As the appalling NBA lockout comes to a close, we’re all settling back into our normal roles as NBA writers. The stat geeks start coming back, you hear a lot of NBA podcasts being developed, and we get actual pieces about basketball. It seems like the NBA lockout was a dam and now it’s spewing all of the held back information that was what writers and reporters were itching to get out.
Well now it’s time. We will have a 66 game season and free agency will start on December 9th. There should be a flurry of moves that will fill the bill for NBA fans everywhere. No, the pool of free agents isn’t an all time class but they could be the final pieces to win championships. Some to even convince free agents of next season’s class to come play in certain cities.
And with that I will take you to the curious case of Chris Paul. Paul can be a free agent come 2012 if he uses his player option to opt out. The sense is that Paul will definitely make that move. His future with the Hornets has been in question for about 2 years now. He’s the key cog that a few teams could use to compete with the Miami Heat’s super team trend and get them back into the title hunt.
Through the grapevine, it has been said by many NBA sources that a lot of teams are coveting Paul. It only took 2 days after the NBA lockout for some serious satire to come about. We are left to fish through all of this information and determine what we believe is true and what we believe is not true. Some of the information is plausible and some of it just sounds plainly ridiculous. I’ve been going through it for the past few days and playing scenarios out in my head.
Chris Paul is one of the greatest point guards to play the game. I believe that if he had any more talent around him, he’d already have multiple rings. He’d be a better point guard than Zeke, Stock, and yes even Magic himself. Paul has the skills that all of those guys had–besides Magic’s size of course–combined. I’ve always believed that Paul could win certain players multiple rings wherever he went. He’s averaged close 20 and 10 throughout his career. In the playoffs Paul has also averaged 21, 11, and 5. He’s also the most clutch player in the NBA according to statistics . Who wouldn’t want this guy on their team?
I digress. His numbers are amazing, but he has no championship trophies to show for it. Depending on where Paul lands in the next year or two could reshape his legacy as an NBA player and as a winner.
According to Chris Broussard, Paul said he wants to be a Knick. That would certainly be a team with championship aspirations. The thing is I think it will be a stretch for Chris Paul to end up in New York. They simply do not have the assets to acquire him via trade. Trade would be the ideal situation for them to acquire Paul. Should they acquire Paul via Free Agency he’d have to take a massive pay cut–which he’ll be doing regardless when leaving the Big Easy– and there would hardly be enough room to include the glue players for STAT, Melo, and CP3. Howard Beck explains this in his article for the New York Times.
The Knicks have $44.6 million committed for 2012-13, to five players, including the rookie Iman Shumpert and an option on Toney Douglas. That does not include any free-agent signings they might make next month. Assuming the cap remains about $58 million — as the league expects — the Knicks might have only $13 million to spend. Paul would be eligible for a deal starting at $17.4 million.
-Howard Beck, NYT
Paul would only be eligible for a one year extension if he was traded to the Knicks. He wouldn’t be able to get a 3 year 65 million dollar extension as Carmelo Anthony did under the previous CBA when he basically created the extend and trade move. He would only be able to sign a 19 million dollar one year extension and I don’t think New York has that kind of money right now. Also, he can’t extend while on the Hornets if he wants to leave. If he takes that option, then he will only be able to be traded 6 months after the extension. I don’t think Paul will be open to that option.
Another team that has been interested in Chris Paul’s services, reportedly, is the Boston Celtics. Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated reports that Danny Ainge offered Rajon Rondo in an effort to acquire Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets. It has been said that the Hornets weren’t interested because Boston didn’t offer enough. Boston has since been reported to be looking for a third wheel in the deal to keep in going. Rajon Rondo is a marquee piece to that Boston franchise and will probably be upset because of all of these trade rumors; that’s another post for another time though(coming soon).
I doubt that that ever comes into fruition though. The reason why is because 1) the Celtics don’t have a lot to offer to the Hornets 2) The NBA owns the Hornets. It would be a complete contradiction for them to trade Paul
to a larger market after this lockout 3) Paul has openly said that he would not sign an extension with the Celts. Those factors completely eliminate Boston, to me, from the equation.
For now, those two teams seem to be the most viable and active options for Paul. I think the Lakers and Clippers are definitely in the hunt, but they seem more interested in the services of Dwight Howard right now. Chris Paul could definitely be moved to one of those teams though. I’m going to do some extensive research on how Paul could land there and let you all know what I find. Right now I can see a situation where Paul stays in New Orleans. He loves the city, he loves the people, and I’m sure if they show some commitment to winning the possibility of him staying will grow.
In the meantime, don’t expect Paul to be dealt anytime soon. Specifically not before the season starts. No one has purchased the New Orleans Hornets from the NBA yet. If Paul isn’t there then the team is a less attractive option for buyers. I can’t see the NBA moving him and jeopardizing their sales and their PR image. So right now it’s just a wait and see game.
I just want to end with this. Welcome Back NBA. We’ve missed you.
Michael Sykes is a writer for the #SportsBlogMovement. Follow us on twitter. Use the Hashtag