Our writers answer five burning questions about Eric Gordon.
Maybe this is all that Gordon meant when he said his heart was in Phoenix.
1. On a scale of 1-10, how disappointed are you in Gordon’s comment that his “heart is in Phoenix?”
James Grayson: 9, and it’s not 10 because he’s not Chris Paul and he hasn’t been in the city of New Orleans for long. I lived in Phoenix for four months and I stayed in New Orleans for five days. I can assure you that New Orleans is the better city.
Michael McNamara: 5. Honestly, what he said doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that it just doesn’t make sense to say it. What is the upside? Have you heard Roy Hibbert say anything about his heart being in Portland? It serves no purpose. Just wait to see how it plays out and then lie to whichever fan base supports the team that gave you $58 million, telling them your heart is in ‘their’ city.
Jake Madison: 7. I feel like the point of that statement was to try and force the Hornets not to match the contract offer. No other restricted free agent has said anything like that.
Mason Ginsberg: 8. To release that kind of statement giving another organization that kind of praise isn’t only a slap in the face to the Hornets and the city of New Orleans, but it’s also just stupid. What does he have to gain by saying something like that? His leverage is incredibly limited in this situation; if he believed that those words would keep the Hornets from matching the Suns’ offer, he clearly lacks an understanding of how the NBA works.
Joe Gerrity: 8. All I can think is that his agent talked with Phoenix and they worked out a possible way to lower the the Hornets asking price in a sign and trade. Let’s be real– it’s not as simple as just matching and moving on now. There’s a relationship to be repaired between Gordon, the team, and the fans. The Hornets had all the cards prior to this.
2. If your hand was forced and you had to do a match, then trade with Houston, what would you be asking for in return?
JG: I’d be asking for Kevin Martin, Donatas Motiejunas, Royce White or an unprotected first round pick. It’s quite a lot, but I believe there’s a number of teams lining up for Eric Gordon, so someone has to pay the price for a maximum contract guy.
MM: Give me Kyle Lowry, Donatas Montiejunas, and Terrance Jones. I know Montiejunas wants to come over, but I try to get him to stay overseas and up his trade value, then eventually move him down the road. I move Lowry to Toronto for their 2013 1st and Ed Davis. Then, with Darius Miller, Terrance Jones, and SkyNet, I recreate UK’s championship front line. Next year I got a nice young core, tons of cap room, a trade chip in Montiejunas, and two likely top 10 picks. (update: Rockets are trading Lowry to Toronto for a lottery pick, so the heavy lifting has been done for us!)
JM: Since Houston is in the division, the price goes up for them. I ask for Lowry, Montiejunas, White and at least one pick.
MG: I would offer Jack and Gordon for Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin, Donatas Motiejūnas, Jeremy Lamb, and next year’s first round pick. The Rockets are building for the future right now; with their current roster, they’re a lottery team for sure, so that first round pick could have some value. With Dragic heading to Phoenix and Lin likely staying with New York, I’m not sure how likely it is that they part with Lowry unless they get another PG in return.
Joe: Jack and Gordon for Lowry, Motiejūnas, next year’s first rounder, a future second rounder, and either White or Lamb.
3. If your hand was forced and you had to do a sign and trade with Phoenix, what would you be asking for in return?
JG: I would ask for Kendall Marshall, Marcin Gortat and an unprotected first round pick (and a salary filler). Marshall would be the point guard of the future and would allow Austin Rivers to play a more natural Shooting-Guard position. Gortat is on a very valuable contract of 7.5 million a year. The first round pick would almost likely be a lottery one.
MM: Exact same trade as James ideally. Gortat is a must. Then give me 2 out of the following three: Jared Dudley, Kendall Marshall, unprotected 2013 pick. Throw in Lakers 2013 1st-rounder too. I actually prefer that package to any that Houston could offer. If they refuse to include Gortat, they would have to give me everything else, 3-4 1st rounders, Marshall, Lopez, and Dudley.
JM: I agree with James. I want Marshall, Gortat and the Suns’ unprotected first–not one of the Lakers’ picks.
MG: Kendall Marshall, Marcin Gortat, and the Suns’ 2013 and 2014 first round picks (they can give up those picks in back-to-back years because they now have the Lakers’ 2013 first round pick). A lineup of something close to Dragic/Gordon/Beasley/Morris/Frye is nowhere near playoff-caliber, which should make both of those picks quite valuable. Let’s see how badly the Suns really want Gordon.
