Ben Gordon exercised his option for the 2013-14 season during the summer—a foregone conclusion given his regression the past four seasons. Gordon’s $13.2 million salary isn’t immovable, but the Charlotte Bobcats are limited in what they can receive.
The team won’t take back big salary for a middling talent and Gordon is more useful than similar bad deals like Kris Humphries or Richard Jefferson. For a worthwhile trade, the Bobcats would be in good position to utilize his salary.
Until then, they’re stuck with him; which isn’t a bad thing.
Prior to the all-star break, Ben Gordon was solid for the Bobcats. In his first 47 games he shot at his career percentages from the field (42.8) and from three (40.9), while averaging 12.6 points in 22 minutes. Alongside Ramon Sessions, the Bobcats had one of the league’s better reserve backcourts.
Following a dispute with Mike Dunlap, Gordon’s role, production, and interest decreased. He shot 36.4% from the field and 35.1% from three in his next 28 games. Gordon finished the season with a career low in field goal percentage and narrowly avoided matching a low in player efficiency rating.
The Bobcats likely aren’t concerned with Gordon’s production this season. Gordon was merely the price the team paid to acquire a first round draft pick from the Detroit Pistons.
Still, Gordon isn’t DeSegana Diop or Tyrus Thomas; he’s actually useful.
Steve Clifford spoke to the media Wednesday about utilizing the team’s veterans who were marginalized by the “previous coach.” Clifford wants Gordon to channel his Chicago Bulls days—when he was an elite shooter and feared late-game scorer. Dunlap echoed similar views last season before locking Gordon in his doghouse.
Despite an unpleasant finish to the season, Gordon averaged 19.4 points per 36—the highest since his last season in Chicago. He also led the team in made three-pointers; impressive, given he played a career low in minutes.
With Gerald Henderson’s return and the excitement around second-year forward Jeff Taylor, Gordon’s minutes shouldn’t see a huge increase.Given the team’s depth, Clifford wants certain players to be able to produce more with less. Gordon won’t be locking anyone down, but if he can score and shoot at the percentages he started last season with, he’s worth keeping in the rotation.
While Gordon may never be what he once was, the 30-year-old still has a lot to prove in the final year of a $58 million contract. The former NBA Sixth Man of the Year remains the Bobcats best three-point shooter and a capable threat off the dribble.