We’re back on the Eric Gordon fake trade wagon. Yesterday, we sent him to the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Clippers in two deals with divergent returns for the Houston Rockets. The trade to New York prioritized draft picks, while the trade to Los Angeles focused on NBA talent.
Eric Gordon is as good as ever
Over the opening third of the season, Gordon has done nothing to alter his trade value. He remains a willing and deadly 3-point shooter. His 35.3% 3-point field goal percentage is down from last season but remains essentially league average and does not take into account just how difficult many of his 3-pointers are.
For most players, just beyond the 3-point line is the outer limit of their shooting range. For Eric Gordon, it constitutes the vast majority of his 3-point shot diet.
While taking such deep threes hurts his overall efficiency, it has tremendous spacing benefits for his teammates. When Gordon is on the court, the Rockets get to the rim more frequently and covert a higher percentage of their shots. In many respects, Gordon’s 3-point efficiency is a sacrificial lamb for the overall benefit of the offense, which makes his league-average efficiency all the more impressive.
Why the Pelicans should be all over Eric Gordon
Every contender is looking for more space for their superstar(s), and Gordon remains one of the best in the business at generating space, which makes him a perfect fit for the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Pelicans have surged up the standings and look like a real title contender with a fully healthy Zion Williamson. They have the league’s fifth-ranked offense at 115.4 points per 100 possessions, and that’s despite them having the 28th-ranked 3-point attempt rate.
The idea of the Pelicans shooting more 3-pointers and providing even more space for Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram to operate in is a scary thought for the rest of the league. Throw in the added benefit of Gordon being highly efficient when he drives, and a lineup of C.J. McCollum, Gordon, Trey Murphy, Ingram, and Williamson could blow the doors off of what was thought possible from an offensive efficiency standpoint.
The Eric Gordon trade to the New Orleans Pelicans
This trade sees the Pelicans send Jaxson Hayes and Devonte’ Graham to Houston for one Eric Gordon. Hayes has seen his role diminish this season with a healthy Zion Williamson and has been used sparingly. As a talented young player, finding a spot where he can get consistent minutes is paramount for him as he is about to become a free agent.
The Rockets taking a flier on Hayes is the right type of move at this stage in their rebuild. While it’ll add another center to their rotation, Boban Marjanovic and Bruno Fernando are both expendable.
Graham is a poor man’s Eric Gordon. He’s an undersized combo guard (6’1) capable of handling the point. His main selling point is his ability beyond the arc, but, unlike Gordon, he’s abysmal once he ventures into the land of 2-pointers. When handed the keys to an offense, he has shown the ability to be a steady floor general. He averaged 18.2 points, 7.5 assists, and 2.9 turnovers per game in 2019-20.
The selling point for the Rockets is that Graham would likely be the team’s best point guard and comes on a very reasonable contract. He is owed $12.1 million next season and $12.6 million in 2024-25. As a stopgap option at point guard, the Rockets could do a lot worse or more expensive than Graham.
The Pelicans should be all over this deal. Graham has lost the backup point guard battle to Jose Alvarado, and Hayes is practically not in the rotation. Flipping two deep rotation pieces for Eric Gordon would increase their championship odds without losing any current or future value.
The Rockets may desperately want a first-round pick for Gordon, but having a few months look at Hayes and solving either their starting or backup point guard situation isn’t a bad outcome. If Hayes pops, the Rockets can extend him and add to their young core. If he bombs, there’s no damage. Graham isn’t a sexy pickup, but he’s a solid NBA veteran that can act as a bridge to the next great Rockets team.