According to CBS Sports, sources close to New Orleans All-Star point guard Chris Paul are saying that the superstar wants to be traded. The report notes that Paul’s wish list includes the Knicks, Lakers and Magic. In short, Paul wants to join another superstar (see Miami Thrice: Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh).
The following article will look at each of those teams individually, and then argue that a fourth “dark horse” (the Portland Trail Blazers) could have the best shot of winning the CP3 sweepstakes.
The obvious place to start is the New York Knicks, the only one of the teams on Paul’s wish list that is under the salary cap. They could make an uneven trade and easily take on Paul’s salary. But there’s a catch. Any trade for Paul is likely going to involve teammate Emeka Okafor’s four-year, roughly $11.5 million-a-year contract. Couple that with Paul’s two-year, $15-million-a-year contract, and teams looking to pick up the league’s premier point guard will need to find a way to make room for $26 million.
The Knicks, despite being under the cap, would likely have to part ways with multiple players. Newly signed free agents Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton cannot be traded until Dec. 15. That leaves the Knicks with few desirable bargaining chips. The Hornets will likely want some talent in return. Right now, the only player bringing in much value would be Danilo Gallinari. This doesn’t look good for the Knicks.
The Lakers aren’t in a good position either. They would likely have to give up at least Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol or Lamar Odom – if not a combination of those players – and add in other players, like Artest or Walton. And the Lakers probably aren’t willing to part with that many pieces from their two-time defending NBA champion roster.
The Orlando Magic are in a little bit better situation. They could offer veteran Vince Carter and point guard Jameer Nelson. But Carter is getting old, and Nelson might have a hard time fitting in with the Hornets’ Darren Collison. Collison, who played phenomenally in place of Paul last season while Paul was hurt, is one of the major reasons the Hornets would consider trading Paul. Collison is obviously the Hornets’ point guard of the future, so bringing in another younger point guard – Nelson is only 28 – might not be the best fit. Additionally, both Nelson and Carter have two-year contracts, and the Hornets are looking to cut salary soon.
Enter the dark horse: the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers can offer the expiring contracts of Andre Miller and Joel Przybilla – roughly $15 million when combined – along with a host of young talents. The deal would probably have to include power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and his $11 million contract. The team could sweeten the deal with third-year guard Jerryd Bayless or 3-point specialist and Spanish star Rudy Fernandez, who reportedly is seeking a trade.
The Blazers reportedly just missed pulling off a deal for Paul before the draft. And they can offer expiring contracts and young talents. It may be hard for the Hornets to pass up a deal like that if Paul gets serious about leaving the team.