Phoenix Suns Officially Sign Eric Gordon To 4-Year Offer Sheet; Hornets Have 3 Days To Match

Apr 22, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New Orleans Hornets guard Eric Gordon (10) shoots the ball during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center. The Clippers defeated the Hornets 107-98. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

As expected all along, the Suns officially signed Eric Gordon to an offer sheet today worth the maximum possible money: $58 million over 4 years, with a starting salary of $13.7 million (and 4.5% annual raises).

This was all very expected. Despite fans from both teams expecting sign-and-trade discussions to occur, unnamed sources from each team had all along consistently said that the Suns would make the offer and New Orleans would match it. No deviance.

Yet the way it has played out has many heads scratching, not least of all in New Orleans. Here are some quotes from Hornets coach just today. Doesn't sound like they've patched things up with Gordon yet.

For weeks, Demps and Williams have referred to Gordon as their best player and have said they plan to build around him. When asked Wednesday if Gordon was still in his plans, Williams said, ''Yes.''

''Eric is just in a weird situation right now,'' Williams said. ''He has always talked about being here, and then all of this stuff has come out of the blue.

''I just think when you're going through free agency and you're talking about that kind of money, certain things are said and felt,'' Williams continued. ''But I think when the dust settles, you'll hear more of the truth about where he wants to be.''

Yet Williams also stressed that he does not see the wisdom of forcing a player to be in New Orleans against his wishes.

''We want people that want to be here,'' Williams said. ''If you don't want to be here, we've got to make some adjustments.''

Two other restricted free agents (Roy Hibbert and Brook Lopez) also garnered "max" offers from rival teams who vowed all along to match any offer.

But in each case the incumbent team (Indiana and New Jersey, respectively) preempted those offer sheets with a matching or better contract of their own, simplifying the process for everyone and smoothing the ruffled feathers of their "max" star at the same time.

Not so with New Orleans.

Despite having eight days to consider the offer, making repeated vows to match it, and now-reported refusal to even consider a sign-and-trade scenario to send Gordon to Phoenix outright, New Orleans failed to act proactively with their disgruntled star.

After Gordon complained vehemently about their lack of attention, they made Gordon fly all the way to Phoenix and sign the Suns' offer sheet for them to match, rather than simply making the same contract offer on their own and shaking his hand face-to-face.

And to make matters worse, on the same day they traded away the team's only veteran (Jarrett Jack) for the rights to a Euro player who won't come across the pond any time soon. Suddenly, newly signed plays-the-same-position-as-the-#1-overall-pick Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon are the team's grizzled veterans at 4 years of NBA service apiece.

Strange, and not very team-building with their young star. And certainly, not what Gordon was hoping, for sure.

Makes you wonder what's going on down there in New Orleans. Is Dell Demps just flexing his muscles or what?

Marc Stein (via twitter): Hornets now have 3 days to match EGordon offer sheet. They definitely will but early indications I get is they'll make PHX wait full 3 days about 38 minutes ago

Well if he is, he's shooting himself in the foot at the same time. If New Orleans had signed Gordon to their own contract, they could traded him anywhere in the NBA anytime after January 15, 2013.

By simply matching the Suns' offer, now the Hornets cannot trade Gordon for a full year without his permission. And, they've continued to burn bridges with their best player.

So what's New Orleans' end game here? What's the power play doing for them?

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