Trade Idea: Maybe the Pistons could actually trade for Chris Paul after all (UPDATE: Offer gives Pistons victory in Chris Paul trade contest)

Update: My bid for the Pistons won Ryan Schwan of Hornets 247.com’s Chris Paul trade contest. See “Hornets’ perspective” below for more details.

Trade

Pistons receive:

  • Chris Paul (18.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 10.7 assists, 0.2 blocks, 2.1 steals)
  • Emeka Okafor (10.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 1.5 blocks, 0.7 steals)

Hornets receive:

  • Tayshaun Prince (13.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.7 steals)
  • Rodney Stuckey (16.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.4 steals)
  • Greg Monroe (16.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.5 blocks, 1.2 steals)
  • Austin Daye (5.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.4 steals)
  • Chris Wilcox (4.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.4 steals)
  • 2012 first-round pick
  • 2014 first-round pick
  • 2011 Denver Nuggets second-round pick

Salaries

Data from ShamSports.com

Pistons receive:

Player 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14  2014/15
Chris Paul $14,940,153 $16,359,805  $17,779,458 $0 $0
Emeka Okafor $11,795,000 $12,792,500 $13,790,000 $14,787,500 $0
Total $26,735,153 $29,152,305 $31,569,458 $14,787,600 $0

Hornets receive:

Player 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15
Tayshaun Prince $11,148,760 $0 $0 $0 $0
Rodney Stuckey $2,767,126 $3,868,443 $0 $0 $0
Greg Monroe $2,798,040 $3,007,920 $3,217,689 $4,086,454 $5,479,934
Austin Daye $1,803,720 $1,929,600 $2,958,077 $4,135,391 $0
Chris Wilcox $3,000,000 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total $21,517,646 $8,805,963 $6,175,766 $8,221,845 $5,479,934
  • Player option/ early termination
  • Team option
  • Qualifying offer

Pistons’ perspective

Yes, just a couple months ago, I penned a post titled, “Pistons have NO chance of trading for Chris Paul.” A lot has changed since then. Mainly, Chris Paul has indicated a desire to leave New Orleans, and Detroit drafted Greg Monroe.

I still think the Pistons landing Paul is an extreme long shot, but let’s look at what it would take.

First off, would New Orleans even trade Paul? Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has the scoop on Paul’s meeting with the Hornets yesterday:

The Hornets are concentrating on Eastern Conference teams as trade partners in the event they decide it isn’t feasible to enter the 2010-11 season with their franchise player wanting out. And despite Monday’s optimistic spin, that is where things are headed, sources say.

Although Berger doesn’t mention the Pistons among the teams the Hornets are eyeing – and Paul didn’t include them on his list – they are in the Eastern Conference. So, that’s a plus.

The first move for Joe Dumars would be calling someone close to Chris Paul – as close as possible, to avoid Paul’s people squashing the idea based on Detroit’s reputation (the city’s, not the team’s) – and see if he would be receptive to joining the Pistons. I think winning is the biggest force behind Paul’s demands (although it may not be the biggest reason those close to him are pushing a trade, too), and Dumars could sell him on the fact that he already put together one championship team.

If Paul wouldn’t be content with a trade to Detroit, that’s the end of it. If he would be, Dumars should call the Hornets.

I think this a competitive offer the Hornets would have to take seriously if they’re actually willing to deal Paul.

Tayshaun Prince is a very good player, and Rodney Stuckey is already solid and still has potential to grow. Plus, both have expiring contracts, which would give New Orleans a lot of flexibility.

Greg Monroe and Austin Daye are talented players with skills in drove, and with a combined seven years left on their rookie contracts, they’re extremely affordable.

Chris Wilcox is 27, but talented enough that many believe he could still find his niche in the league. (For the record, I don’t.) Mostly, he’s there to make the numbers work, but for filler, he’s not bad.

Those two first-round picks could be valuable if Paul doesn’t help the Pistons win any more than he helped New Orleans. Even if he does, two picks are two picks.

Besides acquiring a player with a non-guaranteed contract (like Erick Dampier), this trade would save the Hornets about as much money this year as possible in a trade giving up only Paul and Okafor. And given Okafor’s hefty contract, the savings in future years would be significant, too.

