Pelicans Free-Agent Options If Eric Gordon Leaves


Before I start the article let me address Mr. Gordon directly, just in case he’s reading this.

"Dear Eric Gordon,“If you’re reading this, I want you to know how much I appreciate you. I want you to know that we all saw you emerge as an elite three-point shooter this season, and you were a huge part of this teams core. I want you to know that there’s place for you in this league, and you’re a not as washed up everyone says. You were given a huge max contract a few years ago, and even though you told us your “heart was in Phoenix” and we signed you anyway. Sadly that contract has made a lot of people semi-hate you. Please don’t judge me Mr. Gordon, I want you to stay! I even wrote an article a few months ago about how we should resign you on a smaller deal you can read right here! Regardless, I’m about to paint a picture of a world in which you decide to opt out this summer, and it’s a pretty beautiful place.”Sincerely, Johnny Louisiana"

Ok now let’s start the article.

Apr 15, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon (10) shoots the ball over San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (14) and forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the second half at the Smoothie King Center.The Pelicans won 108-103 to earn the eight seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Gordon will make exactly $15,514,031 dollars next season if he decides to opt in. Given his injury history, and the cap increase in 2016, it’s more than likely he takes that road come free agency time.

Regardless, it’s not ridiculous to entertain the idea he leaves town for something better.

Gordon has never experienced free agency in his life. When he was signed to his first max deal it was against his will, and he wanted to play for the Suns.

This fact alone might drive him to decline the money and become unrestricted. The freedom of choosing his own teammates and city might appeal to Gordon, even if it’s a more dangerous road to take.

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Another plausible scenario is that Gordon simply gets a solid enough offer.

He was a top 5 three-point shooter in the entire NBA this year, and today’s league values spacing more than anything. Statistically, he’s in the same league as players like JJ Reddick, Jodie Meeks, and 2013 Kyle Korver were, who all received $7-9 million a year deals for multiple seasons.

The cap is jumping next season, so some trigger happy franchises (probably the Knicks) might decide to throw some risky money his way.

If any of these things happen, and Eric Gordon does jump ship, this offseason becomes a huge opportunity for the Pelicans.

This summer is the last time teams will be able to get discounted players before the cap increase, and the Pelicans would have a 22-year-old superstar and anywhere from $16-30 million dollars to play with.

A Quick Omer Asik Disclaimer:

Omer Asik was very solid during the regular season.

He’s an amazing rebounder, a good defender, and even though his offensive arsenal is a little depressing, he’s a net positive for this team. In this scenario Gordon opts out, and we could decide to resign Asik for a reasonable 40/4 contract.

Jan 18, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New Orleans Pelicans center Omer Asik (3) reacts after being called for a foul against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Pelicans beat the Raptors 95-93. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

That Pelicans team would cost 50,687,338 dollars, and have around 16.5 million in cap room. Declining a qualifying offer to Norris Cole and Jeff Withey could push that number closer to 20 million.

If we decide to forget about Omer, that gives us a team which costs 40,687,338 dollars, gives us 26.5 million dollars in cap room, and the option to push it close to 30 if need be.

What could the Pelicans do with that kind of flexibility in Free-Agency?


There are certain players who simply aren’t a possibility. First of all, there are certain restricted free agents who will be matched by their current team, regardless of the offer. These players include Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard, and Jimmy Butler.

Then there are the guys who simply aren’t leaving their current teams. This list includes LeBron James, Dwayne Wade,  and Tim Duncan. Outside of that, no one is an impossibility.


Marc Gasol: about 4 years, 90 million dollars

May 13, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) shoots the basketball against Golden State Warriors forward David Lee (10) during the fourth quarter in game five of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Grizzlies 98-78. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Gasol is arguably the best center in the league, and the perfect big man to pair with Anthony Davis.

Gasol would handle the bruising down low, box out on defense, and set Davis up while spacing the floor for him on offense.

Forgetting Asik, and giving Marc Gasol a sizably lucrative 20+ million dollar offer might be enough to lure him away, but all sources lead us to believe he is happy in Memphis.

Kevin Love: about 4 years, 90 million dollars

Love would be another dream partner for Anthony Davis.

He wouldn’t help him so much on the defensive side, but his three-point shooting, outlet passing, and versatility would be invaluable within an Alvin Gentry offense.

Additionally he would make Ryan Anderson obsolete, which would mean the Pelicans could trade him for a better small forward or center to deepen the team. Love seems like he wants to come back next season to try and win it all in Cleveland, but money and an increased role could sweeten the Pelicans deal.

