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Dunk that Sh!t: CP3 Edition

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Published: May 24, 2011

Well, at least the made up trade scenarios for Chris Paul are getting better. Remember when he was going to Orlando for Jameer Nelson and a pile of junk last summer? No longer. Now, he is destined to be a Thunder (it is so odd when the team name is not plural) and the Hornets will be granted a budding All-Star in return. Gee thanks false internet rumors, we really appreciate it. How very kind of you.

Today we had two questions that come regarding CP3 that kind of go hand in hand, so we will take a look at what the facts say on this edition of Dunk that Sh!t:

James Grayson (Swarm and Sting): What is the likelihood that Chris Paul accepts the extension offered by Dell Demps? Seeing as the contract can only be offered AFTER the CBA expires can Dell even offer it to him? And if so is it a 20 million-a-year contract or one far less?

Michael McNamara: I will actually answer the second question first, and although I can not know this for certain, everything points to a scenario in which Chris Paul’s contract extension will be significantly less than the 20 million dollar per year one that you proposed. All we have to do is look at the aims of the owners in prior CBA’s as evidence for how they are going to negotiate in this session. In 1998-99, the owners were worried that spending was getting out of control and that they needed to put a cap on max salaries in order to curb that spending. Michael Jordan had just received a contract a couple of seasons prior that paid him $30 million annually and Kevin Garnett had recently inked a 6 year 126 million dollar contract after just three years in the league. Seeing the potential for this to become disastorious, the owners capped max contracts at between 9 million and 14 million (depending on how long you had been in the league).

Think about that for a second. That means that Michael Jordan’s earning potential would have theoretically dropped by over 50%. Garnett’s dropped by nearly that same amount when you factor in that he was just a fourth year player after the lockout ended and would have likely only gotten 10-11 million per year. This is the reason why Carmelo Anthony’s agent was so aggressive in getting him dealt to a team where he could sign the 3 year/65 million dollar extension. In all likelihood, Melo would have lost 20-35 million dollars had he waited until after the new CBA, just like KG would have lost boatloads of money if he had not signed his extension prior to the lockout.

There is no telling just how much the owners will push to put a significantly lower cap on max contracts, but they might not even have to directly write this into the CBA. Let’s say they get this 45 million dollar hard cap that they are looking for. How then could they commit 20+ million dollars to one player and still be able to put together a competitive team? The only hope for superstars is that the owners do what they should have done all along- pay the mega stars what they deserve and give the change to the guys who don’t put the butts in the seats. But even then, committing half of your cap to one player will, best case, just lead to a Lebron in Cleveland type of outcome for a team.

As for your first question- how likely is CP3 to sign the extension? I say 1%, and that is being generous. What’s the rush? That deal will still be on the table next summer or the summer after that if he decides to invoke his player option for 2012-13 (a real possibility that NOBODY is considering). How can you fault CP3 for waiting to see what kind of moves Demps and Williams can make to ensure that the Hornets become a long term contender? Why should he commit to four or five more years when he did that just a couple of seasons ago and doesn’t have one playoff series victory to show for it?

The only argument that could be made is that if CP3 signs the extension, it will signal to other free agents that they should consider New Orleans because CP3 is not going anywhere, but that is just a bunch of hogwash rhetoric that has no real tangible power. How many mega free agents or disgruntled players have set their sights on New Orleans since the last time Chris Paul signed his extension? Those who want to believe in this rhetoric cannot be convinced otherwise, so I will not spend another 200 words denouncing it, but believe it when I say that this is not the key to luring Dwight Howard or some other superstar.

The simple truth is that CP3 will play out next year and will stay in the present as he does so. Professional athletes of high character know that when they start to look ahead, they are doing their team, the league, and themselves a disservice. By simply offering CP3 the extension (knowing he will not sign it), Demps is putting himself in a position where he can spin the situation in his favor no matter how it plays out. If he has to trade CP3 at some point, he can honestly say that he did everything he could to keep him here and if CP3 does eventually re-sign it will be because Demps was relentless in his pursuit.

