EJ doesn't agree to extension...what it means for the Pacers

First of all, GO PACERS! I was watching the game and creeping on Blogabull to watch those @ssholes cry about the refs and insult us all fourth quarter. The Pacers bounced back in a big way against the conference's best team (and most arrogant fan base), and I'm STOKED...for the moment (that Orlando home shellacking still smarts). Moving on...

At the Hive breaks down the news that Eric Gordon did NOT agree to a four year, $62 million extension late last night. The guy who writes their cerebral stats stuff over there is really good. For those worried about EJ's injuries, he makes a very good case for EJ as a max player, statistically, at least from the perspective of a really bad team without stars.

Here's basically a synopsis of what last night's news means for the Pacers:

* EJ and his agent believe he'll be healthy and effective enough between now, and the rest of the season, to prove that he is a max player, or near-max player, by the off-season. His injury is not considered long-term, and the injury he suffered last year was a freak one. So this makes sense. EJ's camp is making a gamble that he's in good shape health-wise, or else they would've taken the near-max deal on the table and been fine with it. That is good news for the future.

* EJ is open to exploring the market. Some players have no intention of ever testing their market value and extend early to gain immediate security with their current team. These players have leverage in that they are typically max players (like Kevin Love) who can dictate their value without fielding other offers, or they are players whose teams have already agreed to overpay (like Gallinari in Denver). EJ is unique in that he may be a max player to a bad team, but there are still plenty of questions about his health, so he doesn't feel overpaid with a four year $62 million deal, but he (and more importantly, his agent) must feel he can gain a significant amount of security by testing the market.

* That fifth year is probably very important to EJ. We cannot offer EJ a fifth year. We can make EJ a four year "max" offer, but by owning his Bird rights, the Hornets can not only match, they can offer a fifth year with more money and cut negotations at the root. This means that to financially compete with New Orleans, we will have to facilitate a sign and trade.

* There is very little chance that New Orleans fails to match, and very little chance Bird et. al agree to take on a big contract without shedding salary, in the event that Roy Hibbert's value will be inflated to the point that we speculate it will be. This again supports the idea for a sign-and-trade offer as the only viable solution.

* Conclusion: Nothing has changed, other than the Pacers are still in the running for Gordon. It will still take:

1. More money than he is currently worth

2. A sign-and-trade

3. EJ telling his team that he wants to play here (because why else would they agree to the sign-and-trade for their max player when they have plenty of money to overpay him?)

So first of all, I want to dispel any notion that I am some sort of crazy person for considering Gordon max or near-max. He will be this summer. Deal with it. It doesn't matter that he may not be worth it at the moment, the market will decide that he is, in fact, worth nearly the entire max, meaning that New Orleans will offer him the max (assuming he's healthy and effective once he comes back from this current injury). So he's a max player. The $12-13 mil you may think he's worth is nitpicking and insignificant, because he's not taking a pay cut. Max contracts are not nearly as debilitating as they used to be, and players like Gordon don't come around often (highly effective offensively, lockdown defensively, young, and as an added bonus, a local hero who will be invested in this community).

Secondly, I want to offer up the only possible way we get Gordon this summer, in my opinion, short of New Orleans simply losing their minds.

Trade Granger and a 2012 first rounder for Gordon (signed at a 5 year max deal) and Emeka Okafor. This is a common trade idea, and it essentially has us absorbing all of Gordon's $15ish million. The fallout, of course, will be us likely not having the money to extend George Hill (after signing Hibbert to his ridiculously-inflated contract) and we'll be at a risk of not being able to pay one or both of Hansbrough and Collison the following year, all for a chance at Collison/EJ/PG/West/Hibbert for a year.

* Verdict: I say he's not worth it. I'm a huge Gordon apologist, and I'm fully on board with the concept of bringing him here for ALL reasons (he's special, he's young, he's local, he'd be more significant than any player we've had since Reggie Miller). But, in today's NBA climate, there are too many sacrifices to make for max players. You need a stable of bigs in order to compete in this league, and as we saw last night, we CAN compete. As heartbreaking as it will be to see EJ long-term with another team, staying the course is more fiscally responsible in the long-run, and the dream of bringing him here is too clouded, and has too many hurdles (starting with the fact that we'll probably need him to ask his team to facilitate a sign and trade) for us to still consider it a possibility.

What do you think?

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