Yesterday we told you that Ben Gordon had finally decided to accept Chicago's one-year qualifying offer, but it turns out that's not entirely true. Gordon has given the Bulls until Wednesday to present their best long-term offer, at which point he'll decide whether he wants to take it or sign the qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
The Bulls are believed to have offered $58 million over six years, which is a far cry from Gordon's asking price of $72 million over six years. There's almost no chance that the Bulls will close that gap in the next 24 hours, but it's possible that Gordon will cave at the last second and take whatever he can get.
Why would Gordon do that? Because thanks to Chicago's crowded backcourt, there's a very good chance that his stats will take a step back this year. Most players try to step up their production in a contract year, but that'll be nearly impossible in a backcourt rotation that already features Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich, Larry Hughes, and Thabo Sefolosha.
Conventional wisdom suggests the team will make a trade once Gordon's status is settled, but John Paxson admitted he's reluctant to part with Hinrich if there's a chance Gordon walks at the end of the year. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
'We do have a crowded backcourt,'' Paxson said. ''Obviously, the logical person that people were talking about moving was Kirk [Hinrich]. I certainly wouldn't want to be sitting here a year from now not having Kirk or Ben. Maybe it will get worked out as the year goes along. There's obviously going to be a fight for playing time.''
It's a catch-22. If he signs a one-year deal, the Bulls will probably sit tight and Gordon's minutes will drop, which will likely take money out of his pocket next summer. But if he takes the long-term deal, it frees Paxson to make a trade, which means Gordon will get more minutes and likely end up outproducing his contract. Neither option is ideal, but at least the latter ensures he gets paid.