Eric Gordon: We Loved You, You’re Terrific, Now Leave

Published: February 14, 2013

The time has come for the Hornets and Eric Gordon to go their separate ways and it finally feels like everybody is starting to realize it. Fans, writers, management, coaches, and probably even Eric Gordon himself. The two sides have tried to work it out, as GM Dell Demps and Coach Monty Williams said all the right things this summer when they praised Gordon endlessly, calling him their best player and a franchise cornerstone. Even Gordon backpedaled from his July statements in recent months, saying that he was happy to be in New Orleans and he would give his all for this franchise.

But at the end of the day, it’s simply not enough. This team is moving in one direction and Gordon just doesn’t seem to fit in with the culture Dell and Monty are trying to install. Look at the player that Monty points to time and time again as the heart and soul of the team- Jason Smith. He is playing with a torn labrum. Not a bruise or a sprain, a TORN labrum in his shoulder. He can easily choose to shut it down, after all the Hornets are going anywhere this season. But instead, he is going to play through it and have surgery in the offseason. That is the type of player Monty and Dell want here. Eric Gordon, meanwhile, sprains his hand in practice and not only does he miss the game, but he doesn’t even support his team on the bench.  (update: According to a team official, Gordon wanted to play, but was advised not to on Wednesday night).

It’s time for a change. But before we move forward, let’s dispel some rhetoric that I don’t think applies to this conversation.

He Doesn’t Want to Be Here

Quite frankly, who cares? Even if this is true, it doesn’t matter. He has a contract with this organization and it is in his best interest to play and play well so that he can earn the next contract. Anti-Gordon fans often bring up this argument, which allows Pro-Gordon people to attack this claim, while ignoring the real issues. So please, let’s not bring this up anymore. It doesn’t matter on either side. A GM would not make a decision based on this factor, so neither will we.

Dell Couldn’t Just Let Him Go This Summer

First of all, why not? People say that, “You are just losing an asset for nothing.” No you’re not. You are letting a guy leave without a $58 million dollar contract on your books, so you would lose him and gain over $13 million in cap space. “But we can’t get good players to come here, so what good is the cap space?” This is the next poor argument. To which I reply, “Dell Demps took $13 million dollars this summer and used it to bring in Robin Lopez and Ryan Anderson. Now let me ask you this- would you rather have Lopez and Anderson or Eric Gordon?” Dell has made terrific moves when given wiggle room. Bad contracts like Gordon prevents him from working other magic. So, it wouldn’t have been going for nothing, it would have been Gordon leaving and flexibility coming to Demps. I guarantee he could have used that $13 million to bring in guys that would have helped more than Gordon did this season.

Eric Gordon’s Injury’s Are Not Related

People seemed to hang onto this one for a really long time as proof that he can be injury free moving forward, but it feels like almost everybody is finally on the same page now. The guy is tissue paper. ESPN’s David Thorpe came on our podcast last May and said that some guys had bodies that just could not withstand the NBA game and that he believed Gordon was one of these guys. Can anybody seriously argue otherwise with anything other than blind optimism? The evidence is crystal clear. In four of his five NBA seasons, he has missed significant time due to a bevy of different injuries. No, they are not related, but he is incredibly susceptable to injuries, and that might be even worse.

So now that we have got some of those issues out of the way, let’s me be clear in why I say it is necessary for Dell to move Gordon now that there seems to be some interest around the league. Quite simply, you cannot afford to have an oft-injured max player on a small market team that is rebuilding for numerous reasons. For one, the new CBA has made luxury tax far more punitive, so much so that that $70 million tax line is essentially a hard cap for a team like New Orleans. Eric Gordon’s contract takes up almost 20% Dell’s budget. You can’t give that big of a piece of the pie to a guy who is never around to eat it.

