In our latest 3-on-3 installment, three ClipperBlog contributors discuss the chances of Chris Paul to the Clippers, picking between (or including both) the Minnesota first round draft pick and Eric Gordon, and the Clips’ record next season with CP3.
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: With the way things have changed over the past few days, it may be too early to tell. However, if recent reports are any indication, the Clippers have to be the prohibitive favorite. The two frontrunners in the CP3 sweepstakes, the Lakers (traded Lamar Odom to the Mavs) and the Knicks (signed Tyson Chandler), recently made moves that seem to be counterproductive towards eventually acquiring Paul. It boils down to the Hornets choosing between offers from the Clippers, Celtics and Warriors.
D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog: At this point, they should. Reports are coming out that the Clippers are Paul’s new preferred destination, which was really most of the battle in the first place. The best rebuilding deal for the Hornets was with the Clippers all along, but now it’s suddenly a little more complex. Stern and the league will need the deal to have a “face”, mainly so they themselves can save face. Basically, they don’t want the trouble of trying to spin Chris Kaman as the marquee name from an approved trade. The Clippers will win the Paul sweepstakes, but it will almost certainly cost them Gordon.
Nick Flynt, ClipperBlog: I’m extremely wary of being positive about the Clippers’ chances on Chris Paul. I don’t want to jinx this thing. But with Stern swooping in to stop the Lakers acquisition and the Clippers’ ability to supply an expiring deal and youth and/or a high draft pick, I think the answer is yes. And if the Clips manage to trade for him, I think they’re also the team with the best odds of re-signing him after his contract runs its course (opt-out or no).
2. If necessary, would you include Eric Gordon and the Minnesota pick in a deal for Chris Paul?
Jovan Buha, Clippers: This is the million-dollar question. How much is too much? Well, Gordon and the Minnesota pick might be too much. The Clippers should go to great lengths to try and keep one of them (at this point it seems keeping both is impossible). When it comes down to it, though, if that’s the price it takes to get Paul, they should do it. He’s a once in a generation point guard, a top-5 talent, and will immediately excel the Clippers into the playoffs.
D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog: As the “take it or leave it” final offer — yes. While Gordon is as good as gone in my mind, I’d like to think the Clippers can trade their own future picks and still hold on to the Minnesota pick. If you really do need three stars to win a title, next year’s loaded draft is the Clippers best chance at getting that guy (hello, Harrison Barnes) given the future cap situation of this team.
Nick Flynt, CipperBlog: Early on in the (rumored) negotiation process, I was wholly against the Clippers giving up both the Minnesota pick and Eric Gordon for what could possibly be only a one or two year stint from Chris Paul. But I’ve learned to stop worrying and embrace the madness. Chris Paul at any and all costs. He’s too valuable to not go all-in for, if that’s what it takes.
3. If the Clippers field a team with Paul — but without Gordon — what’s their record this season?
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: In this scenario, they’re undoubtably a playoff team. I see the Thunder, Lakers (unless Dwight goes to the Nets and they blow the team up), Mavericks, Spurs and Grizzlies as the top 5 teams out West. Without Gordon (but with Paul), I see the Clippers as a fifth or sixth seed, possibly surpassing Memphis. That computes to around a 40-26 or 41-25 record (because DJ chose the former, I’ll take the latter). If Gordon stays? I’d say 43-44 wins (doesn’t sound like a big difference but it is) and a four seed at least.
D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog: Here’s the question: How much better does Eric Gordon make the players around him? Holding Gordon responsible for the Clippers poor record the last three years isn’t fair, but as a distributor, rebounder and help defender, there isn’t a ton of available evidence that Gordon makes his teammates markedly better yet. The evidence is already there with Paul. He put the Hornets within one game of the Western Conference Finals with a very Weekend at Bernie’s-ish Morris Peterson as his backcourt mate. He’s led the league in assists twice and is regularly among the league leaders in win shares. He makes all four guys on the court with him better — so it’s easy to see the Clippers making the leap into the playoffs with Paul leading the way. A 40-26 record seems realistic.
Nick Flynt, ClipperBlog: The Clippers as currently built are probably a .500-type team. With Chris Paul and filler (and health), I’m willing to pencil them in as something more along the lines of a 37-29 team with a lot of room to grow.