The Chris Paul saga has ended. And while the term “saga” has been used for a lot of fiascos and ongoing events, this one actually fit the definition of a saga: A series of events or a story stretching over a long period (or so says dictionary.com). We had the vetoed Lakers-Rockets deal, the trade the Clippers pulled out of and the trade the Clippers actually made.
Paul will obviously be playing in LA. On the Hornets side of things they got a guy who could be more of a dynamic scoring threat than he already is (Eric Gordon). They also acquired a guy with a ton of upside in Al Farouq Aminu, a borderline All-Star in Chris Kaman and Minnesota’s unprotected 2012 first round pick.
Minnesota’s first rounder could end up not being the number one overall pick that everyone thinks it will be. While it’s probably a lottery pick, people have to remember that Minnesota has some talent. Kevin Love is ridiculous on the boards. Guards Ricky Rubio and JJ Barea can fill it up along with former number two overall pick Michael Beasley. That, combined with the lottery, could sink the chances for a number one overall selection. The draft is going to be extremely deep this year, and the lottery will be the crème of the crop.
So that’s the Hornets coming away with an extremely legit shooting guard in Eric Gordon. Kaman, who could be moved for more pieces and picks, is even more of a trade piece than usual because of his expiring contract and high level of play. Farouq Aminu still has a high ceiling and will contribute to the team. You throw in Aminu and Gordon with two lottery picks in a stacked draft, and it means two potentially good to superstar type players.
On the flipside you have Chris Paul lining up with Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan as a starting five. Follow that up with Eric Bledsoe, Mo Williams, Randy Foye and Ryan Gomes off the bench. Add on a potential to bring in another big guy, which they need, and you have the potential to be really, really good long term.
On the flip-flip-side there are the Lakers. The Lakers not only lost out on Chris Paul, but lost one of their key players in the process: Lamar Odom. Throw in that with his replacement, none other than Josh McRoberts (not a bad player at all, just not Odom), and you have all the ingredients for a dismal year.
To be honest, at this point a dismal year for the Lakers is probably a loss in the conference semifinals like last year. The Lakers could be faced with the realization that not only the Clippers could be better in the long term, but also that the Lakers could be on the short end of the stick in the present. Another realization that could come to fruition is that this could be the eventual downfall of the Kobe Bryant era. Pau Gasol could be shipped out to either get Dwight Howard, or pieces for him. Ditto Andrew Bynum. If Gasol goes and Howard isn’t on the plane back to LA then we might see a string of seasons somewhere in the no man’s land that is first-round playoff losses that could happen until Kobe eventually retires (yes that will happen at some point in time Lakers fans).
Because of this the Lakers probably will throw a behind-the-scenes temper tantrum at the League and David Stern after getting their own Chris Paul deal nixed and then seeing him head to their constant-butt-of-jokes-cross-arena-more-of-a-punching-bag-than-rival-Clippers. It may surprise you, or it may not, but at season’s end the better team is probably going to be the punching bag.