Some Chicago fans are breathing a sigh of relief. As a restricted free agent, Ben Gordon has signed a $6.4 million deal to stay under contract for the next year. What a relief, right? The team can finally focus on improving and making noise in the playoffs, right? Wrong.
Ben Gordon’s recent signing means absolutely nothing.
It does not mean that Ben Gordon wants to be in Chicago. Towards the end of last season, Gordon was itching to leave the Windy City. He was offended that the Bulls didn’t give him “Luol Deng treatment.” His logic went: I led the team in scoring so why shouldn’t I get as much or more than Luol?
The Bulls value Deng more than they value Gordon. And nothing has changed since the end of last season.
Gordon tested the free agent waters and found that teams were not willing to sign him. They didn’t want to overpay for someone who can only hit jumpshots.
Guess what? This signing doesn’t even mean that the Bulls want Gordon. If there’s one thing that John Paxson has proven as a GM, it’s that he loads up on assets.
Ben Gordon, for all his deficiencies, is still an asset. A productive scorer with an expiring contract will always be an asset — if not more because of the latter attribute than the former.
Contrary to public opinion, I think this deal is a clear indication that the Chicago Bulls have good leverage over Gordon. Even though unrestricted free agency means Gordon can sign with any team, will any team sign him? The Bulls simply have more options than Gordon at this point because of how the negotiations went down.
They can package Gordon as solid player with an expiring contract. If another team is in need of a scorer or shooter, talk to the Bulls. They’ve got a certain 6’3″ guard that you can try out for a year with no strings attached!
On the other hand, Gordon went out and brusquely said that he didn’t expect to be in Chicago this season. He thought that other teams were willing to pay top dollar for his services. He thought they would snatch him up like middle schoolers snatched Tamagachi’s in the late 1990’s. And he was wrong.
Sadly, this looks like one of those instances where a player refuses to sign a fair offer from their original team to disastrous results. Instead of taking a nice, safe deal, the player and his agent try to negotiate for the best possible offer and talking comes to a halt. The player is insulted and makes a somewhat-offhand disparaging remark on the state of negotiations which pretty much deafens the silence.
Interest from other teams was either not as enthusiastic as expected by the player or they were not at a compensation level he finds acceptable. So instead of leveraging a fair-to-good deal with the Bulls into a great deal with another team, Gordon played his “I’m not coming back to Chicago” hand way too soon.
I like Ben Gordon and I hope it works out for him but I doubt he’ll be in Chicago past this season’s trade deadline. And unless he overperforms this season, the best offer he’ll get won’t be as good as what the Bulls were willing to shell out.
Which, by the way, was a six-year contract worth roughly $58 million dollars. Gordon’s camp rejected it throughout the offseason and for the last time before training camp hit.