As he enters into his 15th season, Eric Gordon is on the verge of entering yet another stage in his career. He’s been many things dating back to his heralded high school days.
First, he was the highly touted “Mr. Basketball” of Indiana that flambéed Michael Jordan’s children in front of His Airness. Fast-forward a few years that included a sensational freshman campaign at Indiana and three years on an up-and-coming Los Angeles Clippers squad, Gordon became the centerpiece of the “original” Chris Paul trade.
Skip ahead a little bit more and you’ll find Gordon on your Houston Rockets, where he has primarily operated as the scoring punch off of the bench. Gordon became an integral part on those Rockets teams built to dethrone the Golden State Warriors, but he now finds himself as the longest-tenured player on a rebuilding roster full of Gen Z cohorts.
He’s essentially the Will Smith meme where he’s standing alone in the living room on the last episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
With that rebuild in mind, the speculation on Gordon’s future with the team has remained in limbo. So now I must ask, does management view Gordon as a long-term holdover, worthy of serving as a role model to the lowerclassmen? Or will they ship him off once they find a trade of their liking, starting him down the arc of a journeyman mercenary, fit to be the missing piece on a championship contender?
An encouraging angle to look at in regards to Gordon’s uncertain future is that it doesn't seem to be that urgent of an issue for him at this immediate juncture. He alluded to his professionalism during Media Day as you can see below.
The relationship between player and organization still appears to be amicable, which puts the Rockets in a really good place at this time. The team still gets to maintain a veteran presence and a useful player in Gordon while they wade through the trade offers that are sure to come.
While stating his affinity for this team and this city, Gordon did make sure to clarify that he is all about winning, so in reality, he benefits from being able to observe the landscape of this upcoming NBA season for a few months before he’s potentially relocated to a hopeful contender. Having a positive attitude about his current situation and thus building good rapport with management may also benefit him as he may even have some input into his potential landing spots.
As for the Rockets, I believe the best course of action would be to play out the first half of the season with EG in the lineup and gauge how competitive this team is with him. Who knows? Maybe the Rockets’ timeline somehow becomes accelerated and Gordon is convinced that he can still win here in the near future.
However, once the playoff picture starts to take shape, lusty GM’s will come calling as they look to add a career 16 points per game scorer to reinforce their bench unit. That’s when Rafael Stone will likely be able to get the most value back for Gordon.
Hopefully by that point, Tari Eason and Josh Christopher will have made their case to demand more playing time, so the onus to deal Gordon and (possibly disgruntled?) Kenyon Martin Jr. may factor into opening up minutes for those guys.
It would be nice to see Eric Gordon play out the remainder of his NBA years in Houston as we transition from contenders, to a lottery team, and back to contenders. That would be remarkable, but I also believe he’s built enough goodwill to have some pull in whatever the next chapter of his career holds. Only time will tell.
Do you think Gordon stays? And what do you think would be a good return for the Rockets if Gordon is inevitably traded? Let us know in the comments below!