There was a report on Thursday out of Charlotte that Bobcats shooting guard Ben Gordon and coach Mike Dunlap had a practice-time confrontation so fractious that ‘Cats management is listening to trade offers. In our continuing series on trading Andrea Bargnani, I’ll explore whether the Toronto Raptors should take advantage of this unforeseen opportunity.
Ben Gordon is a smallish shooting guard who has amassed some healthy scoring statistics during his eight previous NBA seasons. He enjoyed considerable success in Chicago, but after averaging over 20 PPG in 2008-09, signed a free-agent contract with the Detroit Pistons. The boys from Motown have been in a down cycle for several years, and Ben wasn’t able to help them; his scoring numbers tumbled into the low teens, and he was moved to North Carolina in the off-season.
The Bobcats have not proven to be a tonic for Ben’s career. He’s nearly 30 years old, and is averaging 12.6 PPG in 26 MPG off the bench. Ben isn’t cheap – he’s making $12.4M this season, and has a Player Option contract for next at $13.2M, which he’d be mad not to exercise. Does it make sense for the Raps to step even further into salary cap jail in order to move AB, and does Ben help our team make the playoffs this season or in ’13-‘14?
I can’t find much evidence of Ben displaying knucklehead behavior in prior years. Has he simply had enough of losing and wants to force his way out of town, hoping to join a winning team before his career is over? Bryan Colangelo and Dwane Casey have no patience for locker-room malcontents – will they make an exception for Ben Gordon by overlooking this troubling Charlotte incident? He attended Connecticut, as did Rudy Gay; could his fellow alum keep Ben under control? I can’t answer any of these questions, so I’m going to assess this trade strictly on its hardcourt merits.
Feb 25, 2012; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies former player Rudy Gay (center left) stands with his family as he is honored before the Huskies take on the Syracuse Orange at Gampel Pavilion. Syracuse Orange defeated the Connecticut Huskies 71-69. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Ben’s role in Toronto would be as first swingman off the bench when DeMar or Rudy need a rest. He would therefore supplant Alan Anderson, and slice into Terrence Ross’s already emaciated minutes. Ben might also make the depth chart as the third point guard in an emergency. The man can shoot from outside. His career shooting percentage from distance is over 40, and has not dropped off this season (74/181, 40.9%). The Raps have become a perimeter, small-ball team since the departure of Ed Davis, so Ben would certainly be able to step right in offensively. He’s viewed as respectable defensively, although he struggles against taller wings.
What does Andrea Bargnani do for the Charlotte Bobcats? That’s difficult to envision, as they already have a stretch-4 in Byron Mullens. For AB to help, he’d need to play near the basket on offense, which is hardly his strength. He might benefit from having Kemba Walker as his point guard on the high screen and roll.
If I haven’t convinced you, I’m not surprised, as I haven’t convinced myself. This trade (which works one for one) would be another example of two teams swapping problem players, and hoping for the best.
February 8, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Bobcats guard Kemba Walker (15) drives down the court during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Time Warner Cable Arena. Lakers won 100-93. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
Anyone like this deal? Comments welcome.
Brian Boake is a co-editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.