Hornets Beat: Injuries Aplenty
With Anthony Davis concussed, Eric Gordon riding the pine for 4-6 more weeks, and Al-Farouq Aminu looking like a stud, we’re not short for topics this week.
1. What do you make of the news that it will be 4-6 more weeks before Eric Gordon will return?
Jason Calmes: My mind is open to any number of possibilities. It could be that there is residual damage from any known or known prior injury, and more recent injury, or some condition that is rearing its head. He had arthroscopic surgery, so damage could have been visually assessed. It could be unrelated to medical issues, as the 6 week mark lines up with the day he can be traded with his consent.
Michael McNamara: To be honest, I don’t believe it. We are supposed to believe that rest didn’t work for the last eight months, but magically it will solve this knee pain that exists though there is no structural damage? In five weeks, we will hear, “Eric is participating in practice, could be any day now.” Two weeks after that it will be, “Eric is still feeling pain, but we will revisit it in another week or two.” The, sometime in mid-January he will have surgery and will be out for the year. We’ve seen this story before.
Jake Madison: Honestly? I have no idea. I can’t imagine he is faking the injury, but it is a remote possibility that I can’t rule out. I guess my approach is basically wait and see because there isn’t much else we can do. This whole situation could play out any number of ways.
Mason Ginsberg: It scares me. I shouldn’t go to the extent of saying that I wish surgery had been the solution instead, but at least then we would have been able to identify the problem. Things seem just as cloudy as ever for Gordon, and as Michael said, it’s hard to buy into a proposed solution that has not appeared to work over the past year. Regardless, we have no choice but to ride it out and hope this timeline comes true.
Joe: From what he says, it reminds me of a recurring tennis injury I have in my arm and shoulder. I can play once or twice a week and experience only minor, temporary discomfort. But, if I play even a semi-rigorous schedule, my arm throbs. Using it for even day-to-day tasks becomes unbearable, and the idea of trying to play through it just isn’t a legitimate option. I can’t help but wonder if Gordon doesn’t experience similar pain and discomfort, and if the answer may just be to severely limit his participation. Or I’m just drawing parallels where there aren’t any…
2. If you could offer one piece of advice to Gordon, what would it be?
JC: “Eric, go seek advice of talented guards with maximum deals who faced injury. Ask them if they sat too long, missed too much time, got the right surgery. Use their knowledge to help you make the best decisions about getting healthy vs. playing hurt. Similar advice holds true if this is not about an injury.”
MM: “Have your agent look around the league and see if anybody would be interested in your services. This organization wants guys like Kobe Bryant- men who will play even when they feel like their foot is about to fall off. Deron Williams is playing with bone spurs in his foot and already has offseason surgery scheduled. This is not the right place for you, short term or long term.”
JM: “Broseph, get as much info as you can regarding this whole mess–both for injuries and if you want out of here. Use the knowledge to find a resolution to this situation–whatever it may be–and stop prolonging everything.
MG: “Work your butt off to get your knee back in playing shape. If it’s rehab and strengthening that the doctors recommend, then that’s what you have to do every single day. Listen to the doctors, your trainers, and your coaching staff. The only way to shed doubt about your future is by getting back on the court, so you need to do whatever you can to make that happen as soon as possible.”
Joe: “Get a freaking PR guy to supplement your Twitter account and to ghost write an “I Heart Nola” blog for you. Unless you undertake a fairly intensive PR campaign, the local fans aren’t going to give you the benefit of the doubt if this thing keeps you out longer than expected, or you have flare ups in the future that prevent you from taking the floor. Fight this house fire before the whole city is ablaze.”
3. Monty Williams commented on the NBA’s concussion policy, saying, among other things, that the league is treating players “like they have white gloves and pink drawers”. Do you think players should have the final say on whether or not they play?
JC: No, and by no means. We live in a litigious world, and legal liability rules the day silently in a black suit and shades. No insurance, no play. That’s a fact. A college dropout, or college never-was, that was not setting the world on first academically, which is the worst-case scenario in the NBA, should not be making decisions that will have to hold up as expert opinion in a court case. Even more so if they misdiagnose their condition as “clear.”
MM: If we could figure out time travel once and for all, I would be all for asking the 70 year old version of the player what they think, but these kids are just that, kids. They see what is directly in front of them and nothing more. Coaches see the bigger picture, so I put the final decision on them and they can take as much or as little feedback from the player as they see fit.
