Trading Eric Gordon: Who says no in a potential deal with the Rockets?

Constructing realistic trades is a fun, thought-provoking exercise that enhances the NBA experience. Well, typically. In the case of rebuilding teams with veterans in tough positions, things can get tricky with so many factors to consider.

Such is the case with long-term Rockets guard Eric Gordon. His situation is quickly becoming one of the more awkward sagas around the league.

Having missed the playoffs the past two seasons and likely again this year, it’s no secret Gordon, a 15-year veteran, wants to move in a new direction. Given where the Rockets are organizationally, with an influx of young talent and soon-to-be financial flexibility, it makes sense they’re ready to move in another direction as well.

Let’s get this out of the way: Gordon, even at age 34, is still a talented NBA player, despite what the bad optics or Twitter discourse might yield. The Rockets’ point differential with Gordon on the floor has been in the 70th percentile or better in five out of the last six seasons in Houston, with the only non-positive one being the 2019-20 COVID-interrupted season. There’s a reason why head coach Stephen Silas holds Gordon in such high regard. Gordon isn’t the veteran to scream in your face or even call for a quick huddle — qualities his current set of young teammates might need — but things are generally better with him than without.

That being said, Gordon isn’t excused when considering Houston’s poor performances. He’s averaging career lows in usage, shots and, as a result, points. He’s not defending at the high rate he once did. His body language hasn’t been great. When he’s spoken publicly, his frustrations are clear. All of that is rolled into a situation that could use a resolution sooner rather than later.

So what do the Rockets really want for him? Is there a trade out there that works? What better place than Twitter to find the (potential) answers to your burning questions?

Twitter Trade 1: The Big Apple?

The Rockets have been holding out for a first-round pick for Gordon’s services, but this looks like the framework of something I think Houston would at least consider. They’d get a free look at a former top-10 pick in Cam Reddish who desperately needs a change of scenery, and get both point guard and veteran help with Derrick Rose. The latter would be 35 and on the books for $15 million at the beginning of the 2023-24 season, but Houston could always decline that option if they wanted.

New York’s view: The Knicks have to consider exchanging two guys who are not currently playing for a vet who’s rediscovered his 3-point shot over the past two seasons. The Knicks could use a deep threat. If they don’t have to give up a pick or a rotation player to acquire one, props to them. — Fred Katz

Twitter Trade 2: The Lakers don’t understand what DND means

It feels like the Lakers have dangled this package just as frequently as the Rockets have done with Gordon. This doesn’t “wow” me, but expectations should be tempered for any Gordon trade. Patrick Beverley’s return to Houston would bring an immediate jolt to the locker room, and there’s no denying his experience of him would be welcome. His 2.49 assist-to-turnover ratio is considerably higher than Jalen Green’s or Kevin Porter Jr.’s, and his play style accommodates those types of scorers — not to mention his appetite for aggressive defense.

The Lakers’ view: I think the Lakers would strongly consider this deal. They’re interested in any trade that doesn’t force them to give up one of their future first-round picks. Gordon isn’t the explosive scorer or deadeye shooter he once was, but he’s clearly an offense upgrade on Beverley and Kendrick Nunn. Defensively, his 6-foot-9 wingspan and 215-pound frame allow him to defend players larger than his 6-foot-3 height. This is the type of minor move that could upgrade the Lakers’ rotation and preserve their picks for use this summer. — Jovan Buha

Um. Okay!

I’m not sure how much interest the Bulls have in someone like Gordon given his age, but they shouldn’t exactly be thumbing their nose at the prospect of more floor spacing. Chicago is four games under .500, in the middle of the pack offensively and in the bottom five in 3-point makes.

There’s also not a lot of meat on the bone at the wing position, outside of DeMar DeRozan and Zach Lavine. If the Bulls aren’t dedicated to blowing it up next month and want to remain somewhat relevant, adding Gordon makes some sense. But I’d imagine they’d look at virtually any other route that didn’t involve them punting on Lonzo Ball, like some three-team framework.

I know Ball’s luck with injuries is bad but I think the Rockets would do this deal. When Ball was healthy, the Bulls looked like a well-oiled machine. He’s a legit shooter and point guard who can also defend.

The Bulls’ view: No way the Bulls are ready to go there. This deal is the equivalent of the Bulls waving the proverbial white flag on the roster they aggressively assembled and then doubled down on by banking on continuity coming into this season. Parting with Ball now, while he’s on the slow road to recovery from knee surgery and after he’s appeared in only 35 games with the Bulls, would be as callous as it is uncommon. The Bulls effectively would be giving up on Ball solely because of injury concerns. If that’s the case, why would the Rockets want him? Darnell Mayberry

Twitter Trade 4: Maybe Eric Can Light the Beam?

I guess the Kings’ primary objective here is getting rid of Richaun Holmes’ money and using a future first-round to incentivize the Rockets to take him on, but is Houston high enough on that return to risk cutting into their future cap? Maybe Sacramento uses Gordon’s previous ties to GM Monte McNair, who previously worked in Houston. There’s a world where Gordon comes in energized and bolsters their second unit alongside Malik Monk, but this looks like an awful lot to give up, especially when adding the future first-rounder. You could probably get a better return for a package like this.

Don’t get me wrong: I still think there’s a player in Holmes. He flirted with being a 10-point, 10-rebound guy for three straight years and plays a bit like Clint Capela-lite when right. But the Rockets already having problems finding minutes for the three big men in the current rotation. Adding a 29-year-old center for half of a season doesn’t make much sense during a rebuild. A trade like this is better served for the offseason.

The Kings view: That’s a lot for Sacramento to give up for a player that doesn’t firmly fit into exactly what they need. I like Gordon, but not the idea that he’s going to guard the 3 position, because they already have Kevin Huerter, Monk, De’Aaron Fox and everybody else. I think it’s a good deal for the Rockets, I just don’t think it’s a deal the Kings are sufficiently motivated to do. — Danny Leroux

(Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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