Although it wasn’t quite as ugly seven years ago, the parallels behind Eric Gordon’s restricted free agency experience and what Joe Johnson put the Suns through in 2005 are prevalent.
Like Gordon today, Johnson was a fourth-year rising star shooting guard who made it very clear to Suns owner Robert Sarver that he did not want to play in Phoenix any longer. Instead of being the fourth wheel on a title contender, he preferred to be “The Man” for the Hawks.
The 2012 Hornets are not comparable to the 2005 Suns in terms of current talent but with Anthony Davis picked first overall New Orleans seems to possess a bright future. However, Gordon would prefer to come to Phoenix and be “The Man” as the Suns move past the Nash era.
The most important similarity comes down to respect. After Johnson’s superb 2004-05 season in which he averaged 17.1 ppg and shot 47.8 percent from three, the Suns only offered him $60 million over six years (Atlanta gave him $70 million for five).
Similarly, Gordon was not feeling the love through a four-year, $50 million offer from the Hornets when a team like the Suns rolled out the orange carpet for him and vowed to make him a franchise cornerstone with a $58 million offer.
In the Hornets247 video from today embedded above, when Gordon is asked what makes Phoenix a better fit than New Orleans, he said, “The interest. I feel like I’m getting taken advantage of over there just because I’m restricted. … If they wanted to … you know how this CBA, this deal is, it’s built for you to stay with your remaining team, but everything has been taken advantage of.”
That’s an interesting reason for wanting to be a Sun, and for that give credit to Babby and Blanks for what sounds like an outstanding pitch.
Players — particularly star players — want to feel wanted, and the Suns clearly sold him on how much they really cared about him becoming a Suns cornerstone.
On paper it would have made sense for Johnson to continue to chase a ring with a Nash/Amare/Matrix core and for a 23-year-old Gordon to grow with a 19-year-old Davis, yet with the kind of egos that abound in this league there can be factors beyond what one would think would be most important (winning and money), and that is respect.
Even Nash kind of talked about this recently in that he wanted to get paid for the status of it beyond just trying to win on a mid-level deal. Johnson and Gordon did not feel the respect from their original teams and thus they wanted to leave.
JJ let it be known that he would not be pleased playing in Phoenix, and there was one legion of fans that felt he would eventually get over that unhappiness while making his $14 million a year and playing for one of the best teams in basketball.
Gordon has been quite a bit more vociferous about his desire to leave New Orleans, so it would make sense for this situation to end the same way as the JJ’s did: with a sign-and-trade.
Based on all the other similarities between the situations — including the leverage the player tried to provide for his new team when really the team with the restricted rights holds all the cards — I feel it could make sense for any potential sign-and-trade to be comparable.
The Suns received pre-MIP/too many croissants Boris Diaw and two protected first-round picks, the Lakers’ in 2006 and the Hawks’ in 2007.
The Suns ended up picking Rajon Rondo with the No. 21 pick in 2006 before trading it to Boston and Robin Lopez No. 15 overall in 2008 because the 2007 selection ended up being third and held a top-three protection. Otherwise, the Suns could have received Diaw, Rondo and Al Horford or Joakim Noah for JJ but instead got what was at the time an underwhelming Diaw and two protected picks.
So to me Robin Lopez plus one of the Lakers’ picks and one protected Suns pick would seem to be most comparable to the Suns’ haul for Johnson. Like Diaw at the time, Lopez is a young player with talent who has not quite figured it out and then those picks match up to Phoenix’s draft haul.
New Orleans could use a center to pair with Davis (although they presumably want Gortat, who should be untouchable). With Goran Dragic signing for four years, I would also consider including Kendall Marshall, particularly since as a restricted free agent himself Lopez would have to agree to play in New Orleans and then negotiate his own deal.
That kind of trade could not be further away from what five Hornets247 writers wrote when posed the question of what kind of assets they would seek in a sign-and-trade.
Their asking prices include the following offers/explanations:
- Kendall Marshall, Marcin Gortat and an unprotected first round pick (and a salary filler).
- Gortat is a must. Then give me 2 out of the following three: Jared Dudley, Kendall Marshall, unprotected 2013 pick. Throw in Lakers 2013 1st-rounder too. I actually prefer that package to any that Houston could offer. If they refuse to include Gortat, they would have to give me everything else, 3-4 1st rounders, Marshall, Lopez, and Dudley.
- I want Marshall, Gortat and the Suns’ unprotected first — not one of the Lakers’ picks.
- Kendall Marshall, Marcin Gortat, and the Suns’ 2013 and 2014 first round picks.
- In my world we need a third team — like Sacramento — to come in. I’ll spare you the details, but we get good young talent, future picks, and zero long term contacts.
So from that exercise we learned that the Hornets clearly would like Marshall (or their bloggers do at least) and that my opinion of a fair trade differs greatly from that of the Hornets TrueHoop bloggers. Marshall, Lopez, Dudley and 3-4 first-rounders?!? Are we talking about Eric Gordon or Chris Paul here?
Nothing can happen until July 11 so Lon Babby and Dell Demps have plenty of time to exchange trade ideas. We will soon learn how much (if at all) the price of an elite fourth-year restricted shooting guard has changed in the past seven years.
Brooks an unrestricted free agent?
It seemed a foregone conclusion the Suns would rescind their qualifying offer to Aaron Brooks after their July 4 free agency splurge to make room under the cap for all the signings and a tweet by Brooks that he soon deleted seems to confirm that.
The tweet simply said: “Unrestricted : ).”
If not now, it’s only a matter of time before this is the case.
With Houston one of the teams linked to him in the NBA rumor mill, wouldn’t it be funny if the Suns and Rockets completed this trade in reverse via free agency just with no draft pick compensation going along with The Dragon this time?
Report: Suns in mix for Redd
Fox Sports’ Chris Tomasson tweeted that the Suns and Bulls are “most heavily in the mix” for free-agent shooting guard Michael Redd. He added that the Suns are waiting to see what happens with Gordon before dealing with Redd.
If the Suns sign Gordon and amnesty Childress, Redd could still come back as a useful fourth wing, and if they lose out on Gordon they will need serious wing help with only Jared Dudley and the potential amnesty candidate Childress slated to return.