Andris Biedrins

Warriors serious about trading for Chris Paul, as they should be

According to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski (and others, including Tim Kawakami and Sam Amick), the Golden State Warriors are not only interested in trading for Chris Paul, but they’ve actually put together a package the New Orleans Hornets are interested in — a package that includes Stephen Curry.

Seeing as Paul’s one of the top point guards in the world and has more All-Star Game appearances (four) than the entire Warriors roster combined (one — for David Lee in his last year with the Knicks), it’s not surprising that New Orleans is talking to more suitors than just Golden State.

If Wojnarowski’s report is true, the strongest competition for Paul’s services comes from a familiar source: the Clippers, who always seem to be in the mix whenever the Warriors are interested in someone, and vice versa. Then again, Baron Davis, Elton Brand and Corey Maggette aren’t exactly Paul.

Wojnarowski also stated that while Paul hasn’t said he’d sign a contract extension if he were traded to the Warriors or Clippers, “league sources” say they’d have a better chance at keeping Paul around if they signed free agent center Tyson Chandler, Paul’s former alley-oop partner.

The Celtics are also aggressively pursuing a trade for Paul, and after the talk all morning today was how the Lakers were going to trade for Paul and Dwight Howard by the time the season started, that looks less than likely. But supposedly the Clippers and the Warriors are currently the teams presenting offers that New Orleans is most interested in.

The Clippers would have to include 23-year-old restricted free-agent center DeAndre Jordan in a package to get Paul, along with forward Al-Farouq Aminu, guard Eric Bledsoe and the 2012 first-round pick they acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Clippers are more attractive to Paul than the Warriors or Boston Celtics, because of the chance to be paired with (Blake) Griffin and (Eric) Gordon. Golden State has been aggressive in its pursuit of Chandler independent of Paul, but the Warriors don’t have as appealing a supporting cast for Paul. The Warriors’ offer for Paul is centered around Stephen Curry and rookie guard Klay Thompson.

That’s so CP3, thinking it would be more fun to toss oops to Griffin than bounce passes to Lee at the elbow for 15-footers. What a killjoy. However, one would think if Curry and Thompson are included in the Warriors’ offer, the Hornets would at least try to push the Clippers to include Gordon in a deal.

If you’re the Warriors, why not?

Forget the fact that it’s VERY curious that the Hornets are talking about trading their franchise player when they’re owned by the NBA, or that the Warriors don’t possess a first-round pick to deal in a future draft until 2016. Like most blockbuster trade rumors, this one probably isn’t happening. But if the Warriors can somehow get the Hornets to part with Paul for a package including Curry and Thompson, they should do it without regret.

The Warriors’ lack of playoff run is well known to the point where it’s exhausting to hash out the gory details (and I’ll try to avoid doing so in this post). Curry’s a very talented player with a pure shooting stroke and excellent court vision, along with enough flair to his game to please fans who need a little style with their PER. And Thompson, well, he can make threes. But if the Warriors are serious about becoming a Western Conference power, they’re going to take a risk or two. Or 12. Most of all, they have to avoid going with what’s comfortable at all costs.

In this case the cost would seem to be great if Curry blossomed in New Orleans and Paul left at the end of the year and signed with the Knicks, Heat or Lakers. But as things stand, here are the three methods the Warriors can utilize to get the superstar they’ll need if they want to get out of .450 winning percentage hell.

  1. Draft a superstar.
  2. Create enough cap room and a place where players want to be, then sign a superstar free agent.
  3. Trade for a superstar.

No. 1 hasn’t worked too well. The Warriors have never tried option No. 2, although they might have that opportunity if they trade for Paul and use the amnesty clause on Andris Biedrins or David Lee after the 2011-12 season. The closest they’ve come to attempting No. 3 was the trade they made with the Hornets almost seven years ago(!) for Baron Davis, who led the Warriors to their only playoff appearance in the past 17 seasons (sorry, unavoidable) before trading his hunger for basketball for In-N-Out satiation.

Sure, the best-case scenario would probably be to trade Monta Ellis for Dwyane Wade, then amnesty Biedrins and sign Dwight Howard after this season. Ha.

Here’s the real-case scenario: Curry’s the best trade chip the Warriors have, and it’s hard to imagine the team as currently constructed finishing higher than ninth or tenth in the West. On the other hand, it’s just as difficult to imagine a Warriors team built around Paul, Ellis, Chandler, Lee, Dorell Wright and Ekpe Udoh not making the playoffs.

From there, perhaps Golden State convinces Paul to stay. If he leaves, time for another bold plan. After all, it’s doubtful Joe Lacob and Peter Guber hired a new coach and all those front office people to watch last year’s squad improve incrementally … if that.

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