Potential Landing Spots and Trade Packages for Eric Gordon
Though Gordon appears content in New Orleans and openly admitted he'd like to stay, he may not wind up getting what he wants once again.
With that said, moving the combo guard isn't going to be an easy task. At 24, Gordon has proved he can be productive when healthy, but he has struggled to remain healthy. Injuries to both his right knee and hand have limited him to 19 games thus far this season while that knee of his allowed him to appear in just nine during all of last year.
Owed roughly $29 million over the next two years and with a $15.5 million player option in 2015, the ever fragile Gordon isn't a player teams are aching to pay. Going as far as calling him immovable is a crude exaggeration, but the Hornets can't expect to receive a superstar in return either.
Which teams would be willing to take a chance on Gordon and provide him with the best opportunity to succeed?
Just months ago, Gordon was considered the face of the future for the Hornets (Pelicans). Now it seems they're prepared to move on without him.
*All stats used in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference, Synergy Sports and 82games.com unless otherwise noted.
5. Milwaukee Bucks
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Milwaukee Bucks Get: SG Eric Gordon
New Orleans Hornets Get: G Monta Ellis
Go with me on this one.
Milwaukee has entertained the notion of shipping Ellis elsewhere and a return of Gordon couldn't be coined a failure.
Gordon isn't the distributor that Ellis is, but he doesn't settle for as many jumpers either. He's better at driving toward the basket with the ball and more likely to slash toward the rim without it as well.
A skill set of his caliber would be more suitable to the Ellis-like stylings of Brandon Jennings. It's going to be difficult for the Bucks to justify re-signing Jennings and keeping Ellis, as the two haven't worked out in harmonious fashion.
Gordon's health will easily present some obstacles in this one, and a head-to-head swap may need to become a bit more complex. If Milwaukee is willing to take a chance on Gordon's knee, though, pairing with Jennings stands to be significantly more productive than the Bucks' current experiment.
I wouldn't go as far as to say the Bucks are shortchanging the Hornets here either. Ellis isn't as efficient a scorer as Gordon, but he's better at directing the offense.
Austin Rivers and Ellis could stand to clash, but bringing Rivers off the pine ensures that their minutes are staggered in a way Jennings' and Ellis' aren't.
It also doesn't hurt the Hornets that Ellis' salary comes off the books next season or even this one. A failure to integrate Ellis successfully would then make this a salary dump, but at least New Orleans would be free from the financial burden they obviously consider Gordon to be.
This is one of those deals you'd have to consider a long shot. If both parties are determined to move their respective players, though, this would be, at the very least, a good starting point.
4. Indiana Pacers
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Indiana Pacers Get: G Eric Gordon
New Orleans Hornets Get: SF Danny Granger
A swap of two injured stars? Don't laugh just yet.
The Pacers were interested in obtaining Gordon just last season and could use him now. His presence would relegate Lance Stephenson back to the bench and keep Paul George at small forward, where he has excelled.
Granger has yet to play this season, but his contract runs out after next year and provides the Hornets with a veteran who could easily lead them in scoring. With Al-Farouq Aminu set to explore free agency, Granger gives New Orleans the option of letting him walk if his price is too high as well.
Don't dismiss the Ryan Anderson and Granger pairing either. Though Anderson comes off the bench, Granger would give the Hornets two floor-spacing forwards who can get to the rim (yes, Anderson can get there) and play either the 3 or 4.
Much of this deal hinges on either team being open to assuming the salary of the other.
Indiana isn't what you would call a penny-pinching franchise, but it is cognizant of the money it's spending. Would it really want to invest tens of millions of dollars in an oft-injured guard over the next two or three years?
Given the Pacers past interest in Gordon and success without Granger, I'd say yes. That Chris Broussard of ESPN.com reported they'd be open to moving their small forward only increases the likelihood of their interest.
The same can be said for New Orleans. If Granger doesn't pan out, the Hornets can let him walk in 2014, but they'll then have traded Gordon for essentially nothing. Yet if he returns to score 18-20 points per game, they have the prolific leadership they currently lack.
Assuming both players are to remain healthy, a deal of this magnitude or following similar parameters isn't as whimsical as it may seem.
3. Dallas Mavericks
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Dallas Mavericks Get: G Eric Gordon
New Orleans Hornets Get: G Darren Collison, SF Shawn Marion and future first-round draft pick
Do either of these teams dare?
For the Hornets to take back Collison seems unlikely, but if they're truly motivated to move Gordon's contract, he provides a nice option to both play shooting guard and assist in the point guard duties. He also comes at a fraction of the price.
Though it's tough to see where Marion would fit in with the Hornets, his defensive prowess would help shore up New Orleans' perimeter covers. His ability to score in isolations and spot-up as well aren't to be overlooked either.
The savings here for the Hornets is also huge. Collison comes off the books this year, though I'd imagine they'd at least want to consider re-signing him, and Marion is only signed through next season. If it's financial security that appeals to New Orleans, this is one worth exploring.
