With the NBA trade deadline less than a month away, rumors are swirling regarding some of the biggest stars in the league. While Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul has kept his name out of trade talks in recent years, reports are coming out that he could be moved to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving.
With a record of 29-16, the Clippers are currently the fourth seed in the Western Conference. While they are a solid team and have a chance of winning a playoff round or two, do they really have a shot at winning a championship this year? In a world where the electric Golden State Warriors and age-defying San Antonio Spurs exist, the Clippers are a long shot to make it out of the Western Conference and into the NBA Finals.
While the Clippers have played solid basketball since losing Blake Griffin to injury, he is now out again. According to ESPN, Griffin is going to miss another 4-6 weeks with a broken hand. While he will return before the playoffs begin, how much longer are the Clippers going to be able to sustain winning without him? They are guaranteed to make the playoffs, but they will not be able to make a deep run if they finish with one of the lower seeds and have to start out on the road.
Even before Griffin’s most recent injury, Sporting News speculated that the Clippers should trade Paul. At 30 years old, Paul is still a great player, but he is not getting any younger. As they note, smaller guards in the NBA tend to regress earlier than their larger counterparts. Paul will turn 31 on May 6, and he is set to become a free agent in 2017. With the Warriors, Spurs, and even the Oklahoma City Thunder at the top of their games, the odds are that Paul is not going to win a championship with the Clippers during the remainder of his fading prime.
If the Clippers do not believe they have a chance to win a title in the next two seasons, they could trade him to a team that wants to win immediately. While Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving is a great young player with a ton of upside, he is not on Paul’s level at the moment. The Cavaliers already proved that they are willing to trade away young talent in order to win in the present when they dealt Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love. With LeBron James now 31-years-old, their window for winning a championship is not going to be around forever. With Paul on the floor instead of Irving, the Cavaliers would be a better team for the next few seasons.
Kevin Pelton of ESPN agrees that Paul should be moved, and he also believes that a trade to the Cavaliers for Irving is the best fit. While many other NBA analysts are speculating that a Paul for Irving trade could work, others are shooting down the idea entirely.
I wrote about trading Chris Paul for Kyrie Irving and why the Clippers won't do it https://t.co/ISa1DoNHWW— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) January 26, 2016
Dan Woike of the Orange County Register does not believe a trade for Irving will put the Clippers in a better long-term position, despite Paul’s age and impending free agency. While he does note that the current Clippers team led by Paul has been a complete failure in the playoffs against the better teams in the league, he does feel they would be better off keeping him.
“Paul is a tenacious defender, someone the Clippers can ask to guard anyone from Stephen Curry to Kevin Durant for important stretches. You can’t challenge Irving the same way. The other reason this isn’t happening? The Clippers don’t need to trade Paul. They’re the fourth-best team in a loaded Western Conference. They’re less than a year removed from silencing some doubts by outlasting the Spurs, winning an elimination games in San Antonio and Los Angeles [sic]. While they’ve gone winless against the NBA’s best, they haven’t really looked outclassed. The window, while not wide open, is still open. And when it is, you don’t trade superstars for the chance that the window will be slightly open in the future.”
While Woike is optimistic, Stephen Curry and the Warriors are not going anywhere. LeBron James and the Cavaliers will still be a viable threat over the next few years. Kevin Durant and the Thunder are also likely to be better than the Clippers. The Clippers not getting outclassed is fine, but they need to be able to beat the elite teams in the league on a consistent basis. A trade for a younger Irving could allow them to have their star for the next decade.
Rumors will continue to spiral over the next few weeks regarding Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul and the idea that he could be traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for guard Kyrie Irving. The next few weeks of play for both the Clippers and Cavaliers are going to decide what kind of action each team takes with their roster.
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