Eric Gordon says he wants to stay with the Pelicans

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The last time Eric Gordon was a free agent, he wanted to be anywhere but New Orleans. In the summer of 2012, he signed a four-year, $64 million offer sheet with the Suns and publicly urged the then-Hornets not to match. They did anyway — unsurprisingly, since Gordon was the centerpiece of the deal that had sent Chris Paul to the Clippers before the previous season and still had All-Star potential despite missing all but nine games of his first year with the Hornets.

It was understandable why Gordon wasn’t happy with his situation. The Clippers were bad his first three years in the league, but finally started to show some promise in Blake Griffin‘s rookie season in 2011, and Gordon figured to be one of their core players. He was sent away in the Paul trade, which by definition was a rebuilding move for the Hornets, and confined him to a few more years at the bottom of the Western Conference.

But things have changed: the Pelicans made the playoffs last season, hired a popular new coach (Alvin Gentry) and have Anthony Davis locked up for another five years. Not only did Gordon not opt out of the final year of his contract, he tells SB Nation’s Nick Weldon that he wants to be in New Orleans long-term:

What’s inarguable: Gordon feels healthy and happy—at the same time—for the first time in years. After once nearly putting New Orleans in the rearview, the 2016 free-agent-to-be can’t see leaving.

“I like the guys on this team and I think we can do some good things in the future,” he says. “I’m like, why not?”

Funny what getting to play with an entering-his-prime Anthony Davis can do. The Pelicans should hope Gordon does indeed stick around long-term. After years of injuries, he had his best year in New Orleans last season and was an offensive force in their first-round series with the Warriors. If he can stay healthy, he’s a big part of what they’re building.