Things have worked out very well for the Clippers with Chris Paul. They've become legitimate contenders, whose chances were only slightly hurt by losing their starting shooting guard, Chauncey Billups.
Meanwhile, the player the Clips dealt to obtain Paul, Eric Gordon, has missed all but two games this season, and his career is in jeopardy with a knee ailment that wasn't originally thought to be all that serious, and about which still little is known.
Nonetheless, maybe I am crazy here, but I think the Clippers should have hung onto Gordon. He's going to be a top five shooting guard when he does return, and I do believe he will. Whether or not that happens in New Orleans remains to be seen. He's too young to write off yet, and until we have conclusive proof that his knee injury is career threatening, there's no reason to make off base assumptions, and I'm trying not to.
Moreover, they surrendered a lottery pick in the trade, giving up Minnesota's first rounder, which should be a late lottery pick now that Ricky Rubio is on the shelf, removing the Timberwolves from playoff discussions.
In an ordinary draft, that wouldn't be much to get excited about, but this year's draft is not ordinary, and it might be the best since the 2003 crop that featured LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, and many other solid players all the way through the entire first round. A lottery pick in this year's draft is the equivalent of a fifth or sixth pick, with many of the top names having remained in college an extra season with the lockout looming last year.
The reality is that the Clippers would have been able to retain the high scoring Gordon and add a great point guard in the draft. Austin Rivers is only the beginning of those possibilities. Could you imagine Rivers teaming up with Gordon, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan? That's a lob city equally as exciting as the one we're seeing, and landing Rivers would be a real palpable possibility, with nbadraft.net projecting Rivers to land around pick #11.
The Hornets, of course, may have got a very raw deal. Gordon is not committed to staying there yet, and while Rivers or even Kendall Marshall of North Carolina may be great point guards for the future, they are unlikely to reach the level that Chris Paul has reached. But it's important to remember that the Hornets were pressed into dealing Paul, and they also had received a much more attractive package from the L.A. Lakers, but the league office nixed the deal.
This trade may not be crystal clear until many years from now, but as of right now, Clippers fans probably are happy enough to have a contending team that is being considered the best Clippers team since the days of Danny Manning, Ron Haper, and Doc Rivers.