Note: Between the time I started this and when I finished it, I noticed that citizen LJ Hann (whose been doing a great job tonight getting important info posted on this story) had posted an open thread for discussing the trade. I'm stepping all over that post, and suggesting that we move the conversation here.
When the NBA lockout was settled and the league announced that free agency would open on December 9th, a mere 16 days prior to a Christmas opening day, we knew it was going to be crazy. And maybe we should have known it was going to be this crazy. But it's hard to imagine this kind of insanity until you're in the middle of it.
I won't bother with the backstory of the potential trade of Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers. If you need to know it, click on the link, but seriously, if that's the case, what are you doing on my blog?
Here are the bits and pieces I consider to be the most crucial as of Sunday night.
1 - The Clippers are the most likely destination for Paul at this point. From all indications, the Hornets are primarily talking to the Clippers at present, and while the Celtics and the Warriors and others would no doubt still love to make offers for Paul, that's not likely to matter. Why? Because...
2 - When the Lakers dropped out of the Paul-apalooza and the Knicks signed Tyson Chandler, it eliminated CP3's top two choices not only for trades now but also for free agency next summer. And guess who choice number three is? The Clippers are reportedly Paul's preferred destination after the Knicks and Lakers.
3 - Which is significant, because from the beginning a major stumbling block has been whether Paul would commit to more than this season. If the Clippers are only getting a 66 game rental on Chris Paul, then a deal is not going to happen. Given the Lakers/Rockets offer that was rejected by the league, the Clippers would not be willing to even come close to offering something that David Stern would accept.
4 - This one is really important - According to Ric Bucher, Paul is willing to forego the early termination option in his current contract, and commit to the Clippers through the 2012-2013 season.
That's a major milestone in this process, and makes a deal much more likely, perhaps even probable. That means the Clippers would have Paul under contract for two seasons, during which presumably the team would make major strides. Then, in 2013, the Clippers would have all the inherent advantages of the existing team (they'll be able to offer more years, bigger raises). It doesn't hurt that neither the Knicks nor the Lakers would have cap space by 2013 either, barring a major course correction for those franchises. This is really the best that Paul can offer a prospective new team - an extension at this time would cost him a significant amount of money versus a trade followed by free agency. From the Clippers perspective, they'd have two seasons to prove to Paul that he wants to stay there, and really, given all the advantages they'd have at that point (one of them named Blake Griffin), if they can't convince Paul to stay in that time then they probably don't deserve him.
5 - The Hornets are asking for a lot. According to Chris Broussard, they're asking for Chris Kaman, Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Gordon and two first round draft picks.
Well, they can ask for that, but I can't imagine they're going to get it. Everyone more or less agrees that the deal starts with Kaman (an expiring contract for salary matching purposes, but he also happens to be a very good player who can help the Hornets win some games), Bledsoe and Aminu (two first round picks from 2010).
6 - After that, the Clippers will probably be willing to include one of two very prized possessions - either Gordon OR the unprotected 2012 first round pick they received from Minnesota many years ago. That's according to Marc Stein, and that seems about right.
That's a very, very good offer - given that other teams don't seem to be in the bidding right now, I don't see a reason for the Clippers to go higher.
7 - Let's assume of those options, the Hornets would rather have the pick. (My thinking there is that they are starting over - Gordon is a known quantity and will be very good, but will not be a franchise player. They don't want that - they want to roll the dice and see if they can get their next superstar in the loaded 2012 draft. It's higher risk, but also higher reward, and you go for the high reward when you're starting over.) The next question is, would the league (aka David Stern) sign off on an offer of Kaman, Bledsoe, Aminu and the MIN pick? My personal feeling is that that offer is not as good as what they had on the table with the Lakers and Rockets, a deal that was rejected. HOWEVER, one ostensible reason that deal was rejected was because it didn't include young assets - it doesn't get much younger than Bledsoe (just turned 22), Aminu (barely 21) and a draft pick. Would it be enough? A cynic might also suggest that the original veto had as much to do with the objections of owners like Dan Gilbert as it had to do with basketball, and that dealing Paul to the Clippers would be more acceptable to those owners, but there are no cynics here.
8 - Then it becomes a game of chicken. The Hornets want the MIN pick AND Gordon, the Clippers say no, take one or the other. Who will blink? The Hornets have more to lose here, unless another team can beat the Clippers' offer; Paul is going to leave them next year, and if they don't trade him by the trade deadline in March, then they'll get nothing for him. On the other hand, if the Clippers just keep Gordon and the MIN pick, they'll be happy; those are great assets for the Clippers too.
9 - Finally, there's the DeAndre Jordan factor. A couple of seasons ago, LA announcer Mike Smith relayed a conversation he had with Paul during warmups before a Clippers-Hornets game. Paul had little idea who Jordan was before the game, and was supposedly struck by his athleticism and size. According to Smith, Paul seemed more than a little envious. Well, according to Stein and Broussard, Jordan has indeed caught Paul's eye - CP3 sees him as a younger Tyson Chandler, which is a pretty apt description. LA will become an even more attractive destination with Jordan on the roster, dunking Paul's lobs the way Chandler used to do in New Orleans. Jordan therefore becomes a more important piece than his 7 points and 7 rebounds last season might indicate. Signing Jordan does three things off the basketball court - it gives Paul a teammate he covets, it sends a message to Blake Griffin given that Griffin and Jordan are close, and most importantly, it helps dispel the perception of the cheap Clippers - which will matter when it comes time for Paul and Griffin to re-sign in 2013.
That's everything I can think of regarding the current status. If the reports on the situation are accurate, it should be reaching a resolution one way or the other very soon.
[Note by Steve Perrin, 12/11/11 11:25 PM PST ] Broderick Turner of the LA Times has the absolute latest about the proposed trade. Some key points according to Turner:
- The sides are in "closing stages of negotiations."
- The Clippers' offer include the MIN pick, not Gordon. The rest is the same.
- One puzzling note is that it says the Clippers "hope [Paul] will pick up his option for next season." I'd prefer more than a hope on this one.
Turner suggests that the deal is essentially done and could be submitted to for the league's approval on Monday. Stay tuned Citizens.