Point/Counterpoint: The Return of Eric Gordon

Published: March 23, 2012

Question: If he gets medical clearance, should Eric Gordon play again for the Hornets this season?

Combatants: Jake Madison and Jason Calmes (Yes he should play) vs. Michael McNamara and Joe Gerrity (Sit him down)

Ding. Ding. Ding.

Jake Madison: Eric Gordon needs to play for the Hornets this season. He needs to play soon and he needs to play a lot. There are many reasons for this, ranging from on-court to off-court. On the court, first and foremost, the team must see how his knee holds up. With a large contract looming in the offseason, Dell Demps will need evaluate how Gordon’s knee responds to the pace of an NBA game. Demps also needs to evaluate how Gordon plays with the rest of the team. If Gordon is going to be the long-term center piece of the Hornets, Demps needs to see what chemistry develops on the court; he needs to evaluate what type of players the team needs to bring in.

My main reason for why Gordon needs to play is not based solely in on-court performance. It’s because the fanbase needs some excitement. Right now, a huge chunk of the Hornets fanbase is depressed/upset with the team. I’ve even spoken with new season ticket holders that feel like the NBA “robbed” them this year. There are fans who don’t even know who Gordon is. As one of the most marketable assets, the Hornets need to show off his talent. I’ve made the distinction between diehard and casual NBA fans before. Diehard fans can get excited by draft picks. Casual fans need something more tangible.

They need to see a player like Gordon on the court. It’s a lot easier to sell season ticket renewals when fans can see what an exciting, young player they have. When Chris Paul was hurt for most of the 09-10, people still went to the arena because there were two rookies (Collison and Thornton) playing well. Diehard fans understand the idea of potential (namely a draft pick) and are okay waiting for it to play out. Casual fans need to see a manifestation of that potential on the court right now. If the Hornets want to sell tickets to casual fans, the larger subset, and build excitement about the team, they need to showcase Eric Gordon.

There is a thought that shutting Gordon down for the rest of the year will lower his contract value in the offseason and thus save the Hornets (who can match any offer) money. While this may seem like a savvy move for a (potentially) cash strapped franchise, it hurts in the long run. No free agent will want to sign with the team if this is how they treat players. It’s also a good way to get anyone the team trades for on the first plane out of town. So I say, as the charter member of the Eric Gordon Must Play Club, get him on the court now!

Michael McNamara: So, in essence, you are saying that Dell Demps has a decision to make this summer of whether or not to pay a player 50-60 million dollars over the next 4-5 years, and somehow that decision hinges on how Gordon plays over 12 meaningless games. That seems a little weak to me. If his knee “holds up” for those 12 games, are the worries about him being injury prone suddenly thrown out the window? Since when is 12 larger than 52? Gordon will have missed, theoretically, 52 games due to an injury at that point, but now magically Demps will feel comfortable moving forward because of 12 games?

As for the need to create “fan excitement”, this too is short sighted, as a 6-6 stretch to close the season won’t renew the buzz nearly as much as an ownership announcement or a bit of luck on the draft lottery night will- even for “casual fans”. And speaking of the draft lottery, any excitement and buzz created by Mr. Gordon will be because he is helping us win. If he helps us win, he takes precious lottery balls from the Anthony Davis franchise fortune reversal machine.

Ask Portland Trailblazers fans whether they would suggest bringing Gordon back this season. Oden was probably always going to get injured, no matter how long they held him back, but Brandon Roy is a different issue. Both the Blazers and Roy admitted that in retrospect, he came back too soon and it cost him in the end. Let’s not wait until retrospect gets here.

Meanwhile, the Clippers did the opposite with Blake Griffin, who had a very similar injury to Gordon. Instead of bringing him back at the end of a worthless season, they let him rest and he came out 100% the following year, winning ROY, exciting an entire fan base for the long term, and helping to change the culture (which eventually led to them landing CP3). This feels weird to even write, but: We should do the smart thing when it comes to Eric Gordon and think like the Clippers, not the Blazers.

