Eric Gordon is reportedly going to be a max-level contract player for at least four years. Now, the question is if he will be playing for the Hornets or the Suns.
UPDATE: Wednesday, July 4, 8:50 a.m. ET by Donald Wood
The Phoenix Suns did all they could do to get Eric Gordon to agree to a contract with their organization, but now it appears to be worthless.
Despite agreeing to a contract with the Suns, the New Orleans Hornets will exercise their restricted free agent option on Gordon and match Phoenix’s offer.
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting on Twitter about the Hornets' move:
The New Orleans Hornets will match the 4-year, $58 million offer sheet Eric Gordon agreed to sign with Phoenix, league source tells Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 4, 2012
The Suns were the team Gordon wanted to play for, but it appears the Hornets are willing to call his bluff. With a young team, New Orleans knows it will need a starter like Gordon in the backcourt.
While the move will undoubtedly cause tension between Gordon and the franchise, it’s nothing the team and player haven't dealt with before. Gordon is a hard worker and will be a star wherever he ends up playing.
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ESPN's Chris Broussard tweeted out the news of the massive offer that the Phoenix Suns and shooting guard Gordon agreed to:
Eric Gordon and the Phoenix Suns agree to a Maximum Offer sheet worth $58 million over 4 years, sources said.— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 3, 2012
Gordon, a restricted free agent who spent last season with the New Orleans Hornets after being a part of the Chris Paul trade, can officially sign this offer sheet on July 11, and at that point, the Hornets will have three days to match the offer.
In a prepared statement passed along by Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, Gordon offered up the following:
After visiting the Suns, the impression the organization made on me was incredible. [...] Mr. Sarver, Lon Babby, Lance Blanks, the front office staff and Coach Gentry run a first-class organization, and I strongly feel they are the right franchise for me. Phoenix is just where my heart is now.
This is a crucial statement. Gordon essentially said he doesn't want to play for the Hornets, and yet the Hornets still control his fate.
This was already going to be an interesting decision for New Orleans, and now it is fascinating. Gordon, 23, has averaged over 20 points a game for the last two seasons and has definitely shown he can be one of the league's better shooting guards.
Should the Hornets match?
However, in those past two seasons, he has played just 65 games, and that includes only nine last year due to a knee injury.
The nine games he played came toward the end of the season, and he looked healthy while doing so. Still, the fact remains that Gordon has already had knee issues that have caused him to miss significant time.
This raises concerns of future injury and ill effects. Combine that with the fact that any max deal with Gordon hinges at least somewhat on potential, and not solely on what he has already proven, and the Hornets have a huge choice on their hands.
So, the Hornets can look at these negatives, and his statement, and watch the player that was the centerpiece of the most massive trade in franchise history walk away for nothing. Or they can bring back someone who doesn't want to be there and has played less than a full season's worth of games in the past two seasons to a max deal.
If I'm the Hornets, I let him walk and use the money saved to build around Anthony Davis. They don't need the risk or the potential locker-room malcontent.