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Chris Paul's reported trade request will almost certainly spring many teams into action, as it should. In response, the NBA, undoubtedly concerned about the perception it received from the LeBron James free agency derby, has reportedly issued a memo to all NBA teams reminding them of the league's tampering policies.
The memo, circulated Tuesday by the league office, states that "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 memo, sources said, also threatens to punish any such communications with penalties that range from "suspension of the offending person, prohibition of the offending team from hiring the person being tampered with, forfeiture of draft picks and individual and/or team fines of up to $5 million."
It's extremely rare for the NBA to name a specific individual in these memos, but Stein reports the NBA was concerned by reports that Paul's agent Leon Rose has already been reaching out to teams regarding his client.
After meeting with New Orleans Hornets brass on Monday, Chris Paul released a statement that said he hopes to represent the city and remain with the team "for many years to come." But CBS Sports' Ken Berger, who has been on top of this story like nobody else, says that we shouldn't believe Paul's words. Paul still wants out, and the statement was merely a smokescreen as Paul continues to try to find a way onto another team.
The developments in New Orleans on Monday had all the hallmarks of modern-day damage control: A rosy statement via Twitter, some positive spin in a media availability session that was noticeably devoid of actual information and apparent reasons for optimism that Chris Paul's desire to be traded will quiet down for a while.
In other words, the smokescreen formed exactly as planned after Paul met for 90 minutes with the Hornets' new basketball decision-making team in New Orleans. This is the united front being portrayed to the outside world. 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.
Berger reports that Paul is putting on a happy face publicly for two reasons. The most obvious one is that the NBA fines players if they make public trade demands, and Paul wants to avoid being fined. However, Berger also reports that the Hornets and Paul agreed to keep the content of Monday's meeting private so the Hornets' negotiating position won't be compromised.
The positive spin emanating from Monday's meeting allows the Hornets to "keep working on it," and puts them in "a better negotiating position to do so," said one of the sources.
"They don't want to let CP3 dictate the teams," the person said. "And they can't look like they are being held hostage by his trade demands."
In order to avoid negative publicity and damage to the Hornets' negotiating position, all parties involved in Monday's meeting agreed to keep the content of the dialogue private, sources say. Paul, evidently, is playing along.
Creative Artists Agency, which also represents LeBron James, is continuing their efforts to find a trade partner for Paul. Orlando, New York, Dallas and Portland are believed to be on Paul's list of preferred destinations. However, one new development is that the Hornets are reportedly beginning to put together their own list of potential places to trade Paul themselves. That list, according to Berger, includes the Magic, Knicks, Nets and Charlotte Bobcats. The Hornets would prefer to send Paul to the Eastern Conference if they had the choice.
Chris Paul just finished meeting with Hornets team president Hugh Webber, general manager Dell Demps and head coach Monty Williams. After the meeting, he sent out this statement on his Twitter feed.
"The meeting went well. It was great to get an opportunity to sit down with Coach Williams, President Weber and our new General Manager Dell Demps. I expressed my desire to win and I like what they said about the direction that they want to take the team. I have been a Hornet my entire career and I hope to represent the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana for many years to come."
ESPN's Marc Stein, who has been on top of this story from the beginning, says that the meeting seems to have gone better than he expected.
Quick take: Would obviously be naïve to believe all is settled for Hornets now, but vibe out of CP3 meeting more positive than anticipated
For more, visit SB Nation's Hornets blog At The Hive.
Chris Paul may desire to go elsewhere, but he is still under contract with the New Orleans Hornets for two more seasons. For that reason, the Hornets appear to be holding the line on trading him, at least for now.
Sources told ESPN.com that teams inquiring about Paul's availability in recent days -- and there have been several after persistent media reports suggesting that Paul will formally request to be traded at a meeting Monday -- were greeted with the same resistance to Paul offers that the Hornets have maintained for months.
"They say they aren't moving him," one rival team executive said of the Hornets.
Sources with knowledge of New Orleans' thinking said over the weekend that the Hornets' stance is unlikely to change, at least in the short term, even if Paul himself tells the Hornets for the first time that he wants out.
Hornets president Hugh Webber, new general manager Dell Demps and new coach Monty Williams will meet with Paul today to convince him that they can build a contender around him. Demps will speak to the media afterwards.
Paul has submitted a list of preferred trade destinