Not Throwing Away My Chris Paul Jerseys Just Yet

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Published: June 10, 2012

There is a lot of talk about who the Hornets might add this off-season, but I got my eye on a bigger prize that becomes available next year

Yes, I am a grown man who owns multiple pieces of clothing with other men’s names on the back of them. I am secure enough to admit that and man enough to wear them out in public from time to time. After the Hornets magical ’07-’08 run, I treated myself to three CP3 jerseys (home, away, and All-Star) and wore them with pride for the next few years. After that season, CP3 signed an extension and every national writer projected that the Hornets would become the next dynasty in the Western Conference. Just three years later CP3 was traded and I was left with what was, in essence, three throw back jerseys.

I have given a lot of thought to what I would with the jerseys since he was traded to the

Hey kid, wanna CP3 jersey to go with that?

Lakers Clippers. Should I burn them like Cavs fans did with their Lebron jerseys? Perhaps I should send them to countries with kids in need, those same countries that get the T-shirts made up before the Super Bowl, claiming that Team X is the Super Bowl Champion- only to have Team X lose. I can imagine one of those kids 7 day wardrobe consisting of four Buffalo Bills Super Bowl champion T-shirts and my CP3 jerseys. Ah, what a fabulous thought.

For right now, however, my three jerseys sit in the bottom drawer of my dresser, waiting for me to make a final decision. When the Hornets first won the lottery, my first inclination was to toss them, but the more I think about it, the more it just makes sense to me that Chris Paul could return and I would be forced to buy those jerseys all over again. So, in my drawer those jerseys will stay until he signs his next contract, be it with the Hornets or someone else.

Before we get to the plausibility of the Chris Paul to New Orleans scenario, let’s first address the elephant in the room: Do we want him back? In my opinion, anybody who answers no is just doing so because they are afraid of being rejected by someone they loved so much a second time. We remember the agonizing tourture that we felt, not only on the day he was traded, but over those many months where he was seemingly holding the franchise hostage. Turning on your TV every morning and having your innocent Corn Pops spoiled by Chris Broussard’s rampant speculation. Even when the Hornets started 8-0, there was this worry in the back of all our minds that we were going to lose the face of our franchise and that cloud lingered over what was actually a pretty good season.

It got to the point where the majority of fans said good riddence on the day that the Clippers trade was finally announced, but is any of that really a good enough reason to deny ourselves access to his brilliance again should he want to return? Are we so spiteful that we would sabotage our future just for the opportunity to deny him the way that he once denied us? I say no, and personally I can’t blame him at all for wanting out after all the mistakes the past regime made. And as much as he loved the new regime, the payroll was bloated with overpaid guys who lacked difference making talent, and oh yeah, he was working for a company without an owner!

Can’t blame him, and in fact I applaud him for being straight with Dell in a way that Dwight Howard has never been with the Magic’s brass. Orlando is destined to lose Dwight and get little in return because of the immaturity of their seven footer. Meanwhile, the Hornets received a nice bounty in return for Chris Paul and are now in prime position to be a contender in the future because of it.

Now we turn to whether or not this little hypothetical can turn into a big hypothetical

Is it possible we can see Paul and Gordon in the same back court?

and then to a reality, and I say that it can. First and foremost, the Hornets would have to get their books in order so that they can throw the max at CP3 next summer. Let’s assume that somebody signs Eric Gordon to a max offer sheet, and the Hornets match. Let’s also assume that the Hornets keep the first and tenth pick in this year’s draft and the Hornets find a taker for Trevor Ariza sometime this season. Now, the most costly assumption of them all- the Hornets amnesty Okafor next summer, wiping his 14.5 million dollar figure off of their cap.

The Hornets also have team options on Ayon and Smitty that they can pick up that summer and qualifying offers that they can make to Aminu, Henry, and Vasquez. Bottom line is that they can bring back all those guys and still have enough to throw a max deal at CP3. It’s not a situation where they would have to completely gut their roster just to bring him in, thanks in large part to all the guys they would have on rookie deals. I mean, look at this roster that we can offer CP3 a chance to play with next summer:

You!/ Vasquez

Gordon/Henry

Aminu/2013 first rounder

Sullinger/Ayon

Davis/Smitty

Compare that to what the Clippers will be trying to sell him on- a combo of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, plus a washed up Caron Butler and no significant cap room. When you factor in Chris Paul’s cap hold, the Clippers are stuck, unable to offer anything more than the mid-level to free agents this year or next. Even if I were being generous to the Clippers and I considered the two teams’ front courts a wash, the Hornets have more production and more upside on the wings, not to mention a quality backup point guard in Vasquez. Oh, and did I mention that the Clipper currently have no GM and a lame duck coach while the Hornets have two guys that Paul loves and respects in Monty Williams and Dell Demps? Two guys that CP3 still keeps in touch with on a fairly regular basis.

If you just compare what the Hornets have to offer and what the Clippers have to offer on the court and in the front office, it is clearly advantage Hornets. At that point, it all comes down to how Chris Paul wants to be perceived and how much that matters to him. I can’t imagine that he wants to look like a guy who runs away from a challenge, taking the easy way to a title. To me, Paul only looks that way if he decides to leave the Clippers for a third team. If he comes back to the Big Easy, he could always sell people on the fact that “His heart never really left New Orleans” or that “He started something here and now he wants to finish it” or whatever corny, cliche phrase he wants to sell the public on.

Really, what can he say if he leaves LA and goes to Miami or New York to chase a ring and play second or third fiddle? There is no way he or his people can spin that in any kind of way that allows him to maintain his brand off the court. Not possible. So, to me, it is Clippers or Hornets, and quite frankly the choice is clear if you weigh out all the pros and cons of both situations. If he stays in LA, he can be a perennial playoff team, but if he comes to New Orleans, he can be a part of a dynasty. We all know how much CP3 loves to win, and win big.

And because of all those reasons, I’m not throwing out my CP3 jerseys just yet.

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  1. Pingback: The Missing Piece: Going All-In on Chris Paul | New Orleans Hornets | Hornets247.com

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