Chris Paul needs to get out of LA. With the recent firing of Vinny Del Negro, and subsequent blame put on CP3 for the firing, it seems more likely that Paul will leave the Clippers, sending them back to square one. Most analysts think Paul should and will re-sign with the Clippers, pointing to the fact that they can offer him $28 million more than any other team and won 56 games this year, a franchise record. I’m not convinced though that the Clippers are set up for a chance at a title, unless Blake Griffin takes a giant leap. Griffin may have already peaked. Simple as that. Look at his career stats and you’ll see his production from 22 points and 13 rebounds in his first season to 18 points and 8 rebounds last season. There’s no reason for someone so freakishly athletic as Griffin to only average 8 rebounds per game. Griffin is one of the worst post defenders inthe league. Griffin holds the keys to the Clippers future, and without massive improvement, the Clippers are only a first or second round playoff team. Meanwhile, the Clippers other big man DeAndre Jordan is young and way overpaid. He’s a highlight reel dunker who plays no defense and makes Dwight Howard look like Steve Nash from the free throw line. To make matters worse, it’s been well-documented that Jordan and Griffin don’t like Chris Paul. Chris Paul doesn’t have time for these kinds of issues at this stage in his career. Two overrated post players who won’t bring CP3 a title anytime soon and are more concerned with making viral Youtube clips are not what Paul needs. Luckily for Paul, he’s a free agent and there are a few destinations with a brighter future than the Clips. Let’s look at where Paul may end up playing next season.
If you missed it, Click here for Part 1.
Group 7a: Dinosaurs That Somehow Aren’t Extinct
35. Kevin Garnett
34. Paul Pierce
33. Kobe Bryant
32. Tim Duncan
Despite KG’s injuries this year, he’s still one of the most reliable defensive anchors in all of Basketball. With KG, anything short of beating the Heat seems possible for the Celtics in the playoffs. Without KG? We’re talking about a five or six game series in favor of the Knicks. As far as Pierce is concerned, I’ll let Bill Simmons do the talking. Want to know how good Kobe was this year? Before getting hurt, even being owed $30 million as a 36 year old next year, it would have been hard to put outside the top 20. Kobe was on everyone’s MVP ballot until the day he got injured. And Duncan is one of the most remarkable players in NBA history. This guy just doesn’t wear down. He’s 36 years old and has a PER over 24. He’s putting up 18-10-3 in just 30 minutes per game. Would anyone really be shocked if three of these four guys were using deer antler spray?
Here’s the situation: you’re an NBA GM and you’re trying to draft from entire pool of NBA players to make your team as successful as possible. This obviously slightly rates how players are valued. Would you rather select Kobe Bryant at age 34 with a $30 million salary coming off of a torn achilles, or 24 year old James Harden, set to make $15 million next year? Would you rather have Dwyane Wade at age 31, making nearly $19 million, or 20 year old Kyrie Irving who’s still on his rookie deal? Further, would you rather have Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose, coming off a torn ACL? Age, contract size, injury history, and potential all factor into your decision. Position matters too. Point guard is a very deep position, but center is not. But as the Heat showed us last season, small ball can work fine. If you have Lebron James, at least.
Running a successful NBA franchise isn’t easy. Well, it might be, but we’ll never know, when teams are run by people like this. After all, only nine different franchises have the title in the past 32 years. Going into each season, there’s usually only 3 or 4 teams that have a realistic shot at winning the title. Underdogs stand little chance when they have to beat a team four times out of seven. Usually the better team will advance in the playoffs. The league today is very top heavy– so much, that LeBron recently advocated contracting the league. The league wouldn’t be so uneven if not for teams habitually overpaying bad players (looking at you, Wizards), teams having to deal with whining superstars (sorry, Magic), and teams trading all their young assets for injured players (we know how you feel, 76ers). That’s why the size of contract, character of the player, and the injury history are all important in deciding who to build an NBA franchise around. Without further ado…
7. Phoenix Suns
As much as I wanted to put the Kings in the cellar, I just couldn’t do it. The Suns are that bad. Take a look at the Suns roster and you won’t find any egregiously bad contracts, but you also won’t find a single player worth building around. Goran Dragic has quietly had a very solid season, ranking 15th out of point guards who play at least 30 minutes per game in PER. Notably he’s ahead of players like Damian Lillard and Ricky Rubio this year in PER. Past the 26 year old point guard though, the Suns are stuck with mediocre perimeter players like Shannon Brown, Mike Beasley, and Jared Dudley, and Wes Johnson.
7. Charlotte Bobcats
It’s hard to ever get excited about the Bobcats. They don’t have any true superstar to build around, they hardly have any cap room this summer, and the upcoming draft class is extremely weak. Not all is lost for the NBA’s worst team though. The Bobcats do have improving Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Bismack Biyombo to build around. Plus, as Chad Ford suggested, a weak draft may be Charlotte’s best friend. Charlotte certainly won’t be a playoff team, even with the addition of a top pick in the draft. Drafting a guy like Nerlens Noel, with his ACL tear wouldn’t be a bad plan, as they could let Noel take his time rehabbing, not having to worry about playing him. Then presumably after another terrible season, the Bobcats would be able to add another top 5 pick in 2014. Oh and by the way, the 2014 draft should be loaded, according to scouts who can’t wait until Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker get to the league. For the Bobcats, building around a Kemba, MKG, Nerlens, and a 2014 top 5 pick would be ideal. Also, to speed up the process, the ‘Cats will gain nearly $20million in cap space after this year when Ben Gordon and DeSagana Diop come off the books. While the Bobcats have a few pieces for the future, it’s just hard to get too excited about a team that is making 60-loss seasons a habit.