Jimmy Smith of the Times-Picayune and NOLA.com caught up with Eric Gordon a few days ago, wrote that Gordon reported progress in the recovery from the knee injury, and that there still is no timetable for a return to the Hornets lineup. And then the fallout began.
It began again, actually, because this is hardly the first time Gordon has been accused of a sick out by 50 different names. It has become a familiar claim in New Orleans, it is unfortunate because there is every chance in the world the health issue is legit, it is disappointing because he has the talent to become a top-tier shooting guard … and it is his fault.
Not the ailment itself – criticize a player for bad performance, rip a GM for roster moves, jump up and down on a coach for poor strategy, but have something more than a fast Internet connection and WebMD.com bookmarked before accusing a respected pro of using a medical problem to take a dive. The reaction to things, of course, is on Gordon.
He set himself up for this in July, when he signed with the Suns as a restricted free agent and put out a statement that finished “Phoenix is just where my heart is now.” Gordon was trying to put public pressure on the Hornets to not match the offer sheet, a tact that never works and can only cause problems. New Orleans was going to match no matter what, as it should have, no matter how easy it to second-guess now. There was zero chance the comment could have helped and a pretty good possibility it would alienate fans who had supported a team in difficult times. Now, it is really hurting him.
Nicolas Batum tried it around the same time in hopes of tunneling out of Portland to get to Minnesota, then ended up red-faced and having to mend fences around the Blazers. Turns out Batum got off very, very easy. (His subsequent play obviously helped the healing process.) Gordon walked right into a public-relations mess by declaring his heart was not in New Orleans and then – whoops! – going straight to the sideline. Talk about a bad coincidence.
It doesn’t have to be wrong to look wrong, as the player and the team now face in ongoing terms with no sign of when a foundation of the Hornets future will make his 2012-13 debut.
“It’s getting better; progress is getting better, but there’s no straight-up timetable,” Gordon told Smith. “The main thing is things have been getting better. They’ve got a plan for me and the main thing is the pain level is going down. Just trying to get back to 100 percent before I get back out there playing.”
Gordon said he did not know the medical name for the ailment in the right knee, but added there has not been any swelling. The other sign of hope is the second opinion from a doctor in Chicago: “It’s almost like a disorder. There was a little bit of a bone bruise, and, you know, kind of like some of these other guys like (Andrew) Bynum and (Danny) Granger. Luckily my process will be shorter than that.”
The flip side being that Gordon has already missed most of last season as well, his first in New Orleans after being acquired in the Chris Paul trade. The one-year anniversary of the blockbuster is Dec. 14, and Gordon has played nine games, all in 2011-12.