One of the most promising yet tragic careers in the NBA belongs to New Orleans Hornets shooting guard Eric Gordon. Despite his world-class talent, Gordon has never been able to reach his projected level of stardom.
The driving force behind this upside derailment is Gordon's long history of knee injuries.
In the latest episode of disappointment, Jim Eichenhofer of Hornets.com reported that Gordon would miss the Hornets' season-opener against the San Antonio Spurs. Gordon was also ruled as out "indefinitely."
This comes via Hornets head coach Monty Williams.
Eric Gordon out vs. Spurs. Monty: "The way I understand it, he's going to be out indefinitely, until we get more clarity on what's going on"— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) October 31, 2012
This is yet another absence in a four-year career that has now seen Gordon miss 109 games. For those keeping track, that's 34.8 percent of the games he was scheduled to appear in.
Even still, the Hornets rewarded the shooting guard with a four-year, $58 million contract this offseason (via ESPN). A deal that some Hornets fans have begun to question, despite the organization's claims that they are confident in Gordon's recovery.
Confidence that has not been met by results.
Gordon Wants to Play
Hornets general manager Dell Demps offers insight on the situation and defends his star player.
"[Eric Gordon is] not trying to sit out," Hornets General Manager Dell Demps said. "He wants to play. He's doing everything he possibly can to get out there on the court. I don't understand why people are trying to rip him."
"We made a big financial commitment to him, and we believe in him," Demps said. "I'm sad that he's not playing. But I'm also sad for him because I know he wants to play. No one wants to play more than Eric Gordon right now."
Although encouraging, this is far from a guarantee of his return from injury. Instead, it simply acknowledges that Gordon's frustration is growing with his inability to remain healthy and on the floor.
So how long will he be out for?
Out for the Season?
According to Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune, Eric Gordon's latest MRI revealed what appears to be new damage to his surgically-repaired knee. This will force Gordon to miss an undisclosed period of time.
In fact, it could lead to him missing the entire 2012-13 regular season. Gordon himself offered a closer look at what he is experiencing.
"From talking to the doctors, from when I last told you guys in September until now, I have had a little bit of a setback as far as this injury. Nothing structural, but it has been a little bit of soreness and swelling to where I'm only listening to the doctors and they can see and tell that it's been a little damage.
I've had MRIs, and I went to the team and they've always been aware of my injury. I have had MRIs lately, so I'm looking forward to seeing what's happening this weekend to see what's furthermore. ... I will hear what the doctor's thinking this weekend."
That's the reason why I'm not playing. The past three days I've been practicing because I thought it would be something I might have to deal with pain-wise. I went to the organization the other day and told them 'This is not feeling too good. It's very painful.' We went and got another MRI."
"I don't know [if I'll miss the entire season]; I don't know at all," [Eric] Gordon said. "There's still no timetable...There's damage," he said. "I'll figure [it] out this weekend."
If Gordon were to miss the duration of the 2013 regular season, that would bring his total to 139 missed games in two seasons. Worst of all, it would mean that Gordon will have played in just nine games in two years with the Hornets.
A highly-paid risk for New Orleans, indeed.
Impact on the Hornets
Without Eric Gordon in the lineup, the New Orleans Hornets will be forced to start rookie Austin Rivers at shooting guard. Although talented, there is a significant gap between the current consistency and quality of production by Gordon and Rivers.
From a 20-point-per-game scorer in Gordon to an unproven commodity in Rivers, the Hornets are no longer a favorite to surprise the Western Conference and make a postseason push. Instead, they're a team of significant youth and unanswered questions on the perimeter.
After all, who is expecting Greivis Vasquez to continue putting up 13 assists per game?
With Gordon in the lineup, the Hornets are a team of extraordinary balance. Gordon and Ryan Anderson are elite perimeter scorers who can alter the outcome of games with their respective shooting abilities.
Paired with Anthony Davis down low and Al-Farouq Aminu slashing, the Hornets have created a two-way attack that could win a significant amount of games. Unfortunately, Gordon's unavailability will put an end to any plans of making this playoff-caliber unit function.
The mysterious knee continues to hinder Eric Gordon's development as the leader of this franchise. It also serves as a reminder that even the brightest stars can have their careers altered by injury.