NBA AM: Can Gordon, Rivers Coexist on Hornets?
There were likely two thoughts that crossed the minds of New Orleans Hornets fans upon hearing that their team matched Phoenix Suns’ four-year, $58 million offer sheet for Eric Gordon. At some point, every Hornets supporter must have envisioned Gordon playing alongside the top pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, Anthony Davis; but Hornets fans also had to ask themselves if Gordon really wants to be in New Orleans.
The undersized shooting guard did sign the offer sheet with the Suns, after all, and even though he released a statement claiming he never lost his “appreciation for the New Orleans fans,” the team and its fan base had to feel a certain level of rejection, right?
But for general manger Dell Demps, Gordon’s attempt to leave the Hornets for the Suns is all a part of the game.
“I think from day one we said that we wanted to keep him here and we kept our word,” Demps said in Las Vegas on Sunday. “As a restricted free agent you have the right to test the market and I think he did that and we had the right to keep him and so I don’t know if there’s mending fences. We’re excited to have him back.”
But at some point, doesn’t the team need to address Gordon’s displeasure with the situation. He did trash the team’s draft while at a Team USA practice in Las Vegas last week, seemingly implying that the Hornets should have drafted a center—perhaps Illinois’ Meyers Leonard—with the 10th overall pick instead of taking another guard in Duke’s Austin Rivers.
“You look at our roster right now,” Gordon asked, as quoted by Matt Moore of CBSSports.com. “What do we have, one big? Jason Smith? Before Anthony Davis, we had no bigs.
“My thing is,” Gordon continued, “if you’re trying to be a good team, and you’ve got a young team, you’ve got to fill in spaces. I am the shooting guard. We’ve got plenty of point guards on our team right now.”
Demps took it all in stride, however, suggesting that some open lines of communication could fix everything.
“I think we will sit down and talk,” Demps said. “Get his thoughts, get our thoughts.”
“I think a lot of it is part of the business but it will be interesting when we sit down and talk,” Demps continued. “We’ll talk and you know we’ll assess the situation.”
Demps doesn’t expect Gordon’s attitude to be a distraction in 2012-2013. The team wouldn’t have matched the offer if they thought Gordon would mope around the facility, and Demps had no problem being 100 percent clear about the expectations of Gordon.
“No, I don’t have any doubt,” Demps said when asked if Gordon will be 100 percent “on board” next season. “I think he’s a good player and I think he’s a professional and we think that he’s going to be a big part of our team this year and moving forward.”
Of course, that future includes a pairing with another undersized shooting guard in Rivers.
Neither Gordon or Rivers has much experience at point guard and anyone who has seen either play will tell you that these guys are looking to score, not distribute.
“I think they can play together,” Demps said. “You know obviously we think that. But it’s early still. Austin is a rookie. We have to see what happens. I think this will be a big week (in the Las Vegas Summer League) for him. I thought he had a good week in camp last week and you know we’ll just build on that. We don’t want too put to much pressure on him right now.
“We just thought that they could play well together,” Demps continued. “I don’t think you have to, I think in today’s game you don’t have to just label guys, you know one guy’s a point guard. I think you can just have guys out there that just play and are confident in each other.
The major issue is who will be the primary ball handler and initiate the offense.
But since the Hornets are a young team that’s not really under any pressure to win right away, Demps is comfortable taking his time and trying out a few different combinations.
“I don’t want to put that on him right now this early,” Demps said when asked if Rivers could run the offense. “We’re taking slow steps to build and I think it’s a good opportunity for everybody to learn each other. We’re going to have two guys coming in here that have only played one year in college, we don’t want the burden to be on them. We’re going to be counting on some of the guys that we had back. We’re expecting Greivis Vasquez and Jason Smith and guys like that who are also young guys but they’ve already been through some bumps to take leadership roles and then having Eric back and signing Ryan (Anderson), we’re going to be expecting those guys to take the leadership.”
These may seem like tough questions for Demps, but they’re better questions than the ones he had to answer over the course of last season.
The Hornets have a home now and a burgeoning fan base of people that want to see what Davis, Gordon and Rivers can do together, even if the latter two play the same position.
“I think a lot of times when guys play well and they play with heart and integrity, fan perception can change,” Demps said. “It’ll be interesting to see what happens.”
Knicks Fans Express Their Grief Over Jeremy Lin
It’s never been easier to construct a petition, or to ignore one altogether.
Sites like Change.org have taken the footwork out of petitioning but there’s an unintended negative consequence of the online version: the absence of actual face-to-face interaction.
Yes, online petitions can go viral and gain some sort of notoriety through social media. The issue is that those who are being petitioned—in this case, the New York Knicks—can simply ignore the cries for help. A more traditional petition, meanwhile, can be harder to ignore because we can put a face or faces to the issue.
Of course, online activists can spend a bit more time voicing their opinions, and that’s the case with the petition intended to persuade the Knicks to match the Houston Rockets’ offer sheet for Jeremy Lin.
Whereas a traditional petition only gives concerned citizens the space to put down a signature, this format allowed Lin fans to hit the Knicks on a more emotional level.
“I don’t care where Lin was before this,” one petitioner, R.J. O’Connell, wrote. “He is a homegrown player as far as I’m concerned.”
Another petitioner, Kristina Benoit of Paris, France wrote, “You’re going to lose a lot of fans not only from Asia, but everywhere else too.”
The Knicks have until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday to match the Rockets’ offer for Lin, which HOOPSWORLD has confirmed includes a $14.8 million price tag for the third year. That could end up costing the Knicks significantly as the luxury tax penalties grow increasingly harsher over the next few seasons.
But perhaps the larger issue facing the Knicks—who have a sign-and-trade deal in place to acquire Raymond Felton and Kurt Thomas from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Jared Jeffries, Dan Gadzuric’s contract, a 2016 second-round pick and the rights to two overseas players—is the way the process has been handled.
Lin was supposedly set to sign a reasonable four-year, approximately $30 million deal—a contract the Knicks would have been eager to match. But something happened before Lin actually put his name on the Rockets’ offer sheet and now the Knicks appear to be moving on.
For Those Who Didn’t See
Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard looked phenomenal in a Summer League game against the Hornets on Sunday, scoring 21 of his 25 points in the second half and helping spark a 17-point comeback for an 85-82 win.
The Summer League obviously isn’t like an NBA regular season game, but it’s hard not to envision Lillard having success in this league after a performance like that.
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