Eric Gordon is the perfect vet for a young team

Eric Gordon could have demanded a trade while being paid over $19 million to play basketball for a living in a bad real-world economy.

He could have moaned and pouted on an elevated stage bearing the Rockets logo.

Heck, Gordon could have just tweeted vague lyrics or posted about his unfair work environment in all caps and refused to show up. That, more than ever, is a thing in the modern NBA, with overpaid veterans and powerful agents often wielding more power than head coaches, general managers and owners.

Inside the Toyota Center on Monday, longtime Rocket Eric Gordon was a pro of the pros.

He is ready to teach and mentor. He is always ready to learn. He seemed engaged in a rebuild that could take years to really bear fruit, if it ever happens.

Gordon, 33, was a throwback to an era of myself in the NBA that was mostly defined by star players getting exactly what they want, when they want it.

“A winning attitude,” Gordon said at the Rockets’ annual media day, discussing his future in the NBA and his unique situation. “I’ve shown winning teams that I’m willing to sacrifice myself for the greater good of the teams and maybe play a lesser role, but I always try to play at a high level. And it doesn’t matter in this team , I will try to be the best player possible.

What a long and strange journey it has been for the Rockets’ No. 10 in red.

Mike D’Antoni regularly praised Gordon as the team’s best defenseman.

I remember a time not too long ago when having Gordon in the starting lineup or coming off the bench as a super-talented sixth man felt critical to the Rockets’ NBA Finals chances.

In the playoffs, an electric night from Gordon made the Rockets super dangerous. A night off for EG undermined the team’s Western Conference championship viability.


Jabari Smith Jr. is 19 years old. Alperen Sengun and Jalen Green are 20 years old. Kevin Porter Jr., 22, is technically a veteran on a roster who has the collective basketball experience of a major college team in the 1980s.

Of course, Boban Marjanovic is 34, which gives the big man/TV comedian four more months on Earth than Gordon.

But with Christian Wood in Dallas, John Wall in Los Angeles and PJ Tucker paired again with a lightened-up James Harden on Daryl Morey’s Rockets Redux in Philadelphia, Gordon is the only real vet on a 2022-23 Rockets team who could command serious minutes. this season.

“Our whole team is young,” said general manager Rafael Stone.

The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen examines some of the Rockets’ major storylines as training camp begins in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Video: Houston Chronicle

Add to that Gordon’s seventh year with the Rockets will be his 15th in the ever-growing conference, and he’s spent nearly half of his career in Houston, while being part of the league’s best regular-season team. history of the franchise and the largest historical reconstruction of the team.

Gordon’s name has swirled in trade rumors since his debut with the Clippers and New Orleans. He’s a daily trade contender for the rebuilding Rockets, who will enjoy resounding success this season if they go 30-52.

There are only so many minutes and plans to make. Gordon deserves one more chance on a contender.

His career playoff totals: 55 games, 16 points, 36% from 3-point shooting and 83.7% from the free throw line.

If Tucker can win a championship as a late-season role player over Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks, surely Gordon can help someone into the playoffs the year after averaging 13.4 points on a team. of 20 Rockets wins.

But on Monday it was his current squad, 2022-23. Teach like only a veteran can. Leading by example as Green and Porter followed him on stage.

Could Gordon retire as a Rocket?

“When I got here, that was my goal,” said Gordon, who averaged 16.1 points in 332 games (172 starts) with NBA team Houston. “But I want to win and I want to win too. The business is not under my control, so it’s still out of my hands. All I can do is just be here, come to work and play hard.

Like a pro from a time when the team is fading.

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