There hasn’t been this much attention paid to the location of someone’s heart since Tony Bennett sang that he had left his in San Francisco.
One week ago the New Orleans Hornets said restricted free agent guard Eric Gordon was the guy they were rebuilding their team around even after drafting Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers and Darius Miller.
General manager Dell Demps said Gordon told him he enjoyed his one season in New Orleans, even though he was limited to nine games by injury, and that he had no reason to believe Gordon wanted to leave.
Demps and coach Monty Williams all but guaranteed the franchise would match any offer Gordon got, thereby locking him into New Orleans. All that was left to be done was for Gordon to explore the marketplace, find a team to set his value and sign an offer sheet that the Hornets would match.
So Gordon hit the road and the Phoenix Suns rolled out the red carpet. They put his name and the word “cornerstone” together on a sign outside their arena and had 100 employees give him a hero’s welcome inside. Ultimately he agreed to a four-year, $58 million offer sheet that he’ll sign July 11 as soon as he’s able to under free agency rules. The Hornets will have three days to match or let him go.
All of that was expected, then Gordon put out a brief statement saying Phoenix is where “my heart is now” and Hornets fans unleashed their anger via Twitter.
Sure his heart was in Phoenix amid the euphoria of being treated like visiting royalty and being promised $8 million more than the Hornets had offered. What 23-year-old’s heart wouldn’t be in that place?
But ultimately Gordon’s heart is going to wind up wherever the Hornets choose. That hasn’t changed.
If New Orleans matches the offer, Gordon and his heart will be in the Crescent City because that’s where all those really big checks in his name will be written.
Demps and Williams will spend the next several days educating an obviously confused Gordon, who said Thursday he didn’t know what the Hornets’ plans were for him because “there are no negotiations right now.” Then he said they obviously had “another plan” because of the drafting of Rivers.
The Hornets will point out that they’re not negotiating with him because they will simply match the offer with which the Suns won his heart. They’ll also explain that NBA teams utilize several guards in any given game so Rivers’ arrival as a rookie won’t diminish the playing time of a $58 million veteran.
They’ll remind him that the Hornets are a team on the rise thanks to their draft bonanza, additional young talent and lots of money to spend under the salary cap. They might even point out that the Suns are scrambling in free agency to cobble together a respectable roster after agreeing Wednesday to send future Hall of Fame guard Steve Nash to the Lakers in a sign and trade.
After the Hornets visit with Gordon, he might just have a change of heart.