By Ben Golliver
With all treatment options on the table, including at least one that might have ended his 2012-13 season before it started, Hornets guard Eric Gordon reportedly got some good news regarding his ailing right knee on Friday.
Yahoo! Sports reports that further evaluation of Gordon's surgically repaired right knee revealed that he will avoid surgery but be sidelined for at least the next month.
Hornets guard Eric Gordon tells Yahoo! Sports that a doctor in Chicago told him today he can return from his knee injury in 4-to-6 weeks. Eric Gordon also told Yahoo! Sports he needs no further surgery and will [do] rehab and strengthening prior to return from knee injury.
Earlier Friday, ESPN.com had reported that Gordon was facing the prospect of surgery, possibly even a microfracture surgery that likely would have been season-ending. On Thursday, CBSSports.com reported that surgery hadn't been ruled out.
Gordon, 23, told reporters on Thursday that he had suffered an unspecified "setback" that was causing him pain and said that there was "no timetable" for his return, refusing to rule out the possibility of a lost season. Asked for specifics, Gordon said that there was "nothing structural" wrong with his knee but also said that "there's damage," leading to some confusion over the apparent contradiction. Hornets fans were understandably frustrated, as they are eager to see Gordon, who signed a four-year, $58 million max contract over the summer, suit up, as he sat out all but nine games last season.
If Gordon, who did not play during the preseason and missed the Hornets' season opener against the Spurs on Tuesday, winds up sidelined for four weeks, he will miss New Orleans' next 12 games. If he is out six weeks, his absence would be pushed to 20 games.
A career 18.3 points-per-game scorer, Gordon is penciled in as the Hornets' No. 1 perimeter option, and he's an excellent pairing with No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Davis. Gordon earned a max offer sheet from the Phoenix Suns, which was matched by the Hornets, because he is an excellent shooter who can create his own shot and get to the foul line. When healthy, he can be an elite player from an efficiency standpoint.
Hornets coach Monty Williams is expected to start Greivis Vasquz and rookie Austin Rivers in Gordon's absence, using veteran Roger Mason Jr. off of his bench. Against the Spurs, Williams went just nine players deep in his rotation and relied on that trio to fill all available backcourt minutes. Rivers, who has battled ankle problems since being selected in the 2012 lottery, struggled in his NBA debut, scoring just seven points and shooting only 1-for-9 from the field. Two guard Xavier Henry and point guard Brian Roberts are also available to Williams, should he decide to go deeper going forward. This week, Gordon drew questions from some corners about his commitment to the game and to the Hornets after the team's management and coaching staff appeared to indicate that their doctors could not detect the cause of the pain Gordon reported in his knee. Hopefully those questions are put to bed with this diagnosis.