JM: I love Monty’s hard-nosed approach to the game, but this has to stay in the hands of doctors. Players, I would assume, would almost always say they are fine. Missing a game or two isn’t the end of the world, but brain damage can have seriously long-term effects.
MG: Definitely not. The vast majority of professional athletes are huge competitors and will do whatever they can to stay in the game. In the heat of the moment, they will at times focus too much on the present and not worry about long-term effects, even if it puts their health at risk. For this reason, the decision of whether or not a player can play in the case of concussion symptoms should be made by those who are knowledgeable and can make an unbiased judgment on the situation – the team doctors.
Joe: I want to say yes, largely because I feel taking physical risks are a huge part of the reason why these guys are paid five, ten, or fifteen million dollars a year play a game that many of us play for free. That said, the reasons given my colleagues are simply too overwhelming to counter. I agree with their reasoning and conclusions.
4. Al-Farouq Aminu has has looked great so far. Is what we’re seeing an aberration or the new normal?
JC: An aberration, but may indicate continued progress. Ryan has noted that he was playing better in the second part of last season, and I agree. Smith started the first part of the 2010-2011 season on fire, and the Hornets were the top team in the NBA at one point. Then he made the game tape, and fell to Earth. However, he continued to improve, especially in year two with Monty. I can see that happening here in what is now Aminu’s contract year.
MM: On offense, an aberration. On defense, the new normal. And you know what? Hornets fans should be happy with that. The fact is that Aminu is 17 for 18 on dunks and layups and 2 of 14 everywhere else. And to add to that, his turnover percentage is actually up this year. But on defense, man is he good. His rotations are spectacular, he challenges everything, and he never takes a play off. He could be an All-NBA defender if he plays like this all year.
JM: Defensively I can see him keeping this up. He is flying around all over the place doing everything he can, and is succeeding. Offensively, as Mike pointed out, it’s kind of a smoke and mirrors thing. When he gets easy, high percentage looks, which is happening often, he is finishing them. Everywhere else has been pretty bad.
MG: His first two games were likely an aberration on the offensive end, but I could see Aminu’s game on Saturday night in Chicago (8 points on 6 shots, 6 rebounds, a pair of blocks and steals) becoming close to the norm for him. As long as he refrains from taking bad jump shots on offense and limits his turnovers, Aminu could easily become the Hornets’ most improved player this year.
Joe: The new normal on both ends. Look, we all know Aminu can’t take the ball to the floor and create for himself. He hasn’t done that successfully this year, and he likely won’t ever be able to for anything but brief spurts of time. What he has done is become a force in transition and as a garbage man. As long as he doesn’t get the idea in his head that he needs to score 10+ a game or whatever, he should continue to have an efficient year on offense. Hell, it could get even better if he stops taking the shots he’s obviously not good at converting. Defensively he’s a baller, and that should continue to be the case for years to come.
5. What do you make of the first game and a half of Anthony Davis’ career?
JC: I’ll quote Sweets when he spoke of Jackson Heights’ own Mr. Randy Watson in Coming to America: “That boy good.”
MM: Jason said that boy good, but to me, that boy great. His per 36 minute stats read like a line from a video game (24ppg on 56% shooting, 100% from the line, 11 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 2 steals, and less than 1 turnover). Those are numbers that would have made him the second best big man in the league last year behind Kevin Love. We are looking at a guy who will be an MVP candidate within months of him legally getting his first drink.
JM: This is has been/will be so much fun watching him.
MG: His offensive skills are translating to the NBA even faster than many of us had hoped. Given the tremendous upside that Davis possesses, the fact that he has played this well already should have Hornets fans overflowing with optimism and excitement.
Joe: While Davis has been awesomely fun to watch so far, I can’t agree with Mike that he’s an MVP candidate yet (Mike doesn’t know that in New Orleans you can legally drink at the age of 18 inside a private residence). I kid, but I’ll concur with the line of “that kid great”. Also, two games have proven to me that anyone who continues to think he’ll be anything but a star on offense has lost their damned mind.
If you could offer one piece of advice to Gordon, what would it be? Well to EG.....if that knee really is bothering you go to germany and have the surgery that kobe and arod take there....i don't know the name of the surgery but maybe that will be the solution to your knee.....
Every ounce of me wants to believe that Gordon's pain is real, that he is a pro and wouldn't miss playing time on purpose. But the longer this goes on, the more he doesn't travel with the team, doesn't attend games, doesn't even seem to watch the games, and doesn't update his official website to say he is no longer a member of the Clippers, the more I doubt it. He has essentially done everything Baron Davis did upon his exit.