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Thursday, July 22, 2010
Report: Chris Paul wants out of New Orleans, L.A. on his short list

By Brian Kamenetzky

On the first day, (the Hypothetical Basketball Trade) God(s) created Andrew Bynum for Jason Kidd. Next, Bynum for Jermaine O'Neal. Then Bynum for Kevin Garnett.

During the 2009-10 season, H.B.T.G. created Bynum for Chris Bosh.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant have been teammates on the All-Star team... could they be the same with the Lakers?


Wednesday, he created Bynum for Chris Paul, and he said "Ooooh, this could be good... or at the very least should keep the bloggers busy."

Ken Berger of CBS Sports.com reports CP3, frustrated with his team's direction and inspired by the formation of Miami's SuperTeam has, through members of his inner circle, informed the Hornets of his desire to be traded before the start of the season. Paul, Berger writes, names three preferred destinations: New York, Orlando, and-- wait for it-- the Lakers. Since he's unquestionably their most viable trade commodity, any deal sending Paul to L.A. would almost assuredly send Bynum to the bayou.

I could mention here how unlikely it is to actually happen, but what's the fun in that? It's summertime. Feel free to fire up your speculation machines.

Andy and I had a chance to speak with Berger on Wednesday night, sitting in with A Martinez on 710 ESPN's Martinez and Long Show. Berger does a great job mapping the landscape of the situation, based both on what he's hearing and his analysis. Among the most salient points for Lakers fans:

The details of whether or not the Lakers could make such a deal happen, though, are secondary to a more fundamental question:

Is this a good idea?

I have a well documented man-crush on Paul. I think he's an incredible player with fantastic skills, remarkable internal motivation, and a tangible nasty streak all the greats possess. (Off the court, he's a well-spoken, community oriented guy, always a nice touch.) He's capable of controlling games as much as any player in the league. Plus, Paul is 25 years old. Still a pup. In a vacuum, a Bynum-for-Paul swap has serious appeal. Except we don't live in one of those, because the suction demands too many compromises in lifestyle.

PODCAST
A Martinez and Andy and Brian Kamenetzky speak to Ken Berger of CBS Sports.com about Chris Paul's future on Wednesday's Martinez and Long Show, on 710 ESPN radio in L.A..

Podcast
The Lakers are coming off consecutive titles, three straight trips to the Finals, and will be heavily favored next season to reach a fourth. Clearly they're on to something down in El Segundo.  Even if Paul seems like an obvious upgrade, is it worth messing  with what obviously works?

The questions raised by the possibility of Paul in L.A. are almost dizzying:

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

Another day, another trade rumor involving Andrew Bynum.


Andy, A and I took nearly three hours of calls on a hypothetical Bynum-for-Paul deal, and honestly I was surprised at the even split of opinion. Many fans pounded their "Mitch, do it!" buttons, while others didn't want to upset the apple cart, even for fruit as shiny as Paul. It's impossible not to dream of the possibilities presented in matching Paul with players as skilled as Bryant and Gasol. Simply running the pick and roll, L.A. would have a series of almost un-defendable options. A 1-2 P and R with Paul and Kobe. Paul with Gasol. Kobe with Gasol. How do you stop that? Obviously Paul would give the Lakers a star around which they can build as Kobe's load needs lightening (it'll happen one day, I swear). Certainly Paul only increases the team's competitive fire.

Increasingly, it's a point guard's league, and CP3 is arguably the NBA's best.

In the end, I doubt any of this will actually come to fruition. Engineering trades of high-salaried superstars in the NBA is an enormous and intricate undertaking. Generally, they fail to happen. Set that aside for a moment. More than most, this one really tickles the imagination, but isn't an easy call. I'm a big believer that the enemy of good is better, that it's much easier to damage a title team with bold moves than improve one, and that the accumulation of All-Stars doesn't necessarily mean the accumulation of titles. Nor do I think the Lakers should be particularly concerned at this point about securing their post-Kobe future. The goal is to win right now, next year and for the two or three following.

Would Chris Paul make the Lakers a better team now?

Does adding a top-five caliber, future Hall of Famer ever make a team worse? As of Wednesday night at 11:30 p.m. PT, I'd sure be interested to find out. I just don't know for sure if it's because I'm convinced the move would truly improve the team/is worth whatever risk, or if I'm just curious to see it would look like.