When it comes to Eric Gordan, I am not certain you will find a nicer young man in the NBA.
His polite manner and pleasant personality are far more impressive to me than his incredible skills as a basketball player. There is no doubt he would look superb in a Pacer uniform. I selfishly believe having a home-grown star at shooting guard would certainly enhance the Pacers lineup. I say the word “selfishly” because it is crystal clear to me that Gordon would indeed be better off in New Orleans than here in Indianapolis.
First of all, there is the money factor, as the Hornets are in a position to give him more than any other team can by virtue of the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement. Gordon will be paid at least $58 million over four years, and those numbers will most likely increase.
As with any free agent acquisition there are the inevitable pros and cons to weigh before seeking a player’s signature on a big guaranteed contract, and while newly returned Pacers President Donnie Walsh is one of the best in the business, I will still offer you a few reasons for Gordon to keep from buying a nice condo in downtown Indy and performing for the local faithful.
Think playing in front of the home crowd is easy? Think again, because Gordon would be deemed a savior, and anything less than delivering a championship will be looked at as a failed experiment. While that expectation would be totally unreasonable, it still would apply and hover above him, applying the type of pressure that many young players cannot handle.
Then there are the injury issues, and while there can be no denying his resolve when healthy, the fact remains that Gordon has missed a whopping 107 games in his short professional career. You do not have to be a math major to recognize the severity of those numbers, and with the jury still being out on his right knee, Gordon indeed must be classified as a “buyer beware” type of free agent.
While I wish him years of good health, I can only imagine the outcry if he is unable to perform while being paid huge guaranteed dollars. With the luxury of modern sports medicine at his beckon, Gordon may indeed be able to put his health issues behind him and perform at a high level for a prolonged period.
More than likely, he will continue to battle the nagging injuries that come from his penchant to drive to the basket. Again, only time alone will tell.
More importantly, can the Pacers, who have historically been frugal in their approach to free agency, pony up the type of money to lure Gordon after they pay Roy Hibbert and (hopefully) George Hill? Chances are they will not be able to pull off that trifecta, and in many ways that is a shame.
Regardless, I wish Eric Gordon good health and all the best, but I do not subscribe to the “there’s no place like home” theory. The real question here is, does he feel the same way?
Danny Bridges, who has yet to meet a finer role model than Eric Gordon, can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or at Bridgeshd@aol.com.