Why Eric Gordon’s Frustration Can Result in Our Jubilation

Published: May 13, 2014

Eric Gordon doesn’t even want to entertain the thought of coming off the bench. He came here to lead. He came here to set the tone. At least that was what he told the Times-Picayune this week when he was asked about a possible 6th man role. I am not going to waste my time comparing this quote to Tyreke Evans’ quotes when he was signed by the Pelicans to come off the bench as a super sub this summer. I won’t point out how Tyreke said he would do whatever it took to win, even if that meant coming off the bench after being a starter his entire career. I won’t do that because this isn’t another Eric Gordon character assassination piece.

This is a joyful piece; a piece that celebrates the fact that this latest turn in the Eric Gordon saga likely brings us one step closer to his exodus. Despite all of rhetoric that Dell Demps tries to sell fans and media on in public, the fact is that he has been trying to move Eric Gordon for more than a year now. The problem is that he has no takers, and that should not come as any surprise when you consider Gordon’s salary and production. When you consider how few games he has played over the last three years, and how mediocre he has looked when he has been on the court, Gordon’s 2 year/$30.4 million dollar contract is among the worst contracts in the NBA.

But there is one glimmering ray of hope, and Pelicans fans have the Phoenix Suns to thank for it. Back in the summer of 2012, the Suns tried to do everything they could to get New Orleans not to match the contract they were set to sign him to. In addition to giving him a max salary, they made the final year of his deal a player option – the least desirable of all options for a team. Despite all the red flags and the undesirable way the contract was set up, GM Dell Demps still matched. Now, two years later, that option that Phoenix put in to deter New Orleans from matching might become the franchises saving grace.

As I have pointed out numerous times in the past, the Pelicans have to get Gordon’s contract off the books by the beginning of next summer at the very latest. That will be the last summer that the Pelicans will have Anthony Davis on his rookie contract before a monstrous extension that will start off at nearly $20 million per year will kick in. The ideal scenario would be to trade Eric Gordon for an expiring contract this summer or trade him to a team that has enough cap room to just absorb his salary without giving us anything in return. The fallback option, if that could not be done, would be to use the stretch provision next summer to create some flexibility.

Trading Gordon this summer for an expiring is possible, but the Pelicans would likely have to give up assets to get that done because Gordon’s deal is so bad. The more likely option is that they would have to take back another questionable long-term contract (McGee, Sanders, Galinari, etc.) but that does not help them create room for the 2015 free agent class. But let me ask you this – What if Gordon’s deal was an expiring? What if, instead of being on a 2 year/$30.4 million contract, he was on a 1 year/$14.8 million contract? Would that make him much easier to trade?

The answer is undeniably yes. If Gordon was an expiring, he would be much more sought after than he would be in a scenario in which a team owed him for two more years. Suddenly, it becomes an expiring for an expiring swap, and you can envision scenarios in which the Bulls would prefer to have Gordon for one year over Carlos Boozer. Or maybe the Knicks would prefer one year of Eric Gordon over one year of Tyson Chandler. The Bobcats might be willing to gamble on Gordon if its only for a year, and the same could be said for a team like the Hawks.

All of a sudden, Gordon goes from a negative trade asset to a neutral one, and that would be HUGE for the Pelicans. But how do we get there? It’s quite simple actually, and ironically, all we have to do is look back to the trade in which he was acquired for the answer. The Clippers agreed to send Gordon and others to New Orleans for Chris Paul under one condition – that Paul would opt in to the second year of his contract. Paul, like Gordon currently, had one year left on his deal and a second year that was a player option. The Clippers did not want to risk making the trade and then losing Paul the following summer, so they insisted he opt in. He did, and the trade was completed.

What the Pelicans need Gordon to do is the exact opposite. The Pelicans need to inform Gordon and his agent that they can get him to the destination that he wants and puts him in the role that he wants if he simply agrees to decline his player option for 2015-16. If he does that, the Pelicans and Rob Pelinka (Gordon’s agent), could spend the next few weeks fielding offers from numerous teams and resolving this situation. The Pelicans should want nothing more than to get Gordon off the books, and Gordon surely wants nothing more than to showcase his skill set on a team that can utilize him, with a fan base that might appreciate him.

And if you are Eric Gordon, why wouldn’t you agree to this arrangement? By his comments, he obviously thinks he is still a top-level NBA player capable of leading a franchise and “setting a tone.” If you believe that much in yourself, then prove it. You don’t need the security of that extra year, because once you go show out to the league, there will be a dozen teams knocking at your door to give you a new max contract in 2015. And since you will be further along in your career, the starting salary for that new max deal will be significantly higher than the last one you signed.

It’s an ideal scenario for everybody. If you are Demps, you call him up today and tell him that he will come off the bench if he returns here next season. But, if he agrees to void his player option, that you will work hand-in-hand with Gordon and his agent to find him an ideal landing place this summer. He gets the love and adoration that he desires, and the Pelicans get to transition to the tandem that should have been their starting backcourt all along.

Sounds like a win-win to me.


  1. MasonGinsberg

    May 13, 2014 at 10:41 am

    The reason Gordon says no in my mind is the injury history. This would be incredible if it worked out, but even if Gordon believes he’s a #1 and team leader, he can’t ignore the resistance teams would have towards him due to injury. His agent knows it, too. Fingers crossed, though!

