The LeBron James story carried through the NBA regular season and the post-season culminating in "The Decision." Just when you thought things would start to die down in the NBA, a new storyline has emerged: Does Chris Paul actually want out of New Orleans? If that is the case, do the Mavericks actually have a chance of obtaining him?
ESPN.com has reported that the idea of Chris Paul demanding to be traded out of New Orleans is very real. The Hornets are a franchise in disarray and the thought is Paul doesn't want to wait around to see the finished product with overhaul of the front office and coaching staff.
It has been reported by various sources that over the past several months, the Mavericks have been in constant communication with the Hornets to discuss the availability of Chris Paul. Dallas had their sights set on LeBron, Wade and Joe Johnson via free agency but they have always looked at Paul as another blockbuster move they could make. Dallas made numerous offers and New Orleans would not budge. Once the "final conversation" was made and it was established they were not interested in moving Paul, Dallas decided to move on and pursue their deal with Charlotte to obtain Tyson Chandler and Alexis Ajinca. The situation has now changed dramatically with the news that Paul wants out of the Bayou.
New Orleans Perspective
The Hornets would ultimately love to keep Chris Paul. He's the face of the franchise and he puts fans in the arena. The problem is New Orleans is clearly not a basketball town, the Saints own the city. The market is close to bottoming out for the Hornets and they're losing money in a huge way. That's going to make it very difficult for them to find a running mate that Chris Paul would likely desire to join him in New Orleans. They do have young pieces like Darren Collison and Marcus Thorton that could be new building blocks for the future. David West is still in the mix as a power forward that can be a viable piece of the future. New Orleans would ask for an arm and a leg in return for Paul and they're likely to get it if they put him on the trading block.
Everyone will want Paul, but the short list of preferred teams appears to be New York, Orlando, Portland and Dallas. The Mavericks still have the ability to offer a solid proposal to New Orleans, despite not having Dampier's instant-expiring contract.
Assets Dallas has at their Disposal
Expiring contracts: Caron Butler, Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson and JJ Barea
Cheap talent: Roddy Beaubois, Dominique Jones, Ian Mahinmi and Alexis Ajinca
Misc. Money and future 1st round draft picks
While Dampier's contract was the biggest piece Dallas had to offer to New Orleans, the new set of assets does prove to be just as enticing to New Orleans if they wanted to bite on it. Dallas will have to offer a majority of those assets but they likely won't have to deal all of them. The condition with Chandler and/or Ajinca is that they will not be able to be put in a packaged deal for 60 days, per NBA rules.
The Arm and the Leg
New Orleans would ask for an arm and a leg in return for trading Paul.
The Arm: salary relief, talent and misc.
The Leg: The trade partnet will be taking on bloated contracts.
The bloated contracts would be in the form of big man, Emeka Okafor and wing player, James Posey. Okafor's deal has roughly 52 million dollars left over 4 years, while Posey's has roughly 13.5 million dollars left over 2 years. That would be a heck of a change to the current payroll going forward. It's likely going to take absorbing those contracts in order to get Paul.
A Proposed Deal?
It's hard to imagine that Dallas would be able to get away obtaining Chris Paul without giving up Roddy Beaubois. Dallas would likely include him in the deal because Paul is an elite player and if he was a free agent during this summer, Paul would have been on the short list (with LeBron and Wade) in terms of a player being worthy of trading Beaubois. Dallas would likely have to ship out all of their expiring contracts as well, throw in one or two future first round picks and cash considerations. New Orleans would ship Paul and likely both Okafor and Posey.
New Look Mavericks?
Point Guard: Chris Paul, Jason Kidd
Shooting Guard: Jason Terry, Dominique Jones
Small Forward: Shawn Marion, James Posey
Power Forward: Dirk Nowitzki, Ian Mahinmi
Centers: Brendan Haywood, Emeka Okafor
Dirk would finally have his legitimate second star in Chris Paul and there could easily be moments where you see Paul and Kidd on the floor at the same time. You're very thin at the shooting guard position but role players are much easier to find as opposed to finding an established Robin to your Batman. Dallas has been looking for years to find a sidekick for Dirk.
The time-table for such a move is likely not in the near future, especially from Dallas' perspective. As mentioned, Chandler and Ajinca can't be in a packaged deal for nearly a month and a half. New Orleans is not in a major rush to make a deal and they will still try to do their best to make a solid pitch to keep Paul in New Orleans. The wait now beings in search of the end game to the Chris Paul story.