New Orleans Pelicans shooting guard Eric Gordon, out since Nov. 22 with a torn left labrum, said he may return to practice on Sunday.
That would be Jan. 4, one day before the team's game against the Washington Wizards at Smoothie King Center.
“I think I might get my first practice on Sunday,” Gordon said after Tuesday's shoot-around practice. “Sunday, I think I'll be able to practice.”
Gordon, who has been rehabilitating the shoulder the past five weeks and has missed 18 games, participated in the shoot-around, then sat at his locker with the shoulder wrapped with an ice pack. He did extensive shooting drills after Monday's practice. He said he is resigned to the fact there will be discomfort in the shoulder.
“Right now, I’m trying to strengthen it, release most of the discomfort and get comfortable, more of a mindset comfortable in trying to get back out there,” Gordon said. “Everything has been good, and I'll try to get a few practices before I get back out there.”
Gordon opted to rebab the shoulder after talking with others who had the same ailment. Surgery was the other option, but healing and rehabilitation would have taken at least six months, ending his season.
Gordon said he has been encouraged by the progress he's made and the fact that the injury, which is to his non-shooting shoulder, has not affected his shot.
“It's all about keeping on having that mindset of trying to play regular and not think about it," he said. "That's the next step, because any hard fall or hit is going to make it uncomfortable. So, we just have to see how it goes.”
Gordon said he wouldn't need a lot of practices before he could play in games. He has been doing cardiovascular exercises since the injury.
“Right now, I'm in pretty decent shape, and by the time I practice and go out there, I should be fine to get going,” he said. “I don't know what game, but I don't need that much practice.”
Gordon said he's OK doing basic functions, such as dribbling with his left hand, finishing left-handed layups and grabbing rebounds with both hands. He has played one-on-one and two-on-two basketball with teammates and assistant coaches.
“I'm able to do all the things I'm capable of,” he said. “Now it's about having that mental issue to play through all the contact, getting hit on my left arm and shoulder, just continue to play and play normal. … But the strength is coming back there.”
Before the injury, Gordon was the starting shooting guard, with Tyreke Evans at small forward. Evans is now at shooting guard, with Luke Babbitt at small forward.
It is unknown if the lineup will revert to it's original status if Gordon returns.
Point guard Jrue Holiday said he was looking forward to seeing Gordon play again.
“He's definitely a big part of our team,” Holiday said. “Before he got hurt, he was just starting to hit his stride. He's a strong guard, a guy who can defend three positions. I can't wait for him to come back.”
Gordon was averaging 9.5 points on 41.6 percent shooting. He is in the third year of a four-year, $58 million contract. He can opt out of it at the end of this season, although that appears unlikely.