Over the past week or so, restricted free agent SG Eric Gordon has made one thing abundantly clear: he really wants out of New Orleans.
Whether it was his awkward question dodging at a Team USA workout, or his statement than his "heart is in Phoenix," Gordon has basically done everything possible to keep the Hornets from matching the Suns' contract offer, so that he can start a bright new career in Phoenix.
All of this begs one question: why?
Granted, the Suns do have an elite medical staff, and it's possible that Gordon just feels more comfortable in Phoenix. But if we're talking about Gordon's chances to reach the playoffs, New Orleans is hardly a worse situation than Phoenix; in fact, it might even be a bit better.
The Hornets lucked out big time this summer, winning the draft lottery and taking Anthony Davis with the first pick. Davis is one of the most enticing prospects the league has seen in years, possibly going all the way back to Lebron James in 2003.
Why wouldn't Gordon want to play with someone who has so much potential, especially when there's no one like that in Phoenix? Sure, Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat are quality players, but Davis could end up being much better than either one of them, even as a rookie.
At this point, some people might be saying "okay, but who else is there?" Well, the Hornets have recently added considerable depth to their roster. The acquisition of former Magic forward Ryan Anderson will go a long way in improving this team. Anderson is an amazing three-point shooter, and one of the most efficient players in the league.
It's possible that he was only able to do so well because defenders were distracted by the presence of Dwight Howard, but there's a good chance they'll be equally distracted by Davis, and Anderson's efficiency won't be affected. Additionally, Anderson will now get an opportunity to move to small forward, after playing the 4 during his time in Orlando. He was always a bit undersized for a power forward, so switching to the 3 should make him even better.
The presence of Anderson and Davis alone should make New Orleans a fairly enticing team to play for, but the depth does not end there. Jarrett Jack may not be a superstar point guard, but he's far better than most fans realize and he's coming off a career year.
The Hornets also added a huge scoring presence off the bench with the selection of Duke guard Austin Rivers. Rivers was an elite scorer in college, and should thrive in a sixth-man role. Maybe Gordon is threatened by the presence of another high-scoring 2 guard, but he shouldn't be. If the Hornets want to give him a max contract, it's pretty obvious he's their main man at the shooting-guard spot. Having another talented shooter to take some of the pressure off is hardly a bad thing.
Taking all of this into consideration, Gordon's disdain for remaining a Hornet is perplexing. Granted, most of his statements were made before the Anderson signing, but he hasn't said anything to indicate he's changed his mind about the situation.
The most likely outcome is that the Hornets will match the Suns offer, and Gordon will be forced to stay in New Orleans, much to his dismay. Gordon should cheer up, though. Not only is he getting $58 million over the next 4 years, he gets to play with one of the most exciting rookies the NBA has ever seen, as well as a solid supporting cast.
The Hornets have a great chance of making the playoffs this year, and if Davis fully realizes his potential, they could become title contenders in the next few years. Why wouldn't Eric Gordon want to be part of that?
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