Oh, yes. We are absolutely going to discuss this. You're going to sit here and take it, whether you like it or not.
I came across this excerpt from Bill Simmons' latest column. Strange enough, he might be onto something here:
Fake Trade 8A: Houston trades Aaron Brooks (expires in 2011) with T-Mac, Scola and Brian Cook (all expire in 2010) for Chris Paul and the Peja-Songaila-Posey cap-killing trio. Considering Houston's deep pockets, it would have to do it -- how else could the Rockets acquire a top-10 player? And New Orleans would fall under the tax (saving them about $16-17 million this year, plus another $25-30 million next year) and replace a decent chunk of Paul's production with a Brooks/Darren Collison combo.
Trust me, I'm not turning this blog into a Bleacher Report column. Each of you should know that hypotheticals aren't my thing. But this was too hard to pass up. And hey, it's Christmas - why not have some fun?
So, let's get to it.
A couple of reasons why this deal works:
1. Financial Reasons
Tracy's expiring contract frees up 23 million dollars for the Rockets to do with as they please. Instead of joining the clusterf--k that will be the 2010 free agent sweepstakes, why not take care of business early? We would take on Peja Stojakovic's salary of fifteen million for 2011 (it expires next season), James Posey's six million dollar salary (expires in 2012), and Darius Songaila's four million dollar salary next season as well (he has a player option for 2011, which essentially means that we'll be suffering from Brian Cook Syndrome for a second consecutive season).
Then, of course, we pick up Paul's contract, which increases year-by-year until it hits $17 million in 2013. If anything, we wouldn't have to worry about re-signing him for a while.
So, in total, this is what things would look like (Mr. Alexander, please cover your eyes):
$62,599,914 (Paul) + $29,538,000 (Stojakovic) + $19,435,800 (Posey) + $9,344,000 (Songaila)
= $120, 917, 714.
Now, before we all go crazy, let's quickly subtract the Rockets' contracts:
$23,239,561 (McGrady!) + $3,375,600 (Scola) + $3,500,000 (Cook) + $3,135,211 (Brooks)
Hornets toTal minus Rockets total = 87,667,342.
To most of you, $87 million still appears to be way too much money, especially if the Rockets have to re-sign Yao Ming.
However, let's keep this in mind: How much money would we have to spend in order to re-sign Scola or Aaron Brooks? If you think Trevor Ariza's 25 million-dollar contract was pricey, think about how much Brooks (remember, a whole year from now) would cost. We're talking the $40-45 million dollar range over an estimated five years. Can New Orleans pay him that much? Probably not, but it's not our problem. And before someone gripes over that financial estimation of Brooks, consider Mo Williams' contract. He is making $9 million per year.
Scola, even if he's thirty, will certainly attract a three-year deal, most likely in the $5 million per season range. So, instead of spending an estimated $60 million to sign two players for the next 3-5 seasons, we are instead going to pay four players $87 million, with only one of those dudes (Paul, a top five player in the league) locked up past 2012. Even then, we could always move Songaila, Stojakovic, or Posey when they're on the verge of expiring and get even more value in return. The possibilites of this deal would only begin once it got done.
As for New Orleans, it's all about the money. They likely won't be able to afford Paul, and won't get a better deal from anyone else, at least not financially speaking.
2. Personnel Reasons
Dealing for Paul would not be in the interest of "getting rid" of Brooks or Scola (we're going to assume McGrady will be moving on, regardless). The Rockets have succeeded with them in the starting lineup, and the only reason to move one or the other would be Scola's age. That's it.
As Simmons noted, when you get the chance to acquire a player of Chris Paul's youth, talent, and affordability (he's making $10 million a year less than McGrady or Kobe Bryant), you don't pass it up. The other Hornets in the deal would only be thrown in to relieve New Orleans of their ridiculously expensive contracts.
Here's what the team would look like with Paul at the helm, assuming we re-sign Kyle Lowry (restricted free agent) and Yao Ming (unless Yao picks up his player option and delays his free agency by one year):
PG: Paul/Lowry SG: Ariza/Budinger/Posey SF: Battier/Stojakovic PF: Landry/Hayes/Songaila C: Yao/Andersen
I'm assuming Rick Adelman would try to play the kickers as little as possible, though he and Stojakovic do have a history. That said, Peja is way past his bedtime.
The only predicament with the trade, as of now, would be the handicap it would have on our younger players, like Jermaine Taylor and/or next year's first rounder. I'm not exactly sure where they would go, other than RGV. Then again, if we felt comfortable with our roster, we could always deal that first round pick for cash.
Regarding the Hornets - once again, this is the most talented, yet cheapest package that they could find. They get Brooks for at least one year to keep them afloat, and could always make a run at Scola if they so wished. It's doubtful that they could afford him, but what if Luis fell in love with New Orleans and took a paycut? Party time, Russell Brand.
3. It's a franchise-changer
Look at what Paul has been able to do in New Orleans without any talent. If you give him Yao Ming for the few seasons that he likely has left in him, that's one thing. But to include Carl Landry (he of similar offensive talent as one David West), Trevor Ariza (who would thrive with Paul like he did with Kobe Bryant), Battier, and Budinger - the possibilities are endless. And how pretty would our pick-and-roll game look with Paul passing back to Dave Andersen for an easy jumper?
Given Houston's financial flexibilty, this would be a steal of a trade, similar to the Pau Gasol deal involving the Grizzlies and Lakers. We'd be giving up a washed-up cash machine, a solid, yet aging post player, and a talented point guard, only to replace him with THE most talented point guard.
A few reasons to hesitate
Well, I wouldn't hesitate, but some of you might. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Landry's defensive rebounding rate is noticeably bad. It's lower than Chase Budinger's. Replacing Scola with Carl may not affect the offense, but it could result in more second chances for opponents. However, to be fair, Yao's return should patch things up nicely.
2. You can't just ignore Posey, Stojakovic, and Songaila - you're going to have to play one or two of them pretty consistently for the sake of the starters' stamina. While Stojakovic may be a good shooter, it remains to be seen if he can come off the bench in a reduced role. Some people out there (*cough* IVERSON *cough*) can't simply part ways with a featured role.
3. What if Les doesn't want to spend that much money? They are his pockets, not yours.
Again, to be clear, this is all hypothetical. Though I do think that it could work for both sides, there are no indications that it could happen; other teams will be hunting for Paul, and even then, New Orleans could hold onto him. All that I am saying is this:
Just keep your eyes peeled, and keep daydreaming. That is all.