Jason Calmes: Jake is right. If the dude can play without placing more risk on his knee than a generic, two-kneed NBA player puts on theirs, then play the man. 2 games is too small to really jump up and down about, but if clearing the cartilage debris from the bone bruise (a cute name for crushed bone or cartilage tissue) removes the small set of his symptoms for 12 straight games, then that makes him symptom free in my book and good to go. Additionally, his symptoms were of more concern due to their unexplained nature than their deleterious effect on his play, as we were told that he could play.

Plus, in the end, no matter what, a decision has to be made. It’s better to make that decision with the data. The data needed is some current information on how today’s EJ performs in a series of real games, as we have been told and shown that there just is no substitute (Porsche). Get the data.

In terms of the off-the-court reasons, rational consumers would behave according to your assessment, but, without generalizing about fans too much, the Hornets play in the land where people would for Saints games, in all particular orders: buy tickets, go to the game, put a bag on their head (decorated, of course). Also, the most memorable moment in local sports lore up until Steve Gleason’s block was half-footed Tom Dempsey’s 63-yd field goal in Tulane Stadium for the Saints’ last win of that season, improving them to 2-6 at the time.

A little goes a long way. That meaningless moment fueled hope for millions for 36 years until that to-this-day-spine-tingling “thook” that hit my ears and my eyes and brain eventually assembled the reality into a psychic morsel digestible by a human did the same for so many more when they needed it more than ever. That special special teamer is a hero, and his struggle against Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis has captured the hearts of the city (see the already named “annual” Gleason Gras). One play changes things. One moment. One.

Dems is facts, brah. Who dat!?! I got 294 years of this in my pocket if you want more . . . This EJ thing is a cakewalk, frankly.

Lastly, dude wants to play. It’s his knee, and that’s goes a long way for me. Play the man, then pay the man . . . what’s he worth, not a penny more.

Joe Gerrity: Frankly the idea that Gordon coming back and playing a few games for the purpose of selling tickets sounds like it came from a ticket rep’s mouth. Those guys have a job to do and I can’t blame them for wanting to show fans what they’ll be seeing next year. But as far as the long term future of the franchise goes, it’s odd to bring Gordon back this year. Or Landry and Okafor for that matter.

Right now there’s a 19.9 % chance of the Hornets getting the top pick. Yesterday, before Washington won and the Hornets lost, those odds were only 15.6. That means that we have a 27.6 percent better chance of getting Anthony Davis than we did yesterday. That’s substantial.

You know what happened to our chances at making the playoffs yesterday? They started at zero and that’s exactly where they finished. Winning games only matters right now if you personally sell tickets for a living.

You can put Gordon to work at practice, gauging the knee’s health after each one. You can fly him to 12 doctors around the world for 12 opinions. Hell, send the guy to the D-League for the remainder of the season if you want to know how he’s going to perform in competition. Just don’t have him out there turning close losses into wins just for the sake of possibly getting a few hundred more renewals.

I understand why you could see Gordon getting angry, but he’s made millions of dollars this year doing nothing. We don’t owe him anything, and surely he understands how important it is that this team doesn’t play itself of the Anthony Davis sweepstakes when there are so few long-term benefits to winning games right now. The franchise should have told him that they’re committed to keeping him no matter what, and that they’ll be offering him the same deal they previously did. He’s not about to lose out on a big contract just because the Hornets hold him out of the last 10 games of the season or whatever. Everyone should be clear about that by now.

That said, if giving Gordon a few minutes to showcase his skills in order to get the maximum possible contract in free agency is what he wants, then fine. So be it. Just don’t have him out there driving the tank late in the fourth quarter.



  1. Veezy

    March 23, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    I would feel better about sitting him had we resigned him. However, we may need to showcase him now if he decides to sign a qualifying offer instead of a long term deal this summer. We don’t need another CP3 circus like last summer.

  2. J

    March 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Gordon is going to be hear long term he’s likes the team so far as long he doesn’t hire the CAA we’ll be alright.

  3. 504ever

    March 23, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Certainly the fact that the Hornets have to make a decision about resigning Gordon requires that the Hornets see how he plays this season. It’s a higher priority than a claimed “27.6% better” NBA Draft lottery odds. But let’s examine the draft situation.

