NBA Rumors: Why New Orleans Hornets Are Better Without a Disgruntled Eric Gordon
When word came down that restricted free agent Eric Gordon was signing a four-year, $58 million deal with the Phoenix Suns, the guard made his wishes very clear: The only time he wants to be in New Orleans next season is as a visitor.
In a prepared statement released with the announcement, Gordon said the following:
"After visiting the Suns, the impression the organization made on me was incredible," Gordon said in a statement through his agent, Rob Pelinka. "(Suns Managing Partner) Mr. (Robert) Sarver, (President of Basketball Operations) Lon Babby, (General Manager) Lance Blanks, the front-office staff and Coach (Alvin) 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."
He later expounded on his desire to play for the Suns next season in an interview with ESPN's Ric Bucher:
"Phoenix just showed a lot more interest, overall, and definitely in how they negotiated," Gordon said. "I don't know what New Orleans' plans are for me. There are no negotiations right now."
"They drafted another shooting guard, a combo guard like me, which tells me they have another plan," Gordon said.
Despite all of the former Indiana Hoosier's (very) public posturing, the Hornets still plan on matching Gordon's maximum offer sheet when the league-wide moratorium on new business ends on July 11.
And, on the surface, the move makes sense. Gordon is one of the two best under-25 shooting guards in the league, and he's the main remaining vestige of the team's non-vetoed Chris Paul trade.
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But New Orleans is making a mistake here. They should allow Gordon to flee for Phoenix and never look back. Here's why:
Gordon and Austin Rivers Are Redundant
The point that Gordon makes about the Hornets drafting another combo guard in No. 10 pick Austin Rivers is not lost on me, as I've been questioning the move since it happened.
New Orleans' position that they will convert Rivers to an NBA point guard seems dubious. At Duke, Rivers was the primary ball handler. But as such, he averaged just 2.2 assists per game while being more concentrated on taking his 43.3 percent effective jumper than dishing to teammates.
On paper, this backcourt has all the makings of a broke man's 2011 LeBron and Wade, trading off possessions.
Rivers and Gordon both aren't good enough defensively to cover top tier point guards, putting them in a massive defensive hole.
He Doesn't Want to be There
I don't know why, but something tells me that Hornets general manager Dell Demps didn't watch many Orlando Magic or Dallas Mavericks games this season. As we saw with both the Dwight Howard and Lamar Odom situations (and countless others), it rots the core of your team when a player doesn't want to be there.
Should the Hornets allow Eric Gordon to leave for Phoenix?
Teammate and fan resentment boils, effort gets questioned even if it's there, and all media members want to talk about is whether the player will be on the move.
And with Gordon saying he'll opt for unrestricted free agency in three years, why not allow him to walk so that Rivers can develop into his natural position without any poisonous attitudes hurting his and Anthony Davis' development?
Gordon Played in Exactly 9 Games Last Season
Chances are Gordon will fully recover from the knee injury which marred his first campaign with the Hornets, but it isn't a clown question to wonder whether he'll be the same player, bro.
Gordon is an undersized combo guard who relies on quickness to get necessary spacing for his shots to get off in traffic. Even being a half-step slower could hinder his effectiveness. There's no questioning he'll still be a good player for the duration of this contract, but there's a huge difference between "good player" and future perennial All-Star.
With a maximum contract at stake, taking that risk may be too much for a rebuilding franchise. Oh, yeah, and there's the fact he doesn't want to be there.
Cut the cord, eliminate the risk and continue rebuilding with people who actually want to be there.
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