Disappointed With Chris Paul

Published: July 26, 2010

Perhaps nobody informed Chris Paul, but his recent rumblings about wanting to win do nothing but hinder the Hornets, his Hornets, ability to build a contender around him. He claims that his number one goal is to win a title in New Orleans, but the recent leaks from his camp leave the Hornets in a position in which they are unable to build around Paul in fear of losing everything.

The Hornets best chance to substantially improve their roster this year, trading Darren Collison to shore up a weaker position, turned to dust, at least temporarilly, at the global realization that Chris Paul is truly intent on leaving New Orleans. An example of a trade like this is the Granger deal talked about weeks ago. Although that trade was fabricated out of thin air, the reality remains that a highly beneficial trade is possible, but only if Paul is committed for the long term.

On a team with tons of expiring contracts and only one true non-essential player with high trade value it seemed a forgone conclusion that if the season was going well, a deal sending Collison out of town would be announced before the trade deadline. That was how the Hornets would be able to add talented players this season in spite of their salary obligations. That was how they would position themselves as a premier destination for players in the summer of 2011. All in all, that was how they could become a contender in the short term with Chris Paul.

As things stand now the team can’t deal Collison. He might not be Deron Williams, but he’s a hell of a point guard. Considering the Hornets aren’t a single deal away from contending and seemingly have no guarantees that Paul will be recruiting anyone next summer (or that a season will even take place), the long term risk outweighs the possible short term gain in any deal that sends Collison out town.

Collison is a top 20 point guard already and should only improve as he sees more time. If the team trades him and then Paul opts out and leaves in the summer of 2012, the Hornets would be without a point guard, creating a gaping hole at the currently stacked position.

So Chris Paul might be saying he wants to win in New Orleans, but what he means is that he wants out. Behind closed doors, connected NBA writers are saying he’s “desperate” to leave. Wasn’t sure if I would ever address any of the conversations that took place at casino bars in Vegas during the waning hours of the night time, but things were said that made me question what I think about Chris Paul, specifically his commitment to the New Orleans Hornets.

As regular readers know, I’m a bit of a homer and I fly with blinders on. Paul is one of my favorite players of all time and is at least partially responsible for getting me back into following basketball in 2006 and consequently writing in 2009. He remains the player I most enjoy watching and the Hornets best chance to compete for a title in the next few years. Hell, I even taught my dog the CP3 “whoo”, which will make it up here before too long if Paul remains on the team.

What has left me is the feeling that Paul had so much pride in being a part of this great city and it’s re-invigoration. No need mentioning Katrina for too long since that was a long time ago, but it’s been one hell of a ride since the storm and he’s been a big part of it. That MVP worthy year in 2007-2008 and the resulting season by the Hornets gave much needed hope to the city and cemented professional basketball as a fixture in New Orleans. For a while it even appeared that Paul’s #3 might be overtaking Bush’s #25 and Drew’s #9 as most popular in town. For a place that loves that football as much as New Orleans, that’s saying something. From building basketball courts to buying local children Christmas presents, Chris Paul always seemed honored to be a part of.

Nola has something to it that is undeniably different than anywhere else. The city itself that has makes some people desperate to hold onto a bar stool and tell whoever is listening how much they love it. For me that love extends to the Hornets and the Saints. I live and die with them, and Vegas was a sad reminder that sometimes the players just don’t care much about the fans they leave behind.

I hate the idea that Paul would rather be elsewhere. I feel betrayed and used because I’ve spent hundreds of hours cheering for him, and nearly as many combating Deron Williams lovers. I’ve watched Paul grow as a player and it’s just not fair that after all this he wants to leave, without really giving the team his all and with two years left on his deal. He missed 37 games last year and now he wants out because he doesn’t think the team can compete? That’s infuriating on so many levels.

What makes this all worse is the fact that much like after a fight with a girlfriend, I can’t quite tell whether this is the end or just a chance to start fresh.

Paul meets with new management today and he’s sure to have some very real grievances with the way things have gone over the past year. If he will listen to reason he might understand that there weren’t really any big moves to be made this summer since the team was already so far over the cap. He might really hear this building plan from the Hornets and get excited about it because it’s not so far fetched, after all. Paul needs to be reminded that it’s always going to be better to win a title as your own man than as someone’s sidekick after a forced trade. Long story short, he needs to realize that LeBron isn’t really a guy that he should look to for guidance.

There is still hope that things can be remedied. We can still kiss and make up.

But if he won’t listen to reason then get number three out of New Orleans for the best talent possible no matter who offers it. Chris Paul doesn’t want to play for David Kahn and the Timberwolves? Tough. Nobody cares.

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