The Chicago Bulls announced today that their top scorer Ben Gordon has accepted the one-year qualifying offer (QO, in his case $6.4 million), after declining a long-term contract extension for reportedly six years for $59 million, automatically making him an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2009. The Bulls were unwilling to go over the luxury tax for him after already re-signing free agent Luol Deng to a large contract. Head over to Blog A Bull for a sheer endless chronology of the Ben Gordon contract saga this summer (in fact the last two summers, since last year he already rejected an even more lucrative deal).
Taking the QO is a rare move for a player on the rookie scale, especially for a major one. In fact ShamSports has researched a while ago that he is only the fifth guy since 2000 to do that (after Melvin Ely, Mickael Pietrus, Vladimir Radmanovic, Stromile Swift) since it is always a pretty risky move to not take the guaranteed years. All guys who did it before him ended up losing money in comparison to the original offer. But he certainly is the most prominent guy to try it.
He might still get traded this season, but that's not highly likely since under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement concerning one-year contracts he would have the right to reject any trade to a team he doesn't want to go to. This was included because a player would lose his Bird rights in such a trade (enabling him to get signed by a team that goes over the cap to do so, in this case either with the Bulls or in a sign-and-trade, which is a very valuable right in a league where a lot of teams are constantly capped-out and thus could only offer the mid-level exception).
Now what does that mean for the Blazers? Directly probably nothing. I doubt a then 26 years old undersized shooting guard who can certainly score (albeit a little inconsistent) but has limited skills to play other positions is the major free agent we are targeting with Roy, Rudy and Bayless already on the roster. KP probably wouldn't mind getting him for cheap, but Gordon has made it very clear that he sees himself as somebody who should play major minutes and be paid major money for his services (more than, say, a Corey Maggette who accepted such a deal this year). This year, no team was sharing his vision - at least not enough to sign him to a big offer sheet or propose an acceptable sign and trade to the Bulls (Miami was rumored to entertain this). But some competitors are scheduled to also have much more cap space next year, notably for example the OKC Thunder and the Minnesota Timberwolves. So he could very well end up in our division. At least some teams will have him on their shopping list.
Also of note, the Bulls should be reluctant now to part with Kirk Hinrich since they must assume a disgruntled Ben Gordon won't be very motivated to negotiate with them again to organize a stay beyond 2009.