Getting Eric Gordon back is easy.
Match the Suns’ four-year, $58 million offer before the three-day deadline passes on Saturday, and he’s New Orleans-bound.
But that’s not enough for the Hornets, who are seeing their long-term plan and philosophy clash after Gordon’s recent declaration that he wants to play in Phoenix.
They’ve said all along that Gordon is their building block for the future, but they’ve also said they only want players who want to be there.
Until last week, when Gordon suddenly went from the key to the future to feeling unloved and seeking solace with the Suns, that didn’t seem like a problem.
Now, the team has decisions to make.
It is, as coach Monty Williams put it, “a weird situation.”
So what should have been a straightforward process — see offer, match offer, get Gordon — becomes more complicated.
General manager Dell Demps said Wednesday that he won’t limit his options by making a quick decision. So the Gordon drama could last to the deadline as the Hornets look at offers to sign and trade him, perhaps for the center they desperately need.
That scenario likely applies if Gordon truly doesn’t want to return, but it’s hard to imagine the two sides won’t work that out.
For starters, the $58 million won’t hurt.
After that, the main challenge is to resolve an apparent misunderstanding. The Suns wooed Gordon, but the affair was partly driven by some resentment toward the Hornets.
Even though the team has always said that Gordon is their long-term plan, Gordon said he wasn’t sure what the franchise had in mind, particularly after drafting guard Austin Rivers with the No. 10 pick.
But with point guard Jarrett Jack traded, Rivers is working at point guard to serve as a complement, not a replacement, to Gordon. And despite an impressive draft haul, Demps and Williams have never strayed from listing Gordon as the centerpiece.
It sounds like all Gordon needs is his check, and maybe a backrub while team executives offer words of reassurance.
“We love you, Eric. We need you.”
If he comes around, it’s a done deal and the plan moves forward. In that case, there’s little doubt that everything will work out.
“Once whatever deal gets done, I know if he comes back he’s gong to be all business,” guard Xavier Henry said. “It’s all about getting wins here and stuff like that. I don’t think any grudges will be held.”
If Gordon stomps his feet enough, the team could place principle before planning and send him on his way.
It would seem an unbelievable outcome to a circumstance that once seemed so simple. And in a summer that has been filled with nothing but good news for the Hornets, it would be a huge blow.
That’s why my money is on the money, the backrub, and the return.