Yes, and no. Do I think the Pacers have parts that would entice New Orleans to deal? Yes. Do I think CP3 would welcome a trade to Nap Town? No. In a wonderful world of make-believe, Chris Paul would love to play along side Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, and Paul George.
But, packing his bags for Indiana doesn't provide Paul with anything closer to what he truly covets: a championship. Us IC-ers can conjure up scenarios in which we throw all of Indy's expiring contracts to the Hornets in exchange for Paul + horrible contract A (Okafor), B (Stojaokvic), or C (Posey), but it's just not going to happen.
With that said, it doesn't mean the Pacers cannot benefit from Chris Paul's desire to play for a contending team. I believe a lot of people around the league also know the Pacers have a lot to gain from attempting to be involved in a trade with New Orleans along with one of the contending teams on Paul's wish list. It's entirely likely the Pacers could move some of their expiring contracts, get a starting PG (not named Chris Paul or Born Ready), and maintain a little bit of cap flexibility in the coming years. Keep in mind, however, any deal the Pacers make with the Hornets would almost certainly require giving up some young talent (i.e. Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansbrough, Brandon Rush, etc.).
Over the past three days, Bill Simmons of ESPN.com has mentioned potential trades involving the Pacers on his Twitter page. He's a pretty intelligent guy who is connected with a lot of people in-the-know throughout the Association. I don't think he's proposing deals that are laughable, or deals that don't benefit all parties involved. He's considering the needs of every team. Here are four potential trades he threw out - all of which involve the Indiana Pacers (for sanity sake, we'll only focus on what the Pacers get out of each deal):
New York gets - TJ Ford, Peja Stojakovic
Golden State gets - Yao Ming, Darius Songaila
Houston gets - Chris Paul, Emeka Okafor, James Posey, Andris Biedrins
Portland gets - Josh McRoberts, Chris Paul, Emeka Okafor, James Posey
Indiana gets - Andre Miller, Joel Przybilla, Darius Songaila, Julian Wright
New Orleans gets - Roy Hibbert, TJ Ford, Brandon Roy
Portland gets - Mike Dunleavy, Josh McRoberts, Chris Paul
Trades 1 and 2 net the Pacers a franchise PG along with some future cap space. I'm not big on either trade 3 or 4 because it doesn't solve the PG problem, only band-aid's it. The downside to all four deals would require the Pacers giving away Roy Hibbert. It would be a difficult pill to swallow, but giving up Hibbert for Nelson or Brooks may be necessary for the betterment of the future for the Pacers. Overall, I fear neither of the four trades leave fans confident of a completed rebuilding plan.
The jump provides my take on a twist to some of Simmons' trade scenarios.
The following trade scenario is one in which I created that injects a bit more excitement to Indiana's squad. The three teams involved (Indiana, New Orleans, Orlando) all get something out of the deal. For Indiana, it gives them a starting PG, a replacement for Hibbert, and an All-Star PF. New Orleans gets a ton of cap relief with all expiring contracts, rids themselves of all their bad contracts, and allows them to start over. For Orlando, they get the big fish along with great outside scoring and playoff veterans who know how to win.
Indiana gets - Jameer Nelson, Emeka Okafor, David West
New Orleans gets - Roy Hibbert, TJ Ford, Tyler Hansbrough, Vince Carter, Ryan Anderson, Orlando's 2011 first round pick, Indiana's 2011 first round pick
Orlando gets - Chris Paul, James Posey, Mike Dunleavy
Okafor's contract is a little less than desireable (4 years, $50 million), but getting both Nelson and West alleviate the sting just a bit. Nelson and West only have two years remaining on contract, so the Pacers will need to have a sense of urgency to win in order to convince them to stay. With a starting five of Nelson, George, Granger, West, and Okafor, the Pacers become contenders for a playoff spot in the east.
It's impossible for the Hornets to come out winners if they trade away Chris Paul (unless they pursue Simmons' trade scenario 4). No one can replace what he does. However, New Orleans does get infused with young players along with the combined $25 million relief in expiring contracts of Ford, and Carter (he actually has two more years left on his contract, but the second year is a team option). They rid themselves of Okafor's and Posey's contracts. They get two draft picks plus three really solid young bigs in Hibbert, Hansbrough, and Anderson to add to an impressive young duo of Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton. West would be difficult to pry from New Orleans if they still believe he is part of their future (he's only on contract for two more years @ $15 million). But, it's unlikely he would resign with New Orleans if they are amidst a rebuilding plan.
Obviously, Orlando gets the player they were after at the beginning of the summer. They also get a perimeter scorer (a must in Orlando's offense) in Dunleavy - who is on an expiring contract, and a grizzled veteran in Posey who has played for championship teams in the past and adds toughness on the defensive end. Orlando would be a very deep team who could contend with the Heat and Celtics next season.
All three teams come out with positives in the trade. Neither the Pacers nor the Magic would need a lot of convincing to pull the trigger on the deal. The Hornets will be the ones with the difficult decision to make. For the remainder of the summer and into the 2011 season, Hornets' upper management will need to be prepared to deal with pressure from media and the fans concerning Chris Paul. Can they convince Paul they're in a position to win now? That's a lot for new ownership and a new head coach to go through. A trade will certainly lower expectations in the Big Easy, reducing the pressure on them. It all lies on the Hornets' shoulders - whether or not they are willing to withstand the stress, or ship Paul and begin the rebuilding process.
If Bird plays it right, the Pacers could be major players in a possible Chris Paul trade. In the NBA, it's all about timing. The clock it ticking on Indiana, and taking advantage of the situation in New Orleans may be a blessing in disguise for the blue and gold!