Andrew Alvarez (via mailbox): I am hearing a lot of internet chatter (make believe trades) about a Russell Westbrook for Chris Paul swap. How do you feel about that kind of trade if Chris doesn’t want to stay in NOLA?

Michael McNamara: I want everyone to notice the conditional at the end of Andrew’s question: If Chris doesn’t want to stay in NOLA. This means that he and Dell Demps have sat face to face and CP3 has told him that in no uncertain terms that he will not sign an extension no matter what. That he will be gone the first chance he gets. What then? Well, first of all, I can not see this happening until January at the earliest. Think about it. CP3 feels good right now about the season and has seen a new foundation put in place by Demps/Monty that revolves around committment to defense and commitment to winning.

On a personal level, he knows that he was still not 100% physically and that he will be back to his old form in the upcoming season. Combine that with the fact that the Hornets are likely to be aggressive in the offseason, and there is no reason to believe that CP3 and the Hornets will not be hopeful going into next year. Even if they start off poorly, they can blame that on West not being back yet and talk themselves into him being a difference maker once he returns in November/December. Because of all of those reasons, I can not see CP3 demanding to be traded prior to late January/early February.

But what do you say to a Westbrook/Harden type of package under those circumstances? Can you do much better than an All-Star point guard and a budding shooting guard on rookie contracts for CP3? Would you take a slightly lesser deal just to make sure he is in the East and not alongside Kevin Durant? Would you have to change the other core pieces of your team to accommodate a guy like Westbrook? Will Westbrook just bolt in 18 months when he becomes an UFA?

These are all legitimate questions that Dell Demps would have to ask himself if this scenario would come to fruition. I am not going to speculate on how the team would look after the trade or what other pieces that we could add, as I am sure that many of you could do that better than I can. What I will say, however, is that this scenario only plays out if the Hornets struggle mightily next season and Russell Westbrook does not improve over the next 7-8 months. After seeing the Hornets make a giant leap forward this past year and Westbrook grow every season he has been in the league, the odds of both of those things occurring seem rather unlikely to me.

Dunk That Sh!t is series exclusive to Hornets247.com. Click here to browse through the series.

43 comments
NuNu318
NuNu318

I hate all Dallas sports team but I've always loved Dirk as a player, and I have tons of respect for vets like Peja, Marion, Kidd and I still love Chandler to death. So I'll root for Dallas if its Dallas/Heat finals. I hate everyone on the heat however and I really don't want to have to hear the sound of ESPN "experts" slurping on The Heat's genitals for most of the summer like they're team is the second coming of Jesus and his Disciples. At least Dallas winning, no matter how much us Hornets fans hate their organization, will mean more to their vets that have struggled for years to get to this far.

42
42

So I'll be rooting for the Heat or Bulls in the Finals . . . in all likelihood, the Heat . . . at least Mike thinks that is the best for the Hornets. Ridiculous, my life. I just hate Dallas.

42
42

Stupid move there by Westbrook. It's a close, must-win game, and now you have NO margin of error in the playoffs are far as techincal fouls go. All of these things play into being great . . . or not . . .

OkiThor
OkiThor

What is up with all this CP3 trade talk? Speculation or is there something to it?

blackmagic
blackmagic

Jus thought id start by saying LMAO at L.A. signing Mike Brown as Head coach. As for Nola do any of u think Cp3 wud leave to go to charlotte? Wat if cp3 talks to Dwight and they say they wanna build something wit the bobcats (jus an idea). Wud u deal wit em? Maybe a third team involved. (I know for this Bobcats wud need to drastically improve but jus a idea)

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

on an different note: How perfect is the picture you picked for the post!?! Westbrook with a goofball look on his face lagging behind a Chris Paul in complete control... I doubt ya intended it, but pure genius. LMAO

