Eric Gordon was traded before the start of last season from the Los Angeles Clippers to the New Orleans Hornets as the main return in the Chris Paul deal. He was the guy the Hornets felt comfortable starting over with, and at the same time, ending the Paul era for, if it had to end. Gordon’s first season in New Orleans was injury-plagued and incomplete, and, even though his name fluttered in and out of rumors due to his restricted free agent status — most notably the thought he’d head back to Indiana and join the Pacers — the Hornets stroke of good luck seemed to make the decision easier.
Landing Anthony Davis with the number one overall pick in this year’s draft and Duke gunner Austin Rivers with the tenth pick, adding them to a team that often found itself in the thick of games last season through toughness and dirty fingernails alone, made it appear that the Hornets, with a healthy Gordon taking the reins, were on the up-and-up.
Except that, Gordon doesn’t see it the same way. When the shooting guard signed an offer sheet with the Post-Steve Nash Phoenix Suns, it came as a shock both because of the intended destination and what was potentially being left behind. To Gordon, the levels of attraction between Phoenix and New Orleans were not even close. Further, of the recent additions to the Suns’ roster, Goran Dragic and Michael Beasley, Gordon said in an ESPN story by Ric Bucher, “They’re already established and they’re already going to get better.”
Many are still trying to wrap their minds around Gordon’s way of thinking — such as, won’t two rookies, in theory, also improve just as much as Michael Beasley? — and, frankly, are hoping he changes his mind, as the young nucleus in New Orleans was, briefly, a lot of fun to think about. But what appears clear is that, for Gordon, this isn’t necessarily about chasing a pay day, even though the Suns’ offer wasn’t small; rather, it’s about a fit and a feel that Gordon gets from Phoenix that’s got him vying to play with a roster that currently — without the additions of Dragic and Beasley added yet — looks like this.
Something has happened along the way, when not too long ago it seemed a sure thing that Gordon would rejoin the Hornets and lead them, with Davis patrolling the middle, into the future. The Phoenix Suns now have him believing that they are the perfect fit. While most of us, hoping to see the burgeoning Gordon we saw in Los Angeles reach new heights of NBA stardom, simply assumed that would be with the rebuilding Hornets — they still plan to match the Suns’ qualifying offer — and don’t quite see what he sees in the desert.
Good for the Suns and their fans, as the road to life after Nash would look brighter with a guy like Gordon in tow. Even though, again, the Hornets are likely going to match and make things interesting. Where the situation goes from here between Gordon, the team he wants, and the team who wants him will reach its conclusion soon. That we’re here at this juncture at all is the part that remains hard to understand.
Griffin Gotta contributes to The Hoop Doctors and is a co-managing editor of Straight Outta Vancouver on SB Nation. The story arcs and infinite weirdness of the NBA are addictions he deals with every day. Email him at griffingotta at gmail dot com.