The Detroit Pistons were just unceremoniously bounced in the first round by the Cleveland Cavaliers in a series that might’ve taken ten games for Detroit to muster a single win.
It’s been a long, fast fall for the Pistons, who had reached six straight Eastern Conference Finals before their 2009 exit.
Now, the Pistons have a dire need to revamp the roster, and the trade rumors are coning in fast and furious as seemingly everyone contemplates what the Pistons need to do.
One rumor that has been given legs by the Detroit Free Press in recent weeks is a trade with New Orleans that would bring Chris Paul, the game’s best point guard, to the Motor City.
The reasoning is that New Orleans is in a dire financial situation and will be forced to tap into the NBA’s $175 million line of credit next season. Reportedly, they could be as much as $22 million under the salary cap next year.
Meanwhile, Allen Iverson and Rasheed Wallace’s massive contracts are soon to come off the books for the Pistons, which should put detroit well below the cap as well.
So it all makes sense, right? Sure, except for the fact that superstars like Paul are almost impossible to come by, and their value is much more important than any other supplemental parts.
The Hornets wouldn’t hesitate to get rid of Paul’s entire supporting cast of guys like David West and Peja Stojakovic in order to hang onto Paul. They recently tried to dump Tyson Chandler to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the trade was nixed when Chandler had some physical issues.
The Pistons know better than any other team that their 2004 title was an aberration and not the norm, and that the league’s rules and structure favors star-driven teams like the Cavs with LeBron James and the Lakers with Kobe Bryant.
They will likely try as hard as they can to land a superstar, but Paul is one who won’t be traded until his time with the Hornets has run its course.
Remember that the Minnesota Timberwolves hung on to Kevin Garnett for 12 years before their relationship with him soured and they had no choice but to deal him to the Celtics.
Shaquille O’Neal only got away from the Lakers because of the blame game that was played between him and Kobe Bryant in the media after they were dismantled by the Pistons in the 2004 Finals.
The Nuggets refused to give up Carmelo Anthony to the Pistons early this year but had no problems parting with Allen Iverson, who happened to be on the downside of his career.
Paul is a young premium player in the prime of his career at the point guard position, a spot where he can make his teammates better. It's no coincidence that Chandler has stepped up his game since coming over and playing with Paul.
All hope is not lost for the Pistons, however. They can still get another All-Star caliber player from the Hornets in David West, but he'd come with the question of whether he truly is that good or just a benefactor of playing with Paul.
The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle, and that’s why Paul is so valuable to the Hornets and why the Pistons will need to look elsewhere to find their own superstar in the coming years.