Caron Butler is officially a member of the Thunder, and before he steps foot in the state we’re already turning our attention to the last remaining spot on Oklahoma City’s roster.
And now might be the perfect time.
Because as the Charlotte Bobcats come to town for a Sunday showdown, they’ll bring with them a player who is rumored to be on the Thunder’s radar.
Ben Gordon, the sharpshooting veteran who has fallen out of Charlotte’s rotation and could soon become available if the Bobcats agree to a similar buyout that allowed the Thunder to land Butler.
Gordon, a 10-year veteran, has appeared in only three games since the New Year. He’s averaging a career-low 5.2 points on just 34.3 percent shooting this season.
But those numbers belie how big an impact Gordon has had as a bench scorer throughout his career.
He holds career averages of 15.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 688 games. Last season, he shot 38.7 percent from 3-point range, and he’s a career 40.2 percent shooter from that distance. With the Thunder, Gordon could be an ideal specialist as a perimeter shooter who spaces the floor for Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
But landing him could be a pipe dream —unless Gordon is willing to take less money and a lesser role on a championship-caliber team.
It’s a possibility that might not be out of the question given that Gordon currently is wasting away on a mediocre Eastern Conference team. But both Gordon and the Thunder will have to feel comfortable with what he’d be stepping into, knowing that playing time could be sporadic.
It’s clear, however, that the Thunder could use a shooter of Gordon’s caliber.
Oklahoma City is shooting 35.8 percent from 3-point range this season, tying it with two other teams for 14th in the league.
Kevin Durant and Derek Fisher have been the only steady marksmen this year, and Fisher, who shot 48 percent from 3-point range in February, appears to be playing over his head. Meanwhile, second-year guard Jeremy Lamb, one of the team’s best perimeter threats, has seen his 3-point shooting percentage dip in each successive month this season. Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson and Thabo Sefolosha, on the other hand, have all been inconsistent this season and throughout the years.
That’s where Gordon would become a big boost as a situational player at the very least.
The question is whether the Thunder sees shooting as a need. The team’s interests and activity, in spite of what leadership says publicly, suggests it does.
Oklahoma City went after shooters Mike Miller and Dorell Wright in the offseason and was reportedly seeking additional shooting at the trade deadline.
“I’m comfortable with what we have,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks on Saturday when asked if there was anything else his team could use. “We have a very good basketball team that’s going to continue to get better. And we got a lot of time left to keep improving.”