Tag:New Orleans Hornets
Posted on: December 15, 2011 11:21 am
Edited on: December 15, 2011 11:39 am

Chris Paul Trade Chat

Join us at 12:30 EST to discuss the Chris Paul trade to the Clippers and the ramifications for the league. 

You can listen to our immediate reaction on the CBSSports.com NBA Podcast:

Posted on: December 14, 2011 8:31 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:40 pm

Chris Paul Trade Grade: Hornets have path back

By Matt Moore

There was no winning for New Orleans. No matter what, the Hornets are looking at losing the best player in franchise history. You don't replace Chris Paul. The Hornets were going to come away from trading him a worse team, facing a few years of terrible seasons. It's not what you want.

But if we take the conditions, a small market team with no leverage facing an uphill battle to even get some sort of value from the trade, with the league's overbearing hands all over it, and the roster as currently constructed, this is a great trade. The best trade you can make with CP3 is to not trade CP3. But if you're going to have to trade Chris Paul, you don't want a 30-year-old no-lift power forward, a 30-year-old combo forward who struggles with focus outside of L.A. and had no interest in playing in New Orleans, and a lesser version of Eric Gordon, along with the Knicks' 20-ish pick.

No, you want a star young player, like Eric Gordon, who has a great shot of making the All-Star game once the Hornets build anything around him. He's the franchise now, which he was not going to be in Los Angeles. You want a talented wing. Lost in this is the fact that Al Farouq-Aminu has everything you look for in a young wing. Great length, good defensive ability, decent hands. There's a lot of growth needed, but he's got the capacity to be a capable small forward in a few years. And you want to clear salary, which Chris Kaman's contract allows.

CP3 traded to the Clippers

Beyond, that, consider this. The Hornets were going to be terrible with Paul. They will be more terrible without Chris Paul. But, if you're going to be terrible, you want to be terrible this season with the 2012 draft class in play. This class is as good as any since 2003, and with the Minnesota pick they acquired from Los Angeles, the Hornets are in position to have two picks potentialy in the top five, likely in the top ten, and definitely in the lottery.

That means some combination, if they were to tank out, of Anthony Davis - Harrison Barnes - Jared Sullinger - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist along with some combination of Bradley Beal - Marquis Teague - Perry Jones - Quincy Miller - Patric Young. That's how you rebuild a franchise quickly. Young star (Gordon) plus talented athlete (Aminu) plus two top ten draft picks in a quality draft. Clear the cap, add young players, maintain flexibility, build in the Thunder model.

One veteran who expires next year. One star with high upside. One athlete with growth potential and a small contract. A pick with high value. It's a sad day for New Orleans, who loses its franchise player, and has to go through the pains of rebuilding. But after all the hand-wringing, all the consternation about the league's involvement, it got what was best for the franchise. The Hornets have to make the right decisions for it to pay off. But they have what they need to move on.

The circus is over. Time to build a new carnival.

Grade: A

Posted on: December 14, 2011 8:22 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:40 pm

Chris Paul traded to Clippers: Winners & Losers

Posted by Ben Golliver


Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that the New Orleans Hornets and Los Angeles Clippers have struck a deal to send All-Star point guard Chris Paul plus two picks to L.A. for guard Eric Gordon, forward Al-Farouq Aminu, center Chris Kaman and the Minnesota Timberwolves' unprotected 2012 first round pick.

Let's break down the winners and losers of this blockbuster, which comes after nearly a week of rumors and failed deals between the Hornets, Lakers and Rockets and the Hornets and Clippers in which NBA commissioner David Stern stepped into veto multiple frameworks in his role as decision-maker for the league-owned Hornets. 

Winners: New Orleans Hornets

What a difference a few days makes. The NBA’s trade negotiations mirrored its labor negotiations, as the league toed a seemingly impossibly hard line before emerging with pretty much everything it had been asking for. Losing a franchise player has become an unavoidable reality for small-market teams in recent years, and the only way to win the scenario is to recognize and process that fact early, hone in a desired wish list of assets and pursue those assets aggressively.

CP3 traded to the Clippers

Failed trade talks with the Los Angeles Lakers got very ugly last weekend, and there’s no question some relationships have been ruined for the foreseeable future because of the NBA’s vetoing role. The end doesn’t justify the means here but it certainly makes for a less bitter pill to swallow for the Hornets’ management, coaching staff and future owners.

