The Implications of Trading for Chris Paul

We hear it a lot nowadays.

"If Paul becomes available, we must do everything we can to get him," "Trade Chauncey for Paul," or better yet, "Trade Chauncey, Kenyon, and JR for Paul!" Well, if that's too much... and, I mean, we're being rational here... we'll just get them to throw in their horrid center and it'll be even Stevens. Heck, we could also trade Lawson for Paul... with all our 1st round picks for the next 3 years for safe measure.

Really, Chris Paul is going to save us... right?

Honestly, all this talk is utter hogwash. It's short-sighted, and attempts to fix a problem that does not exist while selling out our future and creating new problems.

What Trading Chauncey means... for Chauncey

So, first of all, let's consider this. If we trade Chauncey, it will be the fourth time the Nuggets have moved him (twice to Denver, twice elsewhere). That's loyalty, eh? And all he did was give this team focus and allow them to realise their potential - and get them to the Western Conference Finals. Does anyone remember that season? I was actually here already for that playoff run (it was called Pickaxe and Roll back then), and I remember it.

Round 1 was against Chris Paul's Hornets, and how did that go? A 58-point win is what happened. Clearly, Paul is worth your future. If anyone feels like revising history, we can just bring up the game-threads... but we already know what was on our lips during those playoffs: Chauncey. When the Nuggets started out nervous and skittish, he let loose and carried the team to the next round. Anthony wouldn't have gone on fire against the Mavs if it wasn't for Chauncey.

Okay... that's old news, right? Chauncey sucks now, right? Dude is old, slow, and needs to be put down, right? That's what matters.

Year Games Mins. P/G FG% 3P% FT% Pnts. P/G Ass. P/G Rebs. P/G Stls. P/G
2008-09 77 35.3 0.420 0.410 0.900 17.9 6.4 3.0 1.2
2009-10 73 34.1 0.418 0.386 0.910 19.5 5.6 3.1 1.1
Career 910 32.3 0.416 0.388 0.892 15.4 5.6 3.0 1.0

Tell me something (hey, a reference to an obscure Korean film!), is Chauncey really that bad? Not to me. Seems to me like all he did was average more points than any time in his career - without making his field percentage suffer like it does with volume shooters - and only really see a big decline in his 3-point percentage (and perhaps assists, as he's a point guard).

Are these stats better than Paul's? Not necessarily. Although Paul averaged fewer points, his assists were still in double-figures, as well as having a better FG% (though not 3P% and FT%) and rebounds/steals.

Chauncey would, then, be traded by his hometown team... a team that traded him once before (the trade that stung the most, according to Billups)... for what? Still playing at an elite level. Loyalty!

What Trading Chauncey means... for the Nuggets

Okay, so by now I've hopefully dispelled the myth that Chauncey suddenly turned into a Stiff and needs to be thrown down a well to save our poor souls from basketball damnation.

The question, then, becomes one of value. Does a Chauncey/Paul swap provide value for the Nuggets?

In terms of stats, sure. Paul is a career double-double machine. Any team should want that. As for their contracts, Paul's career production probably makes up (this year, anyway) for being more pricey than Chauncey's, although if Chauncey gets an extension with a hometown discount, it'll be debatable.

Contract comparison:

2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
Paul $14,940,152 $16,359,805 $17,779,457
Billups $13,150,000 $14,200,000 FA

Paul's final year has a player option, Chauncey's has a team option. Assuming he's a Nugget, and assuming Anthony is a Nugget, do you want to invest nearly $18 million in a second player? I guess you wouldn't mind if you were the Heat...

The final consideration for the Nuggets would be the most difficult to quantify: intangibles. Is losing Chauncey's intangibles worth the acquisition of Paul? I'm not so sure.

It's difficult (as mentioned) to put an exact number on the meaning of intangibles. But one only needs to think of the 08' season if they want to know what Chauncey means to the team... he is the head that tells the body where to go. Without him, the body is in disarray. No Chauncey, no WCF. Simple as that.
Further consideration would be this last season and Karl having to depart for cancer treatments. Does anyone really think the team would have fared better with Paul instead of Chauncey last year? What would happen when Dantley takes a timeout and it's Paul instead of Chauncey there... would Paul be doing the talking, too? Or, as Anthony would probably be the leader of the team, then, would Melo be doing the talking? Does anyone truly believe that Melo is a better leader than Chauncey? (Surely not, or that awful streak of 1st-round exits wouldn't exist.) Would we rather have Dantley do the talking? (This last question is a bait for the AD-haters out there.)

Another thing, Paul is the alpha-dog of the Hornets. When Byron Scott was fired, he had this to say:

"I felt like, maybe somebody would have at least consulted with me and asked how I felt before it happened."

Now, to be fair to Paul (I'm not going to lie just to prove a point), these comments aren't as bad as they may initially appear. He did go on to be positive about his new coach, and didn't tell the team that they ought to rescind their decision to fire Scott. However, no owner needs to consult with one of his players before making a decision. Not even if that player is LeBron James (regardless of what Lebron thinks on the matter).
The Nuggets already have one player that is threatening the team to make moves for the sake of making moves; they don't need two.

