Eric Gordon’s health key to off-season for New Orleans Pelicans

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new orleans pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans, huh?  Oooooookaaaaay… Whatever their nickname is, the franchise is in the midst of a post-Chris Paul rebuilding effort.  They have some quality young pieces but among their NBA off-season needs is getting their shooting guard, Eric Gordon healthy and consistently back on the floor.

New Orleans Pelicans (27-55 last year)

2012-13 Season Summary:
There were several revelations the New Orleans Hornets, er, New Orleans Pelicans were able to take away from year two of the post-CP3 rebuilding effort.  Greivis Vasquez emerged as one of the better assist men in the league and might actually be the floor leader of the future for the franchise.  Robin Lopez, who the Hornets acquired for next to nothing last off-season, is actually a serviceable NBA big man even to the extent where New Orleans signed him a three-year extension.  Give credit to general manager Dell Demps for not only that trade, but also acquiring Ryan Anderson last summer for Gustavo Ayon.  Anderson proved that 2011-12 was no fluke and that he is a dangerous stretch four who can really bring some offensive firepower off the bench.

Obviously most eyes were on the top overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Anthony Davis.  When healthy, Davis was a solid producer and should be the cornerstone of the franchise moving forward as he is able to affect the game in multiple ways.  On the opposite end of that spectrum was the Pelicans other lottery pick Austin Rivers who really struggled acclimating himself to the NBA game and has a long way to go before he becomes a true contributor.

The other major disappointment for the Hornets was Eric Gordon who missed the first two months of the season due to a knee injury.  He never really reached 100% as he didn’t play the second night of back-to-back games once he returned.  New Orleans made a major investment in Gordon last summer and through year one of his mega-deal, it hasn’t paid off.

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Robin Lopez/Jason Smith
PF: Anthony Davis/Ryan Anderson
SF: Darius Miller
SG: Eric Gordon/Austin Rivers
PG:Greivis Vasquez/Brian Roberts

NBA Free Agents:
SF-Al-Farouq Aminu (UFA)
SG-Xavier Henry (UFA)
G-Roger Mason Jr. (UFA)
C-Lou Amundson (UFA)
F-Lance Thomas (UFA)

2013-14 Team Salary: Approximately $43.4 million

Team Needs:
1. Small Forward: Al-Farouq Aminu filled the temporary void at the three last season, averaging a career high 7.7 points and 7.3 rebounds.  He is a free agent this summer and even if the New Orleans Pelicans elect to bring him back, it would be a mistake he can be the long-term starting small forward.  The Pelicans likely won’t find the answer with their sixth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft (unless Otto Porter somehow falls to them), so they will likely have to look to free agency to find a suitable starter at the three.

2. Get Gordon Healthy: As if the nagging knee injuries aren’t worrisome enough, Gordon underwent off-season ankle surgery as well.  Though it was a minor procedure, the accumulating injuries are not what you want to see from someone you just signed to a $58 million deal a year ago.

Not only does the physical health need to improve but so does the mental side of things.  Gordon was relatively outspoken last summer that he didn’t want the Pelicans to match the Suns offer sheet.  Gordon then got into a shouting match with head coach Monty Williams late in the season to only add to the problems.  If the relationship between Gordon and management doesn’t improve, the team might be forced to rid themselves of his negative presence.

3. Guard Depth: With Gordon’s health and Rivers’ struggles, the Hornets would be wise to add some experienced backcourt depth this summer.  Even though Brian Roberts came from nowhere to be a solid backup to Vasquez at the point, the Hornets should bring in a veteran as insurance.

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David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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