(SportsRadio 610) - Before the season started, conventional wisdom was the Rockets were going to trade Eric Gordon at some point before the NBA’s trade deadline, and with the Rockets firmly planted outside the Western Conference Playoff race, that would still seem the case.
But is it possible the longest-tenured Rocket is more valuable than what the Rockets would get in return?
Gordon may not put up the team’s gaudiest numbers, but he is the Rockets best player. They have lost all seven games he’s missed this season, and while the Rockets are being outscored by 4.4 points per 100 possessions while Gordon is on the floor, that number balloons to 12. when he’s off the floor, 15.6 over the last 15 games.
“He settles us down,” Rockets head coach Stephen Silas said. “He has know-how. He can guard primary scorers, and his shooting is huge.”
As good as he’s been this season, Gordon, 33, is not part of the Rockets long-term plan. His existence on the roster and in the starting lineup takes away opportunities for younger players who could be around for awhile, but player development doesn’t just come from getting more reps during games, and Silas believes having Gordon on the floor and in the locker room will make the Rockets young players better.
“There’s modeling,” Silas said. “This is how it’s done, and it's not just on the floor, it's off the floor too. Eric takes care of his body. Eric makes sure he always gets his shots up, and then, in those situations where we need something to happen, his poise is something hopefully the guys see and (it) carries over.”
If the Rockets were to trade Gordon before the February 10 deadline they’d likely take back, at best, a lottery protected first round pick. That’s a nice asset to have, but it’s hardly franchise altering, and that offer will likely be there over the summer when he would have more suitors while being more attractive to other teams as an expiring contract.
The Athletic reported earlier this week the Rockets are likely to keep Gordon through the deadline, and while on the surface it makes no sense for a 14-34 team in the early stages of a complete rebuild to hang onto a 33-year old guard for another 34 games, but if you dig deeper there is some logic in doing so. The stability he provides on the floor and work ethic he shows off it could go a long way in helping a very young group improve.
"I trust him," Silas said. "And hopefully that's something permeates throughout the group."
Adam Spolane covers the Rockets, Astros and more for SportsRadio 610. Follow him on Twitter @AdamSpolane.