The Paul haul is excellent. It includes all the requisite ingredients: a budding star (guard Eric Gordon), an absolutely incredible draft pick that is sure to result in a top-flight player (Minnesota’s unprotected 2012 first rounder), a talent with some upside (forward Al-Farouq Aminu) and a more than serviceable player on a massive expiring contract (center Chris Kaman). The biggest risk here: getting Gordon to commit long-term to being the franchise guy on what is sure to be a long rebuilding process. Other than that, this was a textbook result even if the game plan was as unorthodox as it gets in the NBA.

Winners: Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers acquire the rights to arguably the best all-around point guard in the game, at least for the next two years. Paul gives them a delightful All-Star backcourt/frontcourt combination with Paul and forward Blake Griffin. If you thought Blake manufactured highlights easily last year, just wait until he gets things clicking with Paul. With center DeAndre Jordan in place, the Clippers have a core that’s more than ready to make a run to the playoffs for just the second time in the last 14 years.

Their roster work is far from done. With four point guards now on the roster -- Paul, Mo Williams, Chauncey Billups and Eric Bledsoe – and major holes at the two and three, something will have to give. Ideally, further trades will be coming down the pipeline and role guys will need to step up in a big way.

The Clippers, on balance, win here because of the instant legitimacy and credibility landing a star like Paul connotes, plus the extra bonus points for beating out the crosstown Lakers. They will likely be the most exciting show in town and have reasonable flexibility to be players on the free agent market next summer, too. This team just got way, way more interesting.

Losers: Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets

This week will go down in NBA history no matter how the teams involved proceed over the next few years. The stalled 3-team deals involving the Rockets, Lakers and Hornets led to Houston missing out on Pau Gasol and striking out on their free agency targets (Nene Hilario, Marc Gasol, etc.) and caused the Lakers to make a panic trade of talented forward Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks, one that angered multiple Lakers players and is surely already being regretted in private. There’s a bright side for the Lakers: they can always compete for Dwight Howard and other big-name free agents. As for Houston? Who knows? This could have been the best shot and the next few years could easily wind up being time-buying and wheel-spinning.

Winner: Blake Griffin

If you can’t get enough of Blake Griffin, good news: you’re about to get 10 times more of him. If you’re sick of Blake Griffin, bad news: he will be inescapable. Griffin is funny, personable and endlessly talented. Adding Paul at this stage of his career could vault him into the stratosphere.

Loser: Chris Paul

Paul is a pro’s pro and will say all the right things, but playing in Staples Center while donning that Clippers jersey won’t be the same as it would have been running point alongside Kobe Bryant. He now gets the burden of undoing decades of poor management rather than the burden of carrying a major torch that’s been passed from superstar to superstar since George Mikan. At least he’s out of New Orleans, which is no small feat, but this clearly could have played out better for him in so many ways. He wants to "win now" and the Clippers are more "win soon" than "win now." A 2-year commitment provides some certainty, but not that much. Another rumor zoo could await in the not-too-distant future.

Winner: Hornets Coach Monty Williams

One of the league’s youngest head coaches and a man who built his reputation on player development gets two talented youngsters in Gordon and Aminu plus a third top talent with the draft pick. Perhaps more importantly, he gets a fresh start and a slate wiped clean. As straight of a shooter as you’ll find in the NBA, Williams deserved better than an ownership mess and meddling from the NBA. He wants to coach and that’s what he’ll get to do for at least the next few years.

Loser: Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro

Forgotten man, say hello to great expectations! No longer will mediocrity be accepted. Winning now is the expectation and Paul has the clout to make Del Negro disappear if the chemistry fit isn’t quite right.

Winner: Clippers owner Donald Sterling and GM Neil Olshey

You made it this far and you’re asking yourself, “Holy ****, the Clippers really just got Chris freaking Paul?” Yes. Yes, they did.

Loser: Hornets GM Dell Demps

Initial reports indicate that the NBA stepped in to directly broker this trade, potentially usurping Demps’ authority and doing certain damage to his reputation, which was spotless up until the past week. It’s unclear how or if that damage will ever be undone. Top basketball executives spend years – decades, often – getting to a pinnacle job and to watch that work go out the window because of Stern is not fun at all. Hopefully Stern doesn’t phone in the Hornets’ 2012 NBA Draft picks to himself. The first step in making things right for Demps is to find a new owner, one that is independent of the NBA, immediately.

Winner: DeAndre Jordan

One of the league's most prolific dunkers and most efficient shooters could subsist entirely on lobs and putbacks next season and still not be declared overpaid after signing a 4-year, $43 million contract extension this week. 

