NBA free agency has officially begun as the moratorium on player movement is now over. With this, a number of big names such as Steve Nash and Deron Williams can officially sign with the Lakers and Nets, respectively. However, one of the top free agents, Eric Gordon, still has to wait a few days before he can officially sign with Phoenix or New Orleans.
If Gordon knew what was best for team success, he would be happy staying a Hornet—which would require New Orleans to match the offer sheet he has signed with Phoenix, which they are expected to do—rather than becoming a member of the Suns.
Phoenix has offered Gordon a four-year, $58 million offer sheet, which Gordon signed on Wednesday. With this offer, the Suns have entered themselves in the race for a Western Conference playoff spot; Phoenix missed out on the postseason in the last week of regular season action.
New Orleans made the biggest splash in the 2012 NBA Draft by acquiring both Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers, two of the top players in the draft class. Besides the draft, though, the Hornets have been making moves to assure Gordon he would be the focal point of the franchise.
New Orleans traded Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to Washington for Rashard Lewis. Lewis has since been waived, taking his massive contract off the table in the process. The Hornets also traded for talented big Ryan Anderson from Orlando for Gustavo Ayan, helping to solidify for front-line with the acquisition.
Phoenix, on the other hand, has lost Steve Nash in a trade to the Lakers. In the addition column of the Suns offseason mock-up, the Suns drafted Kendall Marshall to help replace Nash and signed Goran Dragic. However, Phoenix also signed versatile wing-man Michael Beasley to a three-year, $18 million contract.
Even though these were solid moves by the Suns, there is still much uncertainty with the rest of the roster.
Robin Lopez is still unsigned, as are Michael Redd and Shannon Brown. While the Suns look like they have a decent setup right now, it’s rather unknown where the rest of the production will be coming from.
One of the biggest reasons Phoenix was successful in 2011-2012 was that Nash’s playmaking ability made those around him better. Dragic is a solid option at the point guard, but he is no Nash. It will be very interesting to see how players such as Channing Frye and Marcin Gortat perform without the excellent distribution skills of Nash. Both Frye and Gortat played at extremely high levels with Nash on the court with them.
Losing Nash will have more of an effect on the Suns than many think. Losing Nash also means everybody else’s job gets that much harder. Gordon doesn’t need to have that sort of pressure on him, although, he thinks otherwise.
Gordon has gone on record saying that he prefers to play in Phoenix. As this article by John Reid of The Times Picayune reads, Gordon stated that, "if the Hornets match the offer, he’ll play for New Orleans but he won’t be happy about it.”
New Orleans may be in rebuilding mode at this moment, but Gordon should be happy to play for the Hornets as their future looks rather bright with the additions of Davis and Rivers.
Gordon only played in nine games for New Orleans, yet, they are willing to pay him handsomely to keep him around. This says a lot about how much the Hornets value Gordon’s skills and abilities as a basketball player. Another interesting tidbit (from the same Reid article) is what Gordon stated surrounding the knowledge that the Hornets planned to match any offer he would be given (this is in response to the Hornets four-year, $50 million offer in January):
“No, I didn’t accept it because I didn’t think that was the type of caliber player I was,’’ Gordon said. “We’ve just got to wait until (today), because I don’t know what they’re going to do. Being restricted, you’re just being taken advantage of. That’s why things haven’t been looking so well for (the Hornets). (The system) is built for players after their rookie contracts to play with their (existing) team. I can’t deny it or have a judgment against that.’’
He may not think so now, but Gordon should be happy to play in New Orleans.
Eric is unquestionably one of the top emerging guards in the league. His ability to shoot from the perimeter, as well as his ability to drive to the basket, are highly respected throughout the league. With Gordon, Davis and Rivers, New Orleans has a solid nucleus to help them through the rough years, making them a formidable threat in the Western Conference within the next two years.
Overall, the future looks much brighter for the Hornets than it does for the Suns. Phoenix might have the better team to win right now, but New Orleans will be the better team in the end.
Gordon should be happy New Orleans is willing to pay him the $58 million over four years he will earn. The Hornets could have easily said, “You only played nine games for us, so we’re not going to commit to an unknown,” but they haven’t and won’t.
He should feel honored New Orleans wants him to be the face of their franchise. The Hornets have a good thing going and plenty of options of movement throughout the rest of the off-season. During that time, New Orleans will be looking to improve their team even further.
Eric Gordon is better off in a Hornets uniform. For better or worse, he needs New Orleans just as much as the Hornets need him.