Another concern is did the Hornets buy damaged goods. Gordon has played fewer and fewer games in each of those seasons. 78 games his rookie season, followed by 62, with only 56 games in his third year.
The news puts a damper of what should be an exciting night. It’s the start of a new era with top overall pick Anthony Davis who had a very nice preseason and seeing a new young group of players that many NBA analysts believe could build into a solid team in the coming seasons.
Look: get to the bottom of this. If it is medical than fix it, find the source of the problem and get it fixed because you owe him $58 million guaranteed. If it isn't medical, then a conversation needs to be had on where to go from here. I just don’t think ushering him out and not commenting on things is the wrong way to go. I mean I’m supposed to believe that Wednesday before the season tips off, that is when everyone finds out he isn't doing well?
Hornets fans will still have fun Wednesday night whether they are at the Hive in person, watching on the new Fox Sports New Orleans channel that will televise the games to more viewers across the region than ever before or listen on the radio.
There is one thing this town enjoys and that is supporting a team that shows it will work hard, lay it on the line and put out the effort to try and win. Which is why I think you will never see Gordon jerseys outselling any other member of the Hornets any time soon.
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