DeMarre Carroll: about 4 years, 60 million dollars

Obviously Carol isn’t nearly the player Gasol and Love are, but it seems like Atlanta is willing to offer him almost anything to stay, and Carol seems to love his home in Atlanta.

He’s proved he’s a max player this season in this season’s playoffs, and the Hawks are such a fragile beast they won’t be willing to disrupt the chemistry. Losing Carol this offseason to injury was a huge blow to the Hawks and showed just how vital he is to their team.

Both parties appreciate the relationship, so a departure is unlikely.


Deandre Jordan: about 4 years, 90 million dollars

The Clippers once again were not able to make it past the second round this season, and Deandre is officially an unrestricted free agent this summer.

He might be perfectly happy in L.A., but reports have come forward saying he has clashed with Chris Paul before, and the team has turned on him at times due to his horrendous free throw shooting.

If we dumped Asik, Jordan would have to take a serious look at the Pelicans.

Head Coach Alvin Gentry was an assistant for the Clippers only a couple of years ago, and might be able to lure Deandre by constructing a fast paced, defensive philosophy around the athleticism of him and Anthony Davis.

If Deandre decides he wants a change, New Orleans might be his best option.

Tobias Harris: about 4 years, 60 million dollars

Harris is sadly a restricted free agent, but he’s not a sure-fire max contract guy.

The Magic might decide they are only offering him a ceiling of 11 or 12 million a year, in which case the Pelicans could swoop in and offer a full on max.

Harris could potentially be a force under Alvin Gentry. He’s a young, athletic tweener forward who has great defensive instincts and can space the floor.

For Gentry, Harris would appear to be a very similar player to what Draymond Green was before the start of this season. Though he would probably start at the three, it’s possible Gentry tries to breed Harris into the unique floor spacing defensive power forward Draymond has become.

Khris Middleton: about 4 years, 60 million dollars

Middleton is in the exact same boat as Harris. He’s slightly more versatile, but a worse rebounder.

Also not unlike Harris, he’s a fringe max restricted free agent, and the Bucks (who traded away Brandon Knight to avoid giving him a max) might decide they don’t want to tie themselves to Middleton either.

He can play the  two, three, or four, and Gentry might see the same floor spacing small-ball potential in him as Harris. Neither of these players superstars, but prying them away from their former teams right before the 2016 cap jump would be a homerun for the Pelicans considering they both fit so well.


Al Jefferson: about 4 years 60 million dollars

Jefferson is a fantastic low post scorer who could be had for anything over 14 million per year. He lacks awareness and ability on defense, and he’s not the distributor Marc Gasol is, but he would be a perfect offensive weapon to have for periods of stagnation. The Hornets had a monstrously disappointing season, and though he isn’t the ideal fit for Anthony Davis, Anthony Davis is the ideal fit for him.

Greg Monroe: about 4 years, 50 million dollars

Jan 14, 2015; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Greg Monroe (10) drives to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) during the second quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Monroe is basically a younger version of Jefferson. He’s not quite as dependable as a scorer, but he’s younger and is actually a surprisingly good passer and distributor.

The problem is once again he’s a disappointing defender, and unlike Jefferson, he hasn’t added that consistent 12-16 foot jumper which could provide a semblance of spacing.

Monroe once again is not the ideal candidate, but he’s a young NOLA native who has potential to grow with the team.

Jeff Green: about 4 years, 40 million dollars

Jeff Green has the talent of a max contract player, but he is notoriously inconstant and isn’t valuable as much more than a streaky scorer.

He’s not a bad defender, and he can play both forward positions, so missing out on Middleton and Harris might make Green an attractive third option.

For most of these “consolation prize” players, a slightly larger contract then they deserve would really be all it takes.

Other cheap options include Luol Deng, Danny Green, Roy Hibbert, Tyson Chandler, and Robin Lopez.

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Tyson, Hibbert and Lopez are all solid centers, but they didn’t make the list because they’re just to similar to Asik to justify a shift. Even if they might be slightly better, the fact that we sacrificed a first rounder and have Asik’s bird rights makes it unlikely we chase a rim protector unless it’s a significant upgrade (i.e. Marc Gasol or Deandre).

Once again, Eric Gordon is a fine young player.

He’s found a role and does all he can to help the team win, but a world where he opts out would make this a very interesting offseason for Pelicans fans.

Odds are this team stays relatively the same for the extent of the summer, but there’s no harm in entertaining the possibility, even if entertaining is the only purpose it serves………

Next: Why The Pelicans Will Get 6 More Years of Anthony Davis