Loser: Eric Gordon

No one can replace Paul in New Orleans, not after four All-Star games in six amazing seasons. Gordon becomes the man unlucky enough to have to try, though, and the potential for a protracted dispute over his future with the Hornets looms in the distance. If he indicates, directly or indirectly, that his heart is elsewhere he will be in for a bumpy ride in his new hometown. Ultimately, playing in Los Angeles is one of the most desirable things a basketball star can ask for, doubly coveted because of Griffin. Now, Gordon must embrace chaos.

Loser: NBA Commissioner David Stern

Stern’s NBA career is winding down and this will wind up being far more than a footnote on his legacy, given the many, many implications of his handling of the trade as overseer of the league-owned Hornets. The conflict of interest is too great and the harm done to the losers, as laid above, is irreversible. Everyone’s glad this sage is over but the ill effects will be felt for years.

Posted on: December 14, 2011 7:53 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:41 pm

Grade The Trade: Clippers get their man, CP3

By Matt Moore

You only get a shot at Chris Paul once. That's it. This opportunity will not come again, and honestly, a chance at a player of his caliber only comes along once every generation. But the trade -- as reported by Ken Berger of CBSSports.com -- that the Clippers pulled sending Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman, and a first-round pick to New Orleans for the best pure point guard in the league isn't about that. It's about what fits best with the future of the franchise. And the future of the franchise is Blake Griffin.

Sure, you want shooters for the kickout, someone to take the pressure off Griffin. But you can get those. Shooters abound. What don't abound are top level point guards who understand the pick-and-roll as well as any guard in the league. That's CP3. That's Chris Paul. Griffin will benefit more from Paul than he will from Gordon, and that was the kicker in this deal. While the haul for the Hornets is not only acceptable, but worlds better than the platter proposed in the original rejected trade, the gain for the Clippers is too great. They're in a position to win now, win in the future, win for the next decade.

CP3 traded to the Clippers

You have to keep Blake Griffin at all costs. The risk is too great that the team won't develop with Griffin, will stall out, and then watch as he departs, potentially to their neighbor at Staples. But this? This is a realignment. The Clippers have a shot, albeit a slim one, at changing the status quo that the Clippers are losers and the Lakers are winners. The Lakers didn't get Chris Paul. The Clippers did.

There's talk that Chris Paul may leave in two years (it's widely expected that part of the agreement involves Paul opting in for the 2012-2013 season and becoming a free agent in the summer of 2013 vs. next summer). That the Clippers could be left with nothing.

But you take that risk. You gamble that CP3-Billups (that move looks a lot better)-Caron Butler-Griffin-DeAndre Jordan is enough to compete, with an extra year to build around them, now as a top free agent position. You risk all of that because if you can't win enough with that group to convince Paul and Griffin to stay together, nothing will. No more aiming for the playoffs, for aiming for respectability, for trying to just be decent.

The Clippers have shot for the moon. The worst case scenario is the most exciting two years in the history of the Los Angeles Clippers. Greatness isn't made by being conservative; fortune favors the bold.

The Clippers made the bold move, and now they have Chris Paul.

Look up, there go the Clips.

Grade: A+

Posted on: December 14, 2011 2:41 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 2:44 pm

CP3 could file a lawsuit against the NBA soon?

Posted by Royce Young

There was a lot of anger and frustration after the NBA vetoed the original Chris Paul trade that would've sent CP3 to the Lakers. Emotional reactions, threats and big talk.

One of those things was that CP3 might pursue a lawsuit against the NBA for collusion. It seemed to have a good amount of steam early on, but felt like one of those things that would melt away as everyone sort of moved on.

But it hasn't. At least not for CP3. According to the NY Daily News, Paul and the union could be taking action soon.
"A source told the Daily News Tuesday that Paul could file a lawsuit 'in the next couple of days' charging the NBA, which owns and runs the Hornets, with collusion and violating the league's collective bargaining agreement. The NBA's labor deal has an anti-collusion clause that prohibits teams from conspiring with the league to influence contracts, signings or transactions."
I always thought the lawsuit thing was more of a threat than an actual thing, but at some point, you've got to follow through I guess. Especially when things don't change.

