The New Orleans Hornets have had the biggest makeover of any team in the league so far this offseason. Not that many teams can do anything until the signing moratorium is lifted on July 10.
The Hornets drafted Anthony Davis as their franchise pillar with the top pick in the draft and then added Austin Rivers with the 10th pick to be a perimeter scorer and potential future star. The two are the future for New Orleans and good complements for each other. The Hornets may not instantly be a playoff team, but Tom Benson’s new purchase has a bright future.
Where does that leave New Orleans present star, Eric Gordon?
Gordon was the centerpiece of the Hornets trade with the Clippers for Chris Paul and played extremely well despite playing only nine games last year as he fought through injury. Despite the limited performance, New Orleans liked what they saw and wanted to keep Gordon.
Gordon is going to be one of the most sought after free agents in market this summer. The Hornets have already stated they are willing to match just about any contract Gordon receives. Unless Portland has another max contract to offer in their back pocket, Gordon should be set to be a Hornet.
For how long is still up in the air. Gordon remains a restricted free agent and is drawing interest from Indiana (his hometown team) and Houston. What kind of deal they offer will determine how long (and how much) New Orleans commits to Gordon for the future. The Hornets retain that absolute right to match and keep Gordon if they want him.
The Hornets are planning for their future right now and they have to figure out how Gordon fits into it. Gordon is sure to get interest and get a pretty nice deal in free agency. He is a young player with a great shooting stroke and a great ability to score. What team does not need that?
New Orleans certainly still does. The team’s rebuilding project is not going to magically fix itself with two top-10 picks. Davis and Rivers need time to develop. And while Benson is going to give the Hornets a lot more stability located in New Orleans, winning is the only thing that is going to bring out the fans and get them rallying behind the team. Hope helps, but winning will do it.
Retaining a young established star like Gordon is going to help get the Hornets back into the postseason a little faster. Gordon averaged 20.6 points per game and shot 45.0 percent in those nine games he played last year. In 2011, Gordon averaged 22.3 points per game on 45.0 percent shooting for the Clippers. There is a lot of offense in Gordon, that is for sure.
More importantly for New Orleans, the team knows what it is getting in him.
Gordon is the kind of player that will keep the team floating and competitive while the young core of Davis and Rivers develop. And when they are ready, likely at the end of Gordon’s contract, the Hornets can trade Gordon for valuable assets to put around Davis and Rivers as the team becomes theirs. Either that, or Gordon will be the third star on a sleeper team out West.
New Orleans certainly feels Gordon fits in and seems ready to do whatever it can to keep the young shooting guard in the Crescent City to grow up with the team’s two new centerpieces.