2012 NBA Offseason: Why Hornets Must Still Match Suns' Max Deal for Eric Gordon

Will Osgood@@BRwillosgoodAnalyst IJuly 4, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 04:  Eric Gordon #10 of the New Orleans Hornets drives the ball around Kenneth Faried #35 of the Denver Nuggets at New Orleans Arena on April 4, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Tuesday evening, ESPN's Chris Broussard reported that Eric Gordon was prepared to sign the Phoenix Suns' four year, $58 million max-contract offer sheet on July 11, when teams can begin officially signing free agents. More so, Gordon's "heart is in Phoenix." 

Later Tuesday evening, Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported that even in spite of the location on which Gordon set his sights, the Hornets intended to match the Suns' offer, which would keep Gordon in New Orleans for the long run. 

Early in the day Tuesday, Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld reported the Hornets would try to work out a sign-and-trade deal if they really could not convince Gordon to acquiesce in an agreement to remain in the Crescent City. 

Clearly, one of those possibilities will play themselves out. Hornets general manager Dell Demps is too smart to allow another team to simply steal the main piece of last Decemeber's Chris Paul deal. If Demps, coach Monty Williams and any other member of the Hornets organization is unable to convince Gordon his future is brightest in New Orleans, Demps would be wise to fleece Phoenix of any remaining assets they currently possess. 

Off the top of my head, Jared Dudley, a rugged defender who can hit a jump shot, would be a good fit in New Orleans. 

More than likely, though, would be veteran center Marcin Gortat, who has torn it up since joining Phoenix via trade in the 2010-11 season. He plays a position of need (center) and would be a great fit in the Hornets' pick-and-roll offense. 

He'd be an even better fit if the Hornets could take away another young prospect, 13th pick Kendall Marshall, a player the Hornets brought in for a workout during the draft process and one whom many hoped the team would select at No. 10. 

Marshall would be a great fit with fellow rookies Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers. 

Marshall would help the Hornets play fast and responsible on the offensive end. He is great at possessing the basketball and finding shooters in rhythm. He would allow Rivers to instantly become a great NBA scorer, while Rivers played his natural position. 

Between Davis and Gortat, the pick-and-roll would take on another dimension with two guys who can knock down 20-foot jump shots or get to the rim on the roll. Clearly, the entirety of the Hornets' offense would be greatly improved from a season ago. 

Of course, no blockbuster deal would be complete if a first-round draft pick is not also thrown in. Given that Gordon alone would not make the Suns a playoff team, a first-round pick coming from Phoenix would likely land New Orleans in the lottery once again, either in 2013 or some year beyond that. 

That is undoubtedly a great option. As much potential as Gordon has to become a great shooting guard, his injury history may cause Demps and Co. to suck it up, take a few assets and improve this team now. 

But, it should be noted that the Hornets played good basketball all season long in 2012. Somehow, their record was terrible (21-45). Yet with Gordon in the lineup, the Hornets were one of the better teams in the league (6-3 with Gordon). That should mean something to someone. 

What it should count for is that with Rivers, Davis and an otherwise healthy roster (Gordon included), the Hornets could easily make the playoffs. 

Demps and Williams are very personable guys, the type you'd enjoy sharing dinner or a beer with. If any combination of men are going to change Gordon's mind, it would likely be these two. 

Considering the Hornets have planned on bringing Gordon back, and made each move this offseason with that in mind, they should still do everything in their power to keep this roster intact. Considering Demps and Williams' likability, they'll be able to get Gordon back in the right state of mind. 

And that will make the Hornets better now and in the future.

Update: Multiple sources reported late Wednesday that the Suns and Lakers had agreed to a trade of Steve Nash to LA for four draft picks. 

That trade is likely signaling the Gordon sign-and-trade deal, especially considering Goran Dragic is likely to sign on to start for Phoenix at point guard. The proposed trade below seems that much more likely as a result.


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