NBA AM: Is Eric Gordon Finally Healthy?
Eric Gordon - VIDEO OF THE DAY
New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon talks about being healthy, his new teammates and how good New Orleans can be this year.Watch More Video Here
Time To Believe: For the first time in as many years has he can remember New Orleans guard Eric Gordon is walking into the first regular season game without a major injury or rehab in his immediate future. The oft-injured guard was the center piece of the 2011 Chris Paul trade that landed Gordon, forward Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman and a 2012 first round pick (Austin Rivers) in New Orleans. Kaman has since left the team via free agency but Gordon, Aminu and Rivers remain.
Gordon has battled a series of debilitating knee injuries that have many doubting his durability and longevity, but Gordon, who missed a few preseason games due to knee soreness, says he’s actually as healthy has he’s been in a long time and that giving him optimism about the season.
“The past two years I haven’t been able to play in training camp,” Gordon told HOOPSWORLD. “Either I was having surgery or rehabbing from one, I was coming in halfway through the regular season trying to make up games. It’s been tough, but it’s great to get to go through training camp now, it’s been very exciting.”
New Orleans was aggressive this offseason, trading for All-Star guard Jrue Holiday on draft night and then signing all-purpose scorer Tyreke Evans away from Sacramento. Gordon has a history with both players, so their 7-1 preseason run and obvious chemistry isn’t overly surprising.
“Everybody just has a great attitude and is being unselfish,” Gordon said. “We know we want this to be an important year for us, even though we’re a young team. But, we’re looking forward to making things happen for this year and the future.
“We’re all starting to get healthy now and number one thing for us is team chemistry. We’ve built it up pretty fast this preseason, so now I think we’re ready for the regular season and to spark up a lot of things.”
New Orleans has provided a substantial amount of scoring depth in both their guard acquisitions, lifting some of the burden off of Gordon. Last season New Orleans needs Gordon to be a volume scorer in order to have a chance to win. This season he won’t have to carry such a huge workload.
“It’s great to have those guys because they’re big time playmakers and [opponents] can’t just stop every guy,” Gordon said. “That’s a good thing because we have us guards able to play-make like that for the whole team.
“There’s so many possessions in a game, we’re all going to have the ball in our hands and definitely play-making in tough situations.”
New Orleans selected big man Anthony Davis with the first overall pick in 2012. Gordon saw first-hand how good Davis could be last year, even with all the injuries. For New Orleans to get where they want to be this year they will need a lot from Davis, someone Gordon believes is ready to take the next step.
“He’s just more comfortable out there as far as scoring, positioning himself and everything is just more fluid for him this year,” Gordon said.
No one around the team will allow themselves to get baited into the playoff discussion, simply because it’s too early and the team has been coached to be extremely humble.
But for Gordon, he looks at his team after a string preseason run, as ready for the next step.
“For sure we’re good enough to be in the playoffs this year and we all think that,” Gordon said. “It’s all about staying healthy and everybody sticking together as a group and I think we’ll be there.
“You never know what happens and that’s the thing about this league and the crazy part about it is that any team can beat someone else in this league. For us it’s all about staying consistent and winning.”
While it’s easy to write off preseason success as meaningless, historically teams that have lost only one preseason game have gone on to make the postseason more times than not. New Orleans was fifth in preseason in scoring averaging 101 points per game, while holding teams to just 94.5 points.
New Orleans lone loss of the preseason came at the hands of the Miami HEAT, after putting down the likes of Houston, Dallas and Oklahoma City.
New Orleans opens their regular season on Wednesday October 30.
We Want To Know:
Camby Out, But Not Done: The Houston Rockets are expected to release back-up center Marcus Camby today after hearing that he will miss anywhere from two to three months after opting for surgery to repair his left plantar fascia, an injury that had been bothering him since last season in New York.
Camby told Marc J. Spears from Yahoo, that he would be having surgery and working to get back on the court and would not be retiring.
Camby, 39, has played 17 seasons in the NBA after being the second overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft.
Camby has had durability problems for most of his career having never played in 82 games in 17 seasons. His closest was 79 games for Denver in 2007-2008. Camby also played 59 of the 66 games after the 2011 NBA Lockout.
