#3 Eric Gordon
The Rockets have been held back by bloated contracts for the past few seasons. First, it was Chris Paul, then Russell Westbrook, and now John Wall has taken up the coveted Rockets’ mantle of an overpaid superstar.
While those three have all been overpaid, they remain productive players. The same cannot be said for Eric Gordon, who is just beginning a four-year $75.6 million extension that he signed in September of 2019.
Gordon might not be nearly as well paid as the others but his production was never close to those three and last season he completely fell off a cliff. In a cruel twist of fate Gordon will turn 32-years-old on Christmas day, which makes his contract a metaphorical lump of coal for unknown naughtiness.
It’s safe to say that his contract is one of the worst in the NBA. For the Rockets to be rid of its stench they’ll have to give something away just to get him off the books. The degree to which Gordon fell off last season was remarkable for a player who had so consistently performed at a high level for the franchise.
Last season Gordon posted career worst shooting marks from the field and 3-point range. His 36.9-percent shooting from the field was 20-percent worse than the league average and his 31.7-percent shooting from 3-point range was 11-percent worse.
Even lockdown defenders need to shoot better than what Gordon managed and they would never sniff the type of money that he’s set to make. Gordon did struggle with injuries but he’ll have to rebound in a massive way to have any value on the trade market due to his age, injury history, and salary.
When players have negative-value on the trade market they don’t usually get moved but Gordon’s contract could seriously hinder the Rockets’ chances of competing down the line. At the moment, the Rockets have $142 million in salary commitments for this season and $131 million for the next.
With a James Harden trade looking likely the Rockets will lose his $40 million in salary but will still see a sizable amount of money coming back in to make a deal work. Factor in the reality that John Wall will likely be making in excess of $40 million each of the next three seasons and the Rockets could be looking at a roster pushing into the luxury tax without much chance of winning anything of substance.
The Rockets don’t want to find themselves in a position where they’re forced to trade or not re-sign valuable players because Gordon is burning a hole in their cap space. Any trade of Gordon will be difficult and costly but getting rid of him quickly will improve the Rockets’ ability to build a competitive roster down the line.
The most likely situation is that the Rockets will package a pick from a James Harden trade and send Gordon to one of the few remaining teams with cap space. Gordon could rebound and by the last year of his contract he could have some value but the Rockets aren’t in the middle of a massive rebuild where they can play out a horrible contract.
Look for the Rockets to try and move Gordon as soon as a James Harden trade materializes. If he isn’t traded it means one of two things, he’s performing or the franchise is committing to a long rebuild.
Next: Number 2