by Mike Cannon
If you’re an NBA fan, you’ll like this article,if not….read anyway:
I will say that with all these trade rumors, signings and rosters changing, I am becoming extremely excited to watch the NBA this year. The NBA has not gotten me this intrigued since the 90’s. That’s partly because the Knicks haven’t been good recently, but also the ‘90s had great storylines, rivalries and feuds. The last couple of years with trades, the lockout, multiple “big 3s”, last year’s NBA finals, etc. have brought it back in that direction. Combine the drama that’s happened already with the fact the NCAA basketball has one of the most talented draft classes in years, we are looking at one of the better basketball seasons in a while.
Chris “CP3” Paul, one of the most talked about guys of the offseason, was traded Wednesday night to the LA Clippers. For those of you who are unaware, the Hornets traded Paul to the Clippers for guard Eric Gordon, forward Al-Farouq Aminu, center Chris Kaman and a first-round draft choice. (The Clippers also received two 2nd round picks from it as well)
First off, I want to say this is a great deal for the Hornets. They have very good young talent and a lottery pick to work around. I think the majority of the people agree this deal definitely works for them and would take it in a heartbeat. The more debatable topic is how it works for the Clippers. Some people say this made their team worse; I disagree. I like this move for the Clippers too. Even if you want to make the argument that the Hornets got the better of the trade, that doesn’t mean the Clippers should be upset by it. They should be excited. Blake Griffin IS excited big time, by the way. The NBA is a star-driven league, the Clippers have the pieces to be contenders now, and they acted on it. Plus, the Clippers have a different motive and direction than the Hornets for their future right now. There’s nothing wrong with a trade working for both teams.
Adding Chris Paul over Eric Gordon: Even after watching Paul for several years, I still think the people who say this trade makes the Clippers worse underestimate how good Paul is. While Gordon is very good, he’s nowhere near Paul’s level yet and most likely will never be. Paul is a game/team changer, he’s the best point guard in the game. There’s a reason he’s put up numbers comparable to Oscar, Magic, and Isaiah at this point in his career. Paul is much better than Gordon now, and will be for probably at least five years barring no injuries (his past knee issues really aren’t as bad as people make it out to be, and it’s over-dramatic and unfair comparing him to Brandon Roy). With all his talent and the fact that he’s much better at improving the players around him, he’s much more valuable than Gordon’s potential.
Adding Billups: The fact that the Knicks are the ones who have to pay $12 million out of Billups’ $14 million dollar salary is good in itself, then add everything else and you got to really like this addition for L.A. Billups is a veteran leader, an unselfish player who gets people involved, but also doesn’t mind taking offense into his own hands if he’s feeling it. He’s a great shooter and he makes teammates around him better. I think, if nothing else, Billups will be a nice contributor and is the smart kind of player who can easily adjust to the SG role without any problem.
Adding Butler: Caron Butler has had his share of injury problems, no doubt, but I think this is a good risk-reward signing. Butler is definitely a very solid player when healthy and could contribute offensively. Plus, Ryan Gomes can come off the bench and help out in that small forward role for LA.
Re-signing DeAndre Jordan: The Clippers probably overpaid for Jordan, but the market value is high for big men and it doesn’t intend to go down. The Kwame Brown signing for $7 million is a good example of it. Jordan is only twenty three years old, and he’s shown signs of athleticism and being able to produce a lot of value. Add that to the fact that the best PG in the game will be there to pass him the ball and work with, you should expect nothing but further improvement and development from the young big man.
Rise of Blake Griffin: We haven’t seen the best of Blake yet. He’s still young and hasn’t even peaked at his prime. I don’t think you can ask for a better guy than CP3 for Griffin to work with and develop into more of a star. I think Griffin will break out even more this year, and really become one of the league’s premier players.
Losing Aminu: I don’t think Aminu is as big of a loss as people are making him out to be. Even if the Clippers kept him he wouldn’t have started. And although he’s still young, he really wasn’t that great last year nor did he really show that many signs that he will be a future star. I wouldn’t consider him a huge loss long term, and I think he’s certainly replaceable in the future. I don’t even think he’d start over Trevor Ariza in New Orleans either this year. That’s not to say I’m ruling him out completely, but I just don’t see it as a devastating loss for the Clippers’ future.
Losing Kaman: The first argument you’ll hear FOR Kaman is that he is a decent, serviceable center who was an all-star 2 years ago. Well, he’s fallen off since then. While I definitely think it would have been nice for the Clippers to keep Kaman for this year as depth, he’s not young and he’s had frequent injury issues. He’s missed 50+ games 2 of the last 3 years (and close to 30 the year before that) Add that to the fact he wasn’t that great last year, it’s not like he’d be a part of the long term plan anyways. Plus, he’d be a bench player for L.A. this year regardless.
Losing 1st round draft pick: This is the big one. I agree this is probably the toughest to give up and the biggest thing, aside from Gordon, the Hornets should be happy about. But it’s also not fair to fully judge because right now it’s based on speculation. We don’t know exactly what pick it will be. It could be the 1st pick, it could be the 10th. We don’t know, and until then, we can’t automatically assume the Hornets will get some major draft pick who will turn into a superstar. But, I will say it’s safe to assume the Hornets will definitely benefit from young talent with it. Especially with this very talented incoming draft class.
The Bench and trade value: Since the Clippers now have 5 point guards on their team, (Paul, Billups, Randy Foye, Eric Bledsoe and Mo Williams) they certainly have room to make moves. They also have depth in that guard position to help out Billups. Bledsoe has a ton of potential, so personally I’d hold onto him, but Mo Williams can definitely be tradeable; even Foye if possible. Their holes right now are probably bench scoring and big man depth, and while every team has holes and isn’t perfect, they can still try to improve these areas.
Bottom Line: I like this team. I think they will be really fun to watch; particularly with Griffin and Jordan catching lobs from Paul. Like Griffin said, “It’s gonna be lob city.” I can definitely see them being contenders in the Western Conference this year too. And I like their future beyond just this year. With Griffin, Jordan, and even Bledsoe they still have a lot of young potential to work with, they’ll still have cap space for next offseason, and the roster now is going to make them a much more attractive FA destination than they’ve been in the past, and really ever for the Clippers. (You have to remember the Clippers are still in LA, and while they will never be the Lakers, it’s still a major market) Should be an interesting season, Christmas day is right around the corner.