NEW ORLEANS -- Disputing speculation that he's unhappy in New Orleans, Eric Gordon said Thursday that the injury to his right knee is legitimate and he wants to play for the Hornets.
Gordon said he had a setback after trying out for the U.S. Olympic team this past summer. He insisted that he's not sitting out to show his displeasure over the Hornets matching a four-year, $58 million offer from the Phoenix Suns.
"I know things haven't been going as well as hoped," Gordon said after practice at the team's suburban training facility. "It's tough as a player to go through these things. You're looking for the best from yourself, and you look forward to doing what is best for the team. As a player, I definitely look forward to helping this franchise and always look out for the best for this team. It has been very frustrating not to be able to play."
Gordon was dealt to the Hornets last year in the Chris Paul trade, but wound up playing only nine games because of his knee. He returned late in the year after surgery, and the team thought he was over the problem. But it cropped up again, forcing him to miss all of the preseason and Wednesday night's opener against San Antonio.
When Gordon's picture was shown on the scoreboard during pregame ceremonies, the home crowd booed loudly. Coach Monty Williams also seemed a bit skeptical about the seriousness of the injury.
"He probably does feel pain," Williams said. "That would be the only reason why a guy can't play."
When pressed by reporters for details of Gordon's injury, the coach grew impatient.
"I'll find out more as we go forward," Williams said. "I'm not going to do this every game. I've told you he's not playing. He's out indefinitely."
When Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, Gordon was the key part of the package that New Orleans got in return. The Hornets slumped to last place in the Western Conference last season, but they hope to rebuild around Gordon and No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis, who scored 21 points in his pro debut.
"I know from a fan's perspective that it is very frustrating for them, but as a player it is most frustrating for me and this organization," Gordon said. "I know it's tough, but it's very hard on me. This is an injury that I have battled with and it's frustrating, because this is a great city and a great organization and I definitely want to be a part of it. Being a part of it for me is being out there playing. The reason I'm not playing is because of this injury."
Gordon said there are no structural problems in his knee, but it's just too sore for him to play.
"I have had a little bit of a setback as far as this injury," he said. "There has been a little bit of soreness and swelling. I'm always listening to the doctors and they've told me there is swelling, but obviously I can tell myself that there has been a little bit of swelling."
While Gordon doesn't know when he might be able to play, he hopes to have a better idea by the weekend.
"There is no timetable," he said. "That is something for me and the doctors to figure out."
Gordon again stressed that the injury is real.
"That's why I'm not playing," he said. "The past few days I have been practicing, because I thought it was something I might be able to deal with pain-wise. I went to the organization the other day and told them that it was not feeling good. It is very painful."