Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ -- New Orleans Pelicans shooting guard Eric Gordon steals the ball from San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker earlier this month in the Smoothie King Arena. Gordon has been the subject of trade rumors as the deadline approaches.

Eric Gordon will return to the New Orleans Pelicans for Monday night's game against the Washington Wizards, the team said after its shoot-around practice.

Gordon said he will be in the starting lineup. Gordon has been out since his left labrum was torn during a game against the Utah Jazz on Nov. 22 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He missed 21 games.

Gordon's return comes with Tyreke Evans questionable to play due to what the team said is an illness.

Gordon had participated in a team practice on Sunday with contact for the first time since he was injured. He and Coach Monty Williams said then it was likely he would play, but that a lot would be determined after Monday's shoot-around.

“Me and Coach talked a little bit about it late last night, and then we went to shoot-around this morning, and I was ready to go,” he said.

Gordon said he doesn't expect any minutes limitations. All during the rehabilitation of his shoulder, he was seen doing a lot of cardiovascular exercises. Williams said he was surprised at the level of his condition.

“It's up to coach, but I think I'm going to play normally like regular and play as long as I can as much as I can,” Gordon said.

Gordon said he worked very hard to avoid surgery and to be ready to play when the labrum, which was completely torn, became healed enough for him to return.

“It was a lot,” he said, smiling. “I would almost rather practice with the team normally than the stuff I was doing while I was rehabbing.

“But it's been good, and everything has been working out well and I just hope I finish out the rest of the season without dealing with too many hits to my shoulder or what-not.

“There's always going to be soreness, but I'm just going to go out there and have fun and play.”

Gordon has played in 12 games this season and has averaged just 9.5 points on 39.8 percent shooting as he seemed to struggle trying to adjust to playing in the starting lineup with Evans, who was in a key sixth-man role most of last season.

“I'm not coming in looking to be a stat stuffer,” Gordon said. “I just want to do what it takes to win.”

Gordon said it didn't matter if Williams had decided to bring him in off the bench to ease his transition with the team until he back condition-wise and as far as his level of play.

“To have everybody healthy, to have him back is a huge boost, especially that we want to have a great month,” forward Ryan Anderson said. “Eric just goes hard, and he makes the right plays.

“When you add a guy who can score 30 points in any game, it makes it hard for a defense.”