Ah, another grade of “Incomplete”, this time for Rockets guard, and second highest paid player, Eric Gordon.
Gordon went out with a groin injury in early March, and despite it being described as “4-6 weeks” there was little to no sign of Gordon returning or even contemplating a return.
This is likely due to the Rockets working hard to be terrible (not that they needed to put in all that much work, they were fairly terrible anyway). Some, however, have speculated that the March departure marked Gordon’s last game as a Rocket.
This would make some sense, as Gordon’s timeline, at 32 presently and 33 in late December, is likely not that of the Rockets. Unlike John Wall, Gordon probably has value, despite him being the scapegoat and evident cause of all the Rockets manifold problems, according to some.
Gordon’s year wasn’t great, but it probably wasn’t as terrible as you’re remembering. Eric Gordon averaged 17.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and .5 steals in 29 minutes per game. He shot 43% overall, and 33% on 3pt shots, with a 58TS%. Not spectacular, but the Rockets season was a truly a dumpster fire from start to finish, whether it was Harden drama, injuries, or more injuries, or still more injuries and roster turnover.
If you’ve been watching these playoffs you might have noticed that there are some otherwise fairly decent teams who seem to utterly lack a shot creator from the guard spot (looking at you in particular, Knicks). Gordon isn’t your PG, but he’s not a bad SG at all (especially given the market for SG).
It’s reasonable to think that if an offense was set up to get Gordon the ball in good spots he could produce better numbers, attack the basket, and shoot it pretty well. (Aside from Harden, when he was trying, the Rockets offense emphatically was not doing any of this. This season at times made me wonder why people think of John Wall as a point guard.)
Gordon’s contract, somehow again the cause of all Rockets misery for many, is really pretty much in line with his abilities. He’s owed $18, $19.5 and $21 million over the next three seasons. To put that in perspective, Eric Gordon will make roughly $6 million per season more than Luke Kennard over the next three years. He’s paid pretty much the same as Eric Bledsoe, but with one extra year. Personally, I’d really rather have Eric Gordon.
Another good comparison is probably CJ McCollum, though Gordon is a considerably better defender. McCollum will make $31, $33, $36 million per year for comparable offensive output, and far worse defense. McCollum is about a year and a half younger.
Make a tour of the league, and Gordon suddenly looks a bit better in comparison. Certainly there are better players at lower prices, but which of those players are quite as available as Gordon?
There will be a good bit of salary money for teams to spend this off season, and not that much talent. A trade of Eric Gordon seems possible.
Gordon has been a decent Rocket, but the rebuild is on, and if he’s not moved in the off-season, it seems likely he’ll be traded in season. The Rockets may not even need to package a pick to send him off to a team with cap space.
It’s a shame to talk about a player who’s probably been better than you think only in terms of his deal or movement, but that’s where the Rockets are.
I’ve always been a Gordon defender, and like him as a player. As the rebuild goes on it may become apparent that when the standard is James Harden or Chris Paul, a lot of guys look worse than they really are, and players like Gordon get their contracts for a reason. If Eric Gordon was more consistent, he’d be paid closer to $35 million than $20.
Good luck to Eric Gordon wherever he may end up.
Eric Gordon starts next season as a
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