The Charlotte Bobcats are enjoying perhaps the finest season in the short history of the franchise. As of Friday afternoon, they were leading the Detroit Pistons by 2.5 games for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They are favored to make the postseason for just the second time ever.
There are many people who deserve credit for Charlotte's resurgence. Head coach Steve Clifford has the Bobcats playing inspired defense. Center Al Jefferson has been a beast inside, averaging 20.5 points per game.
But one player who is certainly not responsible for that success is their second highest-paid player, shooting guard Ben Gordon. Gordon has been stealing money this season in Charlotte, playing only 259 total minutes with a minuscule 7.0 player efficiency rating (PER) despite his $13.2 million salary in what is the fifth year of his five-year contract.
With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the Bobcats are looking to buy Gordon out of the remainder of his contract. Per Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:
The Charlotte Bobcats are progressing in discussions on a contract buyout with guard Ben Gordon, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Charlotte had discussed including Gordon in several trades before the deadline, but none came together. The Bobcats made a deal with Milwaukee to strengthen their backcourt with Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour.
You know Gordon has been bad when his team would rather trade for guards on a 10-44 Bucks team than give him another minute of playing time.
There was a time when Gordon was considered one of the better shooting guards in the game, but that was many years ago, when he was still with the Chicago Bulls. His career was never quite the same after he signed a five-year, $55 million contract with the Detroit Pistons in 2009.
Gordon was so bad in Detroit that the Pistons had to package him with a valuable first-round pick just to get Charlotte to take him off their hands; the Bobcats gave up Corey Maggette, who played only 18 games in Detroit.
At the time, Dan Feldman of PistonPowered.com saw Gordon's time in Detroit as a symptom of the team's dysfunction:
Gordon had negative trade value, because [Pistons GM Joe] Dumars overpaid him three years ago, and it cost Detroit a first-round pick.
The root of this issue might be complex, but the solution is not. Acquire better players on cheaper contracts, and the Pistons won’t have to make a trade like this again.
Regardless of what happens in the buyout, the Bobcats won that trade, if only because they have Detroit's 2014 first-round pick (protected from No. 1-8).
As for Gordon, he hasn't been an above-average player in five years. If no NBA team comes calling, he might have to go abroad to earn his paychecks in the future.
*All statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.