Chris Paul has spoken: He wants out of New Orleans, and fast.
The top three teams he has suggested are Los Angeles, New York, and Orlando.
All three would be intriguing landing spots for Paul, but if he ends up in Orlando, it would be the best outcome for the NBA.
The league is currently anticipating a clash between Miami and Los Angeles in the NBA Finals. Yeah, last time I checked, it is still July, but the prediction may prove to be correct in the end anyway.
But if Paul goes to Orlando, that immediately clouds the championship picture, and suspense is always a good thing. Predictability, not so much, except for Lakers fans, perhaps.
The most likely scenario would involve shipping Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson for Paul, with perhaps other pieces thrown in.
The Hornets may not want Carter, but they may not receive a better offer from the Knicks or Lakers, assuming they give Paul his wish and ship him to one of those three.
You would be looking at four legitimate title contenders in Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando and Boston, and it would be very hard to distinguish one from the other at this point.
Orlando would sport a dynamic Paul and Dwight Howard combination, with Paul throwing lobs to Superman like he used to do with Tyson Chandler. Paul would also give Orlando the penetrator that they have never truly had with Nelson. With all of the three-point options Orlando has, Paul is the perfect piece for their system. Also, getting rid of Carter may also prove to be addition by subtraction because he never really fit into the system last season.
As for the others: Miami has the Miami Thrice, Boston its Big Three, and of course, LA has Kobe.
You have to give the Lakers the edge as front-runners at this point because they are the defending champions, but Boston took them to the limit last season, so they have to be taken seriously as well, even if they are getting older.
Orlando and Miami have a disadvantage from an experience standpoint, but they would both have an ample amount of young talent to make up for that. Plus, Wade and much of Orlando’s core have Finals experience, so that helps.
The only negative aspect is that the Lakers would arguably have a much easier path to the Finals as the other three beat up on each other (along with a very talented Bulls team), but too much competition is not a bad thing.
The NBA is already well on its way to having a stark contrast between the haves and have-nots, so it is in the best interest of the league to have one of its brightest stars, Paul, go somewhere that he can make an impact on the championship picture.
If he goes to the Lakers, they might become overwhelming favorites, thereby removing all suspense for this season. People have speculated that he will be suffocated by the triangle offense, but he is so much more talented than the aging Derek Fisher that you cannot say he will not drastically improve the defending champions.
The Knicks are only an intriguing destination for Paul in terms of future speculation, mainly that of a possible Carmelo Anthony signing in New York. That would certainly be very interesting and take the Miami-New York rivalry to new levels.
But it would be purely speculative at this point, and you cannot really say that the Knicks are title contenders this season, even with Paul on board.
The NBA has already garnered an intense amount of interest this offseason, and Paul going to Orlando would only make things better for the league.
It might even raise the league’s interest level to heights it hasn’t seen in years.