    The Hornets and Wizards are both 3-4 wins worse than the 4th worst team(s) in the NBA, with 19-20 games left. Currently, the Hornets are already the 3rd worst team in the NBA (which was not the case when the story above was written). So, the Hornets already have a “27.6% worse” NBA lottery chance. And, assuming the Wizards will finish with a worse record than the Hornets, will Eric Gordon playing in the last 12 games (to use the figure in the article) mean the Hornets will win 3-4 more of those 12 games and finish with the 4th or 5th worst record in the NBA? I don’t think so. But lets look at the players in the draft.

    The prize of the draft is Anthony Davis. After that you have a bunch of guys with similar grades. One, Beal, is an SG so the Hornets won’t draft him if they resign Eric Gordon which it is likely they will do. So the only thing that counts is getting the 1st pick. Picking 3rd, 4th, or 5th may not be that big of a difference this year.

    Dropping from 3rd worst to 4th worst costs 40 ping pong balls out of 1000, or a 4% chance of getting the first pick. (It’s the same cost 40 ping pong balls out of 1000 to driop from 2nd to 3rd, also.) So all you might lose if Eric Gordon causes the Hornets to win 3-4 extra games is a 4% chance at Davis and a likelihood of picking 1 spot lower. I can live with that math. [I could even do it if we drop 8% and two spots. The odds are already heavily against any one team getting the 1st pick. Remember, plenty of guys taken 2-6, and even #1, wash out in this league.]

    In addition, the Hornets position of need is an NBA starting quality PG. There are none who deserve to be drafted in the top even 8 picks. So except for Davis, how much of an upgrade will a player drafted in positions 2-6 be for the Hornets? Will he be a better all around PF than Smith or Ayon? If so when? Will he be a better all around SF than Ariza? If so when? The guys available 2-6 all have warts.

    In fact I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Hornets trade a 1st round pick for a young quality PG. I’d strongly consider trading the Minny pick for Collision or possibly even Bledsoe. That’s probably better than they can do in this draft. What about the #4 pick for Lowry?

    It all depends on how much bang you get for your buck in a trade versus the pick. Filling a position of need is a big factor. So is roster age. The Hornets are a team filled with guys in their mid-20s. If you get a PG their age with similar NBA seasoning, then you create a window to win in the next 5 years. You don’t have to wait on a young, lesser quality, PG to grow into the leadership of the team.

    So how different a tradable asset is the 3rd, 4th, or 5th pick, if the Hornets go that route? Not that much.

    So whether you look at odds of getting the 1st pick, or the difference in picks 2-6 to keep or trade, I do not believe that is a reason to sit Gordon when he is healthy.

    Oh P.S. on the B.S. to MMcM: Blake Griffin’s injury (broken knee cap) was so much worse than Gordon’s and the Clips didn’t need to see Griffin play. So the situations can’t be compared. If you have to use that argument, it tells me you know you have the losing side in this debate.

    • George

      March 23, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      The Minny pick for Bledsoe or Collison? No. You draft Damian Lillard with that pick he will be a fantastic player, better than both Collison and Bledsoe in my opinion. Also Lamb and Cody Zeller will probably be available. After this NCAA tournament either Robinson, Sullinger, Barnes or Kidd-Gilchrist may elevate themselves to being the clear 2nd pick in the draft. If we bring back Gordon we could miss out on the 2nd pick, or worse, the number two pick wins the draft and we miss out on Davis because we bring Gordon back.

  4. Jack Jambon

    March 23, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Play him for limited time!
    Bring him back starting at 5-10 mins a game for a week or so and then in the last six games let the boy start and put up 30 mins. It’ll keep us at 3 (hopefully 2 with Nene actually playing decently) and finding the best of both worlds

  5. nikkoewan

    March 23, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    I say let him rest. Winning will cure everything. If he resigns (which we most certainly will), and we get a good top 3 pick (very real possibility), Monty will suddenly have more cards to play with NEXT year. I really think the Hornets can be a .500 team next year if all the cards fall into place (2 cards above, especially if we get AD).

    Let the casual fans come back when we start winning.

