Chris Paul Needs to Pick Up Option to Make Trade Worthwhile for Clippers
Two league-rejected deals later, the Clippers and Hornets reportedly have agreed to a trade that sends Chris Paul to Los Angeles. The initial deal between the teams was rejected by the league, but the newer version replaced Eric Bledsoe with Eric Gordon.
As it stands, the Clippers are receiving Chris Paul and two future second-round picks. The Hornets are receiving Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman (and his expiring contract), and Minnesota’s unprotected first-round pick.
Gordon averaged over 22 points per game last year, and he was quickly becoming one of the better shooting guards in the NBA. The Clippers will have a hole at the shooting guard position, but they have an overflow of point guards. They have CP3, Mo Williams, and Eric Bledsoe. They also have Chauncey Billups, whom they claimed off waivers, but they may buy him out of his contract. Billups was already upset the Knicks had amnestied him, so he probably won’t want to play the two, or be a backup.
The Clippers now have Chris Paul, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan in their starting lineup. They may play Randy Foye at shooting guard unless they can trade Mo or Bledsoe for another two-guard. That is their weakness for now, but they still have a good team.
Just adding Chris Paul to the mix gives the Clippers an excellent shot at reaching the playoffs. Paul is arguably the best point guard in the league. He had the Hornets in the playoffs last year and now he’ll be on a better team, so they should expect to be one of the top eight teams in the West. Their NBA championship odds have even lowered from 50:1 to 15:1, though that seems to be an excessive swing.
The key to the deal is Paul picking up his player option next season. He is due $17.7 million and has told the Clippers he will pick up the option. He has to. If the Clippers gave up a future lottery pick plus Eric Gordon for one season of Chris Paul, they would be in bad spot after the year. But if Paul gives them two years, and they make the playoffs both years, the trade will be worthwhile. Plus, if Paul enjoys his two seasons with the Clippers, he may consider re-signing with them. But the key is to pick up his option and give them two playoff years.
The Clippers have only made the playoffs four times since playing in LA. If they had the chance to acquire Chris Paul, even if it meant Eric Gordon, it was too good of an opportunity to overlook.