Chris Paul Trade Fallout: Which Offer Was Better - the Lakers/Rockets, or the Clippers?

I’m hot about the Chris Paul trade that has been blocked. I’ve been seething about David Stern and the petulant owners since last night. I’m so fired up that I’ve been ranting to my wife about it – and she doesn’t even know who Chris Paul is.

But a wise man pointed out something to me this morning: Was the Clippers’ trade for Chris Paul actually better than the one the Rockets and Lakers offered?

We’ll be working under the assumption that the Clippers were offering Eric Bledsoe, Chris Kaman, Al-farouq Aminu and an unprotected draft pick the Clippers acquired. Financially, what the Clippers are offering was terrific.

Eric Bledsoe, age 22: $3.3 million over the next two years, then a team option
Al-farouq Aminu, age 21: $5.7 million over the next two years, then a team option
Chris Kaman age 29: $12 million this year, but he’s an expiring contract.
Minnesota probably isn’t a playoff team, so you’re looking at a pick in the 10-18 range.

Let’s match that up against what the Houston/LA trade was:

Kevin Martin, age 28: $12,019,840 this year; $12,939,675 in 2012-2013
Luis Scola, age 31: $8,591,793 this year; $9,408,207 in 2012-2013; $10,224,622 in 2013-2014; $11,041,037 in 2014-2015
Lamar Odom, age 32: $8,900,000 this year; team option for $8,200,000 in 2012-2013
Goran Dragic, age 25: $2.1 million this year, then he’s a free agent
1st round draft pick in 2012 from Houston. The Rockets – if they got Gasol – are contending for the 8th playoff spot. [UPDATE: The pick appears to be New York’s … which is even worse. The Knicks will be a Top 5 seed in the East.]

The Clippers trade would help the Hornets get younger. Chris Kaman and Emeka Okafor won’t be able to co-exist in the middle, but Kaman is a potentially-attractive expiring contract for a contender. Might someone want to take a chance on Kaman at the trade deadline? Bledsoe (18th pick in 2010) showed flashes last season; Aminu (8th pick in 2010) barely got playing time in LA, but who knows what he could do with 30 minutes a night in New Orleans (he was a star at Wake Forest).

While I love Dragic, Martin is an aging shooting guard who can score, but does little else. Scola’s a very nice role player but has a horrible contract. Lamar Odom has undeniable talent, but he’s 32 and almost certainly will pout for two years. I really, really like Dragic (who can forget this?), but if he’s traded, this will be his third team in two seasons. Why isn’t he sticking anywhere? The biggest problem with this deal is that the Hornets are locked into the Okafor/Scola C/PF combo for at least the next three years at a total over over $20 mil per year. Gross.

Then the question becomes: Ok, which of these two deals sets you up better long term? I’d say that pretty clearly is the Clippers deal. It’s not like Bledsoe/Aminu are going to turn the Hornets into a contender, but would you rather be in the draft next year (it’s loaded) or would you rather have a team jockeying for the 8th playoff spot?

Final note: Daryl Morey, the Rockets’ GM, is considered one of the smartest in the league.

Are you maybe beginning to wonder: Did Dell Demps present this deal to Chris Paul and his agent, only to have them reject it because he wants to play for the Lakers? Because I’d ask, uh, Chris, would you rather play with an aging Kobe Bryant and an oft-injured Andrew Bynum … or Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon?

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