Two, he destroys on court team chemistry with all the games that he misses. You look at a young team like Oklahoma City who started where the Hornets are at now and blossomed into a championship contender, and you see a team that has played together and built chemistry because their core guys didn’t miss games. Even if Gordon “only” misses 25 or 30 games a year, that completely destroys any opportunity to get team roles and chemistry down the way that elite teams have it down. One day Vasquez is the lead guard and Rivers is starting, then Gordon comes back and Vasquez plays less aggressive and Rivers comes off the bench, then Gordon goes down again and players have to adjust and on and on. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but the elite young teams don’t do that. Veteran teams who have played together forever like San Antonio can afford to, but not New Orleans.

Finally, Gordon’s presence on the roster but not on the court or even in the locker room, leaves this franchise without a true focal point. Eric Gordon is the best player, but he’s not a leader and he is never on the court. Who are the players supposed to look to? How is Anthony Davis going to make this his team if Gordon is hanging around and making 2-3 times his salary? Here, more than anywhere else, trading Eric Gordon is addition by subtraction. Build this team around Davis or get a young veteran in here that has leadership skills and whose game is good enough to earn that level of respect in the locker room. Eric Gordon is not that guy.

So now that it is clear (to me at least) that Gordon should be moved, and it looks like the fan base is nearly 100% on board from what I see on Twitter, message boards, and other sites, let’s address the final issue. Should we move him now when his trade value might not be at its highest? Well, first of all, the fact that numerous teams are interested tells me that he at least has some value. Does he have as much value as he would if he were healthy the last two years and playing great? Of course not. But let’s not act like his trade value can only go up.

Again, I repeat, Eric Gordon has been injured four of his five years in the league and they seem to be getting more and more serious. His value is relatively low now, but can you imagine what it will be if (and when) he suffers another injury? What if he needs microfracture surgery- an option that was discussed last year? People will say that this is a pessimist’s view, but I call it reality. How do you best predict the future? By looking to the past, and the past tells you that injuries pile up with this guy. Put it this way, if we found a guy who has been healthy four of the past five years, what would you predict was in store for him next year? Of course you would predict health. So, when you flip it, why is it pessimistic to predict injury?

So, I argue that even though his value is low, it is time to sell before it gets lower. It is time to rid this franchise of the albatross that is weighing down its future financial flexibility and take the best offer on the table. He is a very good player, and by all accounts a fine human being, but this is the business of basketball and all the facts lead to Dell only reaching one conclusion- Eric Gordon has to go.




  1. WhoDatPelican96

    February 14, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    I hope he’s gone after the break

  2. Snow

    February 14, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    I have THE perfect trade! We trade Eric Gordon for CP3! Lol jp (or am I :P) I hate how he’s not on the sideline and you made a great point of how Smith is playing through his injury. I wonder if Dell is making Gordon sit so he doesn’t get reinjured so his value gets shot even more. If we do end up trading him, I hope we get someone who is just as good as he is healthy. Shoot we need it, we need someone who is healthy and can be our closer

  3. Here_to_stay

    February 14, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Great piece, MM — I think the entire Hornets/Pelican nation agrees — and for any skeptics, there’s your clinching point about Lopez & Anderson.

    I assume we have to take back a percentage of EG’s salary – How much? And I also assume that ideally it would be in the form of expiring contracts, although something tells me we may have to eat a year or 2 of a bad contract to complete the deal. Rumor has 3 most interested teams: Mavs, Rockets & Warriors. Any more speculation? (And finally, does deal read this site?)

  4. Will

    February 14, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    Well said. There’s no room for an albatross on the Pelicans.

    Using ESPN’s trade machine, I thought of a plausible trade:
    NOLA: Dohntay Jones, Beno Udrih, Tobias Harris, Mavs 1st rounder
    Mavs: Gordon
    Bucks: Shawn Marion

    Only Harris would be on the books after this year and at only $1.5 mill for 3 years. The likely lottery pick from Dallas could be a part of a trade for a proven talent. The Mavs have been rumored to want Gordon and maybe the Bucks will try to convince Jennings to stay with moves for solid but not spectacular players like Marion. We’d come out of it with a ton of cap space and assets for more moves at a cost of not getting any immediate talent in return.