  2. BumblebeePelican

    May 13, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Great article

  3. Steven J

    May 13, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Sounds great for us. But If Gordon’s agent has any common sense he will do everything in his power to not allow Gordon to do that. But hopefully, everything goes our way and Eric Gordon believes 100% that he is a star.

  4. Michael McNamara

    May 13, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    MasonGinsberg  You are thinking about this from YOUR point of view – as a rational person seeing the entire scope. Stop that! Try to imagine you are an athlete who has been told they are the best all their life who got 2 teams offering him a max contract coming off a season in which you played 9 games. 
    That person would not be rational. That person would believe they are a #1 option an leader. He states he believes he will be the healthiest he has been in years. He would therefore believe he would kill it, as he is entering his prime. 
    I totally disagree. We all look at it through our rational lens and project onto him. Try seeing it through his lens. He would do this IMO.

  5. Michael McNamara

    May 13, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Steven J  Actually, Gordon’s agent gets paid off of his new contracts, not ones he has already signed. He, more than anyone, would be incentivized to push for this.

  6. mateor

    May 13, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Every year, a couple players make pathological bets on themselves- sometimes they even turn out to be right! But Gordon’s contract is so much larger than anything he’ll see again. He is insistent about starting because 13-16 ppg will still earn him 7-9 mil per year on his next contract.
    My bet is that any statements are a fight to earn his next check, along with the usual snipe to his current employers that he will not play nice in the press if threatened. He can act out with impunity, those checks are guaranteed, and there is no chance he resigns in New Orleans.

  7. lsutigers33

    May 13, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    So what you are saying, is that if we put Gordon on the bench, his minutes decrease, his production should decrease, and he would want to opt out to get out and hope to get another good contract from someone else?

    Totally agree.  He is still very young, if he has any chance of getting another decent contract, he has to play and produce for someone.  We have to bite the bullet this year, but I think there is a chance he will opt out.

  8. anewkindoffeelin

    May 13, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Tyreke certainly didn’t act happy coming off the bench.  Words mean very little.

  9. PelicanSaints

    May 13, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Obviously EG has a huge ego when it comes to his craft….Which can be good and bad….He seemed miffed at the ideal that he may be asked to come off the bench. I would bet he and his agent will do whatever it takes to get out of NOLA this summer…..even if it means playing for a crappy team for a season……

  10. 504ever

    May 14, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Don’t see any “Hatin” here, just facts:  Gordon said what he said about coming off the bench, he plays a position where the Pelicans are loaded and he is the ‘odd man out’, he is overpaid by $5-10M/year depending on his health in a given year, the Pelicans need that overpayment or his entire salary for cap space for other positions, and Gordon has a player option for 2015-16.

  11. PelicanSaints

    May 14, 2014 at 9:47 am

    The only comparison to D Rose is that they were both injured this year. ….Rose is a former all star and MVP…..Gordon isn’t close to Rose ……As for as hating on him….no,Tyreke is just more productive as a starter than Gordon….

  12. Lebron2Pels2014

    May 14, 2014 at 11:59 am

    That Gordon is such a diva SMH this guy is such a douche.I hope they trade him the sooner the better.Maybe the Bucks want to trade for him.

  13. pelicanfan

    May 14, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Hope he does it but I doubt it. In addition to his injury history he was such a tenacious bulldog about getting his contract I’d be surprised if he gave up his leverage.

  14. Pelican Poster

    May 15, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Just read a bunch of articles regarding Stan Van Gundy being hired by Detroit and how that means Greg Monroe will be on the way out. They also say they need a perimeter shooter, etc. Is it possible for the Pels to essentially swap Gordon for Monroe who is a RFA? Monroe from N.O. and reportedly may be interested in coming home. What an awesome turn of events that would be!!!!!

  15. Caffeinedisaster

    May 15, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Michael McNamara MasonGinsberg  He knows about his injury history.  The false confidence is just a front, like all athletes put on.

  16. malltmont

    May 15, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Article sounds great in theory, but players tend to get less prideful and more pocket conscious as their careers progress and fade.  I could see Eric going for this if (a) he feels he can showcase his skills with the right team in 2014-15, and (b) by doing so, his value in 2015 is significantly better than his value in 2016.  It’s all about net gains and losses of his next contract.  Let’s say he declines the option – even if he plays lights out this upcoming season, he’s not likely going to get $15 million for the 2015-2016 season based upon past history.  The question is, the gamble really, would be whether a 4-5 year deal in the summer of 2015 (when he’ll be 26) is better than a 4-5 year deal in the summer of 2016 (when he’ll be 27) enough so as to make up for not making what is now guaranteed in 2015-2016.  If it is, or he thinks it may be a wash, then he may go for something like what you’re proposing.

    The real problem is finding suiter. A team only goes for this if Gordon declines his option as part of the trade.  Otherwise, he could say he’ll decline his option, but if he suffered a career-ending injury, he’d absolutely exercise the option for the sake of an injury settlement.  And that’s the biggest rub.  Walking away from $15 million, when you could lose your career by virtue of injury at any moment, would be very foolish.

  17. mateor

    May 16, 2014 at 12:50 am

    504ever xman20002000  I am no EG supporter. But his deal would be fair at 4-5 mil less. If he was getting paid 10 less, he would be one of the most popular players in the league and fans would be clammoring for more minutes.

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  19. Lebron2Pels2014

    May 19, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    xman20002000 Lebron2Pels2014 Evans and early on Holiday

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