The Houston Rockets have been trying to move Eric Gordon for ages. Now, in the final year of his contract with guaranteed money, Gordon finally looks like a player worth trading for. Most fake Eric Gordon trades have him linked to contenders, but there’s one non-contender that has shown interest, the New York Knicks.
The New York Knicks have flirted with Eric Gordon already
According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports, the Knicks were eager to strike a deal for Eric Gordon before December 9th. No deal materialized, but that doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be some merit for the two sides coming to terms on a deal.
The Knicks have been on a roll lately, winning five straight games, and should be looking to solidify their rotation ahead of a playoff push. Their offense has been surprisingly solid, 14th in offensive rating, even though they’ve shot a league-worst 31.9% from 3-point range. Gordon has seen his 3-point shooting dip this season to 34.7%, but he is a career 37% 3-point shooter and has shot 37.2% from three over the past three seasons.
The Knicks have a need for a player like Eric Gordon, and I think there’s a deal where the Rockets and Knicks get a whole lot of what they’re looking for.
Eric Gordon for Evan Fournier is a win-win swap
This trade would see the Knicks ship Evan Fournier and one of four first-round picks they have from outside organizations for Eric Gordon. While fans tend to value all first-round picks equally, the firsts the Knicks have are of limited value due to a series of running protections.
The first of the four first-round picks is a 2023 first via the Dallas Mavericks that conveys if it falls between 11-30 and has the same rolling protection through the 2025 draft. The next is a 2023 first via the Detroit Pistons that has a lengthy run of protections. It’s top-18 protected in 2023 and 2024, top-13 protected in 2025, top-11 protected in 2026, and top-9 protected in 2027.
The next pick is a 2023 first-round pick via the Washington Wizards. The pick, like the Pistons’ pick, has significant protections. It is top-14 protected in 2023, top-12 protected in 2024, top-10 protected in 2025, and top-8 protected in 2026. Both the Detroit and Washington picks convert to 2027 second-round picks if they haven’t yet conveyed. The final pick is a top-4 protected 2025 pick via the Milwaukee Bucks.
If the summer of 2022 taught us anything, it’s that front offices do not value protected picks when trading for superstars. The Knicks shouldn’t hesitate to include one of these picks if it lands them Eric Gordon, who will help them this season, and if it means they can be rid of Evan Fournier’s contract.
Fournier signed a four-year, $73 million contract with the Knicks in the summer of 2021, and the deal has been a complete flop. The Rockets, however, shouldn’t be wary of taking on his deal because it includes a team option for the 2024-25 season. At $18.8 million next season, the deal will eat into the Rockets’ projected cap space, but that shouldn’t scare them off. They’ll still have plenty of room to sign free agents and the 2023 free agent class isn’t all that strong.
It’s going to be tough to land a first-round pick for Eric Gordon, but taking on bad money is the best way to do it. There’s also a chance the Rockets could squeeze a second of the Knicks' low-value first-round picks. This is a trade where everyone wins. The Rockets get the first-round pick(s) they want, and the Knicks get a player they can use and get rid of a player making $18 million to play 20 minutes a night. It’s not the most exciting trade in history, but that’s the reality of any trade involving Eric Gordon and Evan Fournier.