Beyond Chris Paul: Who Else Should Get Traded Before the NBA Season?

If LeBron James' Indecision 2010 summer campaign proved anything, it's that the NBA needs more hot stove drama, not less. As such, I applaud David Stern's effort to simultaneously out-heavy Vince McMahon and make Gary Bettman look like King Solomon. The Chris Paul affair has been a glorious, epochal snafu from start to finish: hurting the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the league's tentpole franchises; screwing the Houston Rockets, a well-managed club that did nothing wrong except assume that Stern was telling the truth about letting New Orleans manage its own basketball affairs; utterly humiliating and emasculating Hornets general manager Dell Demps; setting a leaguewide precedent that Dan Gilbert's pouting ought to count for something; solving the "problem" of superstar free agents wanting to play for big-market teams by ultimately dealing Paul to a franchise located in the backwater cow town of Los Angeles; putting the gimpy-kneed Paul in a Clippers jersey, the basketball bad mojo equivalent of putting him on the cover of Madden NFL; rewarding Clippers owner Donald Sterling, probably the least-appealing person in an owner's box anywhere; ruining the feel-good appeal of unwrapping a saved NBA season on Christmas Day by exposing the deep, bitter, unresolved labor-management divides that are bound to result in a future lockout and/or strike; damaging the league's perpetually strained credibility and fostering a new set of conspiracy theories in a way  no frozen envelope ever could. 

The whole thing made the NBA seem really important, and Paul—a great player, but hardly a basketball-transcending pop culture superstar—even more so. As they say, all publicity is good publicity. 

Anyway, my guess is that the first time Paul tosses an alley-oop to Blake Griffin, all of the above will be forgotten. So let's get back to Emma's question: What blockbuster swap would I like to see? That's easy: Dwight Howard for Dwyane Wade, a deal that not only would explode Twitter, but also make perfect basketball sense. Think about it: The biggest problem with the Miami Heat is that James and Wade don't really mesh on the court. They both need the ball to be effective, even when it comes to facilitating their teammates. (And that likely won't change, given that the club isn't about to hire Phil Jackson and use the  triangle offense, which only would be perfect for the James-Wade-Chris Bosh hydra). 

Meanwhile, Howard pretty clearly wants out of Orlando—and it's hard to fault him, given that the club has spent the last two seasons  actively making its roster worse.  Everyone in the league knows this. Nobody is going to offer the Magic equal value in a Howard swap. Still, the team would like to do better than Brook Lopez and a sack of magic beans.

Enter Wade. A ticket-selling superstar. A player you can build a contender around. Wade-to-Orlando keeps the Magic viable, helps them fill their expensive new arena. And Howard-to-Miami? It makes the Heat nigh unbeatable, giving them the league's best front court (sorry, New York Knicks!). James dominates the ball and doesn't have to worry about posting up; Bosh can play his finesse scoring game; Howard anchors the middle, rebounding, shot-blocking and dunking. Everyone does what they do best. Win-win-win.

Of course, this probably makes too much sense to actually go down. What about you, Jake? What megadeal would you like to see? 

–Patrick

Presented by

Sports Roundtable

Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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