“We want people that want to be here. If you don’t want to be here, we’ve got to make some adjustments.” MONTY WILLIAMS, Hornets coach
WESTWEGO — The New Orleans Hornets now have a decision to make.
Restricted free agent Eric Gordon signed a four-year, $58 million offer sheet from the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, meaning the Hornets have three days to match the offer to keep him.
So far, Gordon has demonstrated little interest in continuing his career in the Crescent City. Although the Hornets have indicated in the past that they would match any offer for Gordon, General Manager Dell Demps declined Wednesday to confirm whether the team still intended to do so.
“No updates right now,” Demps said. “No comments.”
Gordon has stated that his “heart is in Phoenix,” and that the Hornets have not demonstrated — at least not through their contract proposals — a genuine belief that he is an elite player. Gordon has said New Orleans’ decision to draft shooting guard Austin Rivers, instead of filling their need for a big body in the middle, indicated the Hornets were going in a direction that might not include Gordon.
However, the Hornets on Wednesday traded former starting point guard Jarrett Jack to Golden State as part of a three-team trade. The move is expected to give Rivers more of an opportunity to try his hand at point guard, which theoretically, would allow Rivers and Gordon to play together.
The three-team deal reportedly sends Dorell Wright from Golden State to Philadelphia, with Jack going to Golden State.
The Hornets will receive the 76ers’ draft rights to Edin Bavcic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in a salary-slashing move that also clears space in a crowded backcourt. Bavcic, acquired by Philadelphia in a trade with Toronto in 2006, is expected to remain in Europe next season.
The original proposed trade had the Warriors receiving Bavcic for Wright. Instead, the Hornets hopped in the mix to acquire Bavcic and hand the Warriors the veteran guard they’ve wanted this offseason to play alongside Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
“Well new Orleans it’s been real,” Jack wrote on his Twitter page. He also thanked Hornets fans for their support.
The move will clear about $5.5 million in cap space for New Orleans. The trade gives the Hornets more money to sign a center and also allows Rivers, the 10th overall pick out of Duke in last month’s NBA draft, to see more playing time next season.
The trade was still pending until a series of other moves paved the way for the complicated deal.
For weeks, Demps and Williams have referred to Gordon as their best player and have said they plan to build around him. When asked Wednesday if Gordon was still in his plans, Williams said, “Yes.”
“Eric is just in a weird situation right now,” Williams said. “He has always talked about being here, and then all of this stuff has come out of the blue.
“I just think when you’re going through free agency and you’re talking about that kind of money, certain things are said and felt,” Williams continued. “But I think when the dust settles, you’ll hear more of the truth about where he wants to be.”
Yet Williams also stressed that he does not see the wisdom of forcing a player to be in New Orleans against his wishes.
“We want people that want to be here,” Williams said. “If you don’t want to be here, we’ve got to make some adjustments.”