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Understanding and Dealing with Eric Gordon's Injury

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Although the injury appears to have been misdiagnosed by many, Eric Gordon may need to miss a significant amount of time. How should Monty Williams and the Pelicans proceed?

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

In case you missed it amid all the hoopla that Anthony Davis provided last night in Salt Lake City, Eric Gordon suffered a left shoulder subluxation. It happened innocently enough, where at the 4:35 mark of the second quarter, he got his left arm tangled up with Alec Burks.  Gordon's shoulder area was pushed up awkwardly and Gordon immediately went down with a pained grimace.

Many have initially referred to the trauma as being a separated shoulder, but these two injuries are not alike. Even John Reid seems to have incorrectly confused the injury:

Pelicans starting shooting guard Eric Gordon suffered a separated left shoulder in the second quarter on Saturday night after colliding into Utah Jazz guard Trey Burke.

There is no timetable on Gordon's return, but it' another injury setback for the Pelicans. The Pelicans officially said Gordon suffered from a left shoulder subluxation, which is a displacement.

Asides the fact the entanglement occurred with Alec Burks, not Trey Burke, a shoulder subluxation is more akin to a shoulder dislocation than a separated shoulder:

"A shoulder separation occurs at the A.C. joint. This joint is located on the top of the shoulder area where the clavicle or collar bone connects to the acromion. If the separation is severe the end of the clavicle is elevated under the skin causing a bump." says Dr. Todd Shapiro, shoulder specialist at Southern California Orthopedic Institute. "On the other hand, a shoulder subluxation or dislocation occcurs when the ball and socket or gleno-humeral or "true" shoulder joint comes apart."

The long-term prognosis of dislocations are much more murky. It entirely depends on whether surrounding ligaments, tendons and muscles were also compromised.

As DRDJ1 mentioned in the comments section of last night's recap, back in 2007, Drew Brees sustained a worse case scenario of the injury where his labrum had a 360 degree tear and his rotator cuff was also frayed in a subluxation erecti. Fortunately, Dr. James Andrews was able to save Brees from a career-threatening injury.

In the realm of basketball, Rudy Gay suffered a partial dislocation in February of 2011. After it didn't heal properly on its own, he underwent surgery and was out for 4-6 months.

In 2008, Dwyane Wade dislocated his shoulder as well.

Wade suffered this injury back on February 21, 2007 and was able to return approximately six weeks later. However, as it was revealed later, Wade underwent surgery in the following off-season.

If it is indeed confirmed Eric Gordon suffered a dislocation, Monty may need to adjust his rotation for the rest of the season. Unless Dell Demps intervenes with a roster move, it appears Monty will have two options: starting either Austin Rivers or Luke Babbitt.

If he chooses Rivers, Tyreke Evans would remain as the starting shooting forward. The Pelicans would be able to continue with a 3-guard attack at the start of games. However, by starting all of the team's best ball-handlers, Monty would likely have to insert either Russ Smith or Jimmer Fredette into the rotation.

Conversely, Monty could elect to slide Evans into the SG slot and start a more traditional SF. Based on recent playing time, that player would appear to be Babbitt. Rivers would remain as a reserve and Monty would be able to keep a stronger bench unit intact.

If Monty is forced to make a decision, which outcome would you like to see?

UPDATE: Eric Gordon's injury looks to be one of the worse case scenarios:

About the only silver lining that could emerge from this situation is if Gordon's injury can be deemed by an NBA physician to be of the likelihood season-ending. If so, the league office could then grant Dell Demps a Disabled Player Exception worth the mid-level (5.3 million). Demps could either sign a free agent up to that sum or trade for one, but the incoming player would have to be in the last year of his contract.