Should Chris Paul Play Again This Season?

Over the last few weeks, it's become increasingly apparent that CP will likely be "physically capable" of playing by the end of the season. He resumed limited practice on March 12th, and knowing his injury recovery history, the speedy comeback isn't too surprising.

So we know he can and almost certainly will play, but is it the right decision?

For one, the playoffs are a pipe dream. The Hornets are most certainly a playoff team with Paul; they were 25-21 when he went down, and those were the days when Buckets was still Lil and David West was anything but an X-factor. But now, they're 8 games out of 8th, with a mere 15 games to play. They'd need to jump divisional rivals Memphis and Houston, in addition to either San Antonio or Portland. Last year, the eighth seed Utah posted 48 wins to get in. Portland would need to simply go 7-6 to reach that mark; the Hornets would need to run the table.

Those are long, long odds. (Alternate line: Playoffs? Playoffs? Playoffs?)

The only other serious reason I could see to bringing Paul back? A 10 game showcase, if the Hornets want to move him in the off-season. 10 dominant games proving that he's back. A summer trade is something the front office has surely pondered, and 10 healthy games would surely restore any damage his stock has taken. Ultimately, I really, really, really hope this is not a motivating factor. The "trade Paul" crowd (which, from what I can tell, is entirely composed of non-Hornet fans) is wrong because (a) Darren Collison is terrific, but like every other point guard in the league, nowhere close to the class of CP and (b) there's never fair value in trades involving players of the class of LeBron, Dwight, or Paul.

So should he play again this year? If the decision is influenced by any external factor, be it the playoffs, trade showcasing, or anything else, then no. But if his knee truly is better and he's ready for game speed? Sign me up because it's been way too long.

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