The summer will ultimately prove how much clout the one-man NBA Illuminati known as William Wesley (aka World Wide Wes) really has, but for now we can have fun speculating.
According to Yahoo Sports reports, Wesley has been pitching the idea of trading for the New Orleans Hornets’ star point guard, Chris Paul. The selling point, apparently, is that Paul will dramatically improve any franchise’s chances of signing the King, LeBron James.
Now the first thing that pops into any NBA fans’ head upon hearing this can be summed up in one word: obviously.
Obviously, bringing in one of the best, if not the best point guard in the game, will sweeten the pot for James. Clearly, the prospect of playing with a point guard that has consistently been the best point guard in the Western Conference -- when healthy -- would be appealing to anyone.
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That brings us to the big question at hand: Why would the Hornets want to part ways with a star of this magnitude?
It seems as though Paul has not been shy to express his displeasure with owner, George Shinn behind closed doors. Shinn’s frequent attempts to cut costs have worn thin on the Hornets’ guard, and he hasn’t been particularly happy with some of the moves made by the team in recent seasons.
However, with all that in mind, Paul has never asked for a trade from New Orleans. He has two years and $31.3 million left on his contract until he can opt out after the 2011-12 season. Furthermore, he has reportedly been very enthusiastic about the soon-to-be new ownership’s desire to spend more money and try to be more competitive.
Thus far, Shinn and company have reportedly received quite a few inquiries regarding Paul. At this point in time, though, none of the trade offers on the table have appealed to the Hornets’ management.
That being said, Shinn’s payroll is huge, and he no doubt has a willingness to move some bad contracts even if does cost him his franchise point guard.
Now where does World Wide Wes come into the picture?
Some are making the argument that by being able to get a deal done for Paul, Wesley would be able to prove to James that he really can make moves in the NBA. Further, by impressing James and getting him the point guard he would love to play with, WWW may be able to lure James away from his current business team and to the CAA group with Wesley and Leon Rose.
According to the same Yahoo Sports article, the Memphis Grizzlies tried to offer O.J. Mayo as part of a package deal for Paul, but the talks reportedly never took off. Further, the New Jersey Nets are reportedly willing to give up Devin Harris -- and other Net not named Brook Lopez -- as well as the number three pick for Paul. Finally, the Portland Trail Blazers, who amazingly find themselves in every trade discussion ever, are also expected to make a bid for Paul’s services before the 2010 draft.
Regardless of what happens with James this summer, his pending free agency has served to uncover the magical cloaked NBA-legend that is World Wide Wes.
Wesley, who many regard as the most powerful person in the NBA, is recognized by one and all the greatest connector of players, coaches, GMs, agents, and celebrities in sports. A 2008 True Hoops article described him best:
“Need tickets to a Jay-Z concert, a new sneaker deal or the phone number of a general manager, he's your man. There's a reason we call him Uncle Wes.”
Wesley’s secretive and influential role on basketball has made him a very interesting figure in the sports world. Of course, like all powerful men, he has had his share of detractors. The same True Hoops article also included this bit:
"Because he has the ear of every player, coach, GM and sneaker company, a lot of people around basketball like to hate on Wes. Agents worry that he's going to steal their clients and steer them to one of his favorite agents. They think he's a glorified runner, a dude who agents send around to befriend players, get them into clubs and eventually get them to sign a contract. It's a shady business. But Wes is not one of those guys. Wes isn't running for anyone. I'm sure he's got his ways to make money, but he's interested only in setting up deals and making sure the people around you are looking out for you."
With all of that being said, despite the supposed mass influence of World Wide Wes, it’s doubtful that the Hornets will want to move Paul. When healthy, he is one of the top five players in what is being an increasingly point guard oriented league, and there is no reason for the Hornets to give him up for scraps.
Still, for now, we can put this down as yet another chapter in the soon-to-be best selling thriller known as The Summer of LeBron James.
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