Rumor Mongering: Castle on a Cloud

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 24, 2010 under Commentary, Rumors | 6 Comments to Read

Chris Paul is brilliant enough as a player that teams have to indulge his whimsy. He’s the top point guard in the game — no, that is not up for debate — and depending on how you slice it, either a top-three or top-five player overall. He’s not the kind of player you dismiss out of hand. He’s the kind of player you send fruit baskets to, and offer a shoe polish if he ever steps through the door. His game absolutely, positively demands your attention, and there’s no use arguing around that.

Still, there’s no point in playing the trade game until the rumors start to get a little more serious. Yes, Chris Paul has the Dallas Mavericks listed among the teams he’d prefer to be traded to, and that matters. Still, the Hornets, if they even decide to trade Paul at all, can ship their star point guard wherever they’d like. They can shop him around to every team in the league in search of the most attractive return package, and say “To hell with him and his list.” It’s certainly relevant that Paul wants to be traded in the first place, because it’s likely in the Hornets’ best interest to cash out now if they’re unable to pacify him. However, it matters less and less where he’d like to end up, because if New Orleans does make the move, they’re going to do so on their terms.

If the Hornets insist on receiving young talent in return for Paul (which only seems logical), the Mavs’ chances are dead in the water. With all due respect to Dominique Jones, Rodrigue Beaubois is the only young asset on the roster worth having, and he just so happens to be a positional duplicate to either Darren Collison or Marcus Thornton. That should be enough to cut down any possible intrigue Rodrigue may have held for New Orleans. Plus, even if Beaubois were enticing to the Hornets, a deal of this magnitude would take more than one young, talented player. New Orleans won’t ever get equal value for Chris Paul via trade, but they’re also not going to entertain a low-ball offer centered around just one young asset.

However, if New Orleans is instead focused on clearing cap to start again, the Mavs are in business. Dallas has $29 million in expiring contracts to play around with, and a Paul-less Hornets team will have a few expensive contracts to dispose of. If Tyson Chandler’s expiring deal were to be involved, a trade couldn’t officially go through until September 13th due to trade restrictions on recently acquired players. If not, the Mavs may have trouble putting together an attractive enough deal to steal the Hornets’ glance.

The most palatable offer from Dallas would likely be Tyson Chandler’s expiring contract, Caron Butler’s expiring contract, DeShawn Stevenson’s expiring contract, Rodrigue Beaubois, two first rounders, and a trade exception for Chris Paul, Emeka Okafor, and James Posey. Okafor and Posey are the two contracts that are likely to be moved along with Paul, as their departure (Okafor is owed $52 million over the next four seasons while Posey is owed $13.4 million over the next two) would help to facilitate the franchise reboot incited by Paul’s trade demand.

I have a hard time believing that such an offer would be competitive with the types of deals that will be thrown against the wall. Almost every team in the league will be after Paul, and while few teams can compete with the long-term savings the Mavs can offer, Dallas is likely still a few good, young players short of making a deal work.

Everything rests with the Hornets. Before it’s even worth it to fully analyze the Mavs’ trade potential, we need to know that New Orleans is seriously entertaining the option of moving Paul. Right now we don’t. So table your trade machine wizardry until things get a tad more serious, but with the tiniest bit of focus on what it could mean for Dallas to add one of the top talents the NBA has to offer.

  • Kirk Henderson

    Awesome picture. And good analysis. I can now move on with my summer knowing this isn’t gonna happen.

  • Jared

    Couple of corrections on possible trades:

    Trade exceptions can’t be combined with other players to make salaries work. But you can add JJB to the trade and make the numbers work.

    Chandler can be traded straight up for Okafor and then the other players can be moved in another deal. In fact it would actually break down as three separate trades. So there’s no need to wait until September.

    I think the rest of the analysis is pretty spot on, although there’s quite a lot of rumblings already that NO wants to move Okafor in any deal for Paul, and the number of teams that can (and are willing to) absorb that contract with expirings is probably pretty short.

    Still a long shot, but I think we’re in the discussion if they demand to move Okafor.

  • http://www.thetwomangame.com Rob Mahoney

    @Jared: Trade exceptions can be used in conjunction with players, they just can’t be paired with other trade exceptions (unless the trade meets certain criteria).

    You’re right about the separate trades, though, if that’s the route the Mavs and Hornets choose to go.

    As for Okafor, I tend to agree. He’s owed quite a bit of money, and not every team is in a position to take that obligation on. Still, this is Chris M.F. Paul. I’m not going to underestimate what a lot of teams around the league would do To steal him away, particularly if his supposed lead weight is actually a very useful center.

  • Dan

    Doesn’t this now make the Dampier trade look that much worse? Chandler may be the best asset as an expiring contract, but Dampier would provide any team with instant savings without having to pay off the end of Chandler’s expiring contract.

  • Kirk Henderson

    @Dan – That’s assuming NO would trade us for dampier to begin with (they wouldn’t) and we’d end up having to take back Okafor’s terrible contract. We’d also still have the albatross of Matt Carrol and E. Najera’s contracts as well. We’d also probably be short one Roddy B and a first rounder.

    I’m not that comfortable trading for a PG with no cartilage in his knee for some of our future. I’m not thrilled with the Damp trade either, but it gave us some flexibility both short and long term.

  • Jared

    @Rob,

    Technically you are right on Trade Exceptions and players, but the 125% buffer on traded salaries is a form of a Trade Exception, and it can not be combined with a Traded Player Exception.

    So unless you can match salaries within 100K, you can’t trade a player plus a Traded Player Exception in the same transaction.

    Traded Player Exceptions have to be traded by themselves, and we don’t have one big enough to assume anyone of consequence from New Orleans, thus they’re not part of any proposed deal I don’t think.