In the past few days, rumors have been swirling around the interwebs with regards to the availability of megastar point guard Chris Paul.
The little Los Angeles Clippers (along with the Warriors, Lakers and Celtics) have reportedly been at the forefront of the pursuit. Paul is clearly an elite player, but there’s plenty of risk involved if you’re going to part with some valuable pieces just to get him.
Obviously, the primary risk is that you trade a talent-laden package for Paul, only to see him sign elsewhere as a free agent during the summer of 2012. While no true details of the Clippers’ potential offer have surfaced, one could safely assume that it would center around Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan (more on him in a moment) and the 2012 unprotected first-round pick L.A. owns via Minnesota.
People close to Paul have indicated that he would love to reunite with free agent center Tyson Chandler, with whom he played in New Orleans from 2006-2009. A report came out last week that stated Paul had notified the Hornets’ front office that his primary desire would be to team-up with Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony with the New York Knicks.
However, news surfaced Thursday that the Knicks are the frontrunner to land Chandler, likely in a deal in the neighborhood of $60 million over four years. With huge money already wrapped up in Stoudemire and Anthony long-term, as well, signing Chandler would take the Knicks out of the running for Paul’s services next summer.
So, if New York is indeed off-the-table, where would Paul want to sign?
He’s already said that, even if traded to the Celtics, he wouldn’t re-sign there. So, assuming that was true, let’s (happily) cross Boston off of the list of potential landing spots.
There’s always the possibility of free-wheeling teams like the Rockets and Mavericks stepping in at the last minute, but their trade packages likely wouldn’t be as appealing as those potentially offered by the Clippers, Warriors or Lakers. Scratch them, as well.
If the Chandler-Knicks rumor is true, then making a deal for Paul is a risk the Clippers should jump all over.
Obviously, dealing a player like Gordon is a tough pill to swallow. He’ll turn 23 on Christmas Day, and averaged just over 22 points per game last season. Despite being small for a shooting guard, he’s one of the most efficient perimeter scorers in the league. He’s also emerged as a capable wing defender. There’s a chance Gordon emerges as the best off-guard in the Western Conference here fairly soon.
The 22-year-old Jordan took advantage of his opportunity to start for most of last season, putting up solid averages of seven points, seven boards and just under two blocks per game. As a young seven-footer, he seems destined to be signed to a massive contract in the neighborhood of $40 million. It would hurt to lose a guy with such potential, but remember, L.A. still has former All-Star Chris Kaman under contract for at least the upcoming season. You gladly throw Jordan into the trade.
And, with the Minnesota Timberwolves very likely to be awful again this season, there’s a greater-than-zero chance that the draft pick owned by the Clippers turns out to be a top-five choice, if not No. 1 overall. Do you trade a prospective great player for an established great player? Um, yes.
You would think that the prospect of signing long-term with a team like the Clips would be somewhat appealing for Paul. The combination of Paul and the young Griffin would give L.A. one of the league’s most dynamic twosomes. If he loved lobbing alley-oops to Chandler with the Hornets, imagine the damage he could to with Griffin on the receiving end. Also, in case you didn’t know, Los Angeles is a fairly large market, as well. If CP3 is craving the bright lights of the big city, I reckon he’ll do just fine here.
There’s also the rather large matter of money in this equation. The team that owns rights to a player at the end of his contract is able to offer him another year and another $30 million more than any other team can, per the new collective bargaining agreement. Would a player like Paul really be willing to leave that kind of cash on the table just to leave, especially a situation as potentially stellar as the Clippers’?
With Paul and Griffin both potentially locked-up, the Clippers could also have enough cap space next summer to make a run at another big-time free agent (Dwight Howard, anyone?) Then, obviously, you’re suddenly looking at a perennial championship contender.
So, there ya go. There will be plenty of Clippers people wary of the idea of giving up a hefty bounty just for a guy that may not stay for more than a year. Understandable. But if you’re the Clippers, a franchise that has been waiting forever to be truly relevant, this is a (calculated) risk that you have to take.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.