Chris Paul Getting Traded?
Names like Steve Nash and Rajon Rondo get thrown into the mix, but the debate usually boils down to Chris Paul and Deron Williams. It seemed like the consensus up until this season usually resided with Chris Paul. However, Paul basically missed the better part of the last NBA season, while Deron Williams rose to levels of grandeur from January to April. Throw in the fact that Williams owns Paul whenever they go head-to-head and he is the much bigger player, and you can see how many people rank Deron Williams ahead of Paul.
However, I find it hard to believe that had Chris Paul played the entire season, people would still find Williams to be the better player. Certainly some would, but not the consensus. When you look at what a healthy Chris Paul does on a nightly basis, it’s hard to compare him to anybody. Since he has been in the league, the man’s stats are essentially the equivalent of what Steve Nash did in his MVP season. For Paul’s career, he averages 19 points and 10 assists per game. More recently, he averages 21 and 11 since 2007.
Steve Nash during his two MVP seasons? Well, he averaged 17 and 11.
I’m not saying that those numbers automatically put Chris Paul on that level, but maybe they do.
Nonetheless, no matter where you stand as to where Paul ranks among the NBA’s best point guards, you have to admit that he is a bona fide superstar. And all of a sudden, he’s on the trading block?
That appears to be the case, and if it is, where Chris Paul goes, so goes the balance of power in the NBA.
That’s right. I said it. The relocation of Paul to another team would be monumental. This guy is a game-changing point guard. At the mere height of 6’1”, he’s good enough to get your basketball team into the postseason by himself. If you add another superstar with him—ball game over!
Playing with David West and Tyson Chandler over the years has been nice, but if you give Paul some real help, he’s going to be in the NBA Finals. He is the next incarnation of Jason Kidd, only with a jump shot. The addition of one superstar, or two or three all-star caliber players around him will result in an offensive explosion no matter where Paul lands—should he actually get traded.
Of course, for the balance of power to be shifted, Paul either has to go to a really good team, or he has to get somebody to join him wherever he goes. And when you look at the circumstances, one of those two circumstances is going to happen if Paul is traded.
The teams most adept to give the New Orleans Hornets what they want (cap space and young talent) in exchange for Chris Paul are the ones with really good players already on their team. For starters, the Los Angeles Lakers are “badly” (to a degree) in need of a point guard. Just think about it, do the Lakers even drop a game in the Western Conference Playoffs if they had Chris Paul instead of Derek Fisher on the roster? The Lakers could easily send Andrew Bynum, a draft pick, some cash and a young player to the Hornets, while taking Emeka Okafor off their hands, which would give the Hornets the salary relief they want. That would give the Lakers a lineup of Paul, Kobe, Artest, Gasol and Okafor, who isn’t the prospect that Bynum is, but he can certainly give the Lakers what Bynum gave them with that bum knee during this past postseason.
But what if teams like the Lakers doesn’t pull the trigger on Chris Paul? Well, that would mean Paul would be traded to a “not-so-good” team. However, that could work out as well. Say Paul is traded to the New Jersey Nets. The Nets won’t want to give up their big man Robin Lopez, but they would give up Devin Harris, whose contract is relatively cheap, and their first round draft pick. The Nets would also take Okafor off the Hornets payroll. With some fancy cap maneuvering, the Nets would still be in line to acquire a top-flight free agent. And the Nets would likely get a very good one at that.
Why do I believe that? Because Paul is one of the most connected NBA players in the league. Everybody gets along with him, everybody likes him, and who doesn’t want to play with a guy who shares the ball like Paul does. LeBron James would be a fool not to sign off the rest of his career with Paul. In fact, teaming up with Paul would be better than teaming up with Dwyane Wade. Sure, Wade is the better all around player, but Paul is a point guard, the offense would just make more sense, as opposed to a LeBron-Wade combo, in which we have no idea how those two are going to share the ball.
And Paul could persuade anyone to join him almost anywhere. So whether he ends up in New Jersey, Detroit, Indiana, or wherever, I don’t see how he can’t convince one of these great free agents to come along with him.
There may be debate as to who the best point guard in the NBA is right now, but there is no debating that should Paul get traded, he’ll be in a position to win for the next several years. So let the bidding begin, because point guards like him don’t’ come around often, and with the kind of free agent class we have on deck for the 2010 NBA offseason, the bidding could get very interesting.
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