A Daily Babble Production
The long-term picture for the Chicago Bulls has become at least a bit clearer this summer.
Derrick Rose will be the point guard. Luol Deng will be in town for a good long while. Kirk Hinrich is a favorite of ownership and could be seen at the off-guard spot, though a trade isn't out of the question. If the team can push the right buttons around the league, Larry Hughes could be the guard on his way out.
But all of the developments with Hinrich and Hughes at the two may be on hold until the team's biggest remaining question mark is answered: the fate of leading scorer Ben Gordon.
Gordon is a restricted free agent this summer, and as a combination of both his high asking price and the low cap space availability for many teams around the league at this point, he hasn't found the market to be a kind one so far.
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In his SI.com column, Marty Burns reports that Gordon may be looking for a deal starting in the range of $13 milion annually in order to make him the team's highest-paid player as a result of his scoring production.
There are two problems with this approach for Gordon. The first is that only penny-pinching Memphis can afford that type of deal at this point, and the Grizz seem to be in no rush to use their abundant cap space.
The second issue is that Gordon isn't a $13-million-per-year player.
In Gordon's favor is the fact that he scores with good (not great but certainly good) volume, and he does so with efficiency, posting true shooting figures of 55.8 and 57.2 percent over the last two seasons. He shoots the ball very well from the three-point line and can explode from the outside at any time.
But as has been discussed previously in this space, Gordon has a myriad of shortcomings as well. At 6-foot-3, he is undersized at the off-guard spot. He isn't a combo guard because he doesn't handle or pass the ball all that well. Gordon doesn't rebound much (3 per game), and he struggles defensively, particularly against bigger guards.
At this point, the four-year veteran is a solid scoring contributor, but the rest of his game has a long way to go. The Bulls would be making a mistake in meeting a price as high as $13 million, both based on Gordon's ability level and the lack of a bidding market for him at this point.
Burns suggests that the Bulls may be looking at offering Gordon a long-term deal starting at $8 million annually and featuring raises to make him a total of $60 million in six years. If Gordon chooses to sign a qualifying offer instead, he would play this season for $6.4 million and then be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Gordon doesn't want to go to Europe, and he doesn't want to sign a long-term offer sheet (or contract in Chicago) that will lock him up for far less than he believes he is worth. Because this is a guy who doesn't have to worry a whole lot about being out of a job a year from now, taking the qualifying offer makes a fair deal of sense. There will always be places around the league for someone who can score the basketball with the relative ease that Gordon can, and while he might not get the $13 million from anyone next year either, he is likely to see many more offers approaching his desired pay range, particularly as teams have more free cap space with which to work.
In the meantime, the qualifying offer would still give Ben Gordon a career high annual salary by more than $1.5 million, and he would have the year to show teams that he can improve the other aspects of his game and is worth more than just instant offense. Seems like the way to go.