Oklahoma City News, Entertainment & Occasional Humor • Established 2007

Peace, Love and Thunderstanding: CP3 Redux

Chris Paul

Remember that high school sweetheart you had?  The girl who taught you that you could love and you never wanted to be apart from.  Then, you got accepted to different colleges and broke up the Summer before freshman year on amicable terms because you both knew that the long distance thing would never work.  During college you met the love of your life, started a family after graduation, and know your life is going exactly as it should.

But you still occasionally think about that first love.

For Oklahoma City, that first love was Chris Paul who went with the Hornets back to New Orleans.  More than any single person, even Mayor Mick, I believe it is Paul who can be credited with infecting this area with the NBA bug.  His humble, likable demeanor coupled with his jaw dropping ability at the point guard position proved to this market that the NBA was not the game that had become synonymous with Stephon Marbury’s “me-first” game or Ron Artest’s lunacy.  He was a joy to watch on the floor, and a player the city could be proud to have as a representative off of the court.  To this day, the city has to take pride that his professional infancy was played out here.

These days, Oklahoma City has the Thunder, and as a whole we are much better for the franchise swap.  Our current franchise boasts another player with the superstar capability (albeit a different skill set) in Kevin Durant, but it also surrounds him with potential to build a long term dynasty.  CP3’s Hornets are not in the same boat.  A few poor contract choices, the issue of returning to a market that did not support the team prior to a cataclysmic event (and now could not even if they had been a strong base prior), and a struggling economy has basically mired the Hornets in a disastrous situation.  They have one of the highest payrolls in the league and are, at best, a borderline playoff team.

We saw first hand how the team was attempting to get out of their economic situation when they basically gave the Thunder Tyson Chandler, one of the few true centers in the league who is not worthless.  Of course, that trade was rescinded when the doctor who performed Chandler’s toe surgery while living in Oklahoma City red flagged said toe as a risk the Thunder should not take on.  So, now the Hornets are looking at other ways to alleviate the salary cap problems.

That leads to  news that Chris Paul seriously thinks he might be traded.  He later recanted, but the author who wrote the article says the quote is on tape.  And while, honestly, the Hornets would be insane to trade their franchise player, the truth is that their owner is possibly insane and cheap.  With the other contracts weighing the team down being practically untradeable, they may have to deal their star out of necessity.

If they do, one team has the assets to make it happen.  After the jump, find out how the Thunder could bring back their first love and create a Big Love-style pairing of CP3 and Kevin Durant.

With the possibility of giving up Chris Paul as a last resort, the Hornets would never even consider this unless they get two things in return.

  1. They have to get good players (preferably young, inexpensive players) in return.
  2. They have to get immediate salary cap relief.

Oklahoma City has the assets to get them both.  The team is currently, by my calculations $9.7MM under the salary cap, and they have almost nothing except young, inexpensive players on the roster.  That means they can take back more in salary than they receive, and they have players the Hornets might be interested in rebuilding with.

In this case, the Thunder can actually take back a LOT more in salary than they send out.  Chris Paul is a “base year compensation” player–one of the most difficult to understand statuses of the collective bargaining agreement, so I’m not going to even try explaining except to say he will be paid $13.8MM next season, but for trade purposes, he only counts as $6.8MM in factoring in whether the trade works.  So, if the team agreed to take on the last two years of Peja Stojakovic (the elite shooter with a bad injury history) who makes $14.2MM this season, the Thunder would only have to send out approximately $11MM worth of contracts back to New Orleans to make the deal work.

Any package that would get Hornets’ GM Jeff Bowers’ interest would have to be built around Russell Westbrook.  As a second year player, Westbrook still has three seasons left on his rookie contract and his rookie season showed him to be a player with a lot of promise.  D.J. White could be another young player tossed into the equation.  Considering that the Hornets attempted to sign Brandon Bass this off season, White would probably interest them considering how similar the two players style is, and the fact that White is also (NBA) cheap the next three seasons.  To make the deal work economically, Oklahoma City would also ship Damien Wilkins’ expiring contract and Chucky Atkins who could be bought out to save the Hornets another couple of million.  Then, to get such an elite player like Paul, the Thunder would probably have to part with at least one first round draft pick.

