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How much better are the Clippers with Chris Paul?

Dec 14, 2011, 8:10 PM EDT

chris-paul-blake-griffin Getty Images

After days of rumors, a league-vetoed trade, and a series of on-again, off-again talks with multiple teams, the Hornets have finally reached an agreement to trade Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Clippers get Paul and two future second round picks, and the Hornets get Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu, and most importantly, the rights to the Minnesota Timberwolves’ unprotected 2012 first round draft pick.

As the Clippers’ co-tenants at Staples Center will no doubt argue to whomever will listen that their original three-team deal to obtain Paul was a better one for all teams involved, the fact remains that the league’s best point guard is now on the same team as Blake Griffin, the prospect of which undoubtedly is already making fans around the league drool in anticipation of the sick alley-oops that will dominate the highlights this season.

Beyond the highlights, though, just how much better can the Clippers expect to be with Paul in the starting lineup? If everything comes together, a playoff berth should be the minimum jump the team makes from last season’s somewhat exciting but ultimately losing campaign that finished with a record of just 32-50.

L.A. is now loaded at guard, with Paul, Chauncey Billups, Eric Bledsoe, and Mo Williams all in place. Billups could easily start alongside Paul, and may well benefit from double-teams that Griffin may face down low, or the ones that Paul may command as he breaks down the defense with his dribble penetration. Then again, Billups may be unhappy with this new development and may asked to be released so he can sign with a contender. Either way, Bledsoe and Mo Williams should fill the two-guard spot serviceably, if nothing else.

DeAndre Jordan will be down low next to Griffin, after the Clippers matched Golden State’s offer sheet of four years and $42 million for the restricted free agent center. Caron Butler can start on the wing, and now there’s legitimate excitement in Clipper-land, with recognizable star power that should be able to produce more than just highlights on the basketball court.

The ceiling for the Clippers this season is probably the first round of the playoffs. L.A. should have no trouble sliding into the postseason slot that the Hornets secured last season, but depth will be an issue, and the team’s ability to take down Western Conference giants like the Mavericks, Thunder, Lakers, or even Grizzlies in a first round playoff series can be classified as doubtful at best.

But this trade wasn’t about immediately contending for a championship. It was about securing one of the league’s marquee stars to pair harmoniously alongside Griffin, and turning L.A.’s “other” NBA team into a desirable destination for other free agents in the future.

Unquestionably, the Clippers accomplished it all by bringing Chris Paul to Los Angeles.

  1. narrabeen23 - Dec 14, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    “The Clippers get Paul and two future first round picks…”

    you mean 2 future 2nd rounders, right?

  2. hdanger10 - Dec 14, 2011 at 8:27 PM

    Why is no one bashing the Clippers for their trade of Baron Davis last season? They would have Kyrie right now to put with Gordon and Griffin. How much better are they then!?

    • narrabeen23 - Dec 14, 2011 at 8:31 PM

      In the way Belichick’s moves are seen as “smart” until proven otherwise; any Donald Sterling move should be viewed as “dumb” until proven otherwise.

      • chargerdillon - Dec 14, 2011 at 8:59 PM

        THANK YOU!!!!! My thoughts exactly

        Regardless of anything, if it involves the Clippers you always have to ask one single question….. Is Donald Sterling still the owner?

        If the that answer is “yes”, a winning product you will find if lucky for 1 season until he can somehow crush it. The way he treats his franchise, you can never claim he’s in the business to win.

    • david8726 - Dec 14, 2011 at 8:43 PM

      Because the chances of that pick actually winning the lottery were slim to none.

      There was less than a 10% chance that the cav would win the lottery in that position.

      They just happened to get extremely lucky and win. It’s not fair to play the result and bash on the Clippers just because the Cavs got stupidly lucky.

      • snoopy2014 - Dec 14, 2011 at 9:39 PM

        To be fair, though, smart teams always protect their picks. Since there was such a tiny chance of the top pick, the Cavs wouldn’t have held up the deal if the Clippers insisted on top-3 protection.

