Chapter 15 for the Point God was unlike any other campaign in his illustrious career.
From an unexpected and impromptu relocating from Houston, to a never before seen work stoppage due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, then the tipping point of emotions and responsive action taken by the players with the goal of creating a better America, Chris has had his plate full.
However, to whom much is given, much is tested, and no one is better suited to take charge and lead dynamic groups of men through adversity than him.
Chris Paul is the NBAs best leader and has been for years, making his positioning as President of the Players Association a perfect match. In the contexts of guiding the young bucks that this Thunder roster consisted of, tapping into his business and personal partnership with Bob Iger for the use of Disney’s facilities in Orlando, then corralling rightfully disgruntled men of multiple races to come together as one collective voice, the 10-time all star successfully executed all season. While also being the father to two African American children of his own, the title he undoubtedly values most.
It’s almost unfathomable to think he was able to compartmentalize with issues of this magnitude, while still remaining an all-NBA performer on court all season. His 2019-2020 campaign saw him miss just one game (personal reasons due to the loss of the late great Kobe Bryant, rest in honor Mamba) but this is what Paul did in response to a off season that consisted of people trying to write his story for him
Regular Season: 17.6 ppg, 6.7 apg, 5.0 rpg, with 1.6 SPG and an eFG of 55% (FG of 49% and 37% from 3)
Playoffs: 21.3 ppg, 5.3 apg, 7.4 rpg, with 1.6 spg and an eFG of 56% (FG of 49% and 37% from 3)
These statistics along with the many intangibles he possesses, and how he spearheaded the Thunder to a the 5th seed in the always contentious Western Conference, garnered him yet another top 5 finish in the MVP race in many voters’ estimations. This was one helluva response to the many wrongful aspersions casted upon the 35 year old.
Even more, when it mattered most in close games both in the regular season and in the playoffs, he rose to the occasion time after time. He was Mr. 4th Quarter and reminded those that forgot, that he is one of the clutchest players the league has ever seen.
His season is now over after a game 7 loss that came down to the final second. The journey from a 0.2% chance at the playoffs to the final seconds of game 7 has him as the most covered trade chip in the league going into the off season. Though he is still owed roughly $85 million over the next 2 seasons, his value added to any contender tilts the scale and adds immensely to their title window. By the looks of point guard play and closing ability from a handful of teams, his services would be a big time upgrade.
In this series of posts, I’ll be diving into viable transactions where CP3 could compete for a championship.
The first of which is where a current head coaching vacancy exists, and a dire need for leadership and closing ability is paramount, specifically from the point guard position.
That would be no other than the Philadelphia 76ers.
After a very underwhelming and disappointing campaign, the Sixers are a franchise in flux. In response to a 43-30 campaign where they finished 6th in the Eastern Conference and were swept by the Boston Celtics, it became evident that the season long rumors of Brett Brown not having that needed reach to his locker room were true, along with his weaknesses in adjustments throughout a series.
They have franchise cornerstones in Joel Embiid (25 years old) and Ben Simmons (23 years old), both of which have a solid amount of playoff experience from the past 3 seasons.
They also have a general manager in Elton Brand who has shown he is not shy about rolling the dice when risk is involved if the outcome of winning big is in play, and has been given a green light to do so by the front office.
These three entities alone suggest fringe title contention. Aside from the aforementioned coaching issues, the complimentary play of their franchise cornerstones has been under a spotlight as well. Both being young budding stars, there has to be an emphasis on the word young. They need guidance and leadership, which is not a knock on either of the two. They saw great success under the guidance and leadership of Jimmy Butler for 55 games plus a playoff run that ended by the hands of a legendary game 7 game winner by eventual 2019 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. At a glance, Butler and Paul are the same type of guys. Both are no nonsense, second to none when it comes to heart, competitiveness, and grit, and demand the best from their counterparts. Both are boisterous vocally. Both are also clutch. So the blueprint of just what Brand should look to add is there.
The Sixers also have the contracts to match in a transaction, as well as the young talent that could entice a deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
How I see it, there are four transactions the Sixers could present that would work to get a deal done.
The blockbuster trades being centered around the Sixers receiving Chris Paul, but the Thunder having a decision to make regarding what they deem as appropriate in return and what they can use moving forward
Aside from those two Philly veterans, the Thunder will likely and rightfully want to add Josh Richardson or Matisse Thybulle.
Why does it benefit the Thunder?
OKC will likely be losing Danilo Gallinari to free agency, so their starting powerful position will need to be filled. Also, with all signs pointing toward the imminent trading of CP3, they’ll want another veteran on the roster to help keep them afloat in their “on the fly rebuild.” Al Horford and Tobias Harris both help to do just that. They both also play forward and would allow for SGA to take on the role of primary ball handler, embracing the Thunders aspirations of him being the franchise centerpiece moving forward, with one of these two guys as the steady vet presence to balance out the roster both in experience and in play. Adding Richardson or Thybulle to their return helps in fortifying their young core. Let’s not forget this.
15 total picks in the next 6 drafts, including 7 first-round picks in the next 7 seasons is unprecedented.
