LARRY LAGE,AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Pistons traded guard Ben Gordon and a future first-round draft choice to the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday for swingman Corey Maggette, shedding about $15 million in salary.
Gordon averaged 12.5 points last season, including a 45-point outing at Denver in which he tied his own NBA record by making nine 3-pointers without a miss. The NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2005 with Chicago spent three disappointing seasons in Detroit, averaging 12.4 points.
By trading him with two years and about $25 million left on his contract, the Pistons saved $15 million, according to a person familiar with the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity because terms had not been announced.
Maggette was limited to 32 games last season because of injuries, averaging 15 points. The 13-year veteran, in the final year of his contract, has averaged 16.2 points in his career.
The move comes one day after coach Mike Dunlap said the Bobcats needed to add a 3-point shooter.
“With this trade, we have acquired two things we covet in our plan to build this team,” said Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins. “By acquiring a young and proven talent in Ben Gordon and a future first-round draft pick, we have both addressed our need for three-point shooting and acquired an additional asset to help continue to improve our team in the future.”
Charlotte will get the Pistons’ first-round pick next year if they make the playoffs for the first time since 2009, the person said. If Detroit is in the 2013 draft lottery, it will keep the first-round pick if it is within the first eight selections overall. The first-round pick the Pistons owe the Bobcats from the deal would then be protected only if it is No. 1 overall in 2015 and it is unprotected in 2016.
An eight-year NBA veteran, Gordon has played in 594 career NBA games for the Bulls and Pistons, with averages of 16.5 points, 2.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 29.9 minutes per game.
He has shot 43.6 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from beyond the 3-point line. He’s an 86 percent career free throw shooter. His career 3-point percentage currently ranks 12th among active players and 21st in NBA history, while his career free throw percentage ranks 10th among active players and 31st all-time.
The 6-foot-3 Gordon was initially selected by the Bulls out of Connecticut with the third overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. He signed with the Pistons during the 2009 offseason, part of a makeover that also included the addition of Charlie Villanueva. Detroit has not made the playoffs since then, and Gordon hasn’t come close to the 20.7-point average of his final season in Chicago.
The Pistons are now rebuilding around young players like Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight. They cut ties with Richard Hamilton before last season, and now Gordon leaves after starting only 21 games in 2011-12.
Those two departures leave Detroit with a bit less of a logjam on the perimeter. Knight was drafted in the first round last year, and with Rodney Stuckey also in the backcourt, Gordon came off the bench more often than not last season.
Maggette was acquired by the Bobcats on June 23, 2011, as part of a three-team trade in which the Bobcats received Maggette from Milwaukee and the draft rights to Bismack Biyombo from Sacramento, in exchange for sending Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston and the draft rights to Tobias Harris to Milwaukee.
Gordon was slated to earn base $12.4 million next season and $13.2 million in 2013-14, which immediately makes him the highest-paid player on the Bobcats roster.
Charlotte has the second pick in Thursday’s draft after a 7-59 season. Gordon could give the Bobcats some much-needed outside shooting. They shot an NBA-worst 29.5 percent from 3-point range last season.
AP Sports Writer Steve Reed in Charlotte contributed to this report.
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