NBA Trade Rumors: Is New Orleans Better Off Without Chris Paul?

Euno LeeCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2010

DALLAS - FEBRUARY 13:  NBA player Chris Paul attends the 23/25 Energy Space presented by Jordan Brand in Dallas, Texas on Februrary 13, 2010.  (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Jordan Brand)
Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Chris Paul wants to move out of New Orleans.  Should New Orleans be saying good riddance?

In my last column about Chris Paul, I unfortunately compared LeBron James and Chris Paul's attitudes and presented them as comparable.

Please don't get the wrong idea; Chris Paul's wish to be traded is nowhere near the level of disappointment that LeBron James created last month.

Aside from being the most beloved athlete with two first names since Ricky Bobby, Chris Paul does not have a galactically-inflated sense of self-importance like James. 

Chris Paul wants to win basketball games, and he feels it's much more difficult than it has to be with the likes of David West and an over-the-hill, perpetually overrated Peja Stojakovic, and Emeka Okafor, who needs no adjectives.

Can you blame him?  Aside from West, the aforementioned supposed "marquee players" are simply glorified bench-players.  If Emeka Okafor is your starting center, you're probably not going very far into the Playoffs.

There are a few absolute truths right now before we continue:

-  The Hornets have no intention of trading Chris Paul as of right now.  The Hornets upper management will meet with Chris Paul on Monday to discuss short-term and long-term roster-building goals.  Hornets President Hugh Weber denied that Chris Paul is available.

-  If what Paul says is true, and he truly does want out of New Orleans, the Hornets are better off dealing him.

-  Chris Paul would be a wonderful fit or a significant upgrade on virtually any squad but the L.A. Lakers and the Utah Jazz; which is a good thing, because neither team is reportedly on his "wish-list."

-  The Hornets are not obligated to deal Chris Paul to any of his desired destinations.  Doing such a thing is usually done in the form of a favor; Antawn Jamison to the Cleveland Cavaliers comes to mind.  If the Hornets have to deal Chris Paul, it absolutely will be to a team that can offer them the most in return.

-  Darren Collison played more than capably in Paul's stead; the Hornets just don't have enough talent and don't play hard enough on defense to win games.  Collison put up some absolutely gaudy scoring games, shot a more-than-fair 47% from the field, 40% behind the arc, and 85% from the line. 

In his rookie season. 

To compare, Chris Paul shot 49-40-85, respectively.  If Collison could watch the turnovers, (he led the league last season) and play some defense, what's the ceiling on this guy?  Is it higher than Chris Paul? 

-  Chris Paul's knee, no matter what anyone says, is not 100%.  It will never be 100%; the guy has one less meniscus in his knees than you or I, and it was done to bring Chris Paul back more quickly without much thought for how it might affect him in the future.  

If Chris Paul leaves, it's certainly not good riddance for Hornets fans.  However, if the Hornets could get younger players and some first round draft picks, I could see this being potentially a win-win situation for both teams, in the same way Marc Gasol, for some godless reason, happened to pan out for the Grizzlies. 

It's not exactly Bledsoe to Brady, but I can see Collison flourishing in an uptempo offense with Marcus Thornton, and other players who are willing to run the floor with him.  Once again, that comes with the caveat that he plays some defense on the other side and stops turning the ball over so much.

Should Chris Paul be dealt, at least expect New Orleans to deal for younger talent and draft picks, in the interest of trimming payroll yet again.  The smart basketball decision (and really, trading away Chris Paul is seldom a "smart basketball decision") would be to build around Marcus Thornton and Darren Collison.

If Chris Paul leaves, New Orleans brass should be savvy enough to bring in some decent young talent to complement a younger nucleus, and also package Okafor somehow in one of those "don't let the door hit your [redacted] on your way out" deals.

It's not exactly a winning situation if Paul is dealt.  However, New Orleans has plenty of  sugar to turn lemons into lemonade.