When the Houston Rockets signed guard Eric Gordon during the 2016 offseason, it was considered a valuable piece to a contending roster surrounding James Harden. Hoping to chase that elusive Finals ring, the Rockets fell short. Soon, the Harden era broke open. Now the Rockets are in a rebuild, and Gordon still remains.
Veterans are certainly important in establishing leadership, but shouldn’t be the focal point of the team. Yet at the ripe age of 33, Gordon is receiving starting minutes. In all nine games, Eric has been the starting rotation and averaged nearly 31 minutes, which is 3rd behind 20-year old Jalen Green and 21-year old Kevin Porter Jr.
Impactful young players such as Alperen Sengun, Jae’Sean Tate, Tari Eason, and Kenyon Martin Jr. aren’t receiving the minutes they need in order to gain experience and bond more with their fellow teammates.
Possible Trade Piece?
The Houston Rockets may be playing Eric Gordon more for a couple of reasons. In the offseason, plenty of teams reached out to Rafael Stone about acquiring the former Sixth Man of the Year. Gordon at 33 can still provide excellent offense with his three-point range to a contending team looking to go all in for this season.
His contract is also a gamble for most teams. Gordon will be earning $19.5M this season, which will increase by $1M until 2024 when his contract ends. This isn’t a team friendly deal
It’s possible they are raising his trade value the more he plays. In 31 minutes, Eric is averaging 13 points with decent shooting splits of 46% from the field and 39.6% from three.
Time Away From Young Core
If Houston is actually using Gordon’s production as trade leverage, then these things are certain:
Yes, more teams searching for a quality guard will have interest, but this hurts the Rockets future. Why? Most of our roster has less than three years of experience in the NBA. Houston needs to focus on building a formidable ballclub for years to come, and inserting Gordon into the starting rotation won’t help their overall development.
When the team starts clicking and becomes a playoff contender, then start thinking about inserting veteran players in the starting lineup. Right now, It’s too early for that.
Eric Gordon needs to do two things: Either find a team that’s contending, or come off the bench in order to provide leadership and give more minutes to the players who need it.