Clippers contenders with Chris Paul?

5-on-5 roundtable: Are Hornets getting enough? Are Clips better than the Lakers now?

Updated: December 12, 2011, 1:30 PM ET
ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network

The Chris Paul trade saga could be ending. According to Chris Broussard and Marc Stein, the Clippers have submitted a deal for CP3 to the league. Assuming the second time's the charm, our writers break down the deal and what it would mean for the Hornets, Clippers and, uh, L.A.'s "other" team.

1. Did the Hornets get enough? Should David Stern approve the deal?


Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: Yes. To be honest, I like this trade more than the one Stern nixed. The key is that Minnesota pick, which is as good as any asset in the NBA for a team seeking a new owner. It costs nothing for a year, then becomes an excellent, young, below-market player of the new owner's choosing. Throw in Chris Kaman, who can really play and be an attractive trade chip, and some young talent. The Hornets will have a rough 2011-12, but this is the better long-term play, and it's time for long-term plays.

Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN.com: The Hornets get a standout shooting guard still on his rookie deal, an All-Star center on an expiring contract, the No. 8 pick from 2010 and a draft pick that might be in the top five in the next draft. With or without Eric Bledsoe, the last time a team ceded so much so it could contend was the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Stern should approve.

Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: This is probably the best deal the Hornets could get. If Stern doesn't approve this deal, we should have Larry Coon look for the provision in the new collective bargaining agreement that says Chris Paul has a "can't trade" clause. Eric Gordon is probably the best player the Hornets can secure in such a deal, and the rest are prospects you can develop or flip later.

John Hollinger, ESPN.com: Yes and yes.

David Thorpe, ESPN.com: It can be easily argued that the Hornets would have gotten more -- three starters -- from the first deal. This deal has more downside and more upside, as Al-Farouq Aminu, Bledsoe (if included) and the Minny pick could amount to a little or a lot. But yes, based on what we've heard the league needs to approve the deal, this should be enough.


2. Are the Clippers putting too much into the deal?


Abbott: No. I say that for two reasons. First of all, they get to take a real shot at creating something special. Opportunities like that are few and far between for all teams and doubly so for this team. Secondly -- and here I'm totally biased -- who in their right mind doesn't want to see Chris Paul and Blake Griffin playing together?

Arnovitz: With some rare exceptions, an NBA team needs two superstars to contend for a title. With Paul and Griffin, the Clippers now have that. Was it expensive? Yes. But that's the price to land one of the five best players in the game, particularly one who runs the point.

Harper: If Gordon is included and they're haggling over Bledsoe, I don't really understand the logic of the Hornets. Is it a lot to give? Yes. Is it too much? No. Gordon is a good player, but the odds that he'll be a franchise player are low. You have to take risks to bring in superstars, and putting Griffin with CP3 is all deadly.

Hollinger: I'm not as big an Eric Gordon fan as some other people are, and I suspect the Minnesota pick will be more like No. 6 than No. 1, so I think this is a fair trade with or without Bledsoe. I don't think Bledsoe needs to be in it, and I suspect the Clips would like to keep him to flip him for a wing player.

Thorpe: Probably not, because the new NBA is all about getting players so they can attract other players. Paul and Griffin should be able to help bring other talents to L.A., and no one will really miss Kaman, Aminu, Bledsoe or the pick. Losing Gordon is the only pain L.A. will feel, and that's worth gaining CP3.


3. Should the Lakers and their fans feel stung if this trade goes through?


Abbott: If they end up with Dwight Howard instead, the 29 other teams should feel stung.

Arnovitz: Yes. The package assembled by the Lakers and Rockets was formidable. It saddled the Hornets with a lot of long-term commitments -- something that might not be attractive to a prospective buyer looking at a balance sheet -- but it was a fair deal and should've been accepted.

Harper: You probably can't stop them from feeling stung ... oh, I see what you did there. Although the Lakers were giving up a lot to get Chris Paul, the Hornets weren't getting such a good deal to rebuild with. Now they get a young scorer, a potential starting point guard, a developing wing and a potential top-five pick. The Lakers weren't giving the Hornets that.

Hollinger: I don't know if "stung" is the right word -- I wasn't a big fan of the original trade. Lost in the shuffle of all this is that the Lakers were still dumping Lamar Odom's salary, just in a larger Pau Gasol-for-Paul trade. Paul is a better player, but Gasol fits that team's roster much better.

Thorpe: Owners block trades all the time. I mean all the time. The league was hoping for more later than now, and this deal provides that. Job well done by Stern.


4. Will this deal, if approved, make the Clippers a contender?


Abbott: I'd see them like the Mike D'Antoni Suns. Very entertaining with explosive scoring runs and knocking on that door. But I think it's unlikely they'll find themselves in the Finals without adding another piece or two.

Arnovitz: If everyone's knees remain intact, the Clippers should contend.

Harper: It helps a lot. They're instantly a playoff team and have the flexibility to bring in good role players around their dynamic pick-and-roll duo. They need to add some outside shooting and another big for their rotation, but a healthy Clippers squad could eventually contend for a title.

Hollinger: Contender for what? It should make them a playoff team immediately, but contending right now may be a stretch. They need Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to keep developing and almost certainly need a coach upgrade.

Thorpe: By itself, not at all. They have to surround the high-flat ball-screen action of Blake and CP3 with shooters. They need a lineup that features a stretch big (Mehmet Okur, anyone?) in fourth quarters, lifting the big high when Blake dives low. They still have coaching questions and defensive issues to plan out. But their future is now brighter than that of the other L.A. team.


5. Better team (if this trade happens): Lakers or Clippers?


Abbott: Lakers, but it's a major credit to the Clippers that people are asking that.

Arnovitz: A core of Paul, Griffin, Caron Butler and Jordan should trump an older Lakers squad. The caveat here, of course, is Dwight Howard.

Harper: Lakers are still the better team. But the Clippers are closing the gap in a way they couldn't imagine before the trade. It's fun to think you'll build your young guys into a contending team, but not every team is Oklahoma City. You have to take a risk like this and quit hoping that potential will be realized.

Hollinger: Wow. It's amazing we're even discussing this. I'd still go with the Lakers, but subtract Odom from one L.A. and add CP to the other, and the difference may be microscopic.

Thorpe: I'd like to reserve judgment at least until we know what their rosters will look like in 10 days and three months. The trade deadline will almost be like a Western arms race. I still like the Lakers today, but I like the Clippers more tomorrow.