Rest assured, the Mavericks would consider this one as well.
Chris Broussard of ESPN.com named them as one of the teams interested Gordon originally and that interest is unlikely to have gone anywhere.
That first-round pick is key, but the Mavericks may also have to get it from somewhere else. Their 2013 pick is owed elsewhere at the moment and is top-20 protected. Short of a complete turnaround, it looks like they'll hold onto it and thus have 2014's committed to someone else.
Mark Cuban and company are in need of a change, and if their willing to sacrifice their financial flexibility this summer for a potential star in Gordon, this one would be right up their alley.
2. Houston Rockets
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Houston Rockets Get: SF Al-Farouq Aminu (New Orleans), G Eric Gordon (New Orleans) and PG Brian Roberts (New Orleans)
Milwaukee Bucks Get: PF Donatas Motiejunas (Houston), PF Marcus Morris (Houston) and SG J.J. Redick (Orlando)
New Orleans Hornets Get: SF Carlos Delfino (Houston), PG Toney Douglas (Houston), G Monta Ellis (Milwaukee) and PF Terrence Jones (Houston)
Orlando Magic Get: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and 2013 first round (Houston)
According to ESPN.com's Chris Broussard, the Rockets are among the teams interested in Gordon. Houston's plan would be to play Gordon next to both James Harden and Jeremy Lin by moving the former to small forward.
A problem that arises for Houston when making a trade is that while it has the cap space necessary to assume a contract like Gordon's, it is forced to relinquish numerous assets just to make salaries match.
In this particular deal, they give up five players, but they get Gordon, who they supposedly covet. His rim attack is not dissimilar to that of Harden or Lin's. Unlike Lin, though, his 36.4 percent clip from deep intimidates defenses and spreads the floor even further.
Roberts has been playing well for New Orleans this season and while the Hornets may be reluctant to give him up, Houston needs some kind of floor general coming off the bench. Especially with three floor general-types in the starting lineup.
Aminu has fared well this season as well, and as a free-agent-to-be the Rockets won't be tied to him long term unless they want to be. He would instantly help their defensive attack off the pine, too.
For the Bucks, they're open to moving Ellis and are known to be interested in Redick. Both Motiejunas and Morris would provide some nice prospects in the frontcourt, a must with Samuel Dalember poised to leave over the summer.
Moving right along to the Hornets, they get someone who can score as much as Gordon in Ellis. He's not nearly as efficient, but he is a better passer. His salary also comes off the books next season, unless he opts to explore free agency, in which case it disappears after this year.
Delfino provides a sharpshooting veteran presence and someone who knows how to keep the ball moving on offense. Douglas is playing some solid basketball in Houston and is an asset the Hornets could use in Roberts' absence. His contract is also one that expires after this season. And as for Terrence Jones, he's a nice stretch forward who appears to have a similar or greater ceiling to that of Ryan Anderson.
Finally, Orlando is known to be looking for a first-round pick in exchange for Redick, and a carbon copy-esque return to that of the one here has already been proposed by the Bucks. If the Magic can swing it, it might not hurt them to try and force Milwaukee to hold onto Mbah a Moute and ask for Morris or Motiejunas from Houston instead.
This is one of the most complicated scenarios, but any deal involving the Rockets would have to be, since they can hardly match the financial value straight up.
1. Golden State Warriors
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Golden State Warriors Get: G Eric Gordon
New Orleans Hornets Get: SF Richard Jefferson, SG Klay Thompson and Golden State's 2015 first round pick
How far has Gordon's stock dropped? To the point where this might even be too much for the Warriors to give up.
John Reid of The Times-Picayune reported that the Hornets were interested in any deal involving Klay Thompson while Marcus Thompson of the San Jose Mercury News previously wrote the Warriors had interest in Gordon.
Marcus Thompson also noted that it would likely take Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes to catch New Orleans' attention, but if I'm the Warriors, I'm not biting. Instead, I'd let the Hornets pick one or the other, all the while pushing Barnes, but knowing they'd probably choose Thompson.
Golden State also must insist upon moving Jefferson's deal in the process. If it can somehow sell the Hornets on Biedrins, then even better.
Gordon's ability to get to the rim would be a valuable commodity on a team like the Warriors. He's a sound passer, paving the way for plenty of drive-and-kicks or easy layups, and attacks with consistency. He doesn't settle for jumpers with the frequency of Monta Ellis, so his value alongside Curry is that much greater.
In Thompson, New Orleans gets a potential star guard who can also play small forward when called upon. He's a great asset to have off the ball and while his 41.8 percent clip from the floor is regrettable, it doesn't take much for him to catch fire.
He's nowhere near the ball-domineering presence Gordon is, but on a Hornets team that's attempting to groom Austin Rivers, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
One has to wonder if the Warriors would be willing to relinquish that 2015 first-round pick, though. Curry is injury-prone enough and adding another fragile guard may not be something they mortgage any of their future on.
Still, if the price is right (as in no higher than this), acquiring Gordon is a scenario Golden State must consider.