Originally posted on Rumors and Rants  |  Last updated 2/14/12

When the New Orleans Hornets traded Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers, the key piece in the trade was shooting guard Eric Gordon. Well the 23-year-old who appeared poised to become a star, has only played in two games with the Hornets this season and will now have arthroscopic surgery on his injured right knee Tuesday and will miss at least six more weeks.

Gordon is in just his fourth season after spending just one year in college at Indiana. The Clippers made him the seventh pick in the 2008 NBA draft and he rewarded them by improving each season.

Last year Gordon averaged career-highs in points (22.3 per game), rebounds (2.9 per game), assists (4.4) and steals (1.3). He also shot 45 percent from the field, 36.4 percent from 3-point range and hit 82.5 percent of his foul shots.

He had developed into one of the best young scorers in the league and along with Al-Farouq Aminu, gave New Orleans a nice young pair in return for Paul.

This news is pretty devastating to the Hornets, who are already languishing at the bottom of the Western Conference with an atrocious 5-23 record. Since the NBA still owns the team, there is virtually no chance of the roster improving any time soon and with Gordon out the long season should continue.

Gordon is in the final year of his contract, and was eligible to sign a long-term extension until January 25 of this year. That deadline passed with no new deal and he will become a restricted free agent this summer. That means New Orleans will have the right to match any offer a team makes to him, and if the Hornets do so they would retain his rights.

I would expect the Indiana Pacers to make a strong push for him this summer, as he is a native of Indianapolis who is widely beloved in  his home state.

Gordon has to come back and play well if he expects to earn a big money contract this offseason. If he doesn’t, teams will be hesitant to toss big bucks at him, even with his immense talent and ability to put the ball in the hoop.

If he does return healthy and looks good on the court, I expect the Hornets to match any offers he gets in free agency.

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