A year ago, Eric Gordon was free agent priority number one for the then-New Orleans Hornets. He did not think so. He wanted out of the Crescent City and signed an offer sheet with Phoenix, warning New Orleans he did not want to return.
The Hornets and Dell Demps ignored that request and matched the Suns' offer, retaining the restricted free agent. Gordon was a bit unhappy, but with a fat, four-year $58.4 million contract, who could complain?
Gordon averaged 17.0 points per game, playing 42 games for the Hornets this year as he recouped form nagging knee injury that knocked him out for most of the 2012 season and half of this past season.
In many ways, Gordon was a professional and played out the season without incident. In other ways, you could sense the discomfort and anger from Gordon (particularly early in the season) that he was still in New Orleans. Some, including Hornets coach Monty Williams, questioned whether Gordon was actually injured to the point where he could not play.
It might be a year late, but Gordon may finally get shipped out this summer. Pelicans general manager Dell Demps said that he is not certain Eric Gordon will be back for the Pelicans' debut season:
To say if I anticipate [Gordon] being back — I don't know if that's something I can answer right now, or him not to be back. We're going to sit down and evaluate every situation and opportunity.
The Pelicans are looking to move forward it seems after facing disappointment from Gordon this year. His injuries are proving to be a difficult hindrance for the franchise. And now that contract is weighin him down. Things can only be worse if Gordon does not want to be there.
Hindsight is 20/20, and it seems clear the Hornets organization made a mistake bringing him back and matching the Suns' contract offer. Now, Phoenix may not even be an option as most of their assets are in centers — which New Orleans has plenty of with Robin Lopez, Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis. Really the Pelicans will be relying on Austin Rivers to come through as the team's point or shooting guard next year.
Or maybe whatever draft pick they end up with.
Eric Gordon was supposed to be a big part of that plan. Now it appears, they realize what they should have realized a year ago. Gordon is not motivated to be a Pelican.