For the Thunder, such a deal would make them an immediate playoff caliber team.  Chris Paul is, in my opinion, the best point guard in the world.  He makes every player on the team better, witnessed by him leading a weak Hornets team a two seed in the 2008 NBA playoffs.  Stojakovic, too, could have a huge impact for the Thunder as one of the best shooters to ever play the game of basketball–covering a weakness I have been complaining about since I first started writing this column.  With those two on board, the Thunder would boast a rotation that looked like this:

PG – Chris Paul/Shaun Livingston
SG – Thabo Sefolosha/James Harden/Kyle Weaver
SF – Kevin Durant/Peja Stojakovic
PF- Jeff Green/Nick Collison/Serge Ibaka
C –  Nenad Krstic/Byron Mullens

The long term salary cap implications are not detrimental, either.  Stojakovic comes off the books after next season.  So while it does take the Thunder out of the 2010 Free Agent bonanza, the odds are that they would not have been big players in that market anyway.  Most of the big market teams have been long term planning for next Summer for years, so the big names will be out of play for Sam Presti.  Plus, Durant and Green will be in line for huge pay raises beginning in 2011, so Stojakovic’s over compensation will come off the books at the right time.  Then, if he manages to stay healthy (which is possible considering he would not play starter minutes for this team) and benefit the team as the shooting specialist they need, he could be re-signed to a more reasonable deal.

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Comments

  1. Nooo! Don’t fill my thoughts with this pipe dream. I would love to have a Durant/Green/Paul smackdown. Hell, I might even buy season tickets with that caliber. But I doubt it will happen.

    If it does, I’ll buy you 12 Blazin Wings.

  2. As much as I love me some wings, the odds of the Hornets coming to the conclusion that they have to trade CP3 and the Thunder still having the ability to make a deal happen are astronomically low. I think it would have to happen before training camp, before the Thunder sign a couple of league minimum players (eating just enough from the salary cap space) and before they cut Chucky Atkins. In fact, when I first thought up the deal, it was a lot easier because Earl Watson’s contract was available to be included. Then they waived him, and I had to come up with something different. That’s how fast things change.

  3. If it DID happen, and we traded Paul for a Westbrook package, maybe afterwards we could pick up Rubio from the Timberwolves. From online reports, looks like that the Rubio pick is going to waste for Minnesota.

    Back in the real world, I say we try and get Chandler again, and tell the Doc to STFU.

  4. No offense Clark, but the “superteam” you propose with CP3 and Stojakovic is about as likely as Jenni Carlson winning a Pulitzer for her journalistic integrity!

  5. I can’t see EVEN “Slimy Shinn” gutting his team like a gulf-coast fish monger. Now if he and the team were to go bankrupt…….

    Of course that would make us the “Fiat” of the NBA to their Chrysler! Is Bennett really THAT invested?

  6. Interesting trade scenario although I have to agree with everyone saying that Shinn would be off his rocker to deal Paul now.

    I was thinking that a more realistic scenario would have David West coming back to OKC. In a very discreet manner, he let it be known in so many words that he preferred staying in OKC over returning to New Orleans. There’s no doubt that he wouldn’t complain about any trade bringing him back north.

    I’ve been to one game in New Orleans since the return of the Hornets and the one thing that stood out was the constant bickering between he and Chris Paul. Not saying that the two hate each other but I have to think that there would be less sad faces over the departure of West as opposed to losing Chandler, which brought about much dismay among Hornet players.

    As for who the Thunder would give up, I have to think that CP3 and Peja for DJ White, Nick Collison and Chucky Atkins would work or something along those lines.

  7. I had commented over at the dailythunder that the only way NO trades CP3 is if someone is willing to take Peja’s horrible, horrible contract.

    But this past month I saw teams actually trade for Zack Randolph and Sebastian Telfair. Which reminded me that there is still the distinct possibility that some GM will actually take Peja on his own and bail the Hornets out.

  8. See, I wouldn’t be interested in West. If he can’t get along with Chris Paul, the guy who makes him more than a run-of-the-mill power forward, who can he get along with? Besides, we already have West 2.0 in Jeff Green.

  9. This is possible. Kevin Durant does not light up a room with his personality. Chris Paul would instantly become the new face of the franchise and you would have a hug surge in ticket sales.

    All that and OKC has a little angel in their corner, David Stern. He loves us, Shinn not so much.

    and then we go get Blake who is already faking injuries to stay away from playing for the Clips. Oh the joy. I must get back to my bong.

  10. […] The Lost Ogle fantasizing about bring Chris Paul to OKC: “That leads to news that Chris Paul seriously thinks he might be traded. He later recanted, but the author who wrote the article says the quote is on tape. And while, honestly, the Hornets would be insane to trade their franchise player, the truth is that their owner is possibly insane and cheap. With the other contracts weighing the team down being practically untradeable, they may have to deal their star out of necessity. If they do, one team has the assets to make it happen. After the jump, find out how the Thunder could bring back their first love and create a Big Love-style pairing of CP3 and Kevin Durant.” […]

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