The million dollar question is though, does CP3 actually have a case? Could he win? Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com makes the case saying that Paul really doesn't have much of a shot:
"Not a lawyer but just don't understand how CP3 has grounds for suit. He is not a free agent. He's under contract to play for New Orleans and being paid. Part of contract is ownership, whoever it is, can choose to trade him or not trade him anywhere/for anything they want. This is the deal. Been in contact with several labor attorneys. They all agree Paul/NBPA has case under federal labor law. Most don't think he'll win."
But don't think just because someone can't win is reason enough to not try. Not many actually thought the players union would win a lawsuit against the league during the lockout, but they went ahead with it anyway to try and gain a sense of leverage and control. Right now, the NBA and David Stern are completely in control of the CP3 trade talks, but the Paul camp is trying to at least grab a small piece of that.

A lawsuit makes a statement that this isn't OK, that CP3 isn't just going to be a napkin blowing in the wind, taken wherever the league may feel like. It's a worthy and probably necessary effort, even if it's a futile endeavor.

Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:33 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 6:36 am

Lakers talking Pau Gasol for Chris Paul trade?

Posted by Ben Gollivercp3-kobe

It's Los Angeles vs. Los Angeles in the Chris Paul sweepstakes.

CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports that the Clippers continue to be a possible trade partner, should the New Orleans Hornets finally relinquish Paul, their All-Star point guard, after days of rumored trade talks.

ESPN.com reported on Tuesday night that the Lakers, a team that twice had potential three-team deals for Paul struck down by NBA commissioner David Stern last weekend, are back in the thick of it.
The Los Angeles Lakers, however, continue to loom as a potential destination, sources said, despite their apparent exit from the Paul sweepstakes on Saturday. The Lakers walked away from the table after multiple attempts to complete a three-team trade with the Hornets and Houston Rockets for Paul, and then agreed to trade New Orleans-bound Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks instead.

ESPN.com learned Tuesday that a Lakers' deal for Paul has not yet been ruled out, contingent on the fact that they can recruit at least one other team to supply some of the young pieces that the league is demanding. But the Lakers do still have Gasol as a centerpiece, who could either replace Paul as the Hornets' franchise player or give New Orleans a top-20 player to be dangled in subsequent deals.

"The Lakers are definitely still in this," said one source close to the talks.
NBA.com confirms that both the Clippers and the Lakers are "both in play" for Paul's services.
Gasol was the best player not named Paul in the earlier three-team framework with Houston, so it was a bit unusual that he was not originally headed back to the team that stood to lose the best player involved. But that was the nature of the Lakers' dilemma, as they simply did not have enough young pieces and/or draft picks to make an enticing offer that would have helped New Orleans rebuild in the wake of the loss of their franchise player. 

Since those talks fell apart, former Hornets All-Star forward David West signed a two-year deal with the Indiana Pacers and Lakers forward Lamar Odom, who would have been sent to New Orleans, was instead traded to the Mavericks. In other words, New Orleans' frontline is now incredibly thin and the prospect of acquiring Gasol could be more palatable than the idea of making do by re-signing free agent forward Carl Landry.

Such a trade would leave Los Angeles with newly-acquired forward Josh McRoberts and center Andrew Bynum up front, pending any other moving pieces. That's not a ton of depth, especially given Bynum's propensity for injury and knuckle-headed behavior. Lakers forward Derrick Caracter suffered a knee injury during training camp on Tuesday, further compromising the Lakers' frontcourt.
Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:28 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 4:01 pm

2011-12 NBA Season: Southwest Division Preview

Posted by Royce Young

We're less than two weeks away from the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season. After an interminable lockout and a rushed free agency period, here's a first look division-by-division preview at how the league is shaping up. We begin with the Southeast Division.

2011 Standings:
San Antonio Spurs, 61-21, lost in first round of Western Conference playoffs to Memphis Grizzlies
Dallas Mavericks, 57-25, won the NBA title
New Orleans Hornets, 46-36, lost in first round of Western Conference playoffs to Los Angeles Lakers
Memphis Grizzlies, 46-36, lost in second round of Western Conference playoffs to Oklahoma City Thunder
Houston Rockets, 43-39, NBA Draft lottery

Best team: Dallas Mavericks

Here's the situation for the Mavericks: They're the defending champions, but they lost a major piece of that puzzle in Tyson Chandler to free agency. They replaced him with Lamar Odom, who they had to give up nothing to get, and added Delonte West and Vince Carter to make up for Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and J.J. Barea.

Question is, are they better than last season? My answer: No idea. Nobody really knew how good the Mavs were until the postseason last year and that might be the case again. But with Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry, this group will win its share of games, get a nice seed and set itself up for another run at a title.