    Anyway, the issue of team culture was personified last night. Of course, it’s easy to enjoy a blowout, but watching the team-oriented play and hustle of every other player on the team just felt right. Seeing Eric Gordon force shots and mope around kills me a bit inside. When his return was approaching, I psyched myself into welcoming him back. But his no show for a minor hand injury eliminated the little patience I afforded him. Sell now before his value depreciates more.

    • ACStamp

      February 15, 2013 at 11:48 pm

      I think Shawn Marion and Gordon both have trade veto power…..I doubt Marion is going to OK a trade to Milwaukee.

  5. Jared Ennis

    February 15, 2013 at 12:47 am

    I never was a big fan of Gordon. Like most hornets fans, I was overjoyed when we got on a hot streak after his return. But since then we have obviously cooled off. Bottom line is we aren’t gonna move forward with him. Send him out of town for a prospect/young vet and maybe some expiring deals. I would love for Houston to be that team since they are reportedly interested. I am a huge fan of Parsons. Maybe tag along him and a few expiring contracts. It’d be great to get a pick in the 2014 draft out of this as well.

  6. mojart

    February 15, 2013 at 1:45 am

    Trade him now when some teams have shown interest on him….warriros, mavs and rockets are interested….i love MM proposal of getting parsons….I’m no GM but i like if they go harrison barnes, a pick (1st rd 2014) and fillers to make the salary match…..

  7. soulbreaker

    February 15, 2013 at 1:54 am if gordon goes, how about this deal, more one pick from orlando

  8. soulbreaker

    February 15, 2013 at 2:00 am

    Gordon´s attitude really sucks, j.j. is a good d, he´s a good teammate and his salary will be about 8/10 mill $.

  9. marios123

    February 15, 2013 at 3:04 am

    I don’t think that any available trade that we have right now will benefit the team. What we need now to compete is a true leader not more picks and young players. Gordon is a leader when healthy. SO lets face it, even though nobody likes him (including me) the best move for now is to keep him and hope that he will come around. If not, we can consider our options again in the offseason

    • 504ever

      February 15, 2013 at 11:25 am

      I don’t think Eric Gordon is tradable now, in spite of the “talk” about interest in Gordon from other teams. That talk was started on the pay side of ESPN and I suspect it was just to retain or earn more paying customers.

      Maybe, MAYBE some one will take a run at him this summer. But we might get are other bad contracts. Getting guys with similar cap space, somewhat shorter contracts, and no ability to play basketball may not be better than keeping Gordon.

      Wait until the terms of potential trades come out and see how happy you are. I can guarantee it won’t young players with potential and draft picks for Eric Gordon.

      • LLHOPS

        February 15, 2013 at 5:40 pm

        Great post Michael. Another reason to move him is Gordon’s production is rather limited for a max contract guy. Now some will argue that his being out of shape is the reason for the inconsistent play but it’s also the reason he stays injured so often. We may not get young players and draft picks for EG but I would take a crappy player with an expiring contract at this stage. The key is to open up $15 million in cap space. It won’t be easy to make this trade in the first year of EG’s max contract but it’s worth it for Dell to try to find a willing team.

      • 504ever

        February 15, 2013 at 7:07 pm

        LLHOS, We are going to have to take back bad contracts for Gordon. Getting only expiring contacts will never happen. Gordon is way to big a risk, and has way too big and long a contract, for any team to trade expirings for him.

      • Jason Calmes

        February 15, 2013 at 10:29 pm

        I wouldn’t be so sure. There are other reasons for a team to take a chance on Gordon . . . like the tax rules slamming down. Right?

  10. Desmond84

    February 15, 2013 at 5:04 am

    Really good read, nice. I think Eric Gordon has never gotten over been traded from the LA Clippers, He never wanted to leave but the NBA is a business. Gordon said that in is his latest interview, that fans need to realize that the NBA is a business well he needs to know that too and while he is stealing money from the organisation he should be doing his best by the team, which he is not. Gordon has acted like he deserves something thing he hasn’t earned, like the GM’s respect. Its not your business to know what the GM is planning, its your business to go and earn your paycheck. Been upset when your not given a 5yr/80mil extension when your sitting out injured for 85% of the season is not something that will earn you respect anywhere.

