At long last, a trade has finally been passed through that will send Hornets' superstar point guard Chris Paul, along with two 2015 2nd round picks, to the Los Angeles Clippers. In return, New Orleans will receive 23 year old all-star shooting guard Eric Gordon, second-year small forward (and the 8th overall pick in the 2010 draft) Al-Farouq Aminu, veteran center Chris Kaman, and the Minnesota Timberwolves' 2012 first round draft pick which was owned by the Clippers.
While no player in the league apart from either LeBron James or Dwight Howard adds the kind of talent and value to a team that Paul provides, the Hornets absolutely made the best out of a bad situation by getting this deal done. The trade gives them 1) a young star in Gordon who is under contract for at least two more seasons, 2) a wing player in Aminu who has loads of potential, 3) a solid big man in Kaman in the final year of his contract who could potentially be dealt to a contender for other assets near the trade deadline, and 4) the draft pick of Minnesota's which will almost certainly be a top-10 pick, hopefully even top-5.
What does the deal mean for the Hornets in the short-term? Unfortunately, it'll be a rough year or two for this team in the standings. By making this trade, though, New Orleans set itself up very nicely to hit the ground running on its rebuilding process. This trade is just the first phase in what is likely to be a series of moves by the Hornets' front office in order to properly position the team to succeed in the long-term. The best pathway to long-term success, especially for small-market teams such as the Hornets, is by building through the draft and creating a young core that can grow together (just ask the Oklahoma City Thunder). Every player on the roster will likely be made available if it can bring back younger talent and additional draft picks in order to really rebuild this team from the ground up. It's hard to predict anything at this point, but there are a ton of possibilities now, and it will be incredibly exciting to follow as it all plays out.
To sum things up - I am really excited with the trade. We are about to see a total overhaul of this Hornets franchise, from a new owner all the way down to totally new players. Are we more than likely going to miss the playoffs this season? Yeah, we'll probably be near the bottom of the standings. The result, however, is two top-10 first round draft picks in a deep 2012 draft class - and that's just the worst case scenario. Depending on the lottery and the records of both the Hornets and the T-Wolves, we could be staring at the top two picks in the draft next summer. Obviously, the chances of that happening are slim, but regardless, those two picks will be very solid and will likely go a long way in helping New Orleans turn things around as quickly as possible.
I am certain it will be a focal point of another post in the future, but best of luck to Chris Paul (except when he plays against us). I cannot wait to see what he and Blake Griffin can accomplish together, and would love nothing more than for that duo to turn the Lakers into the irrelevant Los Angeles team. It's been a phenomenal six years, and he's done more to help revive professional basketball in the city of New Orleans than any of us could have ever hoped. From all of us to you, CP3 - thanks for everything, and good luck.