Worst team: New Orleans Hornets

And that's maybe even before they get Chris Paul traded. Forget the fact that the Hornets only have six NBA players on their roster right now. Losing David West really hurts. Losing Carl Landry really hurts. Heck, losing Aaron Gray really hurts. And you know you're not in good shape when losing Aaron Gray really hurts.

Even if CP3 is handcuffed to The Big Easy for this season, the Hornets are headed for the bottom of the Southwest and most definitely the lottery. That's what's so frustrating about the original trade that fell apart. With Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Lamar Odom, this team was a playoff contender. Now, it'll be a battle to win 30.

Biggest surprise: Houston Rockets

Did you know: Last season the Rockets finished with 43 wins in maybe the toughest division in basketball? Did you know that would've put them as the sixth seed in the East? And yet they missed the postseason in the West. Such is life. General manager Daryl Morey is trying to do everything to ramp up the roster a bit and while it looks like he'll be hanging on to Scola and Martin for a while, he's got a group that can win. Kyle Lowry really came into his own last season and if the Rockets can somehow figure out how to get into the Nene sweepstakes, this team is a playoff contender. Heck, it already is.

Three Best Players: Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul, Zach Randolph

Chris Paul is included because as of right now, he's still in the Southwest Division. Dirk was a no-brainer, but Zach Randolph was a tough choice. Because you'll notice a key name omitted. Starts with "Tim" and ends with "Multiple Championships." Reason for Duncan being left off is that with the crammed 66-game schedule, this season could really wear on him. He was already sitting out the second game of back-to-backs in the normal 82-game set. But this could really affect his game. Randolph blossomed into one of the league's premier power forwards in the postseason, working over Duncan's Spurs.

Biggest Question: Does New Orleans start the season with Chris Paul?

A week ago, the answer to that was "Duh, no." Now, it's looking like there could actually be that awkward moment where Chris Paul has to take the floor in New Orleans in front of a home crowd. Nothing is hanging over the NBA quite like this trade saga and it will greatly impact the balance of power in this division. Chris Paul is good enough to win the Hornets games on his own. Take him away and replace him with a rebuilding group of youngsters and you just added four more wins to each team in this division. Everyone wants to know where CP3 is going. We know it's not going to be New Orleans, but right now he's chained to the water heater in the basement of New Orleans Arena. It's just a matter of when he'll be set free.

2012 Projected Standings:
1. Dallas Mavericks
2. San Antonio Spurs
3. Memphis Grizzlies
4. Houston Rockets
5. New Orleans Hornets

Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:25 am

Chris Paul wants it all

By Matt Moore 

Chris Paul seems like a genuinely good human being. 

I don't know this for a fact. I'm going off of conversations I've had with others, off of interviews, and efforts, off of quiet things like charitable elements he's contributed to without fanfare or flashbulbs. So many athletes would have bailed on New Orleans after Katrina, and instead Paul embraced her, took on the role of being an icon for a city in need of heroes, took on the weight of being a savior. He's known as a quality person and locker room leader, and is a professional in every sense. You need look no further than the fact he's shown up to Hornets practice every day during this debacle as proof of that.

It's easy to take the route of saying Paul is selfish. That he's only looking out for himself and doesn't care about the city or the team or its fans. But that's a myopic view of a complex situation. Unfortunately, just as bad is the overly simplistic view that Chris Paul is a victim, that he has been unfairly put in a terrible situation by the evil league of evil that is the NBA, or the incompetent collection of malcontent owners, depending on your interpretation. There's this concept that Paul's role in this is completely natural, normal, that he cannot be blamed for the situation he's enduring. After all, he didn't want the NBA to own the league.

From SBNation.com: 
NBA owners have varying goals. Winning is typically high on the list. There's no question that Demps and Weber want the Hornets to win, now and later. Sperling could very well feel empathetic with the franchise, as well. But the men who Stern answers to could care less if the Hornets win now or later: it's all about setting the franchise for a sale in excess of $300 million (which sounds ridiculous when you say it out loud, given the prices tagged to the Charlotte Bobcats, Philadelphia 76ers and nearly the Atlanta Hawks).

Given the purpose of the Hornets right now according to its owners, can you blame Chris Paul for wanting to be elsewhere?
via Chris Paul And The Morality Of Choosing Your Team - SBNation.com by Tom Ziller.

Stop. Right there. Just stop.

