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Suns hoping Hornets learned nothing from history

The up-and-coming shooting guard wanted to leave, but had
little say in the matter.

Whether because of a perceived slight by his current team,
the idea of becoming “the man” somewhere else, or simply a
desire to skip town, the plan was to sign an offer sheet
somewhere else.

“It’s a lot of things,” the guard said. “How things were
handled last summer, how things have been handled this
summer. There’s been some things going on that aren’t
great.”

Of course, there was that pesky matter of the guy being a
restricted free agent, giving his current team (the
one he’s trying to escape from) the right to match any
contract he signs with another team.

And if they did exactly that?

“I would come back and work as hard as I ever have,” he
said. “If they match, all this stuff is behind me from
that minute on. I hope everybody puts everything behind
them, too.”

Back then, in the summer of 2005, the Phoenix Suns decided
not to match the contract Joe Johnson
agreed to with the Hawks
, instead working out a sign-and-trade that
netted them Boris Diaw and a couple first round picks.

Fast forward to now and the Suns are once again involved
in the pursuit of a restricted free agent, only this time
they are on the other side.

And, like the Suns back in 2005, everything we’ve heard
out of New Orleans is that the team does intend to match
the contract Phoenix offered Eric Gordon, yet hope remains
something can be worked out that would bring the 23-year-old to
the Valley of the Sun.

Because, after all, if the Suns were willing to let a
budding star leave because he said he didn’t want to be
there, maybe the Hornets will do the same?

Not likely, and the Suns themselves may serve as the
cautionary tale that keeps Gordon out of Phoenix.

Of all the mistakes Robert Sarver has made during his
tenure in charge of the Suns, the Johnson one may have
been the most costly.

Yes, he was fourth in the pecking order behind Steve
Nash, Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion, and there’s no
doubt signing Johnson to the deal he got from Atlanta
(five years for roughly $70 million) would have been a
strain on the team’s finances, but it would have been
worth it. Especially, you know, since Stoudemire played in
a whole three games the following season and the team
could have used a go-to scorer.

On the cusp of a championship, the Suns let one of their
key players leave. Today’s Hornets are nothing like those
Suns, as they are coming off a 21-win season and looking
to build, not maintain. Gordon is not looking to leave a
good thing — he’s hoping to find one.

Unfortunately, he has virtually zero leverage in the
situation.

Gordon has said all the right things (if you’re a Suns
fan), talking about how his heart is in Phoenix and how
there are multiple reasons for his desire to leave the Big
Easy. However, even with all his talk about how the
Hornets
disrespected him
with a low offer during the season,
drafting Austin Rivers a couple weeks ago and then not
even talking to him in free agency.

“If (the Hornets) were interested, there wouldn’t have
been no tour, there wouldn’t have been nothing,” Gordon told the
Times-Picayune
. “There’s been no negotiations. I was
right there in Indiana. I haven’t received no calls, to me
personally. They’ve contacted my agent.

“As for now, I don’t know what’s going on. (If the Hornets
match) as of right now, I’d be disappointed.”

Deep down, though, Gordon knows there is a good chance
he’s not going anywhere.

“I’m a basketball player at the end of the day,” Gordon
said. “Where I’m at, I’ve just got to play ball. But as of
right now, it’s going to be for the Phoenix Suns. If they
match, I’ve got to play basketball.”

The Suns know it too, which is why they’re likely busy
preparing their backup plan(s).

Until Gordon signs the agreement with the Suns, though,
there will be some hope. Once that happens a sign-and-
trade is no longer an option, and from where we stand
right now, that may be the Suns’ best hope to land their
shooting guard, even if the Hornets say they have no
intentions of letting their star leave.

It happened seven years ago, and it could happen again.
But as the philosopher George Santanaya once said, “Those who
cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Let’s hope Tom Benson and the Hornets have a fuzzy memory.


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