With some assistance from the Wizards, the New Orleans Hornets are in better position to hold on to Eric Gordon after the restricted free agent guard agreed to a maximum salary contract worth $58 million over four years with the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.
Gordon, who intends to sign the offer sheet on July 11, issued a prepared statement declaring that the Suns “run a first-class organization, and I strongly feel they are the right franchise for me. Phoenix is just where my heart is now.”
The Hornets intend to match the offer, according to multiple reports. They likely would have had little choice but to let Gordon walk if they hadn’t been able to clear up salary cap room in the deal that shipped Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to Washington for Rashard Lewis and the No. 46 pick (Darius Miller).
Okafor and Ariza are slated to earn roughly $22 million combined next season but the Hornets bought out Lewis last week, providing nearly $8 million in savings that appears headed in Gordon’s direction.
Gordon averaged 20.6 points last season in New Orleans but was limited to just nine games because of a knee injury. He was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in a controversial trade for Chris Paul.
Phoenix had to raise its offer to the maximum allowed, especially after Gordon declined a four-year, $50 million extension offer in January.
New Orleans intends to rebuild around Gordon and recent draft picks Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers.
Lewis has attracted attention since hitting the free agent market. His agent, Tony Dutt, said Wednesday that Lewis “will look at a couple of options.” He is considering Miami, San Antonio, New York and Atlanta.