Chris Paul in the Trade Machine

Tis the season to mess around with Chris Paul in the trade machine. The teams he'd reportedly like to play for are the Mavericks, Knicks, Blazers or Magic.

The general thinking is that if you want to get Paul, you'll have to take on Emeka Okafor's big deal too. It's not easy to make that happen, while keeping enough talent to make Paul still want to come to your team. (Here's one attempt, just for fun.)

On the internet today, fans of those four teams are fussing about whether this or that package would work.

There is a lot of hemming and hawing.

Here's a rule of thumb I've developed to help you through it: If you're getting Chris Paul, it's a good deal.

There are a two exceptions:

  • LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant are more valuable than Paul. (Some people prefer Deron Williams, but that's moot -- that trade is not happening anyway.) You can make a case for a few other guys that a few other players are more productive than Paul -- like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, or Dirk Nowitzki, for instance -- but the age discrepancy is massive in those cases, making Paul far more likely to lead you to titles between now and retirement.

  • I would not trade anything good at all for Chris Paul if I thought my team was not going to contend with him, which certainly seems to be the key to getting him to re-sign in two years. For this reason, I would not, for example, hand over all of the good young players and picks from a team like the Thunder or Blazers. You have to have enough left to win a lot, or there's no point.

What prompted this, however, was hearing some Knick fans obsessing over whether or not they'd be willing to part with Danilo Gallinari.

Believe me, I am enamored with the power of a 6-10 guy who can shoot the lights out and plays very hard. But remember how the highlight of his career to date was dueling against Carmelo Anthony for a quarter? Paul wins battles like that night in and night out, and he's young too.

We're talking about Chris stinking Paul! Don't overthink this!

I'm saying this as a Blazer fan with no desire whatsoever to denigrate Brandon Roy. I get that Jameer Nelson has done a lot for the Magic and is a special leader off the court. Of course I recognize the powers of Nowitzki.

It's just that because of his age, position, production, leadership, toughness and skills ... Paul, to me, has more long-term value than almost every NBA player. His production matches the best of them, he's a tremendous guy off the court, and he's younger than most of his peers. So, as you're fantastizing about the trade that might bring Paul to a team near you, don't sweat the details.