In Bill Simmons’ mega-super-duper-mega-mega mailbag today, he talks a little about the potential Chris Paul trade. He mentions teams that actually have the means to pull it off. Orlando, Portland, Dallas, Houston and Oklahoma City. Wait, what?
Yep, Simmons proposes this trade, which sends Russell Westbrook, Nick Collison, Nenad Krstic’s bald spot, Daequan Cook, Byron Mullens and two first round picks for Chris Paul and Emeka Okafor.
His justification: “So if they’re really trading him — and by the way, he wanted out five weeks ago — we’re about to find out what’s important to Mr. Paul. If he wants to win titles, he pushes for Oklahoma City or Orlando. If he wants to be famous in a big market, play D’Antoni Ball and throw alley-oops to Amare Stoudemire as MSG goes bonkers, he pushes for New York. Either way, I think he’s gone.”
Now obviously, OKC isn’t dealing for CP3. For whatever reason, Oklahomans have these delusions about Paul loving OKC so much that he’d basically be willing to play here for free. Yes, we all enjoyed Chris Paul while he was here. Without him and the excitement he brought, we probably don’t have a team. But he’s not coming here. We know this. It. Won’t. Happen.
But that’s not the interesting dynamic here. As I looked over that trade, I had to wonder, “Would I do it?” Sam Presti lets me wear his hat for a day and Dell Demps calls me offering Paul and Okafor for all of that. Am I in?
Basically, you’re trading Russell Westbrook for Paul. You give up a lot of financial flexibility and assets, but you get the best point guard in the game. To me, no brainer move. I love Westbrook to death – literally, to death – but how can you pass that up?
But at the same time, does that deal work for the Thunder? I might do that move because I’m an impressionable moron that sees Chris Paul’s name attached and therefore I start offering everything, including janitors, Rumble and Matt Pinto. But would Presti? I say no. If Presti’s phone rang, he’d say, “That’s interesting. But no thanks. Can we have an unprotected first-round pick only for some cash instead? We can? Thanks.” Because that’s how Presti operates. It’s not the hear and now he sees. He looks ahead and sees the future.
Westbrook is a much, much better fit for the future of the Thunder. Paul wouldn’t be staying here in two years. Plus, bringing him aboard plus the remaining $52 million owed to Okafor over the next four years would mean either Jeff Green, James Harden or Serge Ibaka wouldn’t be able to hang around.
Plus, I know this sounds wild, but do we really know how good Russ can be yet? Paul is a transcendent player and might finish as the best ever at his position. So don’t misunderstand and think I’m comparing the two. But Westbrook might be a better player for Oklahoma City. We’re not entirely sure what Westbrook’s ceiling is at this point. Is he a 15-point, 8-assist guy? A 18-9? A 20-10? I’m not sure I want to cap his ability quite yet.
Yes, CP3 comes to OKC and the Thunder probably have a chance to win now. But that’s the kind of shortsighted move that helps you next year and hurts you in 10. While a lot of us might do it, Sam Presti wouldn’t. And that’s why he gets the multi-year extension and millions and we don’t.
Isn’t wild and mostly senseless speculation in late July fun?