    • kinggw - Dec 14, 2011 at 10:20 PM

      Not better than they are with a top 5 player on their team. Kyrie Irving was one of the best players, not necessarily the best, in a very weak draft. Irving is not in the same class as a John Wall or Derrick Rose. He’s a nice player, but I dont think the Clippers are thinking about what could’ve been.

    • detlefschrempfriedrice - Dec 14, 2011 at 11:17 PM

      1. Impossible to predict it would have been #1
      2. Got rid of a cancer (B. Diddy)
      3. You and I have played the same # of NBA games as Kyrie Irving, hell he played what, a dozen college games 

  3. sonofsambowie - Dec 14, 2011 at 8:52 PM

    What price do you put on relevance? For the first time in franchise history, The Clippers actually matter. We won’t really know how much they gave away until we see what the Minny pick turns into, but for now the Clippers has made the most important move in the history of the team.

    They won here, no doubt.

  4. jonka - Dec 14, 2011 at 8:58 PM

    if the clippers were smart they would have not signed butler,
    then maybe they could have pulled of a sign and trade package with jordan bledsoe and some picks to try and bring dwight into town

    cp3, dwight, blake?
    scary

  5. jvnyj - Dec 14, 2011 at 9:35 PM

    I am from NY and a die hard Knicks fan. And I have to ask one thing to anyone from LA, do the Clippers actually have any fans? I mean with Sterling and their history its hard to fathom. Are Clips games a cheap date for rich Californians?

    • Kurt Helin - Dec 15, 2011 at 3:06 AM

      Actually the Clippers had good attendance and a lot of buzz in the arena last year. This is LA, people want to see stars and see teams that win. The Lakers have been that for decades, now it’s the Clips.

    • progress2011 - Dec 15, 2011 at 8:10 AM

      They got fans now !!!

      CP3 and Blake are two of the most exciting players in the league and have a tremendous following. As they become even more exciting as a tandem, many people that are not ” fanatics ” of a particular team but just like to see good B-Ball, will follow them ( aka me ).

      Instead of worrying if they have fans, you should be worrying about how your Knicks will match up…..because I got the Clips beating the Knicks everyday of the week.

      Check your roster and try to match up !!!

  6. Chris Fiorentino - Dec 14, 2011 at 9:44 PM

    Like I said in a previous thread…the Lackers trade was better for this year, but this trade is far surprior for the long-term health of the Hornets. They have Gordon and two top-5 probable picks in next years draft. That’s insane. I wish I had a couple hundred million laying around as I would buy the Hornets in a heartbeat.

    • sonofsambowie - Dec 14, 2011 at 9:48 PM

      Exactly. This is why Stern was right to do what he did.

    • trey14jewels - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:49 AM

      The Lackers, I like that! haha

  7. bigtrav425 - Dec 14, 2011 at 9:52 PM

    Billups and Mo will be gone or atleast 1 of the 2

  8. sonofsambowie - Dec 14, 2011 at 9:54 PM

    Based on what Ive heard, Mo is already on the move.

  9. sweetnlow44 - Dec 14, 2011 at 11:06 PM

    Good luck trying to sell the Hornets now, Stern. You thought attendance was bad last year?

  10. chadinkc30 - Dec 14, 2011 at 11:07 PM

    DRAFT PICKS AMOUNT TO NOTHING MORE THAN THEY AMOUNT TO SOMETHING!!!!

  11. 00maltliquor - Dec 14, 2011 at 11:25 PM

    Chris Paul’s gonna make DeAndre Jordan look like a better version of Tyson Chandler on offense.

  12. dougmanoh - Dec 14, 2011 at 11:28 PM

    I’m a Clipper fan and I HATED the trade. The Clippers gave up way too much. Gordon AND next year’s lottery pick?!!! As well as your only dependable backup center (probably your sixth man) off the bench? And now they have FOUR pg’s? Wow. Maybe they should go and sign Baron Davis again. I hear he’s been amnestied. They could just have five point guards on the court. Way to go Clips.

