Clippers fans are jamming the lines of local sports-talk radio shows to boldly tell anyone who will listen that their team is now better than the other Los Angeles basketball team.
Count me in among the millions of people who can't wait to see what Chris Paul and Blake Griffin can do together on a basketball court. The possibilities seem endless—both for them as a pair and the team as a whole.
Lost in all this hysteria, however, has been one important question: Did the Clippers give up too much for CP3?
Here's what each team receives in the trade:
LA Clippers: G Chris Paul, two 2015 second-round draft picks.
We all know about Chris Paul. In my opinion, he's the best point guard in the league right now (sorry, Derrick Rose). Dynamic ball-handling skills, outstanding vision, thrives in both the fast break and half-court offense. Explosive speed and a terrific defender. A superb athlete, and at 26 years old, in the middle of his prime. Oh and by the way, Paul can shoot the rock, too. And there it is—I just ran out of positive basketball adjectives I can use to describe Chris Paul.
Another player I really, really like, however, is Eric Gordon. There's a reason why New Orleans demanded that Gordon be included in the deal. Last season with the Clippers, we saw Gordon evolve into a true NBA scorer (22.6 points per game) and an underrated defender. He's had some trouble with injuries the past couple seasons, but at just 22 years old, Gordon is going to be a top-15 scorer in this league for next decade. Those types of players do not grow on trees. They are very hard to come by.
However, Gordon's loss will be easier to digest with the acquisition of Chauncey Billups.
Billups is expected to report to practice Thursday morning and apparently is over his little temper tantrum following his release from the Knicks last week. I suppose I wouldn't be too thrilled either if my salary were cut by $12 million overnight.
But Chauncey is a proud player, and he'll give it his all on the court, just like he always has. Billups will probably play more at the shooting guard spot than he ever has before, but that should work just fine as he'll get of a lot of open looks at the basket.
And let's not forget that point guard Mo Williams is still on this roster and figures to play a decent amount of minutes backing up both Paul and Billups.
Moving on to Chris Kaman. He spent eight years in a Clippers uniform—the only one he's ever worn in the NBA. He gave LA a couple of very productive seasons, along with several disappointing ones. Still, he was a good player to have on the squad—a 7-footer with a decent offensive game who could create matchup problems in the paint.
But at this point in Kaman's career, he is who he is. He won't get any better. His run with the Clippers has run its course.
Now it's time for DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers were smart in signing this youngster to a four-year contract earlier this week. The 23-year-old is still very raw but will be given every opportunity to take over the center position for years to come. Jordan isn't super-talented offensively—but on this team, he won't need to be. Jordan will be counted on to provide defense, rebounding and toughness—all things he's already proven he can do in this league.
I'm not too concerned about the loss of Al-Farouq Aminu. He didn't live up to expectations during his rookie year after being selected eighth overall in the 2010 draft. Aminu is way undersized as a power forward and doesn't seem to have the skill set to play small forward in the NBA.
Either way, newly-acquired Caron Butler will start at small forward and provide an immediate upgrade at that position.
The X-factor in this trade is the draft pick that the Clippers had to give up. It's Minnesota's first rounder from next year—most likely a top-five pick. A potential superstar. It's hard to mess up with a top-five pick—although the Clippers have done it before (Michael Olowokandi and Darius Miles, anyone?)
So is the Chris Paul trade good for the Clippers? In my opinion, it depends on if Los Angeles can re-sign Paul two seasons from now. As part of the trade, Paul agreed to waive an early-termination option in his contract following this season—which means that he is all but guaranteed to be in a Clippers uniform for at least the next two seasons (hopefully longer than that, but as we're all seeing this offseason, the NBA is a business.)
At the end of the day, the Clippers have Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler and Mo Williams on the roster. At the same time. I'll take it.
One negative from the Paul trade: Clippers tickets are sure to become more expensive and harder to come by.
I doubt anyone's going to complain.
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