Last Word On Basketball

Houston Rockets: Trade Ideas for Veteran Guard Eric Gordon

Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon speaks to the media after a training session by the NBA basketball team in Tokyo on October 7, 2019. - The Rockets are in Tokyo to play two exhibition matches this week. (Photo by Toshifumi KITAMURA / AFP) (Photo by TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP via Getty Images)

The Houston Rockets will need to make some moves ahead of the 2020-21 season. Given Houston’s lack of assets, salary cap space, and expensive contracts, the front office will need to make some impressive deals. One player likely on the block is shooting guard Eric Gordon.

A former three-point champion, Gordon struggled mightily this season while dealing with injuries and inconsistent play. The 30-year-old posted 14.4 points per game on a career-low 36.9 percent shooting and 31.7 percent from three. Gordon was hot some nights (50 points versus the Utah Jazz without Russell Westbrook and James Harden) and stone-cold on others (6-for-22 shooting versus the Charlotte Hornets). Throughout his career, Gordon averages 16.6 points per game on 42.5 percent shooting and 37 percent from deep.

Houston made a monumental mistake by offering Gordon a monster four-year, $75.6-million extension beginning next season. Between Westbrook, Harden, and Gordon, the trio make up more than 75 percent of the Rockets salary cap (approximately $98-million). The first logical move would be to find a new home for him without surrendering too much of the franchise’s draft capital.

Check out these three trade ideas for the veteran guard.

Houston Rockets: Trade Ideas for Eric Gordon

Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers Make a Deal

This deal addresses the needs of both teams. Houston receives a stretch big in Al Horford, who provides a scoring threat both inside and outside. He isn’t as quick and nimble defensively as previous years, but he still gives some protection inside. The Rockets also acquire the Philadelphia 76ers’ 2020 first and second-round picks that can be parlayed into other deals.

The 76ers receive outside shooting in Gordon and P.J. Tucker. Gordon had a tough year last season due to various injuries and struggled to find any rhythm. Despite his inconsistency, he is an excellent three-point shooter for his career and plays solid defense. Losing Tucker will be a huge loss for Houston since he is such an integral part of the team identity, defensively and offensively. Philadelphia acquires a hard-nosed defender who knocks down corner threes above 40-percent. Tucker is an excellent “three-and-D” player.

Horford is due roughly $80-million over the next three years, but his final year is only $12-million guaranteed. In this proposed deal, Houston will swallow $66-million over the duration of his deal. If the veteran plays well, he can be moved in the future. The draft picks give Houston a lot of versatility in the coming years.

Houston Deals with the New York Knicks

The New York Knicks are in an asset collection mode. Don’t expect this team to fully bottom out with Tom Thibodeau at the helm. In this proposed deal, Houston sends Gordon and two second-round picks for shooters Wayne Ellington and Reggie Bullock.

Gordon is a capable two-way veteran who can start or come off the bench in a sixth-man role. Ellington and Bullock will need guaranteed contracts to make this deal work, while Houston gladly welcomes more shooting to its lineup. While taking on Gordon’s contract for two second-rounders is a tough sell, the Knicks might accept given the overall market for this pair isn’t great.

Houston receives more shooting and some defense in this deal. Bullock is a career 38.5 percent three-point shooter but has struggled to stay healthy since entering the NBA. The 29-year-old is also a solid defender, replacing some of what Gordon brings to the table. Ellington is a volume three-point shooter who converts at a 37.8 percent rate.

New York has plenty of cap space to use over the next few seasons should they continue to rebuild. Adding Gordon doesn’t interfere with the development of cornerstone RJ Barrett, rather provides him with a quality veteran presence. Coach Thibodeau loves veteran players alongside young guys. Gordon adds some long-term salary but the upside for New York is receiving two second-round picks for a pair of players likely to be released at some point.

Houston Rockets and Detroit do business

The Detroit Pistons are torn between rebuilding and competing with Blake Griffin on the roster. They achieve both with this deal.

Gordon provides the Pistons with spacing while also receiving a first-round pick in 2022 and a second-rounder in 2024. Houston receives a 40 percent three-point shooter in Tony Snell. He doesn’t add much besides shooting, but with Harden and Westbrook dominating the ball, that will suffice. Luke Kennard is an interesting prospect who has been in trade rumors for the past two years. He can handle the ball, takes efficient shots, and is a solid three-point shooter.

This deal gives Houston both shooting and another ball-handler.

Eric Gordon Trade is a Necessity

The Rockets must prioritize moving Gordon this offseason. The veteran is an excellent player when healthy and provides contenders with two-way play. “Three-and-D” players are at a premium in today’s NBA, so Gordon is sure to garner some interest. Given Houston’s cap situation, the Rockets have no choice but to explore the market. In an ideal world, Houston should attempt to trade Gordon with minimal or no salary return in order to test the free-agent market.
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