Would Chris Paul be a fit for Charlotte?
Late on Wednesday night, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that trade talks between the Thunder and other league teams had stalled as the team tried to move embattled point guard Chris Paul.
It appears that Paul could play the 2019-20 season in Oklahoma City, as most teams don’t have the requisite cap space to acquire Paul’s mammoth contract, of which he has three more years on the original $159-million commitment. The Thunder reportedly will wait until midway through the season or perhaps into the 2020 offseason to trade Paul.
That’s good news for the Hornets, who currently have no cap space to swing a trade to acquire Paul. But next season Bismack Biyombo, Marvin Williams, and Michael Kidd Gilchrist come off the books, which combined with an entire season’s worth of time to trade away other bloated contracts, could mean the Hornets are players next season.
Paul, who will be 34 during the 2019-20 season, averaged 15.6 points per game on 41.9% shooting but for the second consecutive season played only 58 games as injuries continued to hobble him.
At this point in his career, Paul might be on his last legs, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a valuable player.
So the question becomes, should the Hornets be in on Paul?
Well it all depends on what the Hornets want to be and how much closer they’ll be to that goal by the end of next season. If the team is pushing to compete quickly and looking to add Paul to compliment rising young stars, then Paul would absolutely be a fit.
Consider this scenario: the Hornets front office is correct in their evaluation of Terry Rozier and he blossoms into a bona fide no. 1 player in Charlotte. Youngsters P.J. Washington and Miles Bridges play like talented and promising young players, complimenting Rozier perfectly. Malik Monk even takes a step forward.
The Hornets shed salary but keep their core in place, allowing the team’s window to stay open. Why wouldn’t Paul fit in Charlotte?
Yes the contract is ominous, but his play and locker room presence could be more than enough to justify the price.
That scenario is probably a little far fetched as it’s more likely the team ends up in the top of the lottery next season, so let’s get creative with Paul and how he could benefit the Hornets.
If the Hornets struggle and look to rebuild, the team wouldn’t truly begin to get out of cap trouble until the end of the 2020-21 season. If the Thunder get desperate to shed Paul’s salary because his legs have no tread left, why not see if you can pick up an asset for taking on his contract?
It was a common occurrence during the 76ers’ rebuild, as they built up assets to take as many shots as possible at getting star players.
Adding first or second round picks or project players in exchange for salary is a sound strategy for a struggling team.
The second scenario is probably more likely, but the Hornets should start getting creative with their options to retool this team quickly. Taking on salary for assets or getting the last juice from an established vet could be a great way to kick start the rebuild and drum up interest in the fan base.