“In the end, the Los Angeles Clippers knew caution was the biggest risk of all. A deal for Chris Paul had to get done, even if it meant parting with their prolific young shooting guard, a coveted draft pick, an All-Star center and a second-year lottery selection.
If the events of the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that superstars rule the NBA universe. They can deliver championships, carry a brand and set the agenda for the league. If you don’t have one, you’re just pretending.
To rake in Paul, the Clippers called the Hornets/NBA’s bluff by corralling Chauncey Billups on Monday. In doing so, they created the leverage to push the league off its demand of all five of their primary assets and preserved lightning-quick second-year point guard Eric Bledsoe. It was the kind of maneuver typically practiced by the league’s savviest deal-makers. For Clippers general manager Neil Olshey, it’s a potential career-maker.
The Clippers still gave up a lot, but that’s what a transcendent talent costs. There isn’t a point guard in the league who plays with greater purpose than Paul. He commands supreme authority over whatever is happening on the court.
When a basketball game is being played inside your television, Paul’s hands are on the controller.
Eric Gordon promises to have an outstanding career. Harrison Barnes, projected as the top wing in a deep draft class (and a potential choice with that Minnesota pick), has intriguing potential as a scorer and defender. But neither can have Paul’s impact on the Clippers.
Young power forwards don’t prosper in a vacuum. They need to be nurtured by point guards who teach them the game’s rhythm and deliver them the ball where they can wreak the most havoc. Blake Griffin was just handed the planet’s most knowledgeable on-court tour guide to NBA basketball. Watching him learn under Paul’s tutelage is going to be a blast.
The work of acquiring the services of both Paul and Griffin, masterfully executed, is now over for the Clippers. A franchise that’s taken multiple detours since its arrival in Los Angeles deserves a heap of praise. Now the work of retaining them begins.”