Eric Gordon and Changing the Cast

Published: January 15, 2014

Much has been made this year about Eric Gordon being the odd man out, long-term, for this franchise. Anthony Davis is the foundation and is here to stay, and though there are no guarantees that Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, and Tyreke Evans are here forever, there is little doubt that moving Gordon’s contract would help this franchise move forward more quickly.

Whenever I talk about Gordon, I can’t help but go back to his first game against Phoenix, because that’s the Gordon that got me excited about our future. That was the Gordon that was among the best in the league at getting to the rim and that was the Gordon who could split defenders effortlessly. That was the Gordon who, if you blinked, was two steps past you.

Ironically, the place in which Eric Gordon’s star shined the brightest became the place where his standing with fans fell off a cliff. The “Phoenix is just where my heart is now” story was a PR disaster.. and then mysteriously, just a couple days before the 12-13 season started, Eric Gordon was said to be out indefinitely with recurring knee issues. Gordon would go on to sit out until late December. Yikes.

I’m not here to tell you that Gordon is the player he once was or that he is without flaws. I spent my early time as a writer on the site exclusively covering Gordon and those flaws; last year, that meant the disappearing acts, the turnovers, and the annoying choices not to drive to the basket in favor of midrange jumpers, few of which went in. If you want to hear frustration and the words “you know” said with record frequency, visit my appearance on the podcast with Schwan and McNamara on Eric Gordon’s 2012-13 season.

The truth is, Gordon is not the player he once was. His athleticism still isn’t fully back, and I’m beginning to wonder whether he’ll ever regain the entirety of it. Yes, he is still athletic, and yes, he is still quick enough to beat his defender.. but he is not as athletic as he used to be, and it shows.

Some Issues Involving Gordon


The biggest problem with Gordon playing for the Pelicans is that he’s redundant. The offense at full strength doesn’t really need his scoring. When the Pelicans were healthy, the problem was defense, and he doesn’t do much defensively on most nights. Gordon doesn’t play help defense, he doesn’t rebound, and his “efforts” at stopping opponents in transition are downright laughable.

Gordon is a volume scorer, and the recent rash of injuries to the Pelicans has highlighted this: without Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, and Tyreke Evans, offense IS needed, and Gordon is starting to deliver. He is no longer redundant, and since Anderson has been hurt, Gordon has been averaging 22 points per game.


The Pelicans have had a lot of trouble getting to the free throw line recently and have been routinely been giving up 10, 15+ more free throws to the opponents than they have been receiving. Gordon has been no exception and his free throw attempt rate of 28% is well below the career average of 38% he had going into the season. The refs have not been doing him any favors this year.

Moving Forward

I don’t think anyone really believes that Gordon is a fixture of this team moving forward. He is a fairly one-dimensional player on a team that already has enough offensive firepower on the roster.  You can get away with not playing defense (cough, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Damian Lillard) if you are a big enough key to the offense, and when everyone is healthy, Gordon is not essential. That’s why he’s the odd man out: because what he does well is already in surplus on this roster. He is overpaid to do something that we don’t need.

That said, he is here now, and the Pelicans’ cast has changed for the time being. The time to boost his value is now, and so far, he’s done a pretty good job taking advantage of it.


  1. Steven J

    January 16, 2014 at 8:52 am

    I agree that if he plays exceptional it only increases his trade value and will only help the Pelicans. Honestly, Gordon does not seem like a player that gives 100% for his team. He takes quarters off, doesn’t play good defense, and doesn’t get his teammates involved. I believe that he isn’t in the future for the Pels, and hopefully we can get all we can out of him.

  2. Larry Lemoine

    January 16, 2014 at 9:05 am

    xman20002000 Actually EG’s performance against the Rockets proves Michael’s point. With 3 of the big 5 hurt, EG’s role is expanded in the offense and he’s putting up more points. But Michael is also right the EG skills are redundant when Holliday and Evans are healthy.
    Besides there are 2 ways this team can significantly improve in the offseason – find someone willing to trade for EG which could free up significant cap space and/or land a top 5 pick that’s protected in the draft. Both of these have a better chance of happening if Anderson, Holliday and Evans stay off the court for as long as possible. EG will continue to put up big numbers when he is the only guard/wing who can score. This may get another team to bite and offer a deal. Also, as we lose more games in a season in which we don’t make the playoffs anyway, the Pels have a better chance of landing one of the those top 5 draft picks. And Anderson, Holliday and Evans can fully heal to fight another day.

  3. Major504

    January 16, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Steven J Gordon takes more then a quarter off, sometimes it may be the whols half that he decides not to show up. He plays a part time game but gets full time pay. that lucky bastard.

