As has been widely reported for awhile now, Chris Paul is actively trying to recruit his former teammate, free agent J.R. Smith, to join the Los Angeles Clippers. Smith is currently playing his final game in China any minute now, and will apparently be back in the US some time Wednesday. Presumably he would be deciding between offers from the Clippers and the New York Knicks and other suitors shortly thereafter.
Paul's association with Smith as a former teammate is being played up as a major factor in all of this. Consider this line from Marc Stein's story: "'Who knows J.R. better than me?' Paul said of Smith, his teammate for two seasons with the Hornets." Ramona Shelburn of ESPN LA has been on top of this story as well, and on Monday she wrote "Like Billups did with recently-signed Kenyon Martin, point guard Chris Paul has taken a lead role in recruiting Smith .... The two are close from their two seasons as teammates with the Hornets."
So that seems really important right? Those two seasons they played together with the Hornets? Just one problem. They only played one season together with the Hornets.
Smith was part of the 2004 draft where Dwight Howard was the first pick and eight high schoolers were selected in the first 20 picks, Smith himself going 18 to New Orleans. Paul was in the 2005 draft, selected fourth by the Hornets. Smith was then traded to Chicago in July 2006, eventually landing to Denver a week later. So Paul and Smith played just one season together, 2005-2006, as teammates in New Orleans. Or really, as long as we're nitpicking, in Oklahoma City, since that was directly after Hurricane Katrina and the Hornets temporarily relocated.
Not that this invalidates the original point or anything. Paul and Smith were a couple of 20 year olds, living the dream playing NBA ball. They were the two youngest Hornets, and formed the team's starting backcourt for much of the season. They no doubt grew extraordinarily close in that situation. If CP3 says he knows J.R. Smith as well as anyone in the league, who am I to say different.
But they originally grew close playing together one season with the Hornets, not two. Just so we're clear.