When the Rockets signed Eric Gordon to a 4-year, $53 million deal before the start of this past season, the move was thought of as a good fit, but it didn’t come without legitimate concerns, primarily on the injury front.
But Gordon came to town and immediately put those worries to rest and by scoring 16.2 points per game, his highest average since 2013, and he also played in 75 games (starting 15) which was the second-highest games played total of his career, after his rookie season (78).
The man they call Splash Gordon was a key component of the Rockets’ 55-win season, as his shooting from beyond the arc — 37.2 percent and 2.2 makes per game — and his ability to provide scoring punch off the bench and crank up the offense when James Harden rested was important enough to Houston’s success that he should be considered the frontrunner for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award.
There were moments when he was simply unconscious shooting the ball, and he had two separate streaks of 15 consecutive games scoring in double figures, including one to close out the regular season. He was also effective as a starter in Mike D’Antoni’s small ball lineup, when called on to fill in for Ryan Anderson.
There were a few minor blemishes for Gordon, however. Even at the pinnacle of healthy, he still missed 7 games and played hurt in several others. The ankle injury he battled mid-year hurt his shooting and his athleticism, though to Gordon’s credit, he mostly toughed through it.
He also had a drop off in the postseason. His playoff scoring average dropped to 12.9 points per game, and his assists dropped almost a full dime per game, from his 2.9 regular season average down to 2.0 for the playoffs. He simply wasn’t as effective come playoff time, despite averaging more minutes per game than during the regular season.
The Rockets really needed a top performance from Gordon to get past San Antonio, and Splash really only showed up for one contest. He poured in 22 points in a Game 4 Houston win, but averaged just 10.4 points per game in the other 5 contests.
Moving forward, Gordon is signed through the 2020 season at approximately $13 million per year (bumps up to $14 million in the final year of the deal), so that’s an extremely palatable contract for Houston to maintain should Gordon continue to produce.
It’s also an extremely tradable one, and with rumors abound over the last several days that Rockets GM Daryl Morey is looking to make a dramatic move for another big name player, it doesn’t appear many names are off the bargaining table.
Gordon’s name wasn’t directly listed as someone Morey is actively shopping — that list read as Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Ryan Anderson — but Morey would have zero trouble sending out Gordon’s contract as well should the right deal to score another star name materialize.