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.
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.