Any combination of the former two Sixers players with the latter two make this trade work fairly for the Thunder.
Why do the Sixers say yes?
Though Chris makes more than Harris and Horford, his contract is 3 years shorter than the former and 2 shorter than the latter, so the cost is much more of a short term commitment. CP3 brings stability and accountability from the point of attack, a hall of fame playmaker that can play with both of their young stars making their jobs immensely easier, a championship mindset and modifies their culture. He’s the clutchest player in the nba and enjoyed one of the clutchest seasons in history. Viable 3-point shooting. He’s been clutch for the entirety of his career both in the regular season and especially the playoffs. Also, his defense in tandem with Simmons, Richardson (or Thybulle), and Embiids rim protection, my goodness! The makings of an elite defense that can also get stops of the timely variety and play at multiple paces. Paul’s addition takes the wrongful point guard tag from Simmons and allows him to just hoop. He’s out of position being deemed as a point guard, he’s truly a forward with elite playmaking abilities and a high IQ, eerily similar to Draymond. Having an actual pg, the Point God, mitigates their offensive flaws with his presence alone. Simmons secondary playmaking as the roll man in a pick & roll tandem with the many threats CP poses can obliterate any defense. Big men are often criticised for not seeing the floor as a passer after receiving the initial pass following a screen. Simmons doesn’t have that issue in the slightest. He’d be inside the arc where he feels way more comfortable and can use his soft touch, athleticism, IQ, and playmaking abilities to peak productivity. It’s a basketball match. The Sixers get the the exact player they need to give them a true chance at winning a championship, Chris gets to compete for a prestigious franchise with young talent. This would put them right there with the Clippers, Lakers, Bucks, Heat, & Nets for title contention.
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Though they can use whichever of Harris or Horford that they don’t trade, it would make sense for them to make a secondary transaction, ridding themselves of both of those players with which they could use newfound cap space to add a shooter who can play with Simmons, Embiid, and Paul.
Davis Bertans – 6’10 Forward
1 word, sharpshooter. Elite floor spacing, off the ball movement coming off staggereds, misdirection, floppy action, and pindowns, he’s an offense in himself. Coming with a competitive edge and years under Pops system, his high-motor translates defensively too. Though he’s not a stopper, he is a plus defender in terms of dbpm excluding this season with the Wizards. In the seasons where he’s been on a competitive team, he posts a + 0.5 on that end with a 4.1 in DWS on his career. He’s a big chip to a winning team. Defenders would throw fits and would be hard pressed to game plan. Wouldn’t be able to double Embiid or Paul, or take away Simmons driving lanes. Bertans also sprints the floor very well in transition for 3s and cuts well off the ball, as well as rebounding well in a 6’10 frame. vids of em (pinpoint stats & abilities).
Joe Harris – 6’6 Guard
Harris, though in a smaller frame and less active, brings a similar dynamic as Bertans. He’s a shooting threat who is looking for a bigger role with a shooting prowess that netted him a spot on Team USAs most recent pre-World Cup tour. Harris also out-shot Steph Curry to win the 2019 3-point contest.
To add one of Bertans or Harris makes for one helluva dynamic roster, giving Philly more than enough shooting on top of adding Paul. The right coach here with this roster would surely have Philly as good as ever.
Staggering Embiid and Simmons more makes them both that much better. Doing so with additions like Paul and Bertans/Harris allows them to do so viably. A well built roster allows for Philly to sport essentially 2 teams in one. A Joel-Paul led line up can slow the pace and run more sets in the half court, whereas a Ben-led line up can get out in the open floor more, banking on getting stops, changing ends and looking to push the pace for uptempo scores. Chris and Benpick and roll where Ben can make plays inside the arch where he’s far more effective, and serve as a secondary playmaker is unstoppable. Simmons can be UNLOCKED as a small ball 5 and primary ball handler in the minutes Paul isn’t on the floor, leading the bench. Chris makes Embiid’s post touches more effective, he’ll keep him engaged and maximize his potential. Josh Richardson gets cleaner looks offensively and would not be forced to try to make plays off the dribble (focusing more on spot up shooting which he’s done well, and have yet another active defender to hound opposing ball handlers along with Paul and Simmons’ Defensive Player of the Year level of play. The bench would need to be shored up, but Milton has proven to be a solid player who can shoot and make plays, Korkmaz is an active player who shoots well, and Mike Scott is a Swiss army knife. All three can play on off the ball in a Simmons led bench lineup. They could use their remaining cap space to sign a player like Kent Bazemore, Derrick Jones Jr, Marvin Williams, Nerlens Noel, or Meyers Leonard to complete their complement of bench type guys to play with Simmons.
In all, this is the first of teams that should be putting in calls of inquiry about Chris Paul. They should already be on Presti’s phone looking to structure a deal like I mentioned earlier, while also looking to close a deal on a new Head Coach. Ty Lue is rumored to be close to that, but Stan Van Gundy and Mark Jackson are viable options if Lue doesn’t materialize there.
Keep an eye on Philly in the Chris Paul sweepstakes