New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon will be out indefinitely with a torn left labrum, the team announced Monday.
Gordon was injured during Saturday’s game at Utah while guarding Jazz guard Trey Burke. Burke, in an effort to get around Gordon, grabbed his arm, hurting his shoulder, Gordon said. The Pelicans initially called the injury a dislocation.
The Pelicans (7-5), back from a four-game road trip, host the Sacramento Kings (8-5) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Smoothie King Center.
“It just popped out of the socket,” Gordon said Sunday. “It hurt really bad.”
It occurred at 4:35 of the second period, and Gordon didn’t return. He said the shoulder has popped in and out before, but nothing as serious as his current injury.
Former New Orleans center/power forward Jason Smith had a similar injury in 2013. After playing 51 games, 20 with the injury, Smith had surgery and missed the rest of the season. The post-surgery diagnosis was four to six months to heal.
It is not known whether Gordon’s injury is as serious as Smith’s was, although surgery is usually needed. Gordon will undergo further examinations this week, the Pelicans said.
“(Surgery) is not always the case,” said coach Monty Williams, a former NBA player. “I (tore) it before, and I didn’t have surgery. Sometimes you can rehab it and strengthen the muscles around it. I’ve seen guys have surgery, and I’ve seen guys play through it. So it just depends on the severity of it, and we’re still getting all that information. Something happens like that, and our doctors send (X-rays) all over the country to make sure we’re getting all the right info.”
Gordon has had a history of injuries since coming to New Orleans in the Chris Paul trade before the 2011-12 season, but that mostly involved his right knee. He played in nine of 66 games that season after having arthroscopic surgery. The next season, he played in 42 of 82 games while rehabilitating the knee.
Last season, he played 62 games, the most since his rookie season, before missing the final weeks with knee and ankle ailments. He had offseason surgery on his left ankle.
“I just feel bad for him because he was starting to get his rhythm playing,” Williams said. “He was shooting the ball well, attacking the basket, playing really good defense. He ends up hurting his arm on a play where he was playing really good defense.”
While adjusting to a new role with Tyreke Evans taking his place as a primary option in the offense, Gordon had struggled shooting this season. In the season’s first seven games, Gordon shot 19-of-66 (28.8 percent), including 4-of-24 (16.7 percent) on 3-pointers.
But starting with the Pelicans’ 139-91 home blowout of Minnesota on Nov. 14, Gordon seemed to break out of the slump. He was 4-of-4, including 2-of-2 on 3s, vs. Minnesota, and in the past five games, he has shot 24-of-42 (57.1 percent), including 10-of-17 (58.8 percent) on 3s.
Williams said he hadn’t thought completely through how losing Gordon would affect his lineup, but he added that backup guard Austin Rivers might start in Gordon’s place. Another option could be to start Luke Babbitt or John Salmons at small forward and move Evans from small forward to Gordon’s shooting guard spot.
Elsewhere on the injury front, the Pelicans could get some good news heading into Tuesday’s game. Center Omer Asik practiced “a little bit” on Monday, Williams said. Asik (back) missed all four games of the road trip; the Pelicans went 2-2.
Williams said he didn’t know whether Asik would play Tuesday. Asik did not talk with reporters after practice Monday; he did cardio work on an elliptical machine, then received treatment on his back.
The Pelicans played at Sacramento on Nov. 18 and, with Asik out, Kings center DeMarcus Cousins had 24 points and 17 rebounds. New Orleans’ Anthony Davis had 28 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and two steals, and the Pelicans won 106-100 a day after losing a late lead while falling at Portland.
Asik had attempted to return before Saturday’s game at Utah but had a setback with his back in warmups. He is considered day-to-day.
“(Without Asik), we’re probably helping more (on defense) than we planned on helping,” Williams said. “He typically guards his man one-on-one without a lot of help. At the same time, that’s what we have to do, and we’ve dealt with (injuries) the past four years.”