Chris Paul didn't have any control over where he was traded in 2011, but he was supposedly happy with how things worked out.
ESPN's Arash Markazi reports that Paul told GQ just that:
"They had the better pieces," Paul said. "And winning with the Clippers would be legendary."
Well, winning with the Clippers would be legendary, at least in a sense. But so would winning with the Lakers, and in a better sense. After all, no one has forgotten Jerry West or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Nor will they forget Kobe Bryant, or any of the other icons who have donned the Purple and Gold.
Winning with the Clippers is more the stuff of novelty than legend. It would be an unprecedented accomplishment to be sure, but let's keep a few things in perspective.
He might win a title with the Clippers, but he's not getting two.
The "winning" would be short-lived, and Paul's legend along with it. This organization is better off now than it's ever been, but they aren't scaring anyone in a league with the Miami Heat and three Western Conference clubs with better title odds.
Then there's the even more perplexing half of the comment: "They had the better pieces."
The fake Bill Walton isn't buying it (and the real one hasn't tweeted since August):
Chris Paul saying he wanted the Clippers over the Lakers is like Lamar Odom saying he wanted Khloe over Kim. No way, no how!—Not Bill Walton (@NotBillWalton) September 19, 2012
Let's do some side-by-side comparison and test Mr. Paul's hypothesis.
In the painted area, who thinks Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are preferable to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol? Even before Bynum turned into Dwight Howard, the Lakers had one of the two best 7-footers in the game, and a young one at that.
Gasol may be older than Griffin and Jordan, but he's a skilled big man who will age gracefully. He may not dunk like the Clipper's poster-prone power forward, but he's the much better shooter from mid-range.
If Chris Paul were 22 years old, you might understand him preferring the younger core–but he was 26 when traded, firmly in his prime and ready to win now.
On the wing, you could certainly argue that Caron Butler is the better all-around small forward, but there's something to be said for the role Metta World Peace plays. The Lakers don't need him to score; they just need him to defend.
But then here's the most baffling part.
On what planet will the Clippers ever have a better backcourt rotation than the one featuring Kobe Bryant?
The only way you can interpret Paul's comments is as a thinly veiled slap in Kobe's face. Remember, there was no Nick Young or Jamal Crawford at this point in time, as if that would even make a difference.
These have to be fighting words. The only other plausible explanations are that: (1) Paul is shamelessly buttering up Clippers fans; (2) he's lost his mind; or (3) he'll say anything to remain relevant in a league that's perpetually passing him by.
The Clippers have actually made some pretty impressive strides this summer, beefing up a bench that needed it and surrounding Paul with some versatile veterans like Grant Hill and Lamar Odom.
Things are more or less heading in the right direction.
That doesn't mean this roster did or does have the better pieces.