By Darrell Williams

Special to the Advocate

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Hornets General Manager Dell Demps said before Saturday’s game that guard Eric Gordon has been cleared for contact work for this week.

“He worked out (Friday), and we will integrate him into practices next week, and then we will make evaluations as to when we will get him back for games,” Demps said. “Once he’s at a plane where we feel that he’s ready to play in an NBA game, then we’ll have him play.”

Gordon, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee last February, has been rehabilitating the knee the past six weeks in Los Angeles. He has not played in a preseason or regular season game, but said before Wednesday night’s game against the Clippers that he expected to play by the end of December.

“I’m glad he said that,” Demps said.

“But I think we want to get him out, put him in situations where he’s comfortable, where he looks like he’s ready to play. And, we’ll make that decision as a group.”

Asked if there would be any playing-time restrictions on Gordon, Demps said “I don’t think it’s smart to play a guy (in Gordon’s situation) 48 minutes. I think we’re going to really take a look at the evaluations next week before we make that decision.”

Gordon took shots before Saturday’s game against Indiana but did not suit up, although he was on the bench.

The Hornets (5-21) matched a four-year, $58 million offer sheet from the Phoenix Suns in order to retain the rights to Gordon, who was obtained before the start of last season along with forward Al-Farouq Aminu and center Chris Kaman in exchange for Hornets guard Chris Paul.