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Eric Gordon isn't a terrible fit with the Pelicans, but he's a redundant one. And a pricey redundancy at that, scheduled to make about $15 million in each of his next two seasons.
Tyreke Evans showed what he's capable of in Gordon's absence, and that's all the more reason to part ways with the Indiana native. There's been talk of doing just that for some time now, including in the days leading up to this season's trade deadline (per the New York Daily News' Mitch Lawrence):
The Pelicans signed Tyreke Evans this past summer to a four-year, $44 million free-agent deal and then added veteran PG Jrue Holiday via a trade with the Sixers to join Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis. But all the moves haven't exactly clicked. In fact, they've backfired, with New Orleans losing 13 of its last 17 games after starting out 11-10. The front office's take? Team execs are saying at least those are assets that can be moved. Davis and Holiday are the keepers.
It's unclear how much Gordon ever wanted to be part of the Pelicans. He asked the team not to match the contract he signed with the Phoenix Suns in 2012. New Orleans decided not to listen.
There's certainly a logic to keeping Gordon. He's a great perimeter shooter, and that helps create space for Evans' penetration and Anthony Davis' post game. But Gordon's presence also forces New Orleans to either bring Evans off the bench or play him at the 3. Neither scenario is optimal.
Besides, when healthy, the Pelicans will have at least two excellent three-point shooters on the floor at any given time (Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday).
The big question is how much trade value Gordon has at the moment. He has an injury history and was limited to just 64 games this season. The Pelicans may not get the kind of offers they'd expect to receive for a max player, a market reality with which the organization must contend.
Chances are the Pelicans will look to spend some of next season proving Gordon is healthy and good to go, so it could be that he's more likely to get moved near the trade deadline. In the meantime, New Orleans should begin sizing up the market and attempting to attract some suitors. They won't get equal value back, but there's something to be said for addition by subtraction.
NOLA.com's Jimmy Smith has the right idea:
The only way Gordon fits in this team's future is if he is willing to come off the bench next year (Gordon can opt out and walk away from the final year and his scheduled $15.5 million compensation after next season). A starting backcourt of Evans and a healthy Jrue Holiday would be far more dynamic than Holiday and Gordon. Because he's owed $30.4 million over the last two years of his contract, trading Gordon for equal value will be unfeasible. And those wishing to merely cut ties with the player simply don't understand the way the NBA works.
So it is that New Orleans will probably get pennies on the dollar in return for their big investment. It'll sting, but it has to happen.