Chris Paul has been seen as a generational winner throughout his career. He’s a true culture changer as he has given 4 teams their best records of all time. He has given the best winning seasons to the Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Hornets, and most noticeably, the LA Clippers. When Paul joined the Clippers in 2011, they were seen as a title favorite. Although they were seen as somewhat of a disappointment, this is still a blockbuster trade with important results. Let’s look back on this trade and measure the impact for both teams.
Grading the Chris Paul to the Clippers Trade
The Almost Trade
An important note for this story is the trade that almost sent him to the other LA team. The Lakers offered a package of Lamar Odom, Goran Dragic, and Luis Scola to the Hornets in a 3-team trade that teamed Paul and Kobe Bryant up. The common misconceptions are that this trade was vetoed because it wasn’t enough value for Paul, or that it would make the Lakers too good. This is false as David Stern, a partial owner of the Hornets, believed this would make the Hornets too good and make them undesirable for a new owner to purchase. He believed this new acquisition of talent, as well as current Coach of the Year Monty Williams would make the playoffs. Stern wanted them to tank in order to bring in a new owner.
Instead, the Hornets went in a more rebuilding direction for this trade. They brought in Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu, and a first-round pick. This forced the Clippers to do a full rebuild with Gordon, who averaged 22 points the year prior. It also allowed them to obtain a good draft pick without Paul winning games there.
Chris Paul’s Impact on the Clippers
Chris Paul is a winning player. This led to the Clippers winning. The year before Chris Paul came the Clippers had a 32-50 record and missed the playoffs. The year after they finished 40-26 and made the semi-finals in the playoffs. Before Paul, the Clippers had 2 winning seasons since moving to Los Angeles. Since then they haven’t had a losing season. Talk about a culture changer.
Paul also played great alongside the young stars blossoming out in LA. Both Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan thrived playing alongside Paul and gave birth to the nickname “Lob City”. His ability to help Griffen reach the All-NBA caliber player changed the west and made them legit contenders.
New Orleans Motives
When looking at such a generational player like Paul, why would the Hornets give up such a great player for so little. Although Gordon showed promise showing, he never reached expectations as he never was an All-Star. The first-round pick was also underwhelming as they took Austin Rivers with the 10th selection. He was traded after just two full seasons with New Orleans. So what did the Hornets get out of this exchange. They got Anthony Davis.
Davis is one of the better players from the decade, known for his elite play on both offense and defense. The Hornets ability to effectively tank gave them the first overall pick that earned them Davis. The loss of Paul was completely forgotten with the replacement of Davis.
New Orleans receives a B- for this trade. Although the assets they received are nowhere near Chris Paul, the tanking to obtain Davis made all of it worth it. Paul was great for them, yet they weren’t able to surround him with proper talent. The chance of restarting with a younger player allowed the Hornets to thrive.
Los Angeles receives an A- for this trade. They did fall short of expectations as they were seen as a championship or bust team. This may seem disappointing, yet the ability to contend year in and year out holds value. They also were momentarily better than the Lakers who were always seen as the team of L.A. Paul changed the culture of the Clippers in an ability that wouldn’t have been achieved without him.
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