Eric Gordon values Suns owner Mat Ishbia’s involvement in free agency
Jul 13, 2023, 12:00 PM
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Some might label owner Mat Ishbia’s very public and very involved basketball operations decisions as meddling. But to Eric Gordon, the lone Phoenix Suns signee who had a prolonged free-agency process, it can be labeled encouraging.
It’s encouraging that the owner has backed up his talk with his wallet.
In this case, the Suns couldn’t use that wallet to land the 34-year-old Gordon because of salary cap rules. The veteran shooting guard had better offers after the Clippers opted not to pay him $20.9 million for next year, saving $110 million in luxury tax bills in the process. Gordon spent days on the market before he signed a veteran minimum that pays him $3.2 million in Phoenix.
Ishbia’s direct involvement in his recruitment mattered.
“He’s definitely involved. I had the most communication with him (compared to other Suns executives),” Gordon told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Thursday. “That means a lot. As a player, you definitely like owners that are involved, that you can have a relationship (with).
“A guy like him, he also knows basketball. When you have a relationship with him that goes a long way. When you want things and you want to have understanding, it’s good to go through him a lot, also.”
Gordon cited the “very hungry” owner and the team’s talent and coaching staff as the three main reasons why he signed with Phoenix.
On the basketball side of things, Gordon said the Suns’ growing reputation and acquisitions of Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal around Devin Booker made title chasing attractive in the Valley.
“Not just last year” impressed Gordon, he said. “You could just tell over the past few years, you know, the Suns are heading in the right direction.
“KD always been KD, always been a big-time performer. Booker over the years, he’s just gotten so much better in so many different ways. His shooting and playmaking and all that. You can just see his growth like year in, year out.”
Gordon split last year between the Houston Rockets and Clippers, the latter of whom drafted him seventh overall in 2008.
Gordon averaged 12.4 points, 2.7 assists and hit 37% of his three between the two teams.
His accuracy from three-point range skyrocketed from 35% to 42% when he joined a Clippers team that rolled to an 11-5 finish to the regular season to set up a first-round series against the Suns.
Gordon started 47 games in Houston and 11 of 22 regular season outings in Los Angeles before Phoenix eliminated Gordon’s Clippers, who frequently matched up the big-bodied guard to get underneath the taller, lankier Durant.
Now in Phoenix, Gordon slots in immediately as a top-five player.
Whether or not that means he’s the fifth starter isn’t a worry to Gordon.
“It’s hard to say, but I’m open for whatever,” he said. “I’m very open to either coming off the bench or even starting. I’m open to either one. We have to see and do what’s best for us to see how we can win.”