Houston Rockets Eric Gordon Trade #2: Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets can't afford to waste seasons. With newly minted MVP Nikola Jokic firmly in his prime and fresh off one of the best individual seasons of the 21st century the Nuggets are in win-now mode.
Unfortunately, Jokic's sidekick, Jamal Murray, tore his ACL in mid-April and it appears unlikely that he'll play at all next season. The Nuggets need a Jamal Murray replacement who won't cost a ton to acquire and who could potentially play next to him down the line. In other words, the Nuggets could really use a player like Eric Gordon.
Gordon is by no means as good as Murray and it's unlikely that he is even better than Barton, but he gives the Nuggets the secondary shot creation that they dearly missed without Murray. When it comes to role players, fit is often more important than talent and right now, Gordon is a better fit in Denver than Barton.
This trade all hinges on Will Barton exercising his player option for $14.8 million. Before the season began it was expected that Barton would decline his player option, but his 2020-21 season was a major step back from his prior season. Barton might prefer a long-term deal now, but it seems unlikely that he'd come close to commanding $15 million a season.
This trade works for the Nuggets because they get a player that fills a pressing need, they get a second round pick for later, and they get off of a contract that they weren't excited to pay. The Rockets, for their troubles, get off of Gordon's contract and get a reclamation project that could potentially recoup the second round pick needed to land him in the first place.