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updated: 11/19/2013 10:39 PM

Could Gordon still provide offense for Bulls?

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  • Bobcats guard Ben Gordon, right, trying to get past the Bulls' Jimmy Butler last season, isn't getting much playing time with Charlotte.

      Bobcats guard Ben Gordon, right, trying to get past the Bulls' Jimmy Butler last season, isn't getting much playing time with Charlotte.
    Associated Press File/January 2013

 
 

Ben Gordon heard no boos at the United Center on Monday.

He used to be treated rudely in the building, even though he was a Bulls hero from 2004-09. But he left as a free agent, which usually earns the fans' wrath. That helps explain why Horace Grant was booed and Steve Kerr cheered after they left the championship Bulls.

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Gordon heard nothing, though, because he didn't play. Most fans probably forgot he played for the Bobcats.

"I didn't even see Ben yesterday," Derrick Rose said Tuesday at the Berto Center. "I wish him nothing but the best."

Gordon has played in one of Charlotte's 11 games this season, for a total of nine minutes. He had a procedure done on his right knee in the preseason but appears to be relatively healthy.

The Bobcats have plenty of small, offensive-minded guards, and new coach Steve Clifford seems to be sticking with Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson and Ramon Sessions, leaving Gordon stuck on the bench.

As long as he's not playing in Charlotte, it's worth asking if Gordon, 30, could help the Bulls if he returned to his first NBA home.

The Bulls might need an extra scorer to survive in the playoffs. Gordon was one of the best in the league at instant offense during his years in Chicago.

Since signing with Detroit as a free agent in 2009, Gordon has been paid better than he has played. None of his five seasons since leaving the Bulls were as good as any of his five with the Bulls. He averaged 20.7 points in 2008-09, his last in Chicago. In Charlotte a year ago it was 11.2 points.

His last hurrah for the Bulls was the epic seven-game playoff series against Boston. Can he even play at that level anymore? As long as he sticks to the Bobcats' bench, that answer will stay a mystery.

Gordon is in the final year of the contract he originally signed with Detroit and is due to make $13.2 million this season. So there's virtually no possibility the Bulls trade for him.

The best chance of Gordon returning to the Bulls this season is if he agrees to a contract buyout with Charlotte, then signs for something close to the minimum salary.

For those of us who were curious to see how Rose and Nate Robinson would have worked together, Rose-Gordon would be an interesting approximation. Gordon played with several current Bulls -- Rose, Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. Five years is a long time to stay away, but he wouldn't be completely unfamiliar with these Bulls.

One potential roadblock is the uncertainty of the Eastern Conference. When the season began, it seemed as though the top five were set and three playoff spots were up for grabs. New York and Brooklyn have stunk it up so far, so five playoff spots could be up for grabs.

Things could change drastically, but at this point Charlotte appears to be as much a playoff contender as anyone else outside of the East's top three. A team in the playoff hunt might be less likely to discard depth with a contract buyout.

Instead of keeping Robinson, the Bulls went for a tall, versatile, 3-point shooter with Mike Dunleavy. He's beginning to play well and might spend time in the starting lineup if Jimmy Butler's toe injury keeps him shelved.

The need for another scorer still exists on the Bulls' roster. If Gordon continues to be the forgotten man in Charlotte, a reunion would be a good move for all parties.

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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