Chris Paul and 7 NBA Stars Who Must Always Have Input in Front-Office Decisions
The Los Angeles Clippers' front office showed the kind of urgency this summer that you might expect from an organization doing everything within its power to keep a franchise player around for a while longer.
And of course, that's exactly what it was trying to do.
With former Laker Matt Barnes on his way to the Clippers, L.A.'s new-look bench will feature the likes of Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf–a vastly improved unit when compared to last season's reserves.
Paul, who carries more Clippers clout than ever these days because of his looming free agency in 2013, has been included in the team's decision-making process throughout the summer and would love to make Barnes the latest addition.
CP3 isn't yet in desperation-mode, but at 27, his opportunities to compete for a title are looking increasingly finite. His abilities to make meaningful contributions to such a title run won't last forever either.
From the Clippers' standpoint, Paul represents the best chance this team has at contending, and he wouldn't be easy to replace.
Keeping Paul happy is the difference between another bout of rebuilding and taking advantage of power forward Blake Griffin's best years by ensuring he isn't the only superstar in the locker room.
Paul's situation isn't at all unprecedented. Franchise-defining superstars are treated like royalty, and in some cases, they probably deserve to be. Here's a look at seven stars who've earned the Chris Paul treatment.
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
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Carmelo Anthony may never be in the same league as LeBron James as an all-around player, but he remains one of the most dominant scorers the game's seen in recent memory. That means he needs the ball in his hands, and it means he needs plenty of shots.
To that end, it also means the New York Knicks have be built around Anthony.
He needs to be around players who won't get in the way of his strengths and players who will compensate for his weaknesses. In other words, guys who can space the floor on the offensive end and get stops on the defensive end.
The Knicks have already invested too much in the current experiment to go about it half-heartedly.
This is no time to turn back and hatch some kind of plan that requires Anthony to change who he is. That was one of the fundamental problems with Mike D'Antoni coaching this squad. He wasn't the right coach for Anthony.
This kind of team-building may be a bit backwards, but it's a necessity when you're talking about a player like Carmelo.
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
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So long as Kobe Bryant's around, he absolutely has to be the final word on everything important that happens in the land of Purple and Gold. He'll leave you with the impression that he and GM Mitch Kupchak rarely talk things over, but who is he kidding?
Kobe might play for another five years, but each one that goes by takes with it some of the likelihood that he'll win his sixth ring.
He looks pretty good at age 34, but no one has any delusions about how open his window of title opportunity remains. Making the most of that opportunity is a group effort, but ensuring Bryant's happiness with that group is essential.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
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The legendary power forward has been integral to one of the most successful franchises in professional sports, but he managed to keep a relatively low profile in spite of two MVP awards and four championships.
In a quest for his fifth, there's no question he should be a part of San Antonio's decision-making process.
As one of the game's most cerebral players, he might actually make some valuable contributions to that process. But more importantly, he's owed that opportunity as a sign of respect for all his loyalty, accomplishments and the example he's consistently set for his team and city alike.
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
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It's hard to imagine GM Sam Presti running the kind of organization that's defined by hero-worship and flattery. That's not his style, and it's not the Oklahoma City Thunder's style.
Nor, for that matter, is it Kevin Durant's.
But let's keep some realities in mind about the 23-year-old. He's already led the league in scoring three times, and he's led his similarly young teammates to the NBA Finals. KD ranked second in the 2012 MVP voting in what was an unmistakable two-man race.
In short, you do whatever it takes to keep Durant happy, even if it really doesn't take much at all.
Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
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Including him in roster decisions wouldn't just be a matter of keeping him happy; it's a matter of making sure that he's surrounded by the right kind of talent going forward. If Rondo shares a solid chemistry with the next generation of Celtics, this team could remain a dangerous contender even after Pierce and Garnett call it quits.
Moreover, Rondo understands the game as well as anyone.
With some stars, consultation is more about placating than anything else. With Rondo, it would actually be in the interest of making good basketball decisions. It's also a matter of generating buy-in.
General manager Danny Ainge has gotten by pretty well on his own over the years, but maintaining a healthy dialogue with his franchise cornerstone ensures that everyone's on the same page and comfortable with the direction Boston is headed.
The next summer or two may be quiet ones for the organization, but that will change soon enough.
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
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When you're 23 years old and already have an MVP award to your name, let's just say you probably have a bit of leverage with your franchise.
Derrick Rose might not be the type to put his foot down and demand much from his front office, but that doesn't mean he should be overlooked in the midst of any serious decisions. The hometown hero puts the Chicago Bulls in a position to contend for a decade, and no one involved with this organization wants those years to go to waste.
You better believe GM Gar Forman will keep Rose in the loop when it comes time for the Bulls to make decisions about guys like Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng. As good as Chicago's roster looks at the moment, it could look even better as Rose reaches his prime years.
If the right pieces fall into place, we could be looking at the rebirth of a dynasty.
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
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Before James and Chris Bosh teamed up with Wade to pursue rings in All-Star fashion, Wade got a ring of his own with the Heat and cemented his status as the face of the franchise. He's also spent his entire career in Miami, and his seniority should count for something.
Of course, there's a pretty good argument that Wade and James should both have their say when it comes to personnel decisions, and chances are they do.
Chances are there's little Pat Riley hasn't done to keep these two guys happy.
So long as they remain on the floor, the Heat can win titles. If that means they should play a role on what happens off the floor as well, so be it.