Bulls guard Ben Gordon is hosted a training camp in Lisle this week.
Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer
Ben Gordon hasn't given up on staying with the Bulls, but he does see the writing on the wall.
The Bulls don't want to pay the luxury tax, and unless that policy changes, they have a finite amount of money to offer Gordon to start a new contract.
Add it up over six years, and the restricted free agent would have to accept a smaller average salary (about $9.8 million) than the team offered him last summer.
"It looks that way," he said Friday. "I don't think they want to lose their leading scorer for nothing. Maybe they do, I don't know."
Gordon spoke at the Bulls-White Sox Training Academy in Lisle, where he hosted a basketball camp. He'll take part in another camp next week featuring a different Bulls guest every day. Aaron Gray, Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose and Bulls legend Bob Love are also scheduled to attend.
Gordon, the Bulls' top scorer for three straight seasons, knows his alternatives to accepting the team's offer are not ideal. He says he has concrete offers from European teams, but those seem to be a last resort.
He could sign the one-year qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next summer, when several NBA teams will have cap room to spend.
In order to do that, however, he'd have to endure a lame-duck season with the Bulls. His playing time might even drop if the Bulls chose not to ease the current backcourt logjam, which also includes Kirk Hinrich, Larry Hughes, Thabo Sefolosha and Rose, their top draft pick.
"After coming off a season like last year where we didn't make the playoffs, it's just tough to possibly go through another thing - there's too much tension there," Gordon said.
"I think, for me, I'd like to just have some clarity. We have all these guys at one position. I think things should work out naturally. There's no reason it shouldn't, for myself and the organization."
Gordon said he'd like to set a deadline for getting his contract resolved, but he didn't want to name a date and clearly wants to give the process more time. He also will not join Luol Deng on the Great Britain national team next month unless his contract is signed.
There are teams interested in doing a sign-and-trade transaction for Gordon. Still, the Bulls would likely refuse to take back salaries that would lift them into luxury-tax territory.
"All you need is one," Gordon said of a potential trade partner. "You don't need 29. All you need is one. A sign-and-trade, both sides would have to agree, so we'll see what happens.
"I want to make it clear to the fans that I want to come back. But something good has to be done that both sides feel comfortable with. That's pretty much it."
Gordon has more on his mind than contracts these days. Back at home in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., his old high school is facing a budget crisis. Unless $950,000 can be raised privately, Mt. Vernon will not have any sports in the coming school year.
"I kind of faced a similar situation when I was entering high school," Gordon said. "They did the same thing where they were threatening to cut the budget. I was really scared back then. So I can just imagine how the kids feel facing that now."
Gordon has been active in trying to raise money and will host his fourth annual Mt. Vernon weekend on Aug. 14-16, featuring a basketball clinic, celebrity bowling, talent show, comedy show and local choirs.
"I think eliminating sports from a high school could be disastrous," he said. "I think at the end of the day, they'll come to some decision."
Will the Bulls and Gordon ever come to some resolution? They'll have to at some point, but it's tough to predict what it will be.