    • progress2011 - Dec 15, 2011 at 8:16 AM

      1st of all….I doubt VERY seriously if you are a Clips fan. Because if you were, you would comprehend how long you have had a losing franchise.

      This move gives you an opportunity to make an impact ” right now ” ! Plus since Paul and Blake are very young, you have an opportunity to put a few key veterans around them ( aka Billups ) and be very strong contenders.

      I really think you are a closet lacker fan and are ticked off because there is a new sheriff in town !

    • passerby23 - Dec 16, 2011 at 1:28 PM

      My friend, relax, the Clippers aren’t done dealing. You really think they are going to carry all those PGs? They will shop Williams for a quality big or wing player. You can’t pass up the Griffin-Paul tandem opportunity. They have Jordan, they have Butler. They will build around them. There is optimism in Clipper-land.

  13. mondzy805 - Dec 14, 2011 at 11:35 PM

    Better than what they where, that’s for sure. As a Clippers fan before the trade, I love this. Donald finally did something right. When Kobe retires, LA is up for grabs. Go Clipps.

  14. isujames - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:40 AM

    Did he say western conference giant like the Grizzlies?????

  15. 00maltliquor - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:07 AM

    Let’s see how many bandwagon Clipper fans start showing up on this site and around the country banging their chest like they’ve been around the whole time that they were just god aweful claiming to have been around the whole time!

    • progress2011 - Dec 15, 2011 at 8:26 AM

      I don’t have a team but enjoy good B-Ball. So, I am on the bandwagon of any team that have good ballers, that put on a good show, for my money !

      This new Clipper team is good for basketball. It spreads talent to a new team other than the historical big-market teams. So what, if people jump on the CP3 / Blake bandwagon.

      Everyone ( aka me ) is not a ” FAN-ATIC ” of one team, painting your face and body, making a buffoon of yourself.

      Whether I go to a concert, amusement park, bungee-jump, skydive, snorkel….whatever the form of entertainment may be….I want to get my monies worth.

      Buying a ticket to see the new look Clips, is good entertainment and I will likely get my monies worth. If that is considered in your book to be a ” bandwagoner “, then I will be the first you can count on your list of bandwagoners….Hope you feel better now.

      Grow Up !!!

  16. t16rich - Dec 15, 2011 at 3:48 AM

    Kaman is awesome.

  17. ebrownwareagle - Dec 15, 2011 at 8:32 AM

    Donald sterling. Keep that in mind. From my perspective the Clippers levied there future for the viewing pleasures of more alley oops highlights on ESPN. Eric Gordan, is a young stud who avg 22 points a game, coupled with a potential overall number 1 pick in addition to your 2010 first round draft pick. That’s a lot for a 6’0 point guard not named, Isaiah Thomas. In the modern era of the NBA he was the only guard under of that size to be the figure head and lead a NBA team to multiple championships. Chris Paul, is a great guard don’t get me wrong, but I’m not sure with all that the Clippers gave up if he’s worth it. Yes Blake Griffin, will have a plethora of highlight oops, but what else do you have. No market! Your still the little brother of the Lakers although you have made yourself relevant in sports talk again. So I guess you can’t put a price on that. Now you have 4 PG’s on roster, Blake, a fragile and aging Butler and no center. Not to mention 2 second round pick, which equate to 7 round picks in the NFL. Genius’s they are in The Land of the Clipper.

  18. turnmymicup - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    This wasnt a good move. Its a GREAT move for the clippers. Why so much negativity surrounding this trade? Are people really mad CP3 didnt go to the lakers? Cmon man! The lakers have been dominating the west for yearssss and now the power is finally shifting a little (keyword). The owner finally makes some decent moves and everyone is still bashing this guy!! Damn can we say harsh? Im not a clippers fan at all but if i was i would be jumping off the wall! Most of my attention will be on the Heat but im definitely going to watch some of the clippers games. I could care less how much they sucked in the past. Theirs a huge buzz around a team in LA right now and for the first time its not the one Kobe is on.

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