Eric Gordon to rejoin Hornets Saturday, start workouts to return this month

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Eric Gordon is about to be back with the Hornets.

That’s when the work begins. First the work of practices and conditioning to get back on the court following the months of rehab to get his right knee healthy. Then there is the work of winning back a fan base that is ticked at him. To put it kindly.

But he will rejoin the team this weekend, reports John Reid of the Times-Picayune.

Hornets General Manager Dell Demps said the team won’t make a determination when Gordon will play his first game until after he goes through a couple of practices with his teammates. Gordon predicted Wednesday he will make his debut before the end of this month.

Gordon was the key player headed east when Chris Paul left the Hornets for the Clippers at the start of last season, a potentially elite two guard. But Gordon only played nine games after having knee surgery last season and the residual pain in his kneecap was causing issues in the rest of his leg, Gordon told the paper. For the past month Gordon was in Los Angeles on a specialized treatment plan to strengthen his leg.

“Coming out here definitely was the best thing because I’m better mentally and physically,’’ Gordon said. “They train you a whole different way and it just worked out. Now, I’m in position to really get back with the team and really get things going as far as practicing and getting back to playing….

“I’m more than 90 percent sure I’m going to play before this month is over,” Gordon said. “That’s what I’m striving for and I’m starting now to turn things up.”

Gordon has a lot of work to do to win the fans in New Orleans back once he does get on the court.

Last summer Gordon was a restricted free agent and signed a max-deal offer sheet with the Phoenix, one everybody knew the Hornets would match. But first Gordon begged New Orleans not to — that never sits well with a fan base, being told a guy doesn’t want to play for you.

Then while Hornets doctors said there was structurally nothing wrong with Gordon’s knee he talked about pain and headed to Los Angeles for rehab. At a time when New Orleans talk radio is primarily focused on the Saints people took time out to question Gordon and if he was trying to force a trade out of town.

He is back but not forgiven. He has a lot of work to do. First get on the court healthy, next win back the fan base. With him and rookie Anthony Davis there should be hope around the Hornets, but it has not felt that way much of this season.

PBT Extra: Cavaliers’ new GM aces first big test with Kyrie Irving trade

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Everyone in the NBA — heck, nearly everyone living in the Western hemisphere — knew Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland. That should kill the Cavaliers’ leverage and make it hard to get enough quality back.

New GM Koby Altman — the guy thrust into the job when David Griffin was shown the door — pulled it off brilliantly.

That’s what I talk about in this new PBT Extra. With Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, the Cavaliers remain the team to beat in the East this season. The Brooklyn Nets pick gives them flexibility going forward, whatever LeBron James decides to do next season.

First time at the plate in the big leagues and Altman crushed it to straight away center field.

Cavaliers-Celtics deal first offseason trade involving players who just met in NBA Finals or conference finals

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The Cavaliers and Celtics played in last year’s Eastern Conference finals. The teams were widely expected to meet there again.

Yet, Cleveland and Boston just completed a blockbuster trade – Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.

That seemed odd.

In fact, it’s unprecedented.

That is an incredible fact, one which speaks to LeBron Jamescachet. The Cavs are emphasizing this season, LeBron’s last before a player option, by loading up with veterans Thomas and Crowder. With LeBron still reigning in Cleveland, the Celtics are delaying their peak by acquiring the younger Irving.

Adding to the intrigue: the Cavs and Celtics are still favored to meet in this year’s conference finals. At minimum, they’ll face off in a(n even more) highly anticipated opening-night matchup.

PBT Extra: What does Kyrie Irving trade mean for LeBron James?

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In the end, the entire Kyrie Irving blockbuster trade was about LeBron James. It started because Kyrie Irving wanted out of LeBron’s enormous shadow. Cleveland went with this trade because Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder help them win now, and whatever LeBron decides to do next summer the Brooklyn pick (and maybe Ante Zizic) helps them build for the future.

But what does this trade mean to LeBron James?

Honestly, it doesn’t change much. That’s what I get into in this latest PBT Extra. LeBron is leaving his options open, but maybe this deal could help Cleveland keep him if it makes them more competitive with the Warriors.

Rumor: Young Bulls ‘can’t stand’ Dwyane Wade

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After a loss last January, Dwyane Wade (in conjunction with since-traded Jimmy Butler) lashed out at his Bulls teammates for not caring enough. Those younger players didn’t receive the message gratefully, questioning why Wade didn’t practice more.

The simple answer: Wade is 35, and he and his team are better served if he saves himself for games. But Wade also should have known his schedule left him ill-suited to criticize harder-working teammates.

The whole saga exposed the inherent tension that occurs when an accomplished veteran with declining skills is thrust into a leadership position on a mediocre team.

Consider that backdrop as Wade and Chicago dance around a buyout.

Nick Friedell on ESPN discussing Wade getting bought out:

This is inevitable. It’s coming. It’s a matter of when, not if.

But right now, guys, it’s just kind of a staring contest. Everybody’s looking at each other saying, “OK, how much money are you willing to give up?”

And Gar Forman, the Bulls’ GM, at summer league, said, “Oh, we’re not having conversations.” I don’t think that’s the case. I think Dwyane’s agents and the Bulls are wanting to get this thing done.

But I’d really be surprised if it happened before the season. I still think it’s more likely that it’ll happen probably somewhere in December or January.

But this is a divorce that’s going to happen. It’s just going to take some time.

The young players on the Bulls really can’t stand Dwyane, and it’s the little secret in Chicago. They have had enough.

Wade’s January criticism was reportedly particularly directed at Nikola Mirotic and Michael Carter-Williams, neither of whom are on the roster. (Mirotic, a restricted free agent, will likely return.) Even if Wade’s comments cast a wider net, Jerian Grant, Paul Zipser, Denzel Valentine, Bobby Portis and Cristiano Felicio are the only young players still on the team from that time. None of those players deserve much influence in how the franchise operates.

Still, no matter what the young players want, it’s clear Wade no longer fits on a rebuilding Chicago. They might get their wish.

Wade is set to earn $23.8 million in the final season of an expiring contract. That salary could prove useful in a bigger trade.

If bought out, Wade would count as dead money against Chicago’s cap at his buyout amount. They Bulls should obviously be amenable if he sacrifices enough, but a small discount doesn’t justify locking into that money rather than having a trade chip available.

If Chicago is deep into the cellar as expected after the trade deadline, a buyout would be completely logical then. Maybe the Bulls even assess the trade market sooner and conclude Wade’s huge expiring contract won’t facilitate a trade.

It’s easy to see a buyout happening eventually. In the meantime, Wade and his younger teammates will just have to get along. I trust Wade’s professionalism to make this situation at least tenable, but Fred Hoiberg might have his hands full building cooperation with all the people involved.