Dan
Dan

That's just not correct. The logic you guys are doing in your trade analyses is way off. The proposal I'm hearing is OKC gets back one good (CP3) and gets back 4 bads (lose Ibaka, lose Harden, lose Westbrook, take on bad contract for lesser player). If the Thunder have to make a trade like this they are just not doing it. Sure the media is crucifying Westbrook now (unjustly for the most part - Durant and Scott Brooks share the blame), but this is a guy who A) is the most athletic point guard in the league just behind Rose B) just started playing point guard 2 years ago C) put up nearly identical numbers to Derrick Rose this year and D) is only 22 years old. Sure he's struggling now, but how many players reached their peak 3 years into the league at 22 years old at a position they hadn't played before? And when has the Thunder GM (Presti) ever shown any sign of dissatisfcation with Westbrook? Westbrook is both a talented contributor and a very high potential player. If you are trading for him the Thunder are treating him like a current all star and future super-star. Also, despite the skill disparity between Paul and Westbrook, you need to factor in their respective 1) ages, 2) potential, and 3) injury history in any trade. Thus, if the Thunder are trading Westbrook for Paul, they are treating it like a super-star swap, NOT one superrstar for a prospect/broken player. Thus, they would not also give up who they see as a potential all/super star (Harden) at an extremely young age and who is a current excellent contributor and another guy with limitless athletic potential who is currently a shot blocking presence. Paul is not worth sacrificing 3 of your 4 best players on a team in the Western Conference Finals (who would be in the finals if not for bad coaching) and destroying all future cap flexibility by taking back Okeafor. Also, it's true Westbrook and Harden are on rookie deals but I'm assuming an extension for Westbrook in my analysis.Both players seem to enjoy playing in OKC, the Thuner are a very close team, and the Thunder are a winning team. Besides, how many all/super star players leave their team once their rookie contract is up? Even Lebron, Carmelo, Bosh, Wade, etc. all signed an extension after their rookie contract and most of them were surrounded by much worse players. Also the Knicks needed to trade for Carmelo - they thought the Nets were in heavy competition and Carmelo gave every indication he really wanted to sign that 65 million dollar extension. Sum: the Thunder wouldn't dismantle a Western Conference Finals team to make an upgrade at the point guard position. If a trade is being made (assuming in all probability that Westbrook does not demand a trade or refuse to sign an extension), the Thunder are giving Westbrook for Paul with a few extra picks thrown or prospects thrown in. It's possible the Thunder give Perkins for Okeafor in the trade, but not Ibaka or Harden (Okeafor has negative value because of his contract). The Thunder are acting with the idea they are making an upgrade at the point guard position, the Hornets with the assumption they are taking back a potential superstar and current all star to get as much out as they can before Chris Paul leaves.

Dan
Dan

Everybody here needs to seriously temper their expectations. The Thunder are NOT going to give up Harden AND Westbrook for Chris Paul; Harden, Westbrook, and Ibaka is just crazy. Think of it this way - the Thunder are in the Western Conference finals right now with the youngest roster in the league and their 4 best players under 23. Why would they trade their 2nd through 4th best players when they are already so close to a title, when internal development alone could propel them to a title, and when the biggest issue with their team right now is their coaching. You also need to remember that the Thunder hold all the cards here. If Paul wants out of New Orleans the Hornets need to trade him or they will get nothing when he leaves in free agency. The Thunder have no pressing need for Paul. While he would be an improvement over Westbrook umdoubtedly, Westbrook is only a 3rd year player with tons of potential ahead of him. The marginal difference between Paul's talent level and Westbrook's (and Westbrook's projected future talent level) would not push the Thunder to give up more than Westbrook and picks/some role players because they believe they can probably get to the finals without CP3. People here are completely underestimating the value of Westbrook/Harden/Ibaka and completely overestimating the trade position of the Hornets. First, Westbrook/Harden/Ibaka are all high potential, young, at least above average players on rookie contracts. Westbrook is an athletic freak still learning the point guard position who hasn't missed a game due to injury in his career. Harden a playmaking shooting guard who is devastating off the pick and roll and capable of drawing fouls at a high rate. Ibaka is a shot blocking presence who just started learning the game of basketball. The Thunder would never give up all of these players or even two of these players for CP3 given the difference between CP3 and Westbrook's talent level and the drop-off from Harden/Ibaka to any other player on the Thunder or Hornets roster (also factor in age and injury history - West might be better than Ibaka but not at defense, is coming off an injury, and is getting up there in age). Second, none of the recent trades would indicate the THunder are willing to give up Harden/Ibaka with Westbrook. New York gave up good role players and picks and they NEEDED Carmelo. New Jersey gave up picks, a good but unproven prospect, and established average players. There is nothing here to indicate the Thunder would give up Harden/Ibaka with Westbrook because nobody in these trades has Westbrook's combination of current talent and future potential.

