OAKLAND – Ben Gordon has reached the intersection that awaits most every professional athlete. It’s a time of self-assessment, of wanting to prove there is something left but wondering how much.
The Warriors, in their search for reliable offense off the bench, are willing to join the veteran guard on his search for an answer.
“The league is so much about being in the right situation, being with the right group of guys that mesh with your talents and skills,” Gorden said Tuesday. “This team’s style of play, with a lot of movement, a lot of ball movement, a lot of unselfish play – and they’re not shy about shooting – that’s right up my alley.”
This minutes after Gordon, whose signing was announced on Monday, joined the defending NBA champions for the first day of training camp. Drills went beyond the two-hour mark. Everybody survived.
But while most of the veterans in camp are returnees fairly secure in their place on the roster, Gordon is the grizzled vagabond auditioning for a job.
“Ben was good,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after overseeing practice. “He’s been around a long time, but he’s still got gas in the tank.”
Gordon, 32, has 11 NBA seasons behind him. Though he signed a two-year contract last summer to join Orlando, he was waived by the Magic in June after averaging 6.2 points per game off the bench.
One year earlier, in Charlotte, Gordon averaged 5.2 points per game.
It’s quite the decline for a guy who averaged double figures in his first nine seasons – with a career-high 21.4 in 2006-07 – after Chicago made him the third overall selection in the 2004 draft.
That Ben Gordon may never be seen again. That’s the guy who was collegiate star at UConn, the first NBA rookie to be voted Sixth Man of the Year. He quickly gained a reputation for putting away opponents in the fourth quarter. It was enough to convince Detroit in 2009 to sign him to a five-year deal worth $55 million.
But the Warriors are willing to see how much can be mined.
“I just want to come here and see if I can be in a winning situation,” Gordon said. “The last two years for me have been tough. But I think I fit in well here.”
The Warriors view Gordon, at 6-foot-2, as being able to play opposite rangy ball-handlers like Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala. Gordon will compete with Leandro Barbosa – who has the advantage of a guaranteed contract – to bring offense off the bench.
"The NBA and basketball are funny,” Gordon said. “You’ve got to jump on any opportunity to you can at the time. And this is a good one. I said I wanted to be in a winning situation, so here I am with a chance in training camp to make the team. And I’m happy about it.“