The Los Angeles Clippers are in the final stages of a blockbuster trade for Chris Paul after a resubmitted deal with the Lakers and Rockets fell through over the weekend. The Clippers are reportedly offering Chris Kaman, Eric Bledsoe, Al Farouq-Aminu and Minnesota’s unprotected first round pick. There is some discrepancy between sources as to whether Clippers shooting guard Eric Gordon is in the deal as well. The Clippers are awaiting the League’s approval, but the disagreement regarding Gordon may hold up the trade.
People around the league are already comparing the Clippers deal to the Lakers/Houston threeway offer which would have netted the Hornets Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and possibly two first-round picks.
Minus Eric Gordon, the Lakers/Rockets deal is a better haul. Even with Gordon, it can be argued the threeway offer is better. The Clippers deal just doesn’t pass the eye-test when compared the LAL/HOU offer. And that’s the point. Stern doesn’t want veterans that can help the Hornets finish 43-39 and 8th in the Western Conference. You cannot rebuild with the 17th pick in the draft.
But what about the Timberwolves unprotected first rounder? Sure, the Fighting Rubio’s could turn into a disaster. But Minny has a nice young core that has the potential to develop into a solid squad. Minnesota just added free agent guard J.J. Barea into the mix as well. The Timberwolves could take the league by surprise in the strike shortened sprint of a regular season.
New Orleans recently announced they reached their goal of selling 10,000 season ticket packages for this season. That’s money in the bank and a sign that despite the Chris Paul rumors, Big Easy residents will remain loyal to the Hornets. Team president Hugh Weber expects more sellouts this season, according to NOLA.com.
“In some ways we’re very excited, knowing this is something we’ve been very focused on for a very long time,” Weber told NOLA.com. “At the same time, we know it’s just a step along the process. We said this was just something that was going to help us get a local owner, be something that helped us rebrand the team.”
Stern can rest easy knowing he has the seats filled with asses. Now, the truth is, those seats will become unoccupied once the team starts losing games. And if the Clippers deal goes through, they will lose games. But there’s losing and then there is rebuilding. The Hornets could fast-track the rebuilding process by stockpiling high lottery picks in what is being considered a loaded 2012 Draft class. If the Hornets can offer an exciting, young team with a solid core, the fans will show. If nothing else, Hornets GM Dell Demps proved his worth during the offseason orchestrating quality trade(s) and handling his business with absolute class. Another hotheaded GM could have cried foul and walked out, creating a real disaster for the Hornets. Instead, Demps wants to build a program in New Orleans, a place where the team can grow together and eventually become consistent playoff contenders.
So, if and when the deal goes down, David Stern should expect another round of well-deserved bashing from the media. Look, he was wrong for suddenly injecting himself into the basketball-related moves of the Hornets. His meddling affected the roster decisions of half the NBA. The way in which he went about rejecting the trade was wrong. But let’s be clear. Owners nix trades all the time. Stern is not a usual owner, obviously. But in some ways, he was right. You don’t rebuild a program by acquiring veterans and taking on high salaries. You create cap-space, stockpile picks and take fliers on young, talented, but unproven players. It worked for Oklahoma City. It can work for the Big Easy.