  6. sweetpea

    March 23, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Let him sit out and then build the franchise around him.

    Harrison Barnes was exposed tonight in that game tonight against Ohio University. This guy is a draft bust in the making, he was completely lost and hapless and made terrible decisions. I’d take Sullinger, Zellner or T-Rob over him, hands down .. and of course AD.

    • George

      March 23, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      I agree, not high on Barnes, i’d rather gamble on Drummond.

  7. pschafer

    March 23, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    I’d like to see what kind of on floor chemistry we have with Gordon and Jack together in the backcourt, and even though it would be a small sample size, it would provide some information that should prove useful as management begins to plan for next year’s team.

  8. downnout

    March 23, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Mon, Mar 26 @ Clippers
    Sat, Mar 31 @ Lakers
    Mon, Apr 9 Lakers
    Sun, Apr 22 @ Clippers

    these are the ONLY games i would like EJ to play in, and try to win.

    the other games? lets just give those the tank treatment

  9. Pingback: Point/Counterpoint: The Return of Eric Gordon – Hornets247 (blog) | ALS Recovery

  10. Andrew denenea

    March 24, 2012 at 2:38 am

    how bout MKG game against indiana? teague, too if we can find a later 1st round pick everyone wants a john calipari point guard.

  11. HornetsJunkie

    March 24, 2012 at 3:48 am

    For my own selfish reasons I would like him to sit to keep “OPERATION TANK JOB” in full effect with the hopes of landing UK’s Anthony Davis. But I do realize that the Hornets have to properly evaluate Eric Gordon’s knee, play, and cohesiveness with the rest of the team. This upcoming offseason will be paramount in terms of moving forward from the CP3/D West era. I think the likely hood of the Hornets winning the NBA Lottery is slowly fading and that the resigning of Eric Gordon and Chris Karman are the most realistic things we can hope for. I pray that the Hornets can add someone like James Harden in the offseason and use the 2 lottery picks on players that fit their needs. I for one would be happy with combination of Harrison Barnes & Kendall Marshall or Perry Jones & Austin Rivers. I know Coach Williams is big on defense but we need to add some players that can score and he has to coach them up defensively. The Hornets have too many players currently on the roster who’s offensive is dreadful to watch. Ariza, Jack, Okafor, & Aminu all don’t have to be honored in any way offensively. And Belinelli has played better lately, but he is way too up and down. So to answer the question, yes Eric Gordon should play games if able and let’s all pray for a miracle in the form of Anthony Davis.

  12. Karlos

    March 24, 2012 at 11:17 am

    It’s ”pick your poison”. I rather let him rest, give him the max in the FA, and if it ain’t work trade him (Jeff Bower), nah, really, he is 23 yrs old, proved alot with Team USA in Turkey, so there’s no reason to rush things.
    About the draft, there’s talent in every position, Anthony Davis is the most wanted but there are other players that can make an impact, MKG, Thomas Robinson, Tyler or Cody Zeller, I mean, the best thing we can do right now is develop our bench for next season. Don’t get me wrong, I hate losing games, and hate see my team losing, but this is our present right now. Our future is brighter…

  13. David

    March 24, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Eric Gordon is a guy who needs the ball in his hands in pick n roll situations to be truly effective. Bradley Beal has the handle to play the point, he is commonly referred to as a “combo” guard. Russell Westbrook didn’t play point at UCLA, but he was able to make the transition in the NBA. I think Beal can play the point, at least in our system where Gordon will be handling the ball on PnR a majority of the time and Beal can simply get the ball to Gordon in his spot and camp out for that sweet three point stroke he has. Beal-Gordon backcourt could very well work. Hopefully we get Davis and Beal, that would be SAHHWEET.

  14. da ThRONe

    March 24, 2012 at 11:47 am

    I’m completely 50/50 on the situation. Which made it interesting reading both points and counterpoints.

    I say sit him because his long term health out weights everything else. OK so maybe I’m 51/49.

  15. Joe Gerrity

    March 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    FYI– We wrote most of this a while ago with the plan of running it a few days ago. When I say “yesterday”, I meant March 21st.

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