Fast-forward to today, and Houston finds itself on the other end of that spectrum, as the front office opted for a full rebuild following Harden’s well-publicized trade request in the summer of 2020.
While the roster has been gutted since, one name remains – veteran Eric Gordon. The 34-year-old has seen it all, including the current developmental focus of the young core of high-end lottery picks Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. Unfortunately for the Rockets, Gordon isn’t impressed with their growth thus far.
There are concerns
The franchise currently sits dead last in the Western Conference at 10-26, and while that is understandable for a roster constructed for a long-term rebuild, their play on the floor raises concerns irrespective of their youthful allowance for mistakes.
Two of the main concerns are their unwillingness to defend, and their resistance to sharing the ball. Currently, the roster ranks 20th in the league in opponent's points per game, and last in the Association for assists per game - highlighting these two facets.
Gordon keeps it real
For a veteran presence and steady producer like Gordon, these concerns are frustrating, as their application defensively and a team-first mindset of sharing the ball is within their control.
Following the Rockets' recent annihilation at the hands of the New York Knicks in front of their home crowd, Gordon was asked about the team’s overall improvement, and his response was as blunt as it gets.
It’s hard to argue with his assessment, given the Rockets rolled over against the Knicks and lost by 20 in a lifeless performance.
The elephant in the room
In addition to the lackluster showings, Gordon’s personal predicament is a developing conundrum for the organization.
It’s clear he doesn’t fit with the team’s timeline, and being at the latter stage of his career nearing the end of his contract, trading him in exchange for draft capital makes sense for both parties. Fortunately for the combo guard, he wouldn’t be short of suitors, and once made formally available the Rockets' front office would likely have several options they could explore.
Averaging 11.2 points per game off the bench, and a career 37% from behind the arc, Gordon could help any contender that puts an offer forth. His value as a secondary ball handler, scorer in the second unit, or simply a floor spacer, could take title hopefuls to the next level.
It’s now up to the Rockets if they want to part ways with their longest-tenured contributor before the trade deadline in February. If they choose to trade him, it will be a welcomed decision for Gordon, who seems fed up with his current surroundings.