Eric Gordon insists New Orleans is for him
by Steve Kyler, USA TODAY Sports
When the New Orleans Hornets decided to trade All-Star guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2011, 24-year-old shooting guard Eric Gordon was deemed the gem of the trade for the Hornets. While draft picks and future salary cap flexibility were part of the move, Gordon was seen as the future franchise player for New Orleans.
The marriage by trade was hardly flawless. Gordon missed all but nine games last season because of a knee injury before hitting free agency in July. Gordon accepted a four-year, $58 million offer sheet from the Phoenix Suns in free agency and openly professed that Phoenix was where he wanted to be.
The Hornets exercised their right to match the offer sheet, forcing Gordon back to New Orleans and into controversy. Report after report suggested that Gordon didn’t want to be with the Hornets and that he didn’t want to play in New Orleans. As the team opened training camp in October, it was revealed the Gordon had sustained a setback in his knee recovery and that the team would allow him to rehab in Los Angeles, only fueling the belief that the Hornets and Gordon were soon to part ways.
Gordon, though, is trying to fit in with his team. On Tuesday, he bought breakfast for the entire staff.
On the court, he’s trying to step up. Gordon made his season debut on December 29 and is not only trying to right the ship of the nine-win Hornets, but also prove to his team that he wants to be part of what they are building in New Orleans.
“I definitely want to be the leader,” Gordon told USA Today Sports. “That’s what they brought me back here for and that’s what I am here to do.”
Gordon is being brought along slowly by the Hornets after missing 114 games over the past three seasons. With minute restrictions and monitoring of his knee, which includes heavy icing when he’s not in the game, the Hornets are hoping to keep Gordon healthy for the balance of the season.
“I am not in full shape and I am sore, very sore … [For more on Eric Gordon insists New Orleans is for him, click here.]