It's a funny game, this basketball. One minute you've cashed in a huge trade chip for nominal upgrades and one of your biggest fans has holes all over his drywall, the next the best point guard in the NBA could become yours.
The Dallas Mavericks entered this summer with pie-in-the-sky hopes of landing Dwyane Wade or LeBron James, and when that fell through they turned Erick Dampier's expiring $13 million contract into a backup center and some financial relief.
Literally within hours of the Dampier-for-Chandler trade, wisps of a Chris-Paul-wants-out-rumor started to rise. A week or so later, and it's come to a full-blown boil, with the point guard allegedly having picked four teams to be traded to.
The Blazers, Knicks, and Magic are sure interesting, but I'm here to talk about the Mavericks. With it's best trade chip gone, do the Mavericks have enough left to make a serious play for Paul?
The answer is yes, and they have more to offer than the Knicks and Blazers, and even out bid the Magic.
The Mavericks have more than $20 million in expiring contracts, young talent, cash, trade exceptions, and first-round picks to offer.
Caron Butler, Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson, and JJ Barea are all in the last years of their contract. Besides Stevenson, three of those players are capable of being good players for a stretch. They will all be employed after their current contracts expire, and we already know Butler can play like an All-Star.
Rodrigue Beaubois, Ian Manhinmi, Dominiqie Jones, and Alexis Ajinca are young talents at a good price, and they range from NBA-ready to projects, but each could be capable of assisting a franchise in rebuilding mode.
With Marcus Thornton and Darren Collison, the Hornets could have their backcourt of the future, so maybe big men are what they're looking for with David West getting worse by the millisecond and Emeka Okafor likely on his way out with Paul.
Okafor and Posey, as well as Paul, represent the Hornets' longest, most expensive commitments, and one could argue both Posey and Okafor are, at this point, little more than dead weight.
The Mavericks could use Okafor, as a backup power forward to Dirk (they currently have no PFs other than Dirk on their roster) and a backup to Haywood. He'd be an expensive backup, but more than serviceable.
Posey and Marion would be a great combo on both ends of the floor, as both can defend long athletic wing players defensively. On offense, Marion can provide the low post game and rebounds, while Posey is an outside threat.
I would imagine both Paul and Chandler would love a reunion in Dallas, but the cold reality is, Chandler would likely be headed back to the Big Easy.
The Orlando Magic could offer the Hornets a talented package of players, but not a financially attractive one. Jameer Nelson, Brandon Bass, and Marcin Gortat are attractive pieces, but there's one problem.
The Magic couldn't (and probably wouldn't) take on Okafor's contract. A Nelson-Bass-Gortat deal for Paul-Posey would work, but with Okafor's $11 million cap number it just won't work, even if a players like Ryan Andersen and Mikael Pietrus were thrown in.
Okafor is by far the worst contract on the Hornets, so it would be tough for the Hornets to lose Paul without also dumping that contract, so there's a plus for the Mavericks.
The Mavericks would make Paul their starting point guard, which would help ease the burden on Jason Kidd, as well as help Paul take it easy coming back from his injury. Kidd could see some time at shooting guard, since he can guard other 2-guards and hit open threes.
I'm sure I don't have to tell you that thinking of Dirk and Chris Paul running the pick and roll, Shawn Marion and Paul running the fast break, Jason Terry and Paul running the pick and pop, and the idea of Paul to Haywood alley-oops is making me giggle like a schoolgirl.
So while the Mavericks are indeed long shots at Paul, they've got a better chance than they did for LeBron and Wade. It looks like this time, Paul is ready to listen to the Mavs.