What a Fractured Knee Cap Would Mean for the Hornets Future

Published: January 23, 2012

Monty Williams hinted two nights ago that Eric Gordon’s knee injury may be a bigger concern than previously disclosed. I’ve heard today that what the team termed a bumped knee may is more likely a fractured knee cap. Here’s why you remain optimistic if that’s the case.

Let me be clear that I haven’t confirmed this.

Update: The Hornets have told me that they do not have that diagnosis yet, and that they are running more tests and should know more later this week.

Newer Update: Marc Spears tweeted that Gordon’s knee is structurally sound and that he’s going to be out another 2-3 weeks. I guess that makes sense? Sort of?

This really isn't a joking matter, but this picture had to be used somewhere.

“I know some things. I’d love to tell you guys as much as I do know but I’ve got to hold onto it for another day or two and get some more information from the doctors. They’re still running tests on him but we’ll know more Monday or Tuesday for sure.” — Monty Williams

With that one quote Monty set off speculation that Eric Gordon’s knee injury may not be “just” a bruise, and that the prize piece from the deal that sent CP3 packing might not be available early this week. Today I’m hearing from my sources (I’m sorry, I hate saying that but people don’t want to be identified) that Eric Gordon’s knee cap is likely fractured.

Some will freak out and say that the Hornets future may not be as bright or certain as we had all hoped now, but in all honesty this could wind up being better for the team long term. There are obvious negatives, but I’ll let everyone someone else fill in those details later.

If Eric Gordon’s knee injury winds up being a fractured knee cap, it A) keeps him out for an extended period of time, B) will heal with some time off and won’t be a lingering problem for years to come, and C) shouldn’t affect the team’s ability or desire to reach a long term agreement with him. None of those are particularly bad things considering that the Hornets were facing possible purgatory if he came back and played at the level we all know he’s capable of.

Let’s be real here—If you add a healthy Eric Gordon to the Hornets right now, they could win half their games coming home. It’s not like they’re getting blown out as it is. In fact, they’re probably one great player away from having doubled their current win total. Gordon is a great closer, and what the Hornets have lacked so far is the ability to emerge victoriously in the final minutes of tight games.

Right now, Marco Belinelli has played 88% of clutch minutes (4th quarter or overtime, less than 5 minutes left, neither team ahead by more than 5 points) so far this season. Per 48 minutes of clutch time the Hornets are getting outscored by 43 points, or nearly a point per minute. When games are being decided by a point or three on a regular basis (they are), those points add up.

Gordon, as I’ve mentioned before, is one of the better closing guys in the league. He shot 56% in clutch situations last year, scoring over 38 points per 48 minutes. In his lone game as a Hornet he knocked home a game winner.

If Gordon were to come back right now at near full strength, the ceiling for the Hornets pick is probably around seven or eight. They just aren’t that bad. Their point differential per game (-4.8) is only the seventh worst in the league, and typically that’s the stat that indicates future wins and losses best. Considering they’re missing the guy who is undeniably their best player, it’s really hard to see the Hornets even having a legitimate shot at the top pick (or even top five, really) if Gordon comes back and plays well.

But if he’s out for a month and a half (the initial deagnosis when Blake Girffin fractured his kneecap), then you can truly lose some games and go at that top pick. You can trade your quality pieces like Landry, Kaman, Ariza, and even Jack (who really is playing well) for younger talent and picks. You can start Aminu, Ayon and Vasquez, guys in need of some burn to reach the next level. Check out what some playing time and hard work did for Jason Smith. The guy all of a sudden looks like a quality third big man, not just a great fifth big.

Fans want to win some games this year for sure, but we’d rather win a few because of amazing games by Aminu or Vazquez than watch as our team wins 27 games (and the 10th pick) with Kaman, Landry, Jack, Okafor, Belinelli and Ariza playing 30 or more a night. There’s middle aged and mediocre, and there’s young and terrible developing. One of those groups is more likely to be going somewhere than the other.

Which one will the Hornets be the rest of this year? That may very well be determined by the result of the additional tests on Eric Gordon’s knee. If my sources are right, we’re looking at young and terrible developing.


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