According to Chris Broussard from ESPN, the New Orleans Hornets are making guard Eric Gordon available on the trade market before the Thursday, Feb. 21 trade deadline. Regardless of Gordon's health risks, he is a player the Detroit Pistons need to target as a long-term answer at shooting guard.
Sources: New Orleans has made Eric Gordon available for trade. Trade not likely though as clubs concerned about EG's health going forward.— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) February 20, 2013
Gordon, who has a ton of talent, has had tough luck over the course of his career battling injuries—the latest being his right knee. The blog, Hornets247.com, listed on Feb. 18 all of the injuries that Gordon has accumulated during his career that have caused him to miss 142 out of 365 games.
While the Pistons would be taking on a huge risk in acquiring Gordon, they would also be getting a true shooting guard who would be a more natural fit with point guard Jose Calderon.
When healthy, Gordon has shown a knack for getting to the basket as well having a good shooting touch from outside. The last season before Gordon was plagued by his knee injury was 2011-12. In that season, he averaged 22.3 points, 4.4 assists and 2.9 rebounds. More importantly, though, Gordon shot .450 from the field—including .364 from outside—and averaged 6.2 free throws a game.
Now compare Gordon's numbers when healthy to Knight and Stuckey's career averages, and you can see a huge upgrade for the Pistons.
Knight's career shooting percentage from the field is .410, and he only averages 2.6 free throws a game, per 36 minutes. In Knight's defense, his free-throw attempts are up this season to 3.1 a game. However, this is still not ideal for a shooting guard, which he'll be for the considerable future due to Calderon's presence.
Stuckey, who looks to be a more natural shooting guard, still can't come close to matching Gordon's numbers. When healthy, Stuckey's career shooting percentage is .420, and he shoots a paltry .281 from outside the three-point line. He also has a career average of 5.4 free-throw attempts per 36 minutes, per game. For a player that some compared to Dwyane Wade when he came out of college, Stuckey has disappointed.
Based on what Gordon can bring to the table offensively, it's quite obvious he's capable of helping the Pistons significantly.
More than likely, a trade of this magnitude would need to occur in the offseason for the Pistons. But would a trade of Stuckey and forward Jonas Jerebko for Gordon be sufficient for the Hornets?
When Gordon is healthy, absolutely not. But in this situation, the Hornets might go for the offer of Stuckey.
Jeff Duncan from the Times-Picayune believes that the Hornets should wait until the offseason to trade Gordon:
By dealing Gordon, the Hornets would detonate the Chris Paul deal, an admission of failure that would further erode confidence in the club's direction. The only way to save face would be if Dealer Dell Demps could extract something substantial in return. And that appears unlikely at this point.
Besides, if the Hornets really want to move Gordon, they'd have better luck and leverage by waiting until the offseason. Assuming of course they can hold Gordon's balky knee together with Band-Aids and bailing wire.
Duncan summed up the Hornets' position on Gordon the best. While Gordon is a talent, he is as big as risk as any other player in the NBA due to his health. At this point, even if Gordon plays every game the rest of the way, teams will still be leery of giving up too much value for a player like Gordon.
Sometimes trades don't work out, and the Hornets may try to take less for Gordon in order for them to get a fresh start. Stuckey might be a player the Hornets like and feel they can still develop into a star.
The Pistons should gamble on Gordon, because they have a secret weapon in strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander, who has been with the team since 1992. Kander has a reputation of being innovative, and the players embrace his methods. Chauncey Billups said to the Associated Press in 2006 of Kander:
"He's the best I've ever worked with," point guard Chauncey Billups said. "He's helped me so many times. We all have the confidence that Rip is going to be fine, especially with Arnie helping him."
Keith Langlois from Pistons.com explains the importance of Kander to the Pistons:
When Joe Dumars is considering free-agent or trade acquisitions and has any concerns about physical durability, Arnie Kander is his go-to guy. It usually doesn’t take long for Joe D to get an informed opinion, because the Pistons’ universally admired strength and conditioning coach usually gives himself a head start.
“I look at guys all the time (on tape),” Kander said. “You never know. Any time I hear a rumor, I get the tapes out and start watching. Because you never know what the possibility is.”
If Kander believes that Gordon can fully recover, then maybe the Pistons would even be willing to trade Knight, since Gordon is still only 24 years old.
It is a safe bet to assume that if the Hornets are shopping Gordon around the NBA, then Kander will be hard at work determining whether or not Gordon can fully recover from his injuries.
*Statistics are as of Feb. 19
**All statistics are from basketball-reference.com