After I wrote the other day that the Hornets had to say Chris Paul wasn’t going anywhere, even if he told them the complete opposite, reports have indicated this is likely exactly what happened. CBS Sports’ Ken Berger wrote:
On the inside, little has changed: Yes, Paul wants to win, but realizes that for reasons beyond the control of new GM Dell Demps and new coach Monty Williams, it can’t happen in New Orleans. And the organization itself has begun the inevitable process of exploring ways to make this end to everyone’s satisfaction.
As further confirmation, on Tuesday, the day after the Hornets said there would be no trade, the league felt compelled to issue the following statement to all the teams in the league clearing up the proper protocol for trying to trade for a certain someone:
“no team should be having communications with Chris Paul or his agent or representative about a potential trade for Paul that have not been authorized in advance by the New Orleans Hornets.”
The final nail in the coffin, as reported by ESPN, happened when CP3 actually spoke to reporters rather than simply issue a statement as he did on Monday:
Chris Paul jumped at the chance to express his love for New Orleans during his annual youth basketball camp on Tuesday.
Only the subject of his future with the Hornets gave him pause.
[...] when given the chance to say without reservation that he did not want to be traded, Paul said now was not the time.
Of course New Orleans still has the ball in their court since Paul has two years remaining on his contract. Plus, he’s a good solider and seems unlikely to pout, be disruptive, or give less than his all if he’s still on the team when the season starts, so if the team’s smart they’ll keep him for at least the first half of the season while trying to prove to him that they can be contenders.
That said, Ken Berger stated, much like I’d guessed, that if they trade him, the team’s preference is indeed to send him to the Eastern Conference. Oddly, the article says that three of the teams that New Orleans found to offer the most attractive offers were Orlando, New Jersey and Charlotte. While I clearly upset and outraged many an Orlando fan by saying I don’t think they’ve got great young assets to offer, I was completely mistaken in thinking they had no expiring contracts as I stupidly didn’t notice that the last year of Vince Carter’s contract is a team option. Still, trading for Jameer Nelson and Marcin Gortat (plus Vince and whatever other expirings) seems odd in that by the time the Hornets’ rookie phenoms from last year (Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton) hit their prime, those guys will be going downhill (plus Jameer plays the same spot as Collison).
New Jersey on the other hand has a ton of intriguing young options. Could the Hornets get Brook Lopez and Derrick Favors for CP3? If so, that’s a nice lineup down the road for New Orleans to have Collison, Thornton, Favors & Lopez as a nucleus. Even if the Nets aren’t willing to give up both those young studs, they can offer one of ‘em plus some combo of their other young intriguing supporting players like Terrence Williams, Courtney Lee, Anthony Morrow and Jordan Farmar. The thing that makes me consider them an odd choice is that they don’t have any expiring contracts bigger than Kris Humpries’ $3.2 million, so New Orleans wouldn’t get much economic relief. But it certainly would give the Hornets the best usable assets. And before all the angry Magic Men argue that Paul would never choose to go there over playing with Dwight Howard’s far superior Orlando team, remember that Paul has no say in this. If he hears he’s gonna be traded to a team that he doesn’t want to go to, there’s nothing he can do to stop it or deter it. The Hornets will do what’s best for them, first and foremost.
Charlotte, on the other hand, is an odd possibility for precisely the opposite reason as New Jersey: they have expiring contracts but no young studs. I guess you could say they’ve got Tyrus Thomas, but he’s yet to really prove himself plus he just signed a new contract where he’ll be getting paid nearly $10 million/year by the time he’s done. If that potential doesn’t develop, that’s a lot of dough to spend on him. They do also have DJ Augustin, but he’s also someone who’s yet to prove himself (and with Collison already looking pretty good, they don’t need another young unproven point guard).
Although I am completely biased, I still feel like New York has the best package to offer of expiring contracts (Eddy Curry) and young players. The Hornets would look pretty promising in the years to come if they had a core of Collison, Thornton, Danilo Gallinari and Anthony Randolph (although of course I’d prefer us to trade only one of those guys and instead throw in a Toney Douglas or Wilson Chandler if we have to, but now I’m getting greedy. Wait, maybe we can convince ‘em to just take Leo Rautins? Sorry, clearly I just fell asleep and started dreamin’…).
Okay, hopefully this’ll be the last Paul post we write until something concrete actually happens rather than simply all this silly speculation.