Clippers get Chris Paul but was it a good deal?
Tell me if this sounds familiar: An NBA star playing in a small market city is dealt to a mega-market team for three players and a first-round draft pick.
Yes, it happened Wednesday night when the L.A. Clippers landed Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets - but it also happened back in February when the Knicks corralled Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets.
Of course, the Carmelo trade was different in a lot of respects (it was a midseason, three-team trade involving multiple moving parts and draft picks). But the heart of the swap was this: Carmelo went to New York while Denver got Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and a 2014 first-round draft pick.
The two trades' centerpieces are comparable. Paul, 26, is a four-time All-Star who has averaged nearly 19 points and 10 assists per game in his career. Anthony, 27, has averaged over 24 points and 6 rebounds in his career. Both are established stars with international appeal and now both are playing under the NBA's brightest lights.
But what about the other guys involved and how will the trades ultimately pan out? Well, the Nuggets actually thrived with their new-look lineup. Gallinari, Felton and Chandler all averaged over 15 points per game, and the Nuggets went an impressive 17-7 after the Feb. 22 trade.
As for the Knicks, they floundered. New York went 14-14 after the mega-swap and was destroyed by the Celtics in a first round playoff sweep. (Denver lost to the Thunder in the playoffs but they won a game and lost three of the games by fewer than four points.)
Which brings us back to last night's huge deal. The players that the Clippers sent packing to New Orleans may not have marquee names but they could very well make the Hornets a better team - much like the Nuggets new players did.
Gordon, who turns 23 on Christmas, averaged 22.3 points last season. The 6-foot-9 Aminu is a second-year pro who averaged 5.6 points and 3.3 rebounds as a rookie. The 7-foot Kaman, 29, is an eight-year veteran who averaged 12.4 points and seven rebounds last season.
All three players were among the top eight draft picks in their respective drafts. And, like Gallinari, Chandler and Felton, the trio is a combination of two big men and a guard, two young players and a veteran.
Said Hornets GM Dell Demps: "Aminu is a young talent with a bright future, Gordon is a big-time scorer and one of the best (shooting) guards in the league and Kaman is a proven center and former All-Star."
Furthermore the Hornets get a first round pick in next year's draft, which is shaping up to be one of the more talent-stocked drafts in years.
This isn't to suggest that the Clippers are not a much better team with Paul. The prospect of CP3 uniting with Blake Griffin and an exciting supporting cast could very well vault the long-downtrodden Clippers past their cross-town rival Lakers - maybe even this year.
But the Hornets, like the Nuggets last year, may end up surprising a few fans down the line.
Of course, this is the NBA and, as the Carmelo swap fallout shows, it's wise to keep your suitcase packed even after you're traded: Raymond Felton has since been dealt to Portland and Wilson Chandler bolted for China during the lockout.
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