5 Teams That Would Be Foolish Not to Pursue New Orleans Hornets' Eric Gordon

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2012

5 Teams That Would Be Foolish Not to Pursue New Orleans Hornets' Eric Gordon

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    Restricted free agent Eric Gordon has a number of reasons to stay with the New Orleans Hornets—but the most important reason is the Hornets are allowed to retain Gordon by matching any offers he receives from other clubs.

    One would think Gordon would also be persuaded by the opportunity to play with the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, a selection most presume will be used on Kentucky's Anthony Davis.

    The Hornets also have the No. 10 pick in the draft, ensuring that the franchise will walk away with two premium prospects on draft day.

    But according to Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears, Gordon isn't shying away from the opportunity to kick the tires on teams looking to add a star shooting guard. If nothing else, the 23-year-old can leverage his suitors' interest into getting the best possible deal from the Hornets.

    If Gordon is too expensive, perhaps New Orleans will balk at the asking price. The News-Herald's Bob Finnan speculates about one of the more compelling scenarios:

    There was some talk about Hornets shooting guard Eric Gordon getting a max offer this summer, possibly from Indiana. That might be far-fetched because he's had issues with his knees for two consecutive years. Don't rule out a possible sign-and-trade, however, with Gordon going to the Pacers and forward Danny Granger going to New Orleans. Both teams are under the cap this summer. In that scenario, the Pacers could move Paul George to small forward, which might be his natural position.

    The Indiana Pacers and at least four other teams have the cap space and need for a guy like Gordon. Here is a look at the clubs most likely to be his principal suitors.

Boston Celtics

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    The Boston Celtics will have plenty of cap room in the event they don't re-sign free agent Ray Allen (or sign him at a much reduced rate).

    Gordon would be an electric backcourt complement to point guard Rajon Rondo and probably the best perimeter threat the Celtics could get their hands on. It's time for this roster to get younger, and the next two offseasons will be prime opportunities to do so.

    The Celtics are close to contending as currently constructed, but that won't last for much longer without an infusion of some new talent.

Indiana Pacers

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    Seeing Eric Gordon go to his hometown team would certainly make for a compelling story. It would also make the Indiana Pacers a much better team.

    But it may not be easy to do given the team's need to retain All-Star center Roy Hibbert. He's a restricted free agent coming off his rookie contract, and he'll be in store for a hefty raise. The Pacers also have to think about holding on to guys like Paul George in the long term.

    Acquiring Gordon would almost certainly also entail the end of George Hill's stay in Indiana.

    Still, Indiana would be wise to make a run at Gordon. If New Orleans can be outbid, the Pacers would be adding a badly needed go-to scorer.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    While the Portland Trail Blazers already have a solid shooting guard in Wesley Matthews, Eric Gordon would represent a significant improvement. Matthews has his moments from beyond the arc, but he isn't nearly the dynamic scorer that Gordon has already become.

    Gordon would also fit into a young roster that isn't far from winning. LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum form a talented core that's just missing a top-shelf scorer on the perimeter.

Toronto Raptors

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    It's hard to imagine why Eric Gordon would want to sign with the Toronto Raptors, but it's not hard to understand why the Raptors would be interested. Toronto sorely lacks a shooting guard with the ability to shoot from range.

    With the No. 8 pick in the lottery, Toronto could be in position to improve through both the draft and free agency this summer. This club has struggled to find an identity after losing Chris Bosh in 2010, and they still need all the help they can get.

Phoenix Suns

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    The Phoenix Suns need to find some way to persuade Steve Nash to stick around for a couple more seasons. Landing Eric Gordon would be a pretty compelling argument.

    The Suns also have to start thinking about life after Nash. The roster features some solid role players and the highly underrated Marcin Gortat, but the Suns really haven't had a star other than Nash for some time now.

    More importantly, the Suns desperately need a perimeter scorer who can create his own shot—with or without Nash around.