Joe P
Joe P

Jack, Westbrook, Harden, Landry, and Okafor would be a serious good offense, and Green, Harden, Ariza, Okafor, Grey would be super-long and get stops. Start Westbrook, Harden, Ariza, Landry, Okafor; Crunch time lineup based on adjustments. I agree with Topher above; Chris Paul is worth Ibaka or at least Perkins as well as J.H and R.W.

chiefyoungblood
chiefyoungblood

I don't want Starbury , but OKC has got to start using him like the Fiba Championship team did , not to mention he played the two at UCLA , the scrubs got no vison

QueenBee
QueenBee

And if we don't get a new lease and a new local owner, it won't even matter to NOLA Hornets fans who gets traded or who doesn't.

QueenBee
QueenBee

Westbrook lead the league in turnovers this season and plays too much hero ball. I'd hope the Hornets could work out something for another PG if they decided to trade Chris Paul.

QueenBee
QueenBee

Westbrook and Harden for CP might be ok but we still won't be winning **** with them. We'd probably be lottery bound every year (which is what some Hornets fans seem to prefer anyways though). I don't like Westbrook or his lizard a**ed lips.

42
42

All these trades can kiss my ass. I don't care if we get nothing for Chris if he wants out, and I don't care if we get something. Fixating on the whims of millionaire dropouts who are immensely talented at some odd collection of skill is no fun. I'm not stressing either way. I'll be in the Arena no matter what. He'd be silly to not pick up the player option unless we TANK, espevially in the brave new world of nonguaranteed contracts. One slip...

dan
dan

The Thunder wouldn't trade Westbrook and Harden. It would be Westbrook and maybe a pick or two or a marginal player like Eric Maynor. Nobody else will be matching Westbrook alone (Bynum isn't worth it with their comparable skill and his injury history; Rockets can't put an all star in the trade; Nuggets could put together a decent package but without anybody like Westbrook in terms of potential; Amare is old and has an injury history and I don't think the Knicks would trade Carmelo) and there's no way they are giving up both Westbrook and Harden. Look at the Carmelo trade or the Nets trade- good players, one great prospect from New Jersey, but no proven all stars with Westbrook's potential. Especially after this post-season, I can't see the Thunder giving up Harden AND Westbrook.

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

My personal feeling on the OKC trade idea is that by that point, it will be a Harden for CP3 nucleus style deal. Russ would be a part as they would be looking to dump him at that point because they have given up on him, and once he gets that feeling he will be done with OKC. I personally think that if it came down to the Demps/CP3 understanding that CP3 wanted out, then Demps needs to highball the deal and ask for Russ, Harden, Ibaka, picks and require OKC find a place for Mek. Then negotiate down to Russ, Harden, and Ibaka. I would take Russ and Harden. I would consider the Demps a genius if he could get Ibaka as well. Then the Hornets could move Mek for a lotto pick, hopefully have Landry as our 4 of the future (as I think with Russ at the point DWest's days as a Hornet are numbered) and build a young explosive team. However, this is all just pipe dreaming so while we are at it, I will take Harden and Durant for Mek and be done with the whole trade world.