NBA Free Agency 2012: 5 Teams That Can Make Sneaky Play for Eric Gordon
Eric Gordon saw his chances of returning to the New Orleans Hornets increase significantly on Wednesday. According to ESPN, the Hornets traded Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to the Washington Wizards for Rashard Lewis and a second-round pick.
With the Hornets expected to buy out Lewis' contract, which will save $10 million, Tom Benson's new club will have plenty of money to re-sign Gordon.
What enhances the Hornets' chances of retaining Gordon is the fact that Gordon is a restricted free agent, which allows the team to match any offer for him.
However, the Hornets aren't guaranteed to keep him. A team just might make an offer that the Hornets couldn't see themselves matching. If a team were to offer Gordon a maximum contract, New Orleans might cede the derby for the young scorer to that team.
Some of these teams would have to make preemptive moves in order to land Gordon, but he would certainly make sense for the following five teams.
What a surprise it would be if the Wizards were to ink Gordon after the Hornets made room to sign him by trading two players to the Wizards. The Wizards might have received a good rebounder in Okafor and a nice mid-level player in Ariza, they still lack a pure scorer.
Jordan Crawford is starting for the Wizards at shooting guard. He can score a fair amount, but is an unimpressive shooter. Crawford averaged 14.7 points per game on just 40 percent from the field and 28.9 percent from three-point range. His offensive rating is a paltry 97 points per 100 possessions.
That's especially poor when considering he is the most involved guy in the team's offense, with a 28.1 percent usage rate.
The Wizards could certainly use a shooting guard who's a decent shooter. With his 45 percent field-goal percentage, Gordon is much more reliable than Crawford.
Jose Calderon needs a scorer to whom he can pass. With Andrea Bargnani injured most of the season, Calderon had no legitimate scorers to whom he could feed the ball. DeMar DeRozan scored 16.7 points per game on a tame 42.2 percent shooting.
DeRozan isn't a good player to key a backcourt. He's not a good decision-maker. With 100 points per 100 possessions, DeRozan isn't a very effective scorer.
Signing Gordon would give the Raptors the dimension that they lack. With his 45 percent field-goal percentage in his last full season and his 112 points per 100 possessions, Gordon would be much more effective than DeRozan.
The Raptors have plenty of money to give Gordon. They have about $42 million committed to eight players for 2012-13.
The Boston Celtics will have something of a changing of the guard this offseason. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen likely won't return next season. That leaves them with Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce as their only players sure to be in the lineup.
The team that went to the Eastern Conference finals despite being 26th in the NBA in scoring average will be pressed even further for scoring.
They'd be able to set the franchise on solid footing once again by signing Eric Gordon. Gordon is on the rise, having averaged 22.3 points per game in his last full season and scoring at least 17 points in seven of his nine games this season.
Combined with a good, experienced scorer in Pierce and an elite facilitator in Rondo, Gordon would make the Celtics a capable scoring team once again.
The Celtics have plenty of money to pay Gordon if that's the route they choose to go.
The Phoenix Suns need to give Steve Nash a good reason to re-sign with the team. Nash won't come back if his primary scorers are Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley, as the case was this season. Gortat and Dudley headed the team's scoring with 15.4 and 12.7 points per game, respectively.
Signing Gordon would help them persuade Nash to return. He has solid potential to average 20 points per game year after year.
Being on a team with Nash would increase that possibility.
With Nash and Gordon together, the Suns would be able to average triple digits once again. Gordon would be the primary scorer and Gorat and Dudley would be able to take the secondary scoring roles in which they belong.
The Suns would have all the money they need to go after Gordon, and there's no question that they need a dynamic scorer on the wing.
Ricky Rubio will certainly become a star in the NBA, but he needs more scorers with whom he can play. Kevin Love isn't enough for him. Nikola Pekovic, the No. 2 scorer for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2011-12, isn't an up-and-coming scorer on the inside. He probably won't demand much more than the 9.7 shots per game he took this season.
The T'Wolves also aren't a very good shooting team. They were 27th in the league in field-goal percentage (43.3 percent) this season. Also, Pekovic was the only Minnesota player to shoot better than 45 percent averaging 20 minutes per game.
Gordon would give Rubio a reliable backcourt mate. If the 23-year-old were to shoot his career average (45.2 percent) he'd easily boost the scoring effectiveness of a team that doesn't score very well.
This team has a serious hole at shooting guard, and a core of Rubio, Love and Gordon would have T-Wolves fans salivating over the future.