Aaron Gordon injury: Nuggets coach says timetable to return from ‘very traumatic experience’ is ‘open-ended’

Video aaron gordon injured

Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon is away from the team after being bitten by a dog on Christmas Day, and coach Michael Malone said Wednesday that there is no timetable for his return.

“Right now it’s open-ended, we’re not going to put any pressure on him,” Malone told reporters. “We need him to heal inside and out. Going through something like that is not something that you come back from easily. That’s something where you have to heal from the physical, but you also have to heal from the mental and what you just kind of went through.

“So, as I told him, we want him back, we know we’re better off with him, but I want to support Aaron Gordon and make sure, when he comes back, he’s ready to come back and play at the level that we know he’s capable of.”

The Nuggets announced Wednesday that Gordon had “suffered lacerations to his face and hand resulting from a dog bite,” but was in “good condition.” The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Gordon required 21 stitches after the incident, and that he was bitten on his right hand.

“I texted with him a little bit,” Malone said, via DNVR. “He’s hanging in there. Obviously, a very traumatic experience and the most important thing I told him is you take as much time as you need.”

Malone called Gordon “one of the more underrated players in the league.” Denver has been better on both ends with him on the court than off it this season, and its starting five – Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr., Gordon and Nikola Jokic – has outscored opponents by 17.7 points per 100 possessions in 311 minutes.

  In Photos: Aaron Gordon gets 64-karat diamond pendant made for iconic Shamet dunk, took whopping 504 hrs to make

A month ago, Gordon missed four games because of a heel strain. During that stretch, Malone inserted Justin Holiday into the starting lineup. Holiday’s minutes have fluctuated in December, though, and he hasn’t appeared in Denver’s last four games.

Malone did not indicate who would take Gordon’s spot this time. If Holiday does not reprise the role, second-year wings Peyton Watson and Christian Braun are possible options.

“Until he’s able to come back, we have plenty of guys that can step up and fill that void,” Malone said.

As long as Gordon is sidelined, Denver will miss his ability to punish mismatches and guard every position. He gives Malone the option to play small with the second unit, but for now, the Nuggets will likely have either DeAndre Jordan or Zeke Nnaji on the floor in virtually all of their non-Jokic minutes. The defending champs will not be nearly as versatile without him.

“We have his back,” Malone said. “We love him and we’re here for him. Whenever he’s able to come back, we’re going to open our arms up and embrace him.”

Denver is 4-0 without Gordon in the lineup, with wins against the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns. Coming up, it will close out the 2023 calendar year with a back-to-back at home against the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday and Friday and host the Charlotte Hornets on New Year’s Day.

Gordon is averaging 13.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 32 minutes this season. His 3-point percentage has fallen to a career-low 25%, but only three players (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert and Dereck Lively II) have more total dunks, per Basketball Reference.

  Aaron Gordon

The defending champion Nuggets are 22-10 on the season and one and a half games behind the first-place Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference. They rank No. 7 offensively, No. 9 defensively and No. 6 in net rating, and they are 14-4 in games in which both Jokic and Murray have played.