3 potential landing spots for Eric Gordon via trade
In your typical rebuild, what follows a superstar player’s exit is the gradual teardown of the once-playoff roster left behind. Expiring contracts are moved immediately and the veterans signed to long-term deals typically follow after that. The case is no different with the Houston Rockets after James Harden was traded. Forward P.J. Tucker was traded to the highest bidder and soon enough, the Rockets will move on from the other veterans on the roster. Possibly the most valuable veteran player left behind is shooting guard Eric Gordon.
There’s a strange phenomena in the NBA where a player’s contract blinds people from the value of the player. Teams should be weary of non-star players making above a certain threshold of income as those deals can really hamper salary cap flexibility.
However, players like Gordon (two guaranteed years remaining at nearly $37 million) become undervalued in the process of viewing players solely through that prism. With the Rockets, Gordon proved himself to being an extremely valuable playoff performer due to his driving ability, shooting, and defense.
As the 2021-22 season wanes on, there will be teams in need of a player like that. Let’s try and project some of them today.
There is no more obvious candidate to trade for the services of Eric Gordon next season than the Denver Nuggets. With Jamal Murray sidelined for the season, the Nuggets are in a season of flux. With Nikola Jokic in his prime, they obviously want to remain as competitive as possible, but will have to do that knowing their season may have a ceiling.
Eric Gordon can come right in and make up for some of the perimeter scoring punch lost from Murray while providing defense above the level of Will Barton. Gordon could also fit in well with the Nuggets the following season (assuming that’s when Murray returns).
The Dallas Mavericks have had a pretty clear strategy this offseason: surround Luka Doncic with shooting. From Reggie Bullock to Sterling Brown, the Mavericks wisely decided to use their available cap space on a stronger supporting cast. The Mavericks have a lot of “surprise team” potential next season and those are the kinds of teams that are active at the trade deadline to bolster the roster for a playoff run.
It may seem redundant to have Eric Gordon and Tim Hardaway Jr. on the same roster, but part of what makes Gordon so valuable is that he’s perfectly content coming off the bench and being a contributor.
3. Indiana Pacers
This is the longest shot of all the teams listed, but Eric Gordon does have deep Indiana basketball roots. The Pacers have Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, T.J. Warren, Caris LeVert, T.J. McConnell, and Justin Holiday already so there’s not really a need for Gordon’s services. However, the Pacers are a sentimental organization and it’s worth noting that the Rockets were in discussions to send Eric Gordon to Indiana before the NBA Draft a couple months ago. It’s just a team to monitor for right now.
As the February trade deadline moves closer, more teams could be in demand of a player like Gordon. The Rockets will have to keep an eye on the NBA landscape for now to see who those teams could be.