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Tag:Chris Paul
Posted on: December 14, 2011 9:15 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:39 pm
 

Pop Quiz: Are the Clippers contenders now?

Posted by Royce Young

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... Wait, we're almost to winter. What happened? Who cares, there's a season! The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a couple weeks. To get you ready for the season, we've put together some pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

Can the Clippers contend for the title this season?

We're all already having daydreams of Chris Paul lobs to Blake Griffin for 1080 dunks. And while that's hard to put out of the brain right now, the real thing we should be wondering about is if the Clippers -- yes, the Los Angeles Clippers -- have just emerged as a legitimate championship contender.

Notice I didn't say playoff contender. Because that should be a given at this point. CP3 dragged a Hornets team playing Marco Belinelli and Aaron Gray major minutes into a six-game playoff series with the Lakers. So add him to Griffin, and you've got a real-deal playoff team. The first one the Clippers will have had since 2005-06.

CP3 traded to the Clippers

But again, that's not really the question I'm asking. I'm asking if the Clippers are in the same class as the Thunder, Mavericks, Spurs, Grizzlies and (gasp!), the Lakers.

The answer: No, not yet. Close, but not there. Very close, in fact. If you start two All-Stars, you're in the conversation, at least. It comes down to this: Just look at the starting five. Paul, Randy Foye, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan. One of these is not like the other.

Had the Clippers somehow been able to convince the league to take Eric Bledsoe instead of Eric Gordon and you're talking about a team with enough firepower to topple anyone. But with a major hole at the 2-guard, the Clippers are still one of those teams hunting pieces. They need more frontcourt depth still. Jordan is a blossoming defensive presence and will benefit more than anyone from CP3's point guarding, but behind him is... well... nobody at the moment. Craig Smith could still be re-signed and there's Brian Cook and rookie Trey Thompkins. That's not much.

They still need some depth behind Butler, who is coming off a massive knee injury. Al-Farouq Aminu had the length and potential to be a nice defensive stopper, but now it's just Ryan Gomes, a decent veteran role player, and Travis Leslie, an unproven rookie.

This isn't like the Knicks last season who got Carmelo Anthony but still weren't in a good position to win big. They needed a lot. The Clippers need a little. Unlike last season's Knicks, this Clips team makes a lot more sense. An All-Star point guard feeding to an All-Star big man with a good wingman to help spread the floor with a rim protector and rebounder handling business on the inside. The make-up of the roster, sans some depth and a piece or two, just fits.
 
You can be sure general manager Neil Olshey is working the phones right now seeing what he can get for Mo Williams though. And they also have a $2.5 million "under the cap" exception. Possibly the Clips could use dangle both of those assets to strengthen their bench and add some depth. But it's not going to solve the hole at 2-guard.

It'll be interesting to see how Vinny Del Negro uses Chauncey Billups, though, and that alone could make a major difference in where the Clips land. It's hard to imagine Billups sliding into a 2-guard position, but if anyone on point guard roll-sheet could potentially do that, it's him. Have Bledsoe play behind CP3, Billups split time with Randy Foye at the 2 and then wait until next summer to really upgrade the position.

Because that's truly where the Clippers are. They just moved from a world where with Gordon, Griffin and Jordan they were a "wait until later" team. They aren't "wait until now" quite yet, but they're in the boat of just needing another piece or two. Which is a far cry from where the long, painful history of the Clippers has been.

Are they going to challenge in the West? Not yet. But the summer of 2012 could turn this team into a monster. The Clippers are finally entirely relevant and if things are managed well -- again, this is the Clippers here -- this team could stay that way for a number of years. Griffin is just 22. Paul is 26. Jordan is 23.

It's a good day in Clipperland. The fact we're even asking this question should really say it all. I mean, this is the Clippers, remember? No more jokes, no more laughing -- these guys are for real now. They shouldn't start reserving a spot in the Staples Center ceiling for a banner of their own quite yet, but for once, they can at least start dreaming about one.


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

chris-paul-blake-griffin

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 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 14, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:54 am
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Pacific Division Preview



By Matt Moore


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 Pacific Division.

