Bucher: Hornets to match Eric Gordon deal, no sign-and-trade

ESPN’s Ric Bucher tweeted this evening that the New Orleans Hornets plan to match the four-year, $58 million offer sheet the Phoenix Suns agreed to extend to restricted free agent shooting guard Eric Gordon.

However, nothing is official until 9:01 p.m. MST tonight when the league’s moratorium ends so it’s not quite time to give up on the dream of Gordon in a Suns uniform just yet.

Since Suns cannot sign Gordon to the offer sheet until then, it’s certainly possible that Bucher’s source is trying to provide New Orleans with one last ounce of leverage before the craziness breaks loose tonight.

After all, if the Hornets planned on matching they would want this out there because it would be true, and if they did not plan on matching they would want this out there for sign-and-trade leverage.

As all of you who have been following this saga must know by now, once Gordon signs that offer sheet a sign-and-trade is no longer possible and surely at that point the Hornets will match rather than lose him for nothing.

Lon Babby often talked about the importance of showing players that the Suns are a class organization during the Nash trade talk at the trade deadline, but in theory if the Suns knew for sure that New Orleans will match they would be wise to rescind the offer.

After all, just to create enough cap space to extend the offer, the Suns will have to renounce the rights to all their unrestricted free agents as well as restricted free agent Robin Lopez plus find a way to create another approximately $2 million of cap space.

They could accomplish that by amnestying a player or perhaps by holding off on signing Dragic and Beasley until this Gordon saga has concluded, which would be wise since there’s no reason to burn a player for an offer sheet that likely won’t lead anywhere. If the offer is extended and matched, the Suns could rescind the renouncement and still own Lopez’s rights.

At that point they would have about just over $11 million to re-sign Lopez (or a replacement big) and a shooting guard. I would recommend doing a Lopez deal if it can be accomplished on reasonable terms and signing a shooting guard for one year so that the Suns could possess max contract cap room next season with Warrick off the books and a potential Childress amnesty.

On that shooting guard front, O.J. Mayo is reportedly close to signing with Indiana and Lou Williams agreed to terms with the Hawks so that well is starting to dry up as the Suns wait on the Gordon proceedings to be finalized.

Before the feeding frenzy official begins, the league announced that the salary cap will once again hold steady at $58.044 million and the luxury tax will remain at $70.307 mil. The room mid-level that the Suns will have access to after spending all their cap room came in at $2.575 as expected.

Pretty soon we will know whether the Suns have a shiny new star shooting guard to spend that cap room on, but if Bucher’s source is correct they better have spent this week working on a Plan B.

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