The Reason for Keeping Eric Gordon(Posted by Zoombop on 5/6/13 at 6:04 pm)
For much of the season, I was on the 'Trade Eric Gordon' Train. His injury issues mixed with his personality (or lack thereof) and his bloated contract made me sick to my stomach. I was glued to my computer screen around the trade deadline hoping for some movement, any movement, but, alas, Gordon remained a Hornet. He proceeded to sit out back-to-backs, miss a lot of shots, disappear in the second half of games, and even have a bad attitude (spat with Coach Williams in Utah). The Hornets lost 55 games. Like every fan, I had a sick feeling in my stomach, wondering if this "re-build" was going to work out, or if we were just fooling ourselves. Now that the season has been over for a few weeks, I've had some time to reflect, and I've been able to see some light at the end of the tunnel concerning Eric Gordon and the future of this team. So, I've made a list of reasons to keep Mr. Gordon:
1) He's a veteran
This is an extremely young basketball team. In fact, it was the second youngest in the NBA this season. Roger Mason was the oldest player at 32, followed by Greivis Vasquez at... 26. This fact of youth should not be understated. Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers, Brian Roberts, Robin Lopez, and even Ryan Anderson and Al-Farouq Aminu, to an extent, had never played meaningful minutes of NBA basketball. Playing well in college or playing well in a deep reserve role doesn't mean a whole lot. Eric Gordon is a veteran compared to these guys. He had to deal with being traded, playing through injury, missing time due to injury, and shouldering the load offensively and defensively. He's also had to deal with trying to uphold a title he was never really cut out for as the "Cornerstone" of the franchise. He brings a lot to the position and team that rookies or second/third-year players cannot in terms of experience and, as I'll explain in a moment, ability.
2) His ability
A lot has been made of Eric Gordon's potential. He's been talked up as a potential top-3 shooting guard for a few seasons now, only to disappoint after succumbing to injuries. It's time to get rid of those expectations and just accept him for what he is right now and be content with that. Right now, he is an undersized 2 guard with a great ability to drive the lane, solid defense and athleticism, and about 18-20 ppg when healthy. He's best suited to be a second option on a championship caliber team. Expecting him to become much more than that is unfair because most players don't even get to his level. Considering his ability to contribute when healthy and not the first option, it makes his contract really easy to swallow, however, those two things are not likely, and cause many to believe his contract in completely unbearable. Which leads me to explain why...
3) ...his contract is not completely unbearable
Believe it or not, the Pelicans are in a great position to sign a maximum salary player this coming season. They are also in position to do so the following season should they miss out on someone they like a lot. Gordon is slated to make about $14 million going into the second year of his 4 year deal. Looking at his inability to stay on the court, it's fair to assume he's not worth the amount of money he's getting paid. The truth of the matter, though, is that most deals in the NBA aren't as sweet as Ryan Anderson's or Robin Lopez's. It's a bit of a crapshoot when trying to figure out whether or not to pay a guy, and very seldom do teams and agents place the same reasonable value on their player. Look at other contracts around the league. Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Amar'e Stoudemire, Rudy Gay (in my opinion), and Nene are all on worse contracts than Eric Gordon any way you flip it. What's more, is that even by playing half of the season, he was more productive and effective than all of them besides maybe Johnson. At his current production/contribution, a fair value for Gordon is probably at about $9 million a year. Overpaying by $5 million annually is far better than you can say for any of the players on that list above.
In the end, Eric Gordon may be traded anyway, for what package I cannot say, but based on these reasons above, I think it may be in the best interest of the Pelicans to keep him around. My main argument stems from the belief that this team is no longer looking to get younger, rather, they prefer to get older and more experienced. The foundation is set with Anthony Davis, but keeping Eric Gordon will make this project a lot easier to put together. All we need is another certain maximum salary point guard...