Joe: I’m not dying for Gortat frankly, since I think the center position can be addressed for the long term in a better way. Plus he’s a free agent in two years. In my world we need a third team– like Sacramento– to come in. I’ll spare you the details, but we get good young talent, future picks, and zero long term contacts.
4. If Hornets simply match, how worried (scale of 1-10) are you that Gordon will be a disturbance in the locker room?
JG: 5. I know it might seem optimistic here to expect Gordon not to be a problem, but I think it will be fine. Hopefully after a season Eric might realise that he’s on a good team and apart of a stellar up and coming organisation.
MM: 2. Honestly, if the Hornets match, this is a non-issue by the time training camp opens. My bigger fear is that Gordon knows that Anthony Davis will be the face of the franchise sooner or later, and he is a guy who would rather be ‘the man’ than a winner if he had to choose between the two. I would rather Davis just start out as the face of the franchise from day one, like Durant did, rather than have these two wrestle with this issue as Davis catches up to Gordon, then eventually passes him. I don’t think Gordon will take too kindly to that.
JM: 1. I don’t think that Monty WIlliams will let any sort of locker room drama fly. Plus, I’m sure once Gordon’s checks start getting deposited that he’ll quiet down.
MG: 3. He won’t be a distraction in the locker room; my only concern is how long it will take for the fans to move past his recent comments and get behind him again. He should be able to do some damage control if he ends up staying in New Orleans, but after what happened with Chris Paul a year ago, fans won’t forgive him overnight.
Joe: 5. I never would have thought he was the type of guy to come out and essentially throw the city of New Orleans under the bus after a day in Arizona. Now that he has, I can’t see him any other way. I don’t think it will be loud and obvious, but if he really wants to go elsewhere and winds up in New Orleans anyway, I could see him being a minor distraction on occasion. What if, for example, Austin Rivers is occasionally the go-to guy for last second shots? I could see Gordon pouting about it. I could also see the fans HATING him if he were to sit out with anything but the most serious of injuries. That’s where I see a real possibility for off the court issues.
5. Gut feeling: How do you see this situation playing out?
JG: I really believe the Hornets want Eric in New Orleans. If they show him that he’s the center of their focus then I believe he stays and is happy. Any time a person gets $58 million he should be happy no matter what city he’s in. This whole thing has been about leverage and Gordon’s agent was not very happy with the Hornets not giving his client an extension months ago. This released statement is a way of getting back at the Hornets. Let’s hope that things work out for the best because Gordon can be a leader for this organisation.
MM: Unfortunately, I think Demps matches and the Hornets try to make it work. I think they will eventually regret it if they take that route, simply because of the issue I brought up in my last response. NBA players have egos, and I just don’t see Gordon stepping aside to play second banana to a guy who is 4-5 years younger. When Seattle drafted Durant, they shipped out Ray Allen and let Rashard Lewis walk. I think the Hornets should do the same, but I fear that they will try to blaze their own path rather than follow the example that the Sonics/Thunder laid out for them.
JM: The Hornets will match, but expect them to explore every trade option–not just to the Suns or Rockets. However, I see Gordon being dealt later than sooner.
MG: This one is tough. I love Gordon’s game and want him to be here, but we can’t forget that the Suns offered max money ($14.5 million per season) to a guy who hasn’t proven that he can stay healthy. If the Hornets can get sufficient value in the form of draft picks and young talent while saving a ton of money in the process, it’s an option that they have to explore. Ultimately, though, it’s clear that Dell Demps really wants Gordon to be the leader of this team, so it’s nowhere near a sure thing that he gets dealt purely because of his comments. I’ll put slightly better odds on him staying than him going, but if dealer Dell gets an offer that he can’t pass up, he now has extra motivation to send Gordon packing.
Joe: I tend to believe that someone will come up with an offer that’s of good value, and Dell will send Gordon packing. The last thing this franchise needs is a injury plagued SG (who doesn’t want to be here) making max money while riding the pine half the season. It’s simply risky to throw out marginal max contacts so early in a rebuild, and — for good reason– I don’t think Dell takes spending that kind of money lightly.