Chauncey gives this team a focus that very few players in the league can match. As good as Paul is, statistically, he's no Chauncey Billups when it comes to the cerebral part of the game.

This is what the Nuggets will lose when (and, unfortunately, it is a when) they lose Chauncey. Our best hope is that he can sufficiently mentor someone under him in this facet of basketball (which we'll come to) before he leaves us.

Thus, a Chauncey/Paul swap, for the Nuggets, would mean more points and assists and the loss of a leader (both defensive and offensive), mentor, and unofficial coach, who still contributes near the same amount of stats. We should just have kept Iverson...

And the real kicker... it won't be a straight swap. We'll still have to pay extra for Paul. His value decreases.

What Trading Chauncey means... for Ty

This one's rich. And I'm surprised that so few people are noticing it. If we trade Chauncey, another player, and a batch of picks, we'll get Paul and probably some center that starts for whatever team Paul plays for again. Then, we'll have an All Star PG starting (as if we didn't already), and... well... Ty Lawson backing him up.

Think about that for a moment.

Ty Lawson will be the backup point guard. A starting-quality point guard living out his career as a backup (because surely we won't be acquiring Paul just for one season).

A year ago, we were complaining that we had no quality guard behind Chauncey. Oh, how we cried... we need a young kid for him to mentor! Someone to back him up for a few years while learning the trade, then starting when Chauncey stepped down. And then what happened?

We found him! All those tears (and whining that the Nuggets FO is as inept as British Telecom) were cleansed from our cheeks with the 18th overall pick. We had found our protégé. The future starting point guard of the Denver Nuggets. Is this really what we went to the effort of acquiring him for? So he could be someone's backup? Not even a protégé, a backup.

And the truly horrendous part of this scenario is that Ty is better than that. He isn't a backup PG. He's a starting PG. Period. Maybe he isn't as good as Paul, and won't ever be, but he does not deserve to wither behind him. Ty is a starter in this league, and deserves a chance to start. He'll never get that with Chris Paul on the team.

What I see from Anthony (possibly) wanting to join up with Paul is a world where Ty isn't Carmelo's teammate. I don't know if he realised that at the time (they were probably drunk), but that's what he's saying. And, frankly, if he really wants Paul, that's what I want, too...

If Paul is a Nugget, I don't want Ty Lawson to be one. Just like (Timberwolves GM) Kevin McHale let Chauncey leave to be the Detroit Pistons' starter instead of selfishly keeping him as a backup, the Nuggets, too, would have to let Ty flourish elsewhere. And he will flourish. Nugget or not (...if he gets the chance).

Sure, it's nice to have two starting-quality players in one position, but not when both want to - and can - start. And, especially, especially, when the other side of this fantastic back-court would be an awful front-court. A great team needs balance. We've got one half of it down, and the other side is getting there... why dismantle the good side? The logic of trading for a great PG when we have two good-to-great ones doesn't make sense...

The deceptive logic of trading for Chris Paul

I know... well, I assume... that by now I don't need to be hammering this out. Because, I assume, that we all know that the Nuggets' problem isn't the back-court. The logic falls into the idiomatic realms of "if it's not broken don't fix it" --

Hold on. I have a desire for cheese.

-- Okay, back. Sorry, but it's been days since I've eaten cheese, and we have a block of the best non-Cheddar cheese I've tasted in all of Germany... Gouda! Anyway... I wonder, why are we so willing to trade Chauncey for a PG when we already have one waiting in the midst?

I mean, what's so special about Paul that we need to suddenly consider getting rid of him? Why are we even trying to trade him for a point guard when we don't need a point guard?! If Chauncey is suddenly becoming trade-bait, why not trade him for something we actually need, you know what I'm sayin'?

Like... and I know this is way out of left field... how about... we trade Chauncey, former-Nuggets favourite Chris Andersen (because apparently, he too sucks now), 3 1sts, a 2011 2nd, and a bag of potatoes... for... a center? We need one of those, right? We need a Dwight Howard. And I heard from my girlfriend that hasn't watched basketball since the days of John Stockton that he wants out. And she wouldn't lie to me. Ever.

Seriously, though, if we're really willing to dump Chauncey, then do it for a player we need. Dwight Howard is just as much of a dream as Chris Paul... of course, Howard didn't go up to Anthony at his wedding and tell him he wants to join up, but I'm sure he feels the same way as every other player in the league that doesn't have a contract with the Heat. And I'd rather have Howard, Anthony, and Lawson, than simply Anthony and Paul.

Nevertheless, the point remains: selling out for a PG when it's the least of our problems is like cutting off your hand and giving it to your shin because you're missing a foot.

What the Nuggets need to do... and are doing

I know what the reaction is going to be, but I will take the risk of saying it because it's the right answer. The Nuggets have to do absolutely nothing. I know... Booooooooring! This reloading-season is so boring, we need to do SOMETHING!! No we don't.

It's easy to fall into the trap of moves for the sake of moves. And while occasionally a change is exactly what is required to improve oneself, sometimes the illusion of stagnancy makes us create a problem where there previously was none. Boredom especially exasperates this problem. And this is an awfully boring period of the year.

