Consequences of a Paul Injury

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Published: November 16, 2009

As i watched Paul tumble to the floor of New Orleans Arena I assumed he would be OK. When he didn’t get up I began to think about life without Paul. After my two day freakout was over I found myself realizing something I never thought possible. As much as it pains me to say it, a Chris Paul injury would be a blessing in disguise for an organization in need of help.

Off court the Hornets have been making money for a few years now and the franchise really isn’t in the dire straits that the sensationalist media makes it out to be.

On the court is a whole different story. Early results on the Chandler for Okafor swap pretty much shows two losers. Don’t get me wrong, Okafor is a better player than Chandler, but he doesn’t seem to be meshing with the Hornets core just yet. A lot of that can be blamed on his preseason injury, but their team chemistry seemed to be getting worse instead of better before the Paul injury. 

So how does this all relate to Paul being injured?

Let’s say that Paul had to miss the entire year due to an injury that would have no lingering effects next season. An injury that many Hornets fans thought they watched last Friday night when he landed awkwardly on a Blazer foot.

Here’s how it would play out:

First off Okafor would be dealt for either expirings, young wings, or a combo.

The young guys would continue playing tons of minutes. The Hornets have struggled with developing talent in the past and judging by GM Jeff Bowers decision to play the rookies a combined 94 minutes in his first two games as coach, I think he would agree that on court time helps players develop.

The season wouldn’t be pretty, but they would get better and more importantly they would wind up with a top three pick. Let’s face it. A Paul-less, Okafor-less Hornets team won’t win more than 20 games even if things go well.

The fan base will of course shrink slightly, but most will understand. The 10,000 plus season ticket holders paid in full anyway.

As the trading deadline nears there will certainly be a team interested in adding a James Posey, Darius Songaila, or Morris Peterson, especially if they throw some cash in.

Let’s assume that they dangle James “Rabbit Foot” Posey in front of a contender and they bite. It might not be him, but someone would be traded for nothing (a la Rasual Butler)

So let’s fast forward to the off-season of 2010:

The Hornets would have eight players under contract for 55 million dollars with a projected luxury tax line of 65 million.

The kicker is that most of them are expiring. Peja will be in the last year of a deal that pays him 14.2 million. The Hornets won’t need him and won’t want his salary eating up their cap space. He’s been in the league a long time and has been physically hurting for the last few, making him a prime candidate for a buyout. He would probably take it for 10 million or so. Shinn can afford that with all the money saved the during the prior season.

Now the Hornets have a solid core of eight guys (two all stars) under contract for 40 million dollars. That leaves them about twenty five million dollars of room under the luxury tax line AND a top three draft pick to fill out a roster that looks like this:

Starters:

PG-Chris Paul

SG-

SF-

PF-David West

C-

Bench:

PG- Darren Collison

SG-Marcus Thornton (who looks like a good 6th man already IMHO), Mo-P

SF-Julian Wright

PF-Darius Songaila

C-

The class of 2010 is so deep that they should be able to sign a superstar AND fill out the roster with above average players.With the economy the way it is, if you have extra cash it will be a great time to shop for players.

With a few good signings The Hornets would have a top three pick, three established all stars, and a solid bench without even being over the cap.

I’m not going to speculate on much else, but it’s pretty clear that this scenario would lead to the Hornets being in a great position to contend, remain financially viable, and keep Chris Paul and New Orleanians happy for years to come.

As a fan I hate to see Paul hurt for even a single game, but a whole season could do wonders for the Hornets organization. it’s clear they need to rebuild, but in order to do that they would really upset their star player. If he’s not on the court I don’t think the team losing will really bother him, especially if it helps long term.

Anyway, this is all a moot point since CP3 is a warrior. I almost certainly expect to see him back soon, but what’s bugging me is the Okafor trade speculation. I can’t help wondering if the Hornets front office knows something we don’t about Paul’s ankle. I guess we will find out soon.

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