When the debate was going on here at ClipsNation as to whether or not the Clips should yield Gordon in the trade for CP3 I was definitely on the side of those who hated to see EJ go but definitely thought it was worth it. Here are a few reasons that I miss EJ but still believe the front office made the right move.
INJURIES: One of the biggest arguments against the trade was that Eric is younger than CP3 and that CP3 has had knee problems. The reason I thought that whole argument was a wash is because of their respective games.
EJ, especially after winning the gold with Team USA, has become much better at attacking the rim - which was awesome! BUT I really worried every time he did drive down the lane because he would get so much contact (Remember this? [VIDEO] Listen to Ralph worried.)
I figured with EJ's higher flying game compared to CP3's earthbound game, how could fans say they are MORE worried about CP3s knees than EJ hurting at least in a few areas? You might remember as I do that EJ seemed to slip a lot on hard cuts and hurt his groin. Or take off for the rim and land on his previously injured wrist.
Unfortunately, at the start of this short, compacted schedule of a season, Gordon is already hurt. [Eric Gordon Sits Again] No one can say for sure that he would have been injured if he was still on the Clips but it is what it is. Update 1/6 : ESPN/AP is now reporting Gordon to be out 2 - 3 weeks.
MAX MONEY$$$$: Eric Gordon is due for a big contract. In recent interviews Neil Olshey has been saying that the Clippers probably would not have offered a or matched a max type extension for Gordon (Rose recently got a $94.8 MILLION, 5 year deal) We don't know what kind of numbers EJ's agent Pelinka was looking for but if it was reasonable you'd think Olshey would have sealed the deal, paving the way for the Clips to follow the Thunder mold of building around young pieces.
I believe if we kept EJ this year the front office would have chosen to follow the DJ route of letting him go to Restricted Free Agency status and then see what EJ would be offered by other teams. THEN if the amount was reasonable, they would match but if it was so high that it would keep them from being able to sign a Superstar Free Agent, they would LET HIM GO.
Can you imagine the trash talking in the media if that happened? It would be once again the "Clippers Are Cheap", "Clippers Let Gordon Walk For Nothing in Return", blah blah blah. They wouldn't even talk about whether or not EJ is really worth whatever outrageous amount some other team would be willing to give him. (Rudy Gay comes to mind)
Is he a great player? Yes. Should a team allocate Superstar type dollars in their overall budget for him? Hmmmm. What if you already have to worry about saving your max money for Griffin? Double Hmmmm.
The Clippers front office avoided a major PR disaster by trading Gordon now and avoiding the whole issue of whether or not EJ is worth a max extension regardless of how it hinders your ability to sign other stars.
CLUTCH PLAY: I have definitely missed seeing EJ's defense at the shooting guard spot in every Clipper game this year. But this last game against Portland gave me a brief moment where I actually DID NOT miss EJ at the 2 spot.
I know many other fans probably recognized the same moment. It was at the end of the game with the Blazers down by 4 when Jamal Crawford (League leader in 4-point plays) was behind the three point arc, ready to bring Portland back to life with a 3 or possibly 4 point play. Chris Paul, 5 inches shorter guarded him like white on rice and forced him into a jump ball. We all KNOW what would have happened if that was EJ guarding him. Crawford would have made the 3 while EJ fouled him, thus giving him a free throw, tying the game up and giving them the momentum.
Why do I say that? Because as far as I can remember, there were at least two times EJ has fouled a three point shooter, yielding a four point play (and that's just in game ending, critical moments). For some reason the refs have been quick to blow the whistle on EJ at the worst possible moments. Maybe it's the rookie thing. Maybe it's because they were tired of EJ making that sour face every time they called a foul on him or every time he didn't get a foul when he was shooting or driving on offense, but it was like clockwork.
Then to top it off, CP3 has to win a jump ball against Crawford to seal the game. EJs height and jumping advantage was not missed again as CP3 just willed himself to the apex of the jump, not really controlling it but getting enough on it to get it to Mo who snatched it away.
For all the positives EJ brought to the Clippers, the play of CP3 is slowly helping me feel okay with the loss of one of the best guards the Clips have had in awhile.