2. Gordon’s contract situation poses a concern for the Houston Rockets
Prior to the start of the 2018-19 season the Orlando Magic inked Gordon to a four-year extension worth $80 million, which was a move they had to make, as they don’t typically get prime free agents that want to come to Orlando. Furthermore, Orlando doesn’t often have the chance to lock up young players with upside, which Gordon certainly was at the time, as he was just 22-years-old and was coming off of a breakout season that garnered him consideration for the Most improved Player award.
Gordon is in year three of that deal and will become an unrestricted free agent after 2021-22, which should be a concern for the Rockets, for several reasons. For one, it’s already been reported that he doesn’t want to be in Houston, so it’s not worth rolling the dice on what would essentially be a short-term rental.
With the Rockets’ season essentially all but over, making a move for Gordon would essentially be banking on him being a significant difference-maker in 2021-22 and considering his aforementioned limitations, such an assumption would be a foolish one. The Rockets are in a state of flux, and with the overhaul they’ll need to make, getting rid of any number of future assets isn’t a price worth paying, for someone that has the ability to bolt in free agency after less than two years.
If the Rockets were in a situation where they needed just one more player to put them in the top-tier of Western Conference contenders, Gordon’s contract would be of no concern, as he’d be a welcome addition if it helped the franchise win their third championship in franchise history. Such a scenario would be equivalent to the Toronto Raptors’ trade that landed Kawhi Leonard in 2018.
Although Leonard was due to become a free agent shortly after being acquired, the Raptors ultimately won the championship that season, and likely would make the move again. For the Rockets, Gordon isn’t worth parting with the draft capital that they’ve worked diligently to add, and especially considering the short timeframe he has remaining on his contract.
The flip side of this equation is that even if Gordon was open to resigning with the Rockets, they’d have to sign him to a max deal, which would significantly limit their ability to add pieces. In addition, this would potentially prevent the franchise from being able to retain Christian Wood, whose contract ends after 2022-23, which would be the first year of an extension for Gordon.
Next: No. 1