Should the Hornets go the route of the Bucks?

Over on Hornets247, Michael McNamara argues that trading Chris Paul away would mean that New Orleans is adopting the philosophy of the Milwaukee Bucks, which just doesn’t work for him.

First off, it is necessary to acknowledge your own personal philosophy with regard to what qualifies as success in the NBA. Personally, I am an all or nothing guy and believe in only three directions: being a legitimate championship contender, building toward being a legit contender, and completely rebuilding. I look at a team like the Milwaukee Bucks, for instance, and see a direction that I would never take personally. They have a nice team that is built to make the playoffs for the next five to seven years, but have absolutely zero chance of ever winning an NBA title. Zero. A squad full of good, but not great pieces that play hard every night but will just not have enough talent to get through four quality teams come playoff time.

Now for some, they might be happy with Milwaukee’s future and consider their franchise a success considering the market they are in and the resources they have to work with.

As an all or nothing guy I can think of scenarios that are far worse than CP3 leaving in two years. I can imagine other players following Paul’s lead if we trade him out of fear. How do you say no to the next guy who feels entitled when you just appeased Chris Paul’s trade demands? I can imagine becoming a perennial playoff team terrified to blow up the roster; a team that overpays their own players just to remain slightly above average. (I am looking at you Atlanta). I can imagine an asylum run by the players, a front office with no control, and a coach who feels powerless. All of these things happen if you let fear of the future dictate the present. All of these things are worse case scenarios for me, but again it all depends on your definition of success.

With CP3 on the squad I know there is a chance. I know tha t with Kobe slowly declining, Howard not improving offensively, and Wade always one fall away from a serious injury that CP3 can be a top two player in this league if he puts it all together and stays healthy. I know that in at least seventy games per year the Hornets will have the best player on the floor and in the NBA that means more than it does in any other team sport. I know that if management makes the right moves and ownership is willing to pay the luxury tax that the Hornets at least have a shot. The same cannot be said for twenty to twenty five teams in this league.

As a Bucks fan, using the franchise’s current state/direction as a reason not to follow its philosophy is puzzling.

Milwaukee is a small market team in a cold-weather city in the Midwest. It is often ranked by NBA players as the least desirable place to play, even though when people stay for a few years they tend to warm up to the place. Given the circumstances, the Bucks are never going to be in a position to land a big name free agent unless the supporting cast gets so good that the player in question sees the Bucks as his best opportunity to win a title. It’s true — the Bucks would probably need a Reggie White-type signing to become a championship contender. (Football fans over 30 know what I mean.)

The author says that the Bucks have no chance to win a title with their current game plan, but GM John Hammond came from Detroit, where they won a championship a few years ago with very much the same philosophy. They had a group of star-less, yet talented castoffs and a defensive-minded coach to lead them all in the same direction. In the Finals, they beat a more talented (and a far more disjointed) Laker team.

Hammond knows the Bucks are never going to go into the season as championship favorites, but if the chemistry remains and Brandon Jennings develops, they could perhaps become the third- or fourth-best team in the East. The author looks at this like a death sentence, but what it really means is that the Bucks are an injury or two away from a Finals appearance.

(It’s really no different than the philosophy executed in small market San Antonio, only the Spurs have Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to build around instead of Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings. The Spurs have a better core because they had the #1 pick in the right draft and found a couple of stars later on in subsequent drafts.)

How does this relate to Chris Paul? If the Hornets elect to trade him and get a few prospects in return, they’ll be going the route of the Milwaukee Bucks, at best. If they hold onto him, he’s likely to only grow more disgruntled unless the franchise is quickly able to turn things around and suddenly becomes willing to spend. The Hornets need a Pau Gasol-type trade to keep Paul happy, and those kinds of deals don’t happen every season. Even if they did, the Hornets don’t spend like the Lakers, and New Orleans is not L.A., so retaining the talent would be difficult.

Considering the Hornets’ summer moves (lack of a free agent signing, trading away the #11 pick), the writing is on the wall. Do Hornets fans want to hold out hope that the franchise can quickly transform its declining roster around a pouting Paul, or roll the dice on players with upside like Anthony Randolph and Danilo Gallinari, along with a ton of cap space?

As for Paul, look at it this way — if a girl doesn’t want to stay with you, why would you want her to stay? By the time she tells you she wants to break up, she has already checked out. No amount of convincing will work, so what’s the point? Why not move on and give yourself the best chance to meet a new girl?

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