The end to the NBA lockout has raised a number of compelling questions surrounding the shortened schedule, new salary rules, and impending player movements. Most pressing, at least in the minds of the national sports media, seems to be this: What will happen to New Orleans star point guard Chris Paul?
At this point, it is well known the Paul has very little desire to remain in New Orleans long term, a fact that he himself has reiterated. Hoping to avoid the media circus that dogged the Denver Nuggets regarding Carmelo Anthony last season, and not wanting to lose the face of their franchise for nothing, the Hornets are exploring trade options for Paul sooner rather than later – and possibly before the season starts on Christmas.
At this point the Celtics, Warriors, and Clippers are all frontrunners in putting together the most attractive package to pry the star away. The Lakers, Mavericks and Rockets are also in the running, but don’t have the dynamic young pieces that New Orleans would require.
While the Warriors and Clippers have compelling pieces in the Stephon Curry and Eric Gordon respectively, the Celtics have reportedly offered N.O. a package including Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, and two future first round picks for Chris Paul. Just 25 years old, Rondo is a suberb defender, one of the few point guards in the league who can approach the playmaking abilities of Paul, and is signed to a very reasonable long-term contract. These are all important things to consider for the up-for-sale Hornets, and the addition of Green, a rangy and athletic forward who can challenge opposing defense, ups the appeal of the deal even more.
At this point the Celtics appear to have the best offer, and have agreed to make the trade even without a commitment to sign an extension by Paul. Could a deal be imminent? If so, expect pre-season excitement to hit even higher levels, and look for Boston to return to its position at the top of the East.