The Case for Trading Eric Gordon

Jan 11, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; New Orleans Pelicans shooting guard Eric Gordon (10) reacts to a call during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Pelicans 110-107. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

According to the NY Daily News the New Orleans Pelicans have apparently decided Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon are expendable cogs and thus may actively begin looking to cash in their assets, putting an early end to what was one of the most interesting young teams in the league. The newly minted Pelicans went all in this summer, trading for point guard Jrue Holiday and signing Tyreke Evans (former Rookie of the Year, don’t you know!) as a free agent. They would join revolutionary but raw big-man Anthony Davis, sharpshooting Ryan Anderson, and All-Star-esque guard Eric Gordon as a possibly dangerous young core vying for respectability in the hellish Western Conference.

Well, it appears the party may be over pre-maturely, but New Orleans might be jumping the gun on Tyreke Evans. Which is not to say that he’s untouchable or that if he continues shooting less than inspiring numbers there shouldn’t be some quiet backroom discussions on his future as a Pelican. Tyreke is what he is, and possibly has had some trouble adjusting to the life of a sixth man, which contrary to the noble standing we generally bestow upon it, can sometimes seem like an insult to the player.

Eric Gordon on the other hand, simply has to go.

With Gordon, Holiday, and Evans you have the inverse of the Pistons problems with Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, and Andre Drummond. Instead of three bigs that can’t space the floor, you’ve got three guys who in their heart of hearts are alpha dogs on the wing, score first personalities that want to take the big shot in crunch time and feel best with the ball in their hands. A bit of an oversimplification, but there is a clear redundancy in this three guard rotation.

Eric Gordon has never wanted to be a Hornet/Pelican. After years as the best player on the awful Los Angeles Clippers and always on the cusp of nearly being an All-Star, Gordon was the sacrificial lamb required for the Clippers to get their grubby mitts on Chris Paul. The Clippers instantly became a playoff team, and eventually, a contender (at least in name).

But things just got worse and worse for Eric Gordon. He clashed with management, he was plagued by injuries, and stranger still, the New Olreans PR machine spewed out contradictory stories about his injury progress while we heard shadow reports from other sources that Gordon simply didn’t want to play for the former Hornets. This was displayed quite obviously when in a surprising moment of candor, Gordon told the Hornets not to match the massive offer sheet the Phoenix Suns had offered him in free agency. Being sassy New Orleans types, the future Pelicans front office decided to keep their marquee player. Gordon has sought to ameliorate this former discontent by lauding the move to acquire Holiday, but once a complainer, always a complainer, and the short term future of the Pelicans is very much dire (conversely, their long term future is a bright place indeed).

The future of the New Orleans Pelicans is Anthony Davis. Perhaps he is the future of the league. This is indisputable, and this has already changed the fate of Gordon. He’s no longer the super-scoring next best guard in the West. He’s been supplanted time and time again as he’s toiled in the bayou and watched his value plummet. Weird bouts of insurrection and injuries and a common denominator of never having been on a good team will do that to you. But lo and behold, Gordon’s having a pretty decent year. He could help any number of teams in need of a scoring punch.

How about Eric Gordon to the Bobcats for Ben Gordon and Anthony Tolliver?

Or Eric Gordon for Charlie Vilanueva, Kyle Singler, and Jonas Jerebko?

A straight up swap of Danny Granger and Eric Gordon also seems to work!

And hey, if the Pelicans get nostalgic, they can trade back for old friends Marcus Thornton and Carl Landy (along with Jimmer Fredette) and send Gordon to the Kings alongside Boogie and Rudy Gay.

And then what about this haul: Send Gordon to Oklahoma City for this bundle: Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison, Hasheem Thabeet, Perry Jones, and Derek Fisher. Let the YOUTH MOVEMENT 2.0 get an early start in OKC! But of course the Thunder would never do this (though come on, Steven Adams is READY to replace the ghost of Kendrick Perkins), but Gordon fits the bill exactly to be the successor in the James Harden/Kevin Martin super sixth man role (please forget that I already disparaged this mythical heroic designation a few lines above!).

All these hypotheticals aside, the Holiday-Gordon-Evans experiment was likely dead on arrival. It’s good that New Orleans recognizes this, but also important that they make the right moves going forward. Tyreke Evans may yet work out in this system. Eric Gordon, talented as he obviously is, is an impediment, not the answer. I’ll make a “bold” prediction that with Gordon gone the offense won’t suffer, but flourish.

This is of course assuming a healthy starting five (and Anderson and Evans if they aren’t starters). Fate is often unkind to even the most charming of teams.

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