Whispers of a trade for New Orleans Hornets guard Eric Gordon are starting to gain volume around the NBA. If the rumors are true, the Hornets should jump at the chance to rid themselves of an unhappy employee while creating cap space for future transactions.
According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, the Hornets have re-opened the possibility of parting ways with the Gordon and his max contract, either before the Feb. 21 trade deadline or this summer after the NBA Finals.
While Broussard notes that a trade this season is highly unlikely (partially because of N.O.'s 10-8 record with Gordon in the lineup), there's a good chance that the lines of communication stay open for the foreseeable future:
One source with knowledge of the situation tell(s) ESPN.com this week that, as things stand, there's "less than a 10 percent chance'' New Orleans would move Gordon before the deadline. Still, the fact that the Hornets made calls around the league implies that they are at least warming up to the idea of moving him at some point.
He goes on to note that the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks remain interested in the star shooting guard's services, something reinforced through ESPN Dallas writer Tim MacMahon's summations on Thursday evening.
Although Gordon is clearly the brightest star on a young, intriguing New Orleans roster, the first reason the Hornets should ship him out of town is an attitude problem that seemingly grows by the day.
As reported by Sam Amick of USA Today, there's a growing sense that Gordon's unhappiness is spilling on to the court each evening. Injuries are reason enough for a player to be frustrated, but it seems that Gordon is unhappy that the Hornets blocked his exit to Phoenix by matching a four-year deal (well within their rights per restricted free agents).
Seven months after he tried to force his way to Phoenix and made it widely known that he was upset with how the Hornets handled his free agency, Gordon isn't about to declare his long-term love for New Orleans because, well, he has been hurt before.
Hornets fans can attest to his dislike for playing the game on some nights, as can John Schuhmann, who wonders why Gordon holds a grudge against New Orleans (via Twitter):
Still trying to figure out what he's got against New Orleans. RT @ekoreen: Eric Gordon has the body language of a man on death row.— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) February 11, 2013
If that isn't enough to pursue a trade, cap space might do the trick.
Although the Hornets are in no danger of being in salary-cap overage territory, Gordon's salary will command roughly $14.5 million over the next three seasons—a pretty penny for a star that is disgruntled.
Al-Farouq Aminu is also a free agent, and the Hornets could make a splash in the free-agent market by signing several players with all the cap space they have left.
That being said, New Orleans has had problems over the years convincing free agents to come to town. It's one of the reasons that the city was so up in arms over the Chris Paul trade in 2011, and it's one of the reasons that any trade of a player like Gordon would have to bring the franchise a significant return of young talent and draft picks.
All that being said, the main reason New Orleans could opt to trade Gordon is because of his injury concerns. Knees are a fickle thing—just ask Brandon Roy. His injuries have forced sports medicine into a place where skepticism protrudes hope for a brighter future.
And for good reason.
It's too risky to give NBA players a max contract and not reap the return. Gordon has managed to stay relatively healthy so far this season, but what happens if he falls off the injury wagon yet again?
It's important to understand that this is all speculation for now. Most sources indicated that Gordon will stay with the team through this season, and then management will decide what to do after that point.
If an offer was to blow the team away, though, Dell Demps should take it. Gordon's unhappiness in New Orleans is too risky when combined with his injury history and large contract.