Why the Hornets Would Trade Paul

Published: December 26, 2009

Speculation regarding a potential Chris Paul trade from the New Orleans Hornets has been raging throughout chat rooms and message boards ever since the Bees did not live up to expectations last year. It has continued this year with the Hornets disappointing many.

The chatter escalated substantially when a deal for Tyson Chandler was put into place during the 08-09 season that would return nothing but luxury tax relief for the Hornets. Instantly rumors flew that CP3 wanted out and from an outsiders perspective it was understandable, given the recent disappearance of loyalty by NBA superstars.

There was a time when superstars rarely if ever left their teams. The issue of re-signing players was not a matter of if, but of how much. A brief look at the 70’s and 80’s show superstars rarely, if ever, leaving their ball clubs. When they did, the decisions were made by the teams, not the players.

Recently some players have managed to gain power over their employers by demanding trades and refusing to sign max contract extensions. It’s seemingly unfathomable that a born and raised Clevelander like LeBron James would not jump at the chance to stay with Cleveland for 100 million plus, but he hasn’t.

Next summer will really determine how much loyalty this generation of players will show to the men that made them rich. It’s possible, and in my opinion probable, that nearly all true superstars (Wade, Lebron, Joe Johnson, Dirk) will end up staying where they are.

That being said, there remains a possibility that Paul will shipped out at some point regardless of what the other NBA superstars do.

It’s important before going any further to clarify that never, on any occasion, has Chris Paul given any strong indication that he wants out.

There have however been a series of sensationalized quotes taken out of context that would leave a casual observer to believe that CP3 wants out of New Orleans. It’s important to totally and utterly ignore these stories as they have little basis in reality and certainly are of no importance in deciphering the truth.

There are two scenarios that would lead to Chris Paul’s departure from New Orleans via trade:

Chris Paul Could Demand a Trade

Paul has shown throughout his career that he is loyal. It’s a trait not mentioned much by the media when slashing apart his statements to fit their trade story, but one that exists nonetheless.

It would take a serious breach of trust by the Hornets management to get on his bad side. Thus far they have been doing a pretty poor job of keeping him happy, but not so poor a job as to patronize him.

Long ago a player’s role on a team was just that– a player. Recently, possibly during the Jordan years, we saw players fame transcend the teams. It’s not even rare to hear of the Cavs being referred to as the Cleveland Lebrons.

With the ascension of the superstar player on the NBA’s hierarchy, it’s become increasingly usual that teams include their players in more than just on-court decisions.

Some owners are willing to give in to players wishes in an effort to keep them around. Lebron has used his swing in Cleveland to facilitate trades and signings otherwise unheard of. A prime example being the Shaq trade. It’s unclear whether or not this will pay off for Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert as his greatest efforts have thus far proven fruitless.

Hornets’ owner George Shinn has taken an entirely different approach, excluding Paul from any off-court decisions. This is the old-school approach to owning a team and for decades was the standard in all sports.

Paul was left entirely in the dark about both Tyson Chandler trades, and the firing of his longtime coach and friend, Byron Scott.

On the initial Tyson trade to OKC, Paul commented, “I’m going to miss him big time — that was my big fella.” He continued, “Oklahoma City is getting a great player, but I am really excited about Joe and Chris and those guys coming in here. Hopefully they can take us where we’re trying to get to.”

On the successful Tyson trade to Charlotte– “I’m missing a great friend,” Paul said. “A brother. TC was my man. Not just during the basketball season; his wife, his kids, his in-laws, he was somebody I could talk to about anything and he made me a better player.”

But Paul said “it’s over and done with now. I’m excited by Emeka getting here. … He brings that shot-blocking presence and he’s got the ability to make post moves.”

When Byron was fired Paul was as shocked as the rest of the world. Especially at not being alerted in any regard. “I felt like, maybe somebody would have at least consulted with me and asked how I felt before it happened,” Paul said. “It’s not to get my approval, but we feel we should know about the decision before it takes place.”

Throughout the three moves it’s easy to see that Paul is at the very least frustrated at his exclusion from the inner circle. One would think that an organizations best player would at the very least find out about his friends being traded and coach being fired through other means than the media.

It’s not a good move to treat a superstar like royalty. In Cleveland and LA it’s been made very clear that babying a superstar will only further snowball their already inflated egos.

On the other hand, the Hornets need to recognize that Paul is the most important person on the court for the team. It’s essential that the at least ask Paul’s opinion, even if only for appearances sake. Paul is a relatively humble superstar, but he knows his talent is extraordinary.

His number one concern is winning and for the Hornets to become a better team, they need to include him at least to some extent in game planning for the future, or else risk alienating him.

‘I hate losing more than I like winning’

That’s Paul’s mentality. Simply put, in order to keep him happy they need to win games. Surely if he was winning titles, he wouldn’t care what was going on in the front office, but if they are losing AND he is excluded from all decision making, it’s reasonable to expect that he ask to be traded before too long.

Also if longtime friend and teammate David West was dumped for salary purposes you can bet Paul will be an unhappy camper.

Or The Hornets Could Be Offered a Trade Too Good to Refuse

Bill Simmons of ESPN speculated that the Hornets would accept any of the following “Godfather offers”.

Fake Trade 8A: Houston trades Aaron Brooks (expires in 2011) with T-Mac, Scola and Brian Cook (all expire in 2010) for Chris Paul and the Peja-Songaila-Posey cap-killing trio. Considering Houston’s deep pockets, it would have to do it — how else could the Rockets acquire a top-10 player? And New Orleans would fall under the tax (saving them about $16-17 million this year, plus another $25-30 million next year) and replace a decent chunk of Paul’s production with a Brooks/Darren Collison combo.

Fake Trade 8B: Same trade as above, only with Miami giving up three ECs (Jermaine O’Neal, Mario Chalmers and Dorell Wright) plus Michael Beasley. Not as good a deal as the Houston one. Although the thought of a Wade-Paul backcourt just made me pee on myself.

Fake Trade 8C: Cleveland deals the Shaq/Ilgauskas ECs with Jamario Moon (expiring 2011), J.J. Hickson (ditto) and Jawad Williams/Darnell Jackson (EC throw-ins) for CP3, Emeka Okafor, Peja, Peterson and Songaila. That knocks the Hornets well under this year’s tax, gets them out of $26.6 million of Peja-Songaila-Peterson in 2011 AND dumps Okafor’s monster deal ($70 million through 2014). Sure, it’s the biggest salary dump trade of all time. But shouldn’t New Orleans do the Grizzlies routine for a year or two (super-low payroll, rebuild through the draft) rather than losing $25-30 million a year to be a fringe contender these next three years? And if you’re Cleveland, don’t you have to take a risk like this to keep LeBron?

Quite frankly deals like this really don’t happen. If Paul were to be dealt it would likely be during the off season.

One example of a possible trade: Hornets give Chris Paul, James Posey, and Mo-P to the Nets for John Wall. It’s no secret the Nets have tons of cap space and are looking for a superstar to sell tickets in their new Brooklyn digs. Giving up Wall might be hard, but Paul makes them an instant playoff team in the east and is building block toward title contention.

The Hornets receive a young point guard capable of immediately stepping in and contributing, while relieving themselves of Posey’s long contract. In addition they keep Peja’s expiring 15 million on the books as an expiring contract, leaving them with tons of room to make deals for the future.

With salary cap space and a young replacement at the point, the Hornets would seeming have to take the deal.

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Also keep an eye out for my next entry, detailing why the Hornets won’t trade Paul.

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