Out of a possible 1378 games, Camby has played in 973 of them. Said another way, Camby has missed 405 games in his 17 NBA seasons. In that span Camby has earned more than $123.6 million in salary.
Are you excited about the 2014 NBA Draft Class? HOOPSORLD’s Yannis Koutroupis offers up his first NBA Mock Draft of the season. Check it out here!
The Next To Go?: Unexpectedly, the Phoenix Suns pulled the trigger on a multi-player deal on Friday with Washington sending out center Marcin Gortat, guards Kendall Marshall, Shannon Brown and Malcolm Lee in exchange for injured center Emeka Okafor. The trade of Gortat wasn’t as surprising as was the timing.
With the first of many possible dominoes falling, who are some of the names to watch for next?
Goran Dragic, Phoenix: Gortat was the first shoe to drop in Phoenix, the next one is likely Dragic. The Suns are talking long-term extension with guard Eric Bledsoe and if they are able to reach a deal, selling off Dragic likely comes next. The Suns are clearly trying to acquire draft picks and rookie scale players and while Dragic isn’t a bad fit, the goal for the Suns is to lose some games and develop young guys and that likely puts Dragic outside looking in. The problem for Phoenix in moving Dragic is unlike Gortat that was an ending contract, h3 is owed three more seasons at $7.5 million per and that’s a lot of money to move off without taking unfavorable situations back in return.
Ben Gordon, Charlotte: Gordon’s name has been kicked around a lot, mainly because he is an ending contract and he can still produce. The Bobcats believe they have a better team this year than last and it’s clear they have improved, especially defensively. If the Bobcats start to look like a playoff contender in the East, they may hold the line on Gordon and simply let his deal run out. If things start to falter in Charlotte, Gordon might be one of the chips Charlotte can cash to get additional players. Gordon is in the final year of his deal and is owed $13.2 million, at the trade deadline Charlotte will have paid almost 70 percent of that number.
Iman Shumpert, New York: The Shump situation is one to watch for sure for two reasons. The biggest being that the team just does not seem to have faith in Shumpert as a starter; the second is that rookie Tim Hardaway might be the better fit coming off the bench for what Mike Woodson wants out of his backup guards. The good news for the Knicks is that Shumpert has real trade value. The bad news for Shumpert is this might actually be the year New York moves him. The big X-factor is J.R. Smith, if he can return to action and to form fast enough, Shumpert could get squeezed out and that means he becomes expendable.
Evan Turner, Philadelphia: In preseason Evan Turner has logged the most minutes of any Sixer. He also led the team in scoring with 17.3 points per game. Its pretty clear the 76ers are showcasing and shopping Turner, the problem is he just isn’t the kind of player teams trip over to get after and Philly is absolutely looking to maximize their assets. It seems inevitable that Turner is moved, but it does not seem like it’s going to happen soon.
Jameer Nelson, Orlando: The Orlando Magic are also one of those teams looking to move veterans in exchange for draft picks and flexibility, which puts Jameer Nelson squarely on the trading block. Nelson was re-signed a year ago mainly because he wanted to remain in Orlando for family reasons and the Magic needed a steady veteran hand to help ease all of the change and had no other options due to their cap position at the time. With the future ready to play major minutes in Orlando, the past, namely Nelson is one of the odd guys out. The plus side of the equation is that he has no delusions that he is likely going to be traded and that eventually his minutes are going to shift towards rookie Victor Oladipo. The Magic will likely hang on to Jameer until they get a decent offer and Oladipo finds his groove in the NBA. If last year’s J.J. Redick trade was any indication of the thinking, look for the Magic to get serious about trades closer to the deadline and try and keep the distractions out of the locker room until they are ready make decisions.
We’ll delve into a few more of the “Next To Go…” in tomorrow’s NBA AM.
HOOPSWORLD’s Monday Schedule:
5 pm (est) – Alex Kennedy gets you up to date on the latest in the NBA with the NBA PM.
9 pm – Moke Hamilton drops his final power rankings of the preseason.
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