NEW ORLEANS - Hornets Coach Monty Williams announced that starting shooting guard Eric Gordon is out “indefinitely” due to an ailing right knee and will not play in Wednesday night’s NBA season-opener against the San Antonio.
“He’s going to be out,” Williams said. “And the way I understand it, he’s going to be out indefinitely until we get some more clarity on what’s going on.”
Williams hoped Gordon, who the team retained by matching a four-year, $58 million offer sheet from the Phoenix Suns this past offseason, would be able to play after he looked able in practices the previous three days.
Gordon, who played in just nine games last season after the knee was injured, would not speak to the media after Wednesday morning’s shoot-around. He said after Tuesday’s practice that he couldn’t “guarantee” he’d play in the season opener, citing pain.
Not having Gordon is expected to hurt a team whose average age is 24, one that has been struggling offensively, especially with turnovers.
“It’s more than a blow,” said Williams, who expected Gordon’s shooting and ball-handling to help steady his team. “It’s an unfortunate situation.”
Gordon missed 57 of 66 games last season because of the knee after the Hornets obtained him from the Los Angeles Clippers as part of the trade for Chris Paul. He had arthroscopic surgery on the knee in February to clean up loose particles.
After trying out for the U.S. Olympic team in early July, with reports indicating he played very well, Gordon said he began experiencing pain in the knee during workouts in early September as he was preparing for the start of training camp in October. He missed the entire preseason rehabilitating the knee but began practicing Sunday, and things seemed to look promising.
He had an MRI in the past few days, but Williams said he didn’t know the results. On Tuesday, he said he would speak with Dr. Scott Montgomery, the team’s physician, “to make sure we’re not doing anything that would hurt him going forward.” On Wednesday, Williams seemed ready to go forward with his team, which starts off with three games this week.
Gordon has been seen after practices playing one-on-one against assistant coach Carlos Daniel. After one practice, he and rookie guard Austin Rivers, who had re-sprained his right ankle in the preseaon finale against Miami, did drills in which they cut hard, left and right, then took shots.
Asked if it was a sign he’d finally be ready, Gordon said, “We’ll see.”
Asked if there were any restrictions on the knee, such as stiffness or weakness, he said it was more a case of discomfort.
“I’ve just been trying to do the best I can every day,” he said. “It has been feeling better throughout the process of a few weeks. It’s tough because I feel pain when I play.”
Gordon averaged 20.6 points in the nine games he played, and the Hornets went 6.3 in those games. This summer, he expressed disappointment after the Hornets matched the offer sheet from the Suns, but upon arriving in New Orleans said he looked forward to playing with the Hornets.