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, Gordon said, injuring his shoulder. The Pelicans initially termed the injury a subluxation, which is a dislocation.
The Pelicans (7-5) play the surprising Sacramento Kings (8-5) on Tuesday night at Smoothie King Center.
“It just popped out of the socket,” Gordon said of his injury Sunday at an event he sponsored. “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 yet known if Gordon’s injury is as serious as was Smith’s, although surgery usually is needed. Gordon will undergo further examinations this week by the team’s medical staff, the Pelicans said.
“(Surgery) is not always the case,” said Pelicans 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. However, that history mostly has involved his right knee. He played in nine of 66 games that season after having arthroscopic surgery on the knee. The next season, he played in 42 games of 82 games while rehabilitating the knee.
Last season, he played in 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-for-66 (28.9) percent, including 4-for-24 (16.7) on 3-point attempts.
However, starting with the Pelicans’ 139-91 home blowout of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 14, Gordon seemed to have broken out of the slump. He shot 4-for-4, including 2-for-2 on 3s, against Minnesota, and in the past five games, including Utah, he shot 24-for-42 (57.1 percent), including 10-for-17 (58.8) on 3s.
“It’s just been an adjustment,” Gordon said. “I’ve had to do a lot more catch-and-shoot” instead of driving to the basket.
Williams said he hadn’t fully contemplated how Gordon’s being out would affect the lineup, but 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, 6-feet-6, from small forward to Gordon’s shooting guard spot.
The Pelicans perhaps could get some good news heading into their game against the Kings. Center Omer Asik practiced “a little bit” Monday, Williams said. Asik has had a lower back injury and missed all four games on the team’s recently completed Western Conference road trip, in which it went 2-2.
Williams said he didn’t know if Asik would play Tuesday night. Asik did not talk with the media after practice Monday but 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 one day after losing a late lead in falling to the Trail Blazers in 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 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.”