By trading Paul, the Hornets would almost certainly be rebuilding. I doubt anyone will trade someone near Paul’s talent level to get him (meaning nobody like LeBron James, Dwight Howard or Kevin Durant will be on the move). This trade would give New Orleans a lot of young talent, draft picks and cap flexibility to start over.

But trading for Paul is tricky. Not only do you have to give up enough to satisfy the Hornets, you must have enough left to build a competitive team before Paul becomes a free agent in two years. I think this trade would give the Pistons a real shot doing that.

Check out this lineup:

For everyone who says Hamilton needs to play next to a traditional point guard, he’d get one. He and Gordon would be the team’s main scorers, and Paul would certainly help there, too.

The front line would do the dirty work/rebounding/etc. Plus, Paul could get those three their share of easy baskets.

Perhaps best of all, it would be a good group defensively. With a pair of athletic shot blocker in Wallace and Okafor, Hamilton could even play a fair share of his minutes at small forward.

The Pistons would have a solid reserves unit with Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell, Will Bynum and the mid-level exception (Josh Howard?).

I think that’s the type of team that could make a run deep into the playoffs. That’s only a ‘could,’ though, and there are long-term questions.

What happens when Wallace retires? Maybe Jerebko could take over that role, but Wallace is a big reason I think that team could do damage. Those would be mighty big shoes to fill.

How big of a burden would Okafor’s contract be? He’s overpaid, no doubt. But he’s still productive and plays a critical position. Obviously, the salary cap has yet to be determined for future seasons (and it’s especially unpredictable given the Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire), but if the new CBA is similar to the current one, I think the Pistons could avoid paying the luxury tax – even with this trade.

How costly will giving up those draft picks be? I designed the offer with 2012 and 2014 picks because those are the years Paul and Okafor will likely be free agents. If there are any years the Pistons would rather have the extra cap room than the picks, it would be those. So, the risk is still there, but I think it’d be hedged a little bit.

And of course, the big question: What if Paul leaves in 2012? That’s the risk I think you take to get a player whom I think has a good shot at becoming the second-best point guard of all time.

Hornets’ perspective

Ryan Schwan of Hornets247.com solicited Chris Paul trade ideas from several TrueHoop Network members and ranked them in reverse order. Guess which offer he listed last – or to be clear, won the competition. Yup, this one.

OK, the Pistons were 1B of the two teams in the “Let’s talk Business” group. The Magic were 1A – on the condition the Hornets could flip Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter. I think that’s much easier said than done, so I’m declaring the Pistons the winner.

Schwan on this offer:

It’s freakish that I’m picking the Pistons offer as one of the best ones.  I didn’t think they’d have enough talent to swing it, honestly.  Still – Monroe fills the hole at center, Prince/Daye fill the hole at the 3, and Stuckey is the perfect combo guard behind Collison and Thornton.  Oh – and since what’s left in Detroit won’t be world-shaking, the picks they are offering should at least still be mid-rounders.

My response

It surprised me, too, that the Pistons could be in position to land Paul. Even if the trade isn’t made, it’s just further evidence Monroe was an excellent draft pick. Without him, Detroit wouldn’t be in the discussion.

I’m not stunned by Schwan’s lack of confidence in a post-trade Pistons team. They’d be far from a sure thing. But like I said above, I think the players would complement each other well

A Hornets partisan believes this offer deserves consideration. That’s a good sign. Dumars, get on the phone.

Verdict

Make no mistake: this trade wouldn’t put the Pistons out of the woods yet. Paul can become a free agent in two years, and whoever acquires him must spend that time convincing him to stay. There is no guarantee the Pistons can do that.

Because they don’t play in a destination city, the Pistons must show Paul they can win a title with him. And even then, it might not be enough.

This trades calls for the Pistons to give up a huge amount of young, affordable talent – plus draft picks and taking Emeka Okafor’s contract. If Paul leaves in two years or decides he doesn’t want to be in Detroit a year from now, the trade could set the Pistons back nearly a decade.

But I think Henry Abbott of TrueHoop said it best:

Here’s a rule of thumb I’ve developed to help you through it: If you’re getting Chris Paul, it’s a good deal.

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Tags: Austin Daye Ben Gordon Chris Wilcox Greg Monroe Jonas Jerebko Richard Hamilton Rodney Stuckey Tayshaun Prince

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