Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Gordon hasn't made a tremendous number of friends since arriving in New Orleans because of a combination of his (perceived) attitude, routinely bizarre comments he's made to the media, and, unfortunately, a rather poor standard of play.
The first and last of those issues would be far more likely to be excused if, of course, the second did not exist. But between his apparent failure to understand the restricted free agency process and his continual references to his distrust with general managers, his current team inclusive, Gordon has engendered quite a bit of skepticism even amongst potential fans.
And so, this being the internet, his poor play, naturally non-emotive facial structure, and some sports fans' belief that their favorite players play out of loyalty and not for the paycheck have all been tossed into a blender to create a typically foul-tasting trade rumor smoothie. Gordon to the Rockets! Gordon to the Kings! Gordon to the Pacers! Gordon to t-- just trade him, god doumit!
These thoughts are of course linked with more sinister ones -- is Gordon poisoning the minds of a young locker room? I don't know enough to say either way, and even if it strikes me as inane, it's certainly a possibility.
I do think that trading Eric Gordon before February 21, 2013 would be unwise though.
One of the primary arguments for moving Gordon is an advocacy of cap space and flexibility. To an extent, I buy this. Lack of financial flexibility is one of the easiest possible ways to ruin the construction of a team around a young superstar (see: Paul Era, the Chris). Gordon is not on a "full max" yet, since max contracts increase in value with each successive deal, and this is only Gordon's first. Still, ~$15M a year is a ton and quite easily fatal if the player makes it out on the floor just 20 times a season.
But there's another complicating issue here -- the Hornets have $25 million in cap space this summer. That's a tremendous amount of money; the cap limit will be around $60M. What does this mean? For one, it's rare that a team has this much cap space (with as many players already on the books as New Orleans has). Second, it means that the Hornets will have to spend around $10 million just to hit the league mandated cap floor.
As I've mentioned before, I'm not particularly enamored with this year's free agency class, and certainly not with anyone that projects to cost more than 8 or so million. There exists the distinct chance that the Hornets will give out a bad contract or two just to meet the floor, which would be terrible. And moreover, if New Orleans refrains from handing out expensive, long-term deals in the summer, they'll preserve essentially the same amount of cap space for the summer of 2014 -- again, enough to hand out a max deal.
Basically, Eric Gordon's contract will not play a huge role in terms of flexibility until 2015. And that's the number one reason moving him hastily during this next week feels unwise. Gordon's value is about as low as it can go -- he's playing poorly, he hasn't really proved that he's healthy, and there's a perceived notion that not only does he want out, the team is also trying to dump him. It'd be a classic sell-low without any real need to. Unless Gordon blows out his knee completely, the opportunity to move him will exist for at least the next 24 months and change, and there's a distinct possibility that his trade value increases at some point during that stretch.
Could a good trade exist in the next week? Absolutely. But forcing a bad one just to be rid of Gordon would be foolish.