Eric Gordon still longs for Phoenix, but Hornets hold all the cards

At this point Eric Gordon’s future is in the hands of Hornets GM Dell Demps, yet that didn’t stop him from continuing to try to talk his way to Phoenix on Thursday in Las Vegas where he is competing for one of the final spots on the US Olympic team.

As Jason Calmes put it on Hornets247, “Dell holds all the cards.”

This is true because as much as Gordon can talk about wanting to play for the Suns, ultimately it is up to Demps to either match the offer sheet, let Gordon go, or work out a deal with Phoenix whereby the Hornets sign Gordon to the four-year, $58 million deal with a player option in Year 4 and then trade him to the Suns.

According to NBA rules (via Larry Coon), a sign-and-trade like the one that just sent Steve Nash to the Lakers cannot be consummated with a restricted free agent who signs an offer sheet with another team.

However, Gordon has only agreed to sign the Suns’ offer sheet. Nothing is official until July 11, so therefore if the Suns and Hornets agree on compensation the Hornets can execute the sign-and-trade so long as no offer sheet is signed. If the Hornets match, he can not be traded to the Suns throughout the length of the deal.

Gordon most certainly hopes he gets to Phoenix one way or another, as he made clear to ESPN the Magazine’s Ric Bucher.

“Phoenix just showed a lot more interest, overall, and definitely in how they negotiated,” Gordon said. “I don’t know what New Orleans’ plans are for me. There are no negotiations right now.”

Bucher quoted a source saying the Hornets are “fully committed” to matching the offer as they have identified Gordon as their “most talented player” even with No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis in tow.

But the feeling isn’t mutual as Gordon seemed a bit miffed that the Hornets would select a similar player to him in the draft in Austin Rivers.

“They drafted another shooting guard, a combo guard like me, which tells me they have another plan,” he said.

Personally, I don’t see how Gordon and Rivers complement each other either, and for a player that is apparently so important to their franchise, the Hornets did not seem to consult Gordon’s opinion on the Rivers selection at No. 10 overall.

Without having much knowledge of Gordon’s year in New Orleans it’s hard to say why he wants to avoid becoming Anthony Davis’ teammate so much, but clearly something did not sit right with him in The Big Easy. Gordon seems to be more excited about a Suns future with Goran Dragic and Michael Beasley than playing with the Hornets’ two top-10 picks.

“Phoenix signed two other young guys that are very talented,” he said. “They’re already established and they’re already going to get better.”

The future of two franchises hangs in the balance of this decision by Demps. If you are Phoenix or New Orleans it’s not so easy to acquire Olympic-caliber players, and after the Suns’ spending spree they may not be in position to outright sign another max contract stud for another three or four years once the dust settles on this summer’s free agency binge.

The Hornets, meanwhile, would be missing a crucial piece of the young up-and-coming team they hope to build around Davis.

I cannot imagine Demps letting Gordon go for nothing, so it will be time for PBO Lon Babby to step up to the plate and prove how savvy of a negotiator he really is.

Tags: Eric Gordon

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