The controversial Chris Paul trade negotiations have apparently come to an end, as the Clippers agreed to send both Eric Gordon and our Wolves 2012 draft pick (among other assets) to New Orleans for the superstar guard. Setting aside the black eye that Stern’s involvement in this process has left on the league, here are some initial thoughts on the trade itself and what it means for the Western Conference landscape:
* The Clips are for real. Point guard/power forward combinations have been a formula for success ever since Stockton and Malone. It could very well be that the Clippers have both the best point guard and best power forward in all of basketball, in Paul and Blake Griffin. Scanning through the West right now, I have to think the Clips are a Top-4 team and fringe title contender.
* Randy Foye, of Foye-for-Roy fame here in Minnesota, may quickly become a relevant NBA player. With Gordon departing, the off-guard job in LAC is up for grabs and perhaps open for auditions. Some are speculating that newly-acquired Chauncey Billups could play the two, next to Paul. I don’t know if it’s that simple. Chauncey is a point guard. That’s where he’s made his money. Foye, for better or worse, has become a natural off-guard. With two supreme defender magnets in Paul and Griffin at his sides, Foye might find a freedom rarely enjoyed by NBA wings. Just last year when Gordon was out with a month-long injury, Foye put together nine games of 20 or more points. He may relish in this role between superstars. I hope so. He’s a class act who didn’t ask for the scrutiny of being traded for a great like B-Roy.
* As a diehard NBA fan, I have to pretend not to see the (obvious) signs of corruption that creep into the storylines from time to time. Whether it be the Knicks and Bulls winning the draft lottery, Tim Donaghy fixing games with his whistle, or, as with this very transaction, David Stern playing God with fair Chris Paul trades, the league sometimes seems a bit sketchy. Why does this matter? Because the league-owned Hornets now possess the Timberwolves 2012 Draft Pick, and have a rooting interest in the Wolves being terrible. Until Stern finds a buyer for that team, he has an interest in maximizing its value. What better way to do that than pair Eric Gordon with the #1 Pick in the draft? I’m going to pretend this doesn’t matter, and that the Wolves will be so good this year that their pick isn’t even in the lottery.
In any case, it’s nice to have this saga behind us. Once D12 heads to Jersey, all can focus on the basketball being played rather than the next big trade.