  4. Jason Quigley

    January 16, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    xman20002000 I don’t think you read the article…

  5. Jason Quigley

    January 17, 2014 at 1:10 am

    xman20002000 correct, it was a lot of justification for what we need to do with Gordon in the future (trade). But was it saying that we need to get rid of Gordon because he’s a bad player? Was it nothing but Gordon hate? No, and I suggest you read the two issue sections, “Redundancy” and “Calls” again. Here’s a summary since you seem to like those: we have a crowded backcourt of three high-quality players who do mostly the same thing. Holiday, Gordon, Evans. They all like to have the ball to be effective. Gordon, above all, is a scorer, as mentioned in the article. Of those three, Gordon is making the most money. If you look at ALL the offensive firepower on our team (when healthy) it’s even more clear. Anderson, Evans, Davis, Holiday. That alone is a really good offensive team. “The offense at full strength doesn’t really need his scoring.” As the article stated, defense was our problem with a full roster, and Gordon is mostly focused on offense. While we were one of the highest scoring teams, that means nothing if you… let up 124 points to the Timberwolves, for example. If you want  some more stats, our 27th ranked 103+ points per game allowed is a fun number; not as bad as Philly’s 110.4, but bad. 

    Going back to your original comment of his play against the Rockets…yes! It was pretty awesome! Until the 4th quarter when the Rockets decided to shut him down on offense, but you still have to take away some positives from it. But if you think that one game makes up for what we’re saying in the article, you’re wrong. You seem to be forgetting something important. Remember those offensive cannons I talked about earlier? Three of those are injured! Do people not realize this? Even more important for Gordon’s specific case is that both of the other star guards on the team are some of the ones injured. It’s why Monty thinks starting Roberts is a good idea, and it’s why Gordon is putting up a lot more points in the last few games than he’s done all season. So now you’re saying, “well why do you keep saying his offense is redundant on the team???” It is! UNLESS! our other offensive weapons are unable to be in the game for the team. “Without Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, and Tyreke Evans, his offense IS needed.” So why would we want to trade him if we need his offense now? Because It’s not every day that teams are going to be this crippled (I know the Hornets history but it can’t always be this bad…). When we have our players back from injury, and it probably will be next season, by trading Gordon away, we could have one or two players who fit this team’s build much better than Gordon, instead of having him take up a roster space and cap space while slowing down the offense. 

    It’s not a Gordon hate article. It’s just saying that he doesn’t fit with the way this team is built.

  6. bradlaborde

    January 17, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Main take away from the clip you provided: Gordon was the focal point (seemed to have better ball handling back then too).  Primary scorer for a bad team is his NBA calling.
    Having said that, take your medicine Dell.  Eat that contract or trade for expirings (which I can’t see happening). Trading a bad contract for other bad contracts (Gordon for McGee) is what sunk the CP3 era.

  7. Caffeinedisaster

    January 17, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Quote: “Gordon is not the player he once was. His athleticism still isn’t fully back, and I’m beginning to wonder whether he’ll ever regain the entirety of it.”

    This is how I feel.   Injuries have reduced him to a spot up shooter and 4th offensive option.  I have been a big supporter of his.  The brilliance that he showed (in flashes) when we first got him made me hope that I was watching a superstar rise to prominence.
    That hope is now lost, and the contract is all that remains.  He is our biggest (expendable) asset.  If he’s not gone at the trade deadline, he will be by summer.
    So sad, what could have been.

  8. tzander01

    January 17, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Redundancy? Why wouldn’t you want to have the luxury of having more than a couple guys who can score the basketball? It gives you options. It gives you flexibility. It takes the pressure off guys. 
    My only issue with all this “Trade Gordon” propaganda is that I think we’re taking for granted what we’d be giving up. The article does nothing to point out what Gordon actually does well. The position is labeled “shooting” guard for a reason. Ideally you want someone who is an efficient jump shooter who can create his own shot. Tyreke Evans is not a good shooter. If we trade Gordon, we lose shooting, which is so critical to a championship team. Ryan Anderson can’t be called upon to take all the shots.
    I truly think this team just needs time to learn to play together.  Injuries have diminished those opportunities, but we all saw flashes of the potential with that Fab 5 lineup. And I keep saying: OKC didn’t do it in one season. Sure, he’s got a bad contract, and I think that’s what frustrates fans the most (me included) but unless I’m getting Klay Thompson back, a top 15 pick, or an above average SF or C…I’m not just throwing this guy away for the sake of ridding some cash. He’s still only 25, and most of the guys with comparable or superior skill sets than Gordon that make it to free agency just aren’t going to come to a small market team without being overpaid anyway. 
    I’m not really buying the whole “Jrue can’t play with Gordon thing”….I think Monty just needs to find the right offensive system for these guys. Eric Gordon is a talented basketball player. Look, I get that he hasn’t played up to his contract. But fans can’t expect the guy to go for 40 every night or to score every time he touches the ball. When it’s time to pay Davis, then we can talk about moving his contract for those reasons, but we might as well see what this team can do after establishing some chemistry before blowing it up so soon.

  9. tmbocage1

    January 17, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    The Pels can trade Gordon but they won’t get anything for him but a salary dump. The writing’s on the wall for him and teams know about his work ethic. Maybe we can do a hometown swap with Indiana for Danny Granger. That way, we get another wing scorer and 3 point shooter and they get a scoring 6th man and ball handler (Stephenson is a defensive 6th). Each team would get a hometown hero, for what it’s worth.

  10. DavidLeBoeuf

    January 17, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    tzander01 he makes too much money.  We can get 2 or 3 guys who can make up for what he does for the money we pay him.  15 million for options and flexibility?  Can’t win that way.

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