The truth is that the Nuggets struck gold with Chauncey and Ty. Yes, there were conscious decisions to acquire them, but we all know that the draft is often a lottery (to an extent) and no one (except him, perhaps) had any idea that Chauncey would be as good as he's been when Nuggets GM Joe Dumars decided to dump him.
We're incredibly lucky that both have worked out, and should ride the gravy train of a possible Hall of Famer mentoring an extremely promising second-year player.

For once we should be glad that the Nuggets are sitting on their hands (and hopefully will continue to do so, Re: Paul) - we have it good!

A conclusion for those that are too lazy to read all 2220 words of my jibber-jabber

A year ago, word around here was that the Nuggets needed to acquire a young point guard. We got an excellent young guard, that showed flashes of just what he's capable of in the NBA. And now we want to dismantle all the progress.

Worse, we're willing to pay a premium for that honour - crazy as it sounds. Furthermore, perhaps even more rationally-confounding, the Hornets have a Stiff that we happen to desire (because we believe we can't do better), a player the Hornets likely don't want. The way to get him? Trade for Chris Paul and Nawlins will toss him in as a thank you "present". (Thankfully, not everyone wants this.) Thus, for Okafor, we should break up a different position. Makes sense.

If we want a center that bad, then get a center. Screw Chris Paul and his risky center (and getting Okafor is a risk), just sell out for a legit star and be done with it. Focus on what you want, and make an offer they can't refuse. It worked in the Godfather, and it'll work here. That's what horses are for. But don't fall for the illusion that Paul will somehow magically solve all our problems because he is shinier than that we currently have.

The value just isn't there. Chris may (may!) be better than Chauncey and Ty individually (...for now...), but having him on this team means neither of them will be; so, ultimately, what we have to consider is the value of Paul versus the value of Chauncey and Ty. Is Paul worth enough to you that you wouldn't mind losing Billups and Lawson? Not to me. Chauncey's value alone is enough to give me pause, but including Ty makes it far from even being worth a thought.

Chris Paul simply is not worth his price tag.

Additionally, the one thing I didn't discuss is the possibility of trading Ty instead of Chauncey, but the logic is very much the same. Chauncey is not a backup. And trading Ty for an older guy when we still have no idea what he's capable of is ludicrous.
Again, it's a question of value. Even if Ty never equals the production level of Paul, that does not mean keeping him was a mistake, because we need to factor in the fact that we'd have to pay a handsome amount in this trade.
If the trade involved two 1sts, for example, the question would then be, Is Paul worth Ty and two other high-draftees? Thinking of the possibilities if we didn't trade away our 1sts all these years, and considering that we've done pretty well with the players we did manage to acquire in the draft, I'm inclined to keep the promising Lawson and take my chances looking for a second gem in the sienna dust. It couldn't hurt having a 1st for a change, right?

And, finally (yeah, I know what you're thinking), I'd like to make something clear while I'm on the topic... saying the above may mean that I disagree with Melo if he believes the world would be better if he was with Paul instead of Chauncey and Ty. (Add lovers joke here.)
So, before anyone asks, do I disagree with the Nuggets' superstar and franchise player even though I'm not an NBA player like him or even remotely close to the city of Denver but just a poor sap sitting on his derrière while writing this on the topic of what's best for the Nuggets in the context of making a blockbuster trade for Chris Paul or doing absolutely nothing, an act which may consequently displease said superstar while he is currently partaking in a contract extension negotiation and threatening the team to do something before he signs the extension offer - *takes breath* - despite the fact that doing nothing may very well be the correct decision and no I'm not implying that the Nuggets should do nothing but just stating that it is in the realm of possibility that doing nothing may be the right thing to do, boring as it sounds, as well as noting that while the Nuggets haven't made a big splash in free agency recently they have displayed a consistent ability to make shrewd moves that have a habit of working out surprisingly well and... huh... hah... gah!... have a habit of working out surprisingly well and require a certain amount of trust, easy as it is to denounce them in the wake of a recent disappointing season in which the aforementioned franchise player quit consistently over and over and over and over and... phew... and nary an observation of his consistent QUITTING was made by someone of the national English media despite the fact that no one that works for any English media outlet pays attention to the NBA or is even aware that the US has a state called Colorado in which some city called "Denver" resides that harbours a basketball team called the Nuggets, a team whose head coach recently recovered from cancer, a team that is currently trying to extend a player's contract while he demands that they do something before agreeing to sign, a team that has continued to field an extremely talented group of players despite constant accusations from its fanbase that it has no idea what it's doing, a team that contains one lunatic of a fan that is currently ranting about the fact that the English media refused to observe one player's consistent QUITTING even though he isn't even residing in England at the time of writing his rant and is quickly straining the patience of the reader trying to keep up with the pace of this sentence because it has been going on for way too long and so will return to the beginning to ask the pivotal question that the reader has probably already forgotten right now: would I disagree with Carmelo in this totally hypothetical situation?

Absolutely. Logic isn't a prerequisite for being a basketball player. And trading for Paul is thoroughly illogical.

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