Chris Paul To The Lakers, What Does It Mean For The West

The big news today wasn't the official end to the NBA lockout. Fans expected and got that with no hiccups. The bigger story was a trade sending Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. The Rockets are involved as well with Gasol going to Houston and Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and reportedly two draft picks headed to the Hornets.

This deal is not done. This, or any deal, can't be official until Friday and like any deal, it can fall apart before the ink is dry (right, June Jones?). We will, however, explore the deal as if it happens as reported and take a look at what it means for the rest of the Western Conference in the NBA.

UPDATE: DERP

Twitter / @WojYahooNBA: The NBA has killed the pro ...
The NBA has killed the proposed deal to send Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources tell Yahoo! Sports.

WELCOME BACK, NBA!!

Los Angeles Lakers:

On the surface the Lakers appear to be the winners here under the old rule that the team that gets the best player in a trade, wins the trade. Chris Paul, when healthy, is the best player in the trade. That healthy part is too important to overlook.

Paul missed almost half the season in 2009-10 due to a knee injury. He came back last season and played 80 games but his shooting numbers were down and watching him play with a giant brace on his knee it was obvious he wasn't full recovered. CP3 is only 25 and he certainly has the skills to be VERY effective even if he's lost some quickness and bounce, but it's not a given anymore that Paul will be as great as we once saw him.

More importantly, in giving up Odom and Gasol the Lakers lose what made them so difficult to play according to pretty much every player or coach that played against them. Jared Dudley expresses this feeling as did Steve Kerr on a recent podcast interview with Bill Simmons.

Twitter / @JaredDudley619: 
I'm Hearing all this chatter about CP to the lakers and Pau to Hou.. I'm telling u now if they do that and don't get Howard then their worse

Now, if the Lakers can somehow flip Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard, than it's game over. But that's far from a given. The Magic would want more than just Bynum and the Lakers don't have much left to give.

Bottom line, are the Lakers with Kobe, Paul, Bynum and World Peace better than with Kobe, Odom, Gasol, Bynum and World Peace? Not really, although they are better positioned for the future IF Chris Paul doesn't have on-going issues with that knee.

The Lakers also appear to have shed over $11m in payroll this year and $65m in total obligations although that number doesn't include Pauls next contract which will be more than that.

New Orleans Hornets

The Hornets were in a bind here. They had no choice but to trade Paul or lose him in free agency in 2012. Paul also had the ability to scare potential suitors like the Clippers or Warriors away by not indicating a willingness to re-sign with his new team. 

The Celtics were reportedly offering a package built around Rajon Rondo while the Clippers weren't willing to offer Eric Gordon and the Warriors weren't offering Steph Curry without assurances Paul would stay. That left this deal. It's hard to fault them for taking what was available and they do get back a lot of quality players and picks.

Lamar Odom and Luis Scola are extremely skilled forwards. Kevin Martin can put points on the board and Goran Dragic can play some point and should have upside. If the Hornets also get draft picks to help re-build, it might not turn out so bad. Remember that deal Memphis made that sent Pau Gasol to the Lakers in the first place? That looked pretty bad for awhile but it turned out OK for them.

In the short term, the Hornets probably are no better or worse. With Paul they had the better player but didn't have much depth. Now they have a higher number of quality players but no superstar.

The Hornets did appear to have added $15m in payroll this season and $74m in long term money but if Paul had stayed they would have paid him that much and since they added three new players it seems reasonable. They now are right below the salary cap at $57m.

Houston Rockets  

The Rockets have been stockpiling players so they could go out and make a deal for a star. They weren't able to deal directly for Paul because they must not have thought they could they could keep him, so, they did the next best thing. They traded Scola, Martin and Dragic for the most skilled big man in the game. They still have a good point guard in Kyle Lowry and some good young players in Patrick Patterson, Courtney Lee and Chase Budinger.

They Rockets didn't get a ton better but they're roster makes a lot more sense now and they can still make other moves. They shed $4m in payroll this season and $9m overall. They are about $11m under the salary cap so they can still go after a quality free agent this year.

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