  11. JJacob

    February 15, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Friends of mine at some dinner event in which a Hornets player/staff member sits at your table and Eric was there guy. They said he was an extremely polite and nice young man, but he talked about missing home. He also said in Indiana everyone knew him and loved him and all that.

    I don’t think he’s cut out for basketball mentally honestly. If you have your mind on those kind of things in this business-like environment then you have issues. He has a poor attitude, and quite frankly, maybe he doesn’t have the mental fortitude (or physical at that) to be in the NBA.

    Wish I never knew ya.

  12. BRballboy

    February 15, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Hard to see why we kept him. Can’t rely on him. Attitude. Way too risky for small market team. Would trade him for anything that gets back our cap space.
    MM, always enjoy your stuff but can’t resist asking bout Lopez “how do you like him now?”
    Can someone refresh me on why we didn’t just let Gordon go? Think how much better we would be with a starting caliber SF and SG instead.

  13. JAMRenaissance

    February 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Eric Gordon is a starting caliber SG. the only problem is the fact that you have to include the prefix “When healthy”.

    The fact that EG gets to veto any trade for the first year hamstrings us. I can’t see him agreeing to very many places that will give us close to value for him. Our best bet is EG for Granger, but that assumes that EG is willing to accept going there under the assumption that he, Paul George, and Roy Hibbert are the core.

  14. cgrand

    February 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    when the truth is staring you in the face, it is folly to ignore it
    this article is the truth…well stated and unbiased

    addition by subtraction in the NBA is a fact of life, more so than in any other sport. it is time for gordon to go

    the fans are fed up, the front office is fed up, monty is fed up, his teammates are fed up. nothing good is coming out of continuing this relationship

    well done mr mcnamara and thank you

  15. tzander01

    February 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    I get (and even share in) the frustration in Hornets nation regarding Gordon, and I completely understand the injury argument.

    But the question I pose to Hornets nation is this: Who will replace him? Honestly, who is a better shooting guard in the league, talent-wise, besides Kobe, Wade, and Harden? These trade proposals I’m seeing for cap flexibility and scrubs sound more frustrating than letting this guy play when he can. If I’m not getting a Klay Thompson-like player (an up and coming, efficient, young gunner in the league) or someone like McLemore in the more in the draft, I simply don’t let him go. Period.

    Someone tell me why you let go of your best chance at a starting caliber shooting guard in a league where it’s rare.

  16. Nate

    February 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Houston: Only if we can get back some of their lotto picks and/or Chandler Parsons.

    Golden State: Only if Harrison Barnes is involved.

    Let’s face it. Vasquez is our general AND leader.
    Gordon is only poisoning young minds with his attitude.

    • ACStamp

      February 15, 2013 at 11:51 pm

      I’d deal with Golden State if they involved Klay Thompson. They would also make us take Richard Jefferson and his contract, but he expires after 2014 and he and Thompson would start at 2 and 3 immediately. LOL Find a way to throw in Bryan Roberts to get Jarrett Jack back while we’re at it.

  17. jacksonezard

    February 15, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Give the kid a break,
    he is a professional and all he wants to do is play ball for a city that loves him..
    Its in his best interest and for the team that he doesn’t play double headers, if that ruins ‘chemistry’ then so be it.

    There is no other player like him on the hornets roster and we need him if we are a chance for a playoff spot next year.

    He is a finisher and can make something out of nothing. Can you imagine fast forward 2-3 years from now. A healthy Gordon combined with a matured roster of young talent, we are going to have a very good team. and then all these bandwagon supports will be eating their words!!

    How about while the kid is representing NOLA, show some respect & support (as your mother hopefully said to you. if you haven’t got anything nice to say about someone, don’t say it)

    • tzander01

      February 15, 2013 at 5:16 pm

      Well said.

    • Will

      February 15, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      In his first 1.5 years here I’ve been imagining a healthy Gordon. The first year was frustrating but I thought better safe than sorry; and maybe I don’t know how bad it really is. Then there were the unprofessional offseason comments, recurring injury to start the year, banishment to LA for the first 2 months and general appearance of disinterest. He’s talented and as long as he’s here, I’ll support him, but he doesn’t seem to match the philosophy of Monty Williams.