This started last year. Well before the sale. There were rumblings for a few years, but it kicked into high gear in July. Of 2010
When Paul was quoted a few weeks ago as saying he'd be open to a trade if the Hornets aren't committed to building a championship team, it was only a small hint as to the size of the chasm that exists between the franchise and its cornerstone player. Paul, in fact, has put into motion an aggressive exit strategy that will accelerate in the coming weeks, and his clear intention is to be traded before the start of the 2010-11 season, a person with direct knowledge of his plans told CBSSports.com Wednesday.

"He wants out," said the person, who has been briefed on Paul's strategy but spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it publicly. "He wants to play with another superstar. He wants to follow LeBron's model of teaming up with other great players."
via With Paul wanting out, new Hornets brass facing crisis - NBA - CBSSports.com Basketball News, Scores, Stats, Schedule and Standings.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the ownership situation, beyond creating a greater roadblock to the team's ability to snag a superstar to play next to Paul. The problem with that thinking, however, is that the Hornets never were going to land a star. You're not seeing superstar team-ups in Milwaukee or Charlotte or Indiana. Paul's desire for the bright lights can be traced back to last summer, to starting trade demands and toasting to joining Melo and Amar'e in New York. This is what he and his representation has wanted, so let's not go acting like this is some sort of brand new development. 

Now, from there, Ziller argues that the max salary structure is what creates this, essentially, that the NBA's own system is what provides this situation. The extra year being provided teams in order to keep players isn't enough to keep them home. And he's absolutely right.

My problem comes in with this idea that Paul has a "right" to demand a trade. That he shouldn't be criticized for wanting out. Using the current context ignores that he lit this fire nearly 18 months ago. And it ignores one subtle problem. This is all on him.

Paul can have free agency. There's nothing to stop him, nor should there be. Trying to hog-tie players to franchises is nonsense. They have a right to work wherever they want, same as you or I, provided they can garner the necessary offer. If someone's willing to pay me to write in Seattle, there's no law or leverage restricting me from doing so... unless I have a contract that says I write in Houston, or Kansas City, or Denver. That contract exists as a legal bond between me and my employer in a given city, just like Paul's is a bond between he and the Hornets.  But when that contract expires, Paul has every right to pursue his options. That's not what he's doing. He wants his cake and to eat it, too. 

Paul can make the max money allowed under the system. He can not exercise his opt-in for the 2012-2013 season, re-sign with the Hornets, and make the extra money allowed by signing a five-year deal vs. a four-year deal. There is nothing standing in his way from pursuing either option. Play where you want, or play for more money. He's not being restricted by tyranny. This is not tyranny. It's a collectively bargained professional sports structure. If Paul wants to bail on New Orleans after his contract is up, no one should criticize him. He gave that city all he could through a very difficult situation, with not great support on the floor, has bled for that team. He's paid his dues. And if he wants to return for the extra money, he's more than entitled to it. Say he'll sign the contract this summer right now, and all this, the distractions, the circus, the stress, it all goes away.

And, to be clear, it's within his power to request a trade. If a player is unhappy with a situation, he should be able to voice that. He's got the right to express himself, at least through his representation. (Side note: NBA, can we please get away with the fines for players voicing trade demands in public? Because at this point, it's just insulting to everyone. The fans, the teams, the players, the media.) No one should argue players should abdicate their own interests, even if that includes requesting a trade and blowing up a team's season.  Teams will look to dump a player once he's past his prime, the fans will boo him if his performance suffers. It's a two-way street and loyalty is patently fickle, even if some young fans will always cheer the guy whose name is on the back of their jersey. 

However, what should not be tolerated, is the idea that Paul should be pitied for this. That the league is punishing Chris Paul unfairly. Had Paul's representatives kept quiet, had Paul himself not instructed them to demand a trade, again, 18 months ago, we wouldn't be here today. Paul has every right to put himself in this position. But that decision comes with the media circus. It comes with the risk that ownership will mishandle the process, especially when it's the NBA running that process. And it comes with the criticism. 

Paul can be the hero, lifted up by all and admired for his stances. Or he can be the star, chasing the shine of a ring under the brightest lights. He can't have both.

If this current economic model has created this situation, if this is "just the way it is," then there's a flip side to it. The current fan environment has created the consequence that Paul will have to deal with the stress his decision puts on himself and his teammates, on the city and its fans.

Paul actually can have his cake and eat it, too. But you have to deal with the stomach ache that comes along with it.  
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com