Hoping the Hawks Were (are) Interested in Chris Paul

The story of the day was actually yesterday's story, where Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski mentioned that a few teams had been interested in prying New Orleans Hornets star point guard Chris Paul out of the bajou. Some of the teams mentioned in the piece were Memphis, New Jersey, San Antonio, and Portland.

This spurred AOL Fanhouse's Sam Amick to note that one of the other teams was the Orlando Magic, something that Magic GM Otis Smith denied

Not that any of those teams offers would net the incredible floor leader, even in New Orleans' attempt to sell the team, but as a fan of any of those teams, even a team like Orlando with a good PG like Jameer Nelson, it's good to know you took a chance. 

Which brings us to Atlanta. We have to hope the Hawks were a team of interest as well, don't we? A team with a long, sad history of point guards since Mookie Blaylock was traded, one that includes Chris Paul, obviously, should be front and center of any discussion of one of the league's top point guards.

The Hawks have Mike Bibby signed for two more seasons, but he has clearly moved into a more specialized role on the roster. They have drafted Jeff Teague, who shows promise, but has had little in the way of consistent floor time to prove yea or nay on his future as the Hawks quarterback. 

So it would make sense if the Hawks picked up the phone to inquire within about Paul. In fact, I would bet that asking about stars is a common practice for GMs like the Hawks' Rick Sund, especially with teams financially motivated to divest.

Former Hawks GM Pete Babcock once told me that he talked swap about players like Kevin Garnett and Vince Carter all the time, but it amounted to very little since the price for such a player was commensurate with their superstar status. It would be when team were selling at a discount, like Allen Iverson to Denver, Charles Barkley to Phoenix, or eventually Carter as well, that you could potentially make a deal. 

If the Hawks were able to get a serious dialog going around a Paul deal, they would have to deal someone like Josh Smith, whose talent is All-star level and salary is the closest (12.4 M avg over the next 3 years for Smoove compared to 14.2M per over the next two for Paul). But the Hornets already have a lot of money tied up into frontcourt players Emeka Okafor and David West. West (2 years, 17.2 M) is somewhat of a bargain, but Okafor has potentially (he has an ETO in the final year) 64 million dollars owed to him over the next (5) seasons. Adding Smith and his 36 million over (3) seasons may not be ideal unless the Hornets could unload Okafor to the Hawks in the process.

Smith plus Jamal Crawford (10 M next season) would get them cap-wise to Okafor and Paul, but the Hornets would need to add someone in to sweeten the deal, and likely the Hornets would request Al Horford to do it (5.4M) to do it. 

Smith, Horford, and Crawford for Paul and Okafor would dramatically change the Hawks approach and potentially be disastrous if Paul left after two seasons in the ATL. Maybe we (you know, as if I am included in the decision) would want to walk away from that deal, given that it would decimate the front court. Or maybe you roll the dice and decide to build different players, this one being a franchise point guard.

All of which is to say that sometimes, trade or no trade, it's good to know that your team is trying to get the best players possible and not sitting back watching another franchise take advantage. 

We (think) we know some teams were interested....I hope the Hawks were, too.

(All salaries courtesy of ShamSports.com)

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