  18. Funkmaster

    February 15, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    I trust Dell Demps and that’s the bottom line. If Dell makes a deal for to trade Gordon, then I believe he will make the best deal for our team. If Eric stays he must then believe in keeping him. Dell Demps has pulled some real magic out of this team in his short time as GM and as the shirts Say’s “IN DEMPS WE TRUST”.

  19. Frank

    February 15, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    The way I see this with the Eric Gordon situation is that he does not have the drive or motivation to be a franchise cornerstone. Sure being humble & optimistic is always good, but how far is going to get him? I feel as though he is killing this team’s potential to be great in the long run.

    Chemistry is always one of the biggest factors in basketball or any other team sport. Having great depth and chemistry brings a high morale to any team. San Antonio is a perfect example. Great chemistry and no egos that put a damper in their salary cap. I see both Dell & Monty want to bring a team that can gel on both ends on the floor. It’s going to take time and patience to evaluate and decide who can be asset for this franchise moving forward.

    Gordon is in the same room with so many young stars needing a change of scenery (Evans, Jennings,etc…). Gordon wants out regardless if he says it or not. I don’t think Dell is not going to take a lowball trade offer. The only realistic team he would be suited is the Indiana Pacers. I could see them get rid of Granger and probably DJ Augustin as well as their first rounder. Other than that, it is pretty much going to be a wait & see approach for this upcoming Thursday.

  20. lsucpolk

    February 16, 2013 at 3:32 am

    Going forward, the Hornets/Pelicans cannot afford to have anything resembling a cancer in that locker room if they want to win consistently. It can be easily argued that Eric Gordon is a cancer. I’ve tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he has done nothing to prove us wrong. It’s rather disappointing. The Hornets/Pelicans are full of young guys who can be so easily influenced by older veterans. It’s essential that Dell provides them with older guys who will encourage them to do things that breed winning. Although he is a great shooting guard when he is healthy, Eric Gordon, unfortunately, is not one of those guys that I would want influencing my younger players who could potentially be franchise cornerstones. I would not be upset if they cut ties, even if they don’t get “fair market value.”

  21. Pingback: How to Get Quality in a Trade for Eric Gordon | New Orleans Hornets |

  22. houp garou

    February 18, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Since the majority says they agree with your premise, let me highlight a few things I disagree on-

    – that a gm can easily turn 13m of cap room into a player(s) equal or better than gordon (wouldn’t dell have let him walk if he thought that were the case?) Rhino was the score of the decade, dell’s best move at gm. Being a gm would be a snap if this move were easy to replicate. As for Rolo i seem to remember some writers on this site being completely down on this move saying they would not want him if the money was guaranteed. The point? even 5 m does not buy a sure thing. Gordon is a true closer and there are not many with his ability in this area out there or available. The skill is utterly necessary for a successful team and we don’t have it without him and 13 M does not automatically get you one. 20 M may: see rudy gay

    – jsmitty as a the model for all that ej is not. smitty’s avg over a 4yr career, 62 games played and he appears to be heading that way this year. the nba is brutal, most everybody not named karl malone get’s hurt, ej takes the ball to the rim increasing frequency of injury

    – the chemistry being sacrificed by missed games thing. What about the win streak we experienced upon his return? Monty is a lineup mix and matcher so there is little consistency already. Anyway I though our endgame this year was getting young players reps over getting w’s. Gordons back to back sits just aid that aim.

    – was bout to write about our greatest need being at 3 but I think that was in jason’s articly. obviously if we trade ej our greatest need is at 2. afa and even darius > rivers

    – general premise of this article. in all things with this team we are expected to be patient except for ej. from this article: “His value is relatively low now, but can you imagine what it will be if” before continuing to say it could go lower. to me there is much more potential for his value to go up, not to mention the whole trade veto thing. let’s not discount that ej wants to have a basketball career and he must know that he can not afford to sit out tons of games in the near future. I place the chances of his value going way up much higher than the chance they go way down

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