Eric Gordon reunites on hardwood with Holiday, Evans
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Las Vegas - In the ever-shrinking world of AAU basketball, maybe it shouldn’t qualify as a surprise that an Indianapolis kid would become pals with teenagers who hail from the Los Angeles and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. During the mid-2000s, Hoosier State native Eric Gordon befriended fellow high school hoops standouts Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans. All three would go on to play one season of college basketball, before heading to the NBA – Gordon in 2008, Holiday and Evans one year later.
Only a few years after their first AAU meeting, the trio has come full circle, as NBA teammates with the revamped New Orleans Pelicans. While point guard Holiday spent part of his New Orleans visit last week talking about his excitement to play with Gordon, the shooting guard returned the favor in Las Vegas.
“We brought in a lot of good guys, a lot of good talent,” Gordon said while visiting the Pelicans’ summer league team this week. “There’s probably more to come. It’s good to see the team making some good changes, in a good, positive way.
“I’ve known those guys since high school,” Gordon continued of Holiday and Evans. “It’s good to have them on this level. I have talked to Jrue (recently about being New Orleans teammates). I haven’t talked to Tyreke yet, but we’ll get that chance way before training camp to start working together.”
While every NBA team aims to improve its talent base in the offseason, the Pelicans did so not by adding graybeards on the downside of their careers. Holiday and Evans are both just 23, with four seasons of NBA experience apiece.
“It’s always good to have good, young, up-and-coming guys, because that’s the point of us growing together and seeing what we can do for the future,” said Gordon, himself only 24. “(We’ll be) playing at a faster pace, and we’ve got guys who can break (opponents) down defensively. It’s just going to be a fun, exciting year. We’re all young still. It’s about getting our chemistry down now.”
Gordon spent Monday morning continuing his offseason rehabilitation program after left ankle surgery. As was the case during the 2012-13 season, he’s been rehabbing in Los Angeles. After his Monday workout, he flew to Las Vegas to attend the Pelicans’ summer league game vs. Cleveland. Gordon was able to land in Nevada in time to get to the game midway through the first half.
“I’m just here to support the team,” said Gordon, who plans to attend more games this week, although the team’s schedule is still to be determined. “Health-wise, I’m doing pretty well. I’ve been taking it slow, but I’ve been moving around very well. As long as I get to 100 percent before training camp, that’s what I look forward to. I’ve been lifting (weights) and trying to stay strong.”
With the additions of Holiday and Evans, the Pelicans now have four players who averaged over 15 points per game last season (joining Gordon at 17.0 and Ryan Anderson at 16.2). The increased talent and firepower has Gordon enthusiastic about the start of the 2013-14 season, which he hopes will be healthier individually than his prior two years in New Orleans.
“It’s not like I’ve been playing terrible; it’s just that I haven’t been fully effective to where I should be,” Gordon said of the impact of his injuries. “I’m going to look forward to that this year. This team can be really good. It’s all about clicking early and having everybody healthy in training camp, and see where we go from there.”