OAKLAND CA - JANUARY 26: Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets passes the ball during their game against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on January 26 2011 in Oakland California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
If the Golden State Warriors or L.A. Clippers trade young studs for Chris Paul, they'll have no guarantee he will re-sign next summer. Given that, isn't the risk of losing it all too much to bear? Plus: the spinning Lakers get desperate.
The trade offers for Chris Paul have gotten serious quickly. Instead of the Landry Fields-Iman Shumpert showstopper we were talking about last week, teams are mentioning Stephen Curry, Eric Gordon and others in apparently very serious rumors circling the New Orleans Hornets. Leading it all is CP3's apparent willingness to commit long-term to a team that brings in the point guard's old partner Tyson Chandler.
The Golden State Warriors have reportedly offered Curry, 2010 lottery pick Ekpe Udoh and 2011 lottery pick Klay Thompson. That's a mammoth package. What the L.A. Clippers have presented remains unclear, and the Chandler issue seems like a sticking point regardless, but reports have mentioned Eric Gordon and the Minnesota Timberwolves' unprotected 2012 first-round pick, which could very well end up in the top 5. (The Wolves have finished with a bottom-five record in each of the past four seasons.) These offers, if true, are not modest. They put a whole heap of stock into what Paul is and will be.
Are they veering into the insane?
If CP3 won't commit beyond 2011-12, yes, they are. Betting you can convince anyone to enjoy playing for the Clippers sounds more like a Funny Or Die sketch than a legit strategy. The Warriors are more alluring, thanks to a wonderful arena environment, fresh new ownership, the presence of Jerry West and the team's proximity to the greatest city in the known universe (Orinda, Calif., duh). But is it bet Steph Curry, Ekpe Udoh and Klay Thompson alluring?
Remember this: CP3 will not be signing an extension this season, period. Even if he were traded to the New York Knicks, his reportedly favored team, he'd become a free agent in July 2012 and sign a new contract. He's still on that path, the only one that makes sense financially. Like Deron Williams with the New Jersey Nets, CP3 has nothing to gain from extending his deal now.
If you're the Warriors, what assurances do you need that CP3 will re-sign with you if you're giving up Curry, Udoh and Thompson? What assurances can you get? What if CP3 remains vague about his intentions, even after Golden State signs Chandler in free agency? That's a pretty lovely team -- Paul and Monta Ellis in the backcourt, Dorell Wright and Reggie Williams in the wing rotation, David Lee and Chandler up front -- but is it a major contender from Day 1? Is it good enough that CP3 won't be able to bear to leave?
The Warriors have one playoff berth in the last 17 years. The Clippers have two in the past 18. These are not teams that ought to be getting picky about how they acquire top-flight superstars. But trading huge buckets of rising talent for a player who could become a one-year rental could end up just another flub, and it's something that has to be considered incredibly carefully. On paper, just about any deal either team could make (excluding Blake Griffin) for CP3 would make sense. But look beyond this season to free agency, and it's a pretty incredible dice roll. This could be a move to make fans forget all about the failure, or it could be a nice punctuation mark on the franchises' dark eras. And there's really no telling -- unless you're inside CP3's mind -- which way it will go.
Someone is still trying to push the narrative that the L.A. Lakers are in the mix for CP3. ESPN reported that the Hornets haven't ruled out a package headlined by Pau Gasol.
Yes, that makes sense. The Hornets are talking about 22-year-old stud Eric Gordon, 23-year-old stud Stephen Curry and maybe even stud 25-year-old Rajon Rondo ... but the 31-year-old power forward who makes almost $20 million a year is who the rebuilding team actually wants. That makes a lot of sense. The only way the Lakers land CP3 at this point is if Team Paul determines that the point guard won't re-sign in Golden State or with the Clippers, but that the Lakers can feel comfortably they'd be able to retain his services. Because, sure, a package led by Gasol is better than a package led by Andy Rautins. But it doesn't appear like CP3 is ready to rule out L.A.'s better half or Golden State quite yet.
You know, it's worth it just to see the Lakers act desperate. How does it feel to want something you're not going to get, L.A.?
(Oh god, I just jinxed it, didn't I?)
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