The Hornets were in a tough place a little less than a year ago, but thanks to David Stern, they got what was ultimately the best deal for Paul. Instead of bringing in a crop of players like Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Lamar Odom and Goran Dragic, the likes of which would have sent the team directly to the middle, New Orleans was given Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminou, Chris Kaman and a lottery pick.
A trade with the Lakers would have given them the players necessary to hang in the race for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference, while the latter allowed them to bottom out, thanks in part to an injury to Gordon.
It was the better plan to bottom out, especially with Stern in charge of the draft (if you're into conspiracy theories).
However, looking back, it does feel like a bit of a hollow trade now that Gordon will be out for an extended period of time for the second time as a member of the Hornets. Instead of undergoing microfracture surgery, Gordon will rehab his knee for about a month and then get back on the court.
If you're a Hornets fan, that has to feel like Gordon's long saga piling on. He had surgery on his right knee back in February, playing only nine games for the Hornets last season. Then over the summer, he signed an offer sheet with Phoenix and asked the Hornets not to match their offer. Of course, fearing that they would end up with nothing more than cap relief and a terrible season from the Chris Paul trade, they felt compelled to keep him.
Now they have an unhappy Gordon who is halfway to Brandon Roysville, with the cartilage in his knees quickly eroding.
The saving grace, of course, is Anthony Davis.
New Orleans needs a big season from Davis, not in order to win enough games to make it to the playoffs, but to both give the fans some faith in the organization and a reason to watch the games. There's nothing more fun than a rookie who looks like he could end up being a superstar.
Already, Hornets fans got to see Davis go up against Tim Duncan, the guy he was compared to for the entirety of the offseason, and he played great against him. Davis put up 21 points and had seven rebounds to go along with some nice defense.
Before going out with a concussion in his second game, the kid had already piled up eight points, six rebounds and two blocks in 14 minutes.
He can hit the long-range jumper, his guard skills haven't been over-hyped and he could tussle with anybody on defense.
Unfortunately, it was an abbreviated debut with the concussion, but once he does come back, he's going to need to lead this team down the road the rest of the way.
With a successful Davis at the helm, this team suddenly gains confidence and the arena stays full. If Davis struggles as the season extends past February and March, then the excitement could fizzle out and throw a serious blow at this recovering franchise.
There's a lot of fragility that surrounds the fanbase of a team that just saw their best player leave.
They want to love basketball again and they want to believe that the new star player they're watching isn't going to up and leave like the old one.
Cleveland is going through that with Kyrie Irving, and for the most part, they've recovered. There's still a bit of cautious optimism surrounding the team, especially when it comes to the newer and less-proven arrivals like Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters.
The star of Kyrie Irving is like the Alka Seltzer that settles Cavs fans' stomachs, however. There's something solid to be positive about, and that's what they need more than anything.
If Anthony Davis can prove that he's going to be just that for New Orleans (or possibly a little bit more), then Hornets fans will always have something to calm them down when Austin Rivers has a bad game or—knock on wood—Eric Gordon's knee explodes again.