The hottest NBA story of the day thus far has come from NBA hotbed, New Orleans, Louisiana: Chris Paul, widely considered the best Point Guard in the league, wants a trade and the Lakers (Potentially) are on his short list. The knee-jerk reaction from most sports bloggers and so-called experts revolve around a trade package involving Andrew Bynum. But what if the Lakers didn't have to give up the budding young Center to get the superstar? Let's explore what this means...
Here is the trade proposal as well as a rundown of the benefits for each team:
Lakers receive: Chris Paul
Magic receive: Lamar Odom
Lakers - Chris Paul represents another superstar to team with Kobe Bryant, currently the best player in the league, if not all-time. He would come in as an enormous upgrade over both Derek Fisher and Steve Blake. Paul is not only immensely talented, drawing comparisons to the great Magic Johnson, but he also possesses a high basketball IQ, something many of today's stars lack.
Paul's ability to break down a defense is nearly unparalleled in the association, using quickness, vision and intelligence to frustrate opponents into bad fouls and costly mistakes.
Paul's arrival in Los Angeles would also mean the Lakers literally have nobody in the Western Conference to challenge them. Over the past decade or so, the Achilles Heel of this franchise has been Point Guard play. Many teams who shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath as the Lakers (Jazz, Suns, Thunder) have given the team trouble due in large part to their PG superiority. However, Paul's presence would immediately negate that advantage, priming the Lakers for a potentially record breaking regular season, in addition to an incredibly easy playoff run.
Bottom Line: Chris Paul turns the Lakers into a 68+ win team while putting them head and shoulders above the rest of the NBA.
Potential Starting 5:
PG - Chris Paul
SG - Kobe Bryant
SF - Ron Artest
PF - Pau Gasol
C - Andrew Bynum
Hornets - Regardless of what they receive for their beloved Point Guard, the Hornets are entering a re-building phase. However, the acquisition of Jameer Nelson would ensure a smaller drop-off at the position than there would be if Darren Collison took the reigns this season. Nelson also possesses a different skill set than Paul, built more in the mold of the physically imposing PG's such as Deron Williams of the Jazz. He is a solid shooter, a driven competitor and a powerful presence who very possibly could lead the Hornets to the playoffs as a lower seed in a weakened West.
Sasha has become mired in obscurity since a breakout season in 2008. A change of scenery may be in order to gain more playing time and a bigger role. On the Hornets, Sasha offers another shooter who can spread the floor along with Peja Stojakavic, while playing tenacious defense on opposing guards and small forwards. Sasha is a potential 19+ PPG scorer, if given the opportunity to play more minutes, and if he doesn't work out, his contract expires at the end of this season.
Bottom Line: The Hornets could very well end up being a more well-rounded team with the addition of Nelson and Vujacic. They project as a 7-8 seed in the playoffs.
PG - Jameer Nelson
SG - Sasha Vujacic
SF - Peja Stojakavic
PF - David West
C - Emeka Okafor
Magic - This may be a head scratcher for some of you. Why would the Magic give up Jameer Nelson just to send Chris Paul to the Lakers? The answer to that, my friends, is Lamar Odom. Trading for Chris Paul would make the Magic a better team, no doubt. The problem however, lies with their front court as they have no real Power Forward to play alongside Dwight Howard.
Rashard Lewis is a large Small Forward, but he disappears when asked to play Power Forward. Mikael Pietrus is just not very good. Marcin Gortat is serviceable, but serves much better as a backup to Dwight Howard. Were the Magic to make this trade and pick up Lamar Odom, they would be receiving an immensely talented 6'11 Power Forward, with great ball-handling skills, a solid shot and a recently developed power game. The duo of Howard and Odom would make for an imposing force in the East and a front court with the ability to rival the Lakers.
As far as the loss of Jameer Nelson, a recently signed Chris Duhon provides a decent replacement, but much more likely is the move to PG for the rapidly emerging JJ Reddick, who can handle the ball and knock down shots with deadly accuracy.
PG - JJ Reddick
SG - Vince Carter
SF - Rashard Lewis
PF - Lamar Odom
C - Dwight Howard
Thoughts? Comments? Questions?