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Will Eric Gordon be the Rockets’ veteran presence this season?

With the potential that Eric Gordon gets traded, the Rockets should dedicate a roster spot to a reliable vet via NBA Free Agency.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

As trade rumors continue to circulate around 14-year vet, Eric Gordon, the question of “who will be the old head on the Houston Rockets?” starts to percolate. Gordon may very well still be on the roster come opening night, but in the case he isn’t, it’s important that Houston finds room to keep some experience on the end of the bench.

For a team that has relied heavily on rebuilding through the draft, the Rockets will likely find themselves with 10-12 players on the roster that are either 25 or younger when the season starts. Jae’Sean Tate, fresh off a new deal, will still be 26 during season tipoff mind you.

Trey Burke, acquired in the Christian Wood deal with the Dallas Mavericks, is the longest NBA-tenured player on the team other than Gordon, but even then, he’s only 29. Also acquired in the Mavs deal is Boban Marjanovic (33), but it’s not a lock that either of these players make the roster, as they were salary filler to complete the trade.

The OG roster spot issue can be solved by just keeping Gordon on the team, but the problem there is that he is still productive enough to the point that he requires nearly 30 minutes a night. It’s unrealistic to expect EG to accept a decline in his playing time when he knows he can still contribute, so it may be best to get what value we can for him at this time. In addition to that, it opens up the logjam at the wing for our young players so that management can evaluate who figures to be in Houston’s plans down the road.

Maybe I’m overvaluing the need for a player that will rarely check into the game for the Rockets, but I think it’s necessary for building good habits. A young group needs someone that they can go to for advice, someone who has been through every situation on and off the court, and someone that can check them when they’re wrong. For a team that struggled with maturity at points last season, it’s non-negotiable in my opinion.

It’s the reason why the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics brought back solid locker room guys like Andre Iguodala and Al Horford. It’s the reason why the Miami Heat continue to bring back Udonis Haslem.

I’m not sure who will fill that role for the Rockets this year, but scouring the free agent market, there’s plenty of former stars that are long in the tooth, but still have some game to give out to others.