2011 Standings:

Los Angeles Lakers, 57-25, lost 4-0 to Dallas Mavericks in 2nd round of Western Conference Playoffs
Phoenix Suns, 42-42, NBA Draft lottery
Golden State Warriors,36-46, NBA Draft lottery
Los Angeles Clippers, 32-50, NBA Draft lottery
Sacramento Kings, 24-58, NBA Draft lottery

Best team: Well, see, the thing is... Chris Paul (UPDATE: TIE- LOS ANGELES LAKERS AND LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS)

Chris Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday night. Even with the Lakers unable to obtain Paul, the combination of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum is probably enough to take the honors here. But with Paul joining Blake Griffin, even without Eric Gordon, the additions of Caron Butler, Chauncey Billups and re-signing DeAndre Jordan make as tough of a team to face as any. Griffin's impact next to Chris Paul is nearly incalculable.

The Lakers may still have the edge, but after the loss of Odom, everything is up in the air as far as who runs Staples now. The reality is that Paul landing in the city of L.A. will shift the division in one direction or another for the next half-decade at least.

Worst team: Sacramento Kings

The Kings are tricky. They have a convoluted backcourt. Tyreke Evans took a step back last season and it remains to be seen if it was all injury-related or not. There's no telling how Jimmer Fredette will adjust to the pro level. Marcus Thornton will struggle for minutes despite his all-around ability. John Salmons is floating around. There were huge chemistry questions last season and the players struggled against coach Paul Westphal at times.

If things don't improve, if DeMarcus Cousins doesn't mature, if Chuck Hayes can't protect the rim enough with his diminutive stature, things could get bad. And yet...

Biggest surprise: Sacramento Kings

There's so much firepower in that backcourt. Untangling it is complicated but they have everything. Shooting, athleticism, size, range, explosiveness, savvy, handle, everything. They have too much ability to not be effective in some ways. Cousins was a beast last season and even a small amount of maturity and development means he could be a near-All-Star (in the East, the West is too stacked). They have young talented bigs and Hayes who provides savvy and veteran knowledge.

The pieces are there. They're going to be exciting, even if they're struggling with an identity.

Three Best Players: Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Chris Paul

Update: With Paul joining the division, he instantly becomes one of the three best players. The best pure point guard in the league, with excellent shooting touch, terrific defense, and a supreme will to win? He leap-frogs both Pau and Nash. 

Kobe Bryant needs no explanation, even at his age. The end.

Blake Griffin is the most explosive player in the league and the first player in a few years for people to say he could legitimately be the best player in the league at one point. His explosiveness and rebounding is unmatched, his mid-range jumper isn't lightyears away and his defense will get there. Already, Griffin is a force to be reckoned with. What happens when he gets better?

Gasol vs. Nash? Gasol was an early season MVP candidate. He is arguably the most skilled big man in the league (as opposed to Dwight Howard, the most dominant and most talented). And yet his collapse in the 2011 playoffs is the stuff of legend. It was such a complete failure at both ends, when the Lakers needed him most, it's damning. Gasol could very well be the second best player in this division this year. He could also slide back with age.

Nash? Ho-hum, another 50-40-90 season (got to round up for once, but still). His weighted assists, factoring three-pointers assisted on, left him at 13, which means combined with his 15 points per game, he contributed 41 points per game to the Suns. That's absurd. It's also not the highest in the league for a point guard, but it's still an example of how good Nash is. He's flat-out old in relative terms of the league, and yet is in the best shape he possibly could be thanks to conditioning. Nash is still elite, an therefore neither he nor Gasol can be exempted.

Biggest Question: Can Golden State change its stripes?

Mark Jackson has to completely turn what the Warriors know as their identity inside out. They have to commit to defensive principles. David Lee, Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, these players are not known for this, at all. It's going to take a miracle. If Jackson can get them to buy in and if his system is good enough, the Warriors could make a jump. Kwame Brown helps down low (don't laugh, he's become a quality defender). But there's so much to be done in terms of changing this team's indentity, the Warriors could be in for rocky seas.

2012 Projected Standings:
1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Los Angeles Clippers
3. Golden State Warriors
4. Phoenix Suns
5. Sacramento Kings
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.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com