For the second time in less than a week Chris Paul seemed to be on his way to the Los Angeles and for the second time in less than a week a trade to Los Angeles has been controversially blocked by NBA commissioner David Stern.
The league currently owns the New Orleans Hornets and it appears to be David Stern and not Hornets general manager Dell Demps that is in charge of the Hornets player personnel.
A three team deal involving the Hornets, Lakers, and Houston Rockets that would have sent Chris Paul to Los Angeles was disallowed last week. The Lakers tried to acquire for Paul a second time over the weekend, but pulled out trade talks all together after their new proposal went nowhere.
After the Lakers stopped their pursuit of Chris Paul, their Staples Center co-tenants quickly emerged as the new favorites to acquire the superstar point guard.
The Clippers offer of Chris Kaman (contract expires after the season), Al-Farouq Aminu (8th overall pick in 2010 NBA Draft), the Minnesota Timberwolves 2012 first round pick (a potential top five pick), and Eric Bledsoe or Eric Gordon looked like an enticing deal for a team that will likely lose their franchise star at the end of the season.
One could even argue that this proposal it was more appealing than the trade that would have sent Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, and Lamar Odom to New Orleans.
It wasn't clear which Eric that the Clippers intended to include as part of their proposal but the NBA's insistence on including both players in the trade, in addition to that Minnesota first round pick, was too much for the Clippers to include in a deal for Chris Paul.
He will remain a Hornet for the time being and its likely that he and the Players Association will now pursue a lawsuit after not one, but two trades for Paul were blocked by the NBA commissioner David Stern.
Trading Chris Paul to Los Angeles may not happen at all this season.
The Clippers have claimed point guard Chauncey Billups off waivers, but there's no guarantee that he will even suit up for the team. He demanded to not be claimed on waivers so he could sign with a team of his choice. He is also a short term solution for the Clippers and will likely not resign with them after the season.
The blocked trade may not stop the Clippers pursuit of Chris Paul in the longterm, that is unless Stern starts blocking free agent moves in the future as well.
Paul will become an unrestricted free agent after the season and the Clippers could have at least more than $10 million in cap space.
Chris Kaman and Randy Foye’s contracts will come off the books which will clear about $16.5 million in cap space for the Clippers. This is in addition to Chauncey Billups contract expiring after the season.
The team will have about $36 million committed salary going in to the next offseason. These calculations include a projected salary of about $8 million for Caron Butler and an salary of about $10 million for DeAndre Jordan (assuming the Clippers match his offer).
This is in addition to an estimated salary of $4 million for the player that the Clippers would select with that Minnesota pick and Maurice Williams player option being exercised. This figure could also be a little higher if rookie contracts for both Trey Tompkins and Travis Leslie are included.
2012-2013 Los Angeles Clippers Committed Salaries
DeAndre Jordan $10,000,000
Caron Butler $8,000,000
Maurice Williams $8,500,000 (player option for 2012-2013 season)
Blake Griffin $7,226,891
Eric Gordon $5,137,616
Ryan Gomes $4,000,000
Al Farouq-Aminu $2,947,800
Eric Bledose $1,707,720
Trey Tompkins $750,000
Projected Salary of Minnesota Timberwolves Draft Pick $4,000,000
Total Salaries: $,52,220,027
The NBA’s salary cap was $58.044 million last season. Next summer, the Clippers would have around $7 million in cap space under that figure. If the salary cap increases to around $60-61 million then the Clippers would have around $10 million in cap space. That figure could reach $14 million if the team is willing to amnesty Ryan Gomes contract for additional cap space.
The Clippers may not be able to offer Chris Paul a max contract, but they would be able to give him a near max deal and a chance to play for a team that would become an instant contender for an NBA Championship.
It’s not out of the question that the Clippers could add an impact rookie like Anthony Davis or Jared Sullinger, in addition to Paul this summer if they don’t trade for him now. There’s no guarantee that it will be a top five pick, let alone the first overall pick, but that selection (by whoever uses it) will certainly lead to a player with lots of potential.
C: DeAndre Jordan / Jared Sullinger or Anthony Davis
PF: Blake Griffin / Trey Tompkins
SF: Caron Buter / Al Farouq-Aminu
SG: Eric Gordon / Eric Bledsoe
PG: Chris Paul / Maurice Williams
Even if the Lakers are able to acquire Dwight Howard, this Clippers team would still be the better team in Los Angeles and arguably the most talented team in the league.
The Clippers trade for Chris Paul is on hold for now and it may never happen at the rate the NBA is blocking trades for him.
Fans in Los Angeles are once again upset by David Stern’s stern actions and the outcry from owners like Dan Gilbert, but this team could be better off longterm by waiting to sign him this summer.