Ben Gordon is the highest paid player on a team with the league’s worst record. Making $12.4 million this season, Gordon was acquired from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Corey Maggette and a future first round pick in the offseason. After leaving Detroit, Gordon might have expected to see a more meaningful role with the Charlotte Bobcats in comparison.
The Bobcats have had a history of taking on big contracts of frustrated, highly-paid shooting guards and rejuvenating their careers. Jason Richardson and Stephen Jackson both had some of their best seasons sporting a Bobcats jersey. That trend hasn’t been contagious though for Gordon.
While his minutes are at a career low of 21.2, Gordon is getting up more shots than he has in quite some time. Per 36 minutes, Gordon is averaging 17.7 field goal attempts per game, which is his highest average since his peak season with the Chicago Bulls in 2007. Gordon is just one of three players in the league who plays 25 minutes or less and averages at least 10 field goal attempts.
Yet, he still doesn’t seem to be of much use in Charlotte.
The Bobcats backcourt has been crowded all season. With Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson in the starting lineup, Gordon along with Ramon Sessions have been the go-to guys off the bench. Gordon’s role has been more expendable though for a number of reasons. Head Coach Mike Dunlap love of Sessions-Walker backcourt, Jeffrey Taylor’s ability to play two positions on the perimeter and the scoring rise of Henderson have all contributed to Gordon’s drop in minutes.
The most productive months Gordon has had this season, have been in November (43.8%fg, 45%three, 13.9 points in 24mpg) and January (46.4%fg, 46.5%three, 14.1 points in 23mpg) when Henderson was out with injury or was down in minutes. By all indications Gordon’s microwave scoring is only useful in rhythm, and he’s had no opportunity to tap into that in Charlotte.
This offseason Gordon has a player option for $13.2 million in the final year of his $58 million contract. Because of Gordon’s drop in production over the course of his deal, he’s unlikely to ever make as much under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. This would make it very tempting for Gordon to exercise his option. If he does, it wouldn’t necessarily mean he’ll play for the Bobcats next season. He could be traded, then again there probably aren’t going to be many teams lining up to take on over $13 million for Gordon. Gordon right now is a mid-level talent being paid like a core piece of a franchise. In a trade, the Bobcats would be taking back another large salary for a underwhelming player, like Kris Humphries of the Brooklyn Nets.
Gordon was acquired from the Pistons to obtain a first round pick that becomes unprotected in 2016 and could become an asset for Charlotte’s rebuilding project. Anything Gordon provided was likely looked at as a bonus. Logically, you would have to think the Bobcats brass wouldn’t mind if Gordon chose to decline his option and enter free agency. It would put the Bobcats even further under the cap and give them more space to rebuild the roster around their young talent. Gordon’s never going to get the minutes he wants here or a role that would satisfy him.
While it could be a longshot, it might be best for the Bobcats and Gordon to mutually agree to part ways in the offseason. This would depend on Gordon feeling that making $13 million isn’t worth being in an undesirable situation. In free agency Gordon would be able to choose his team, be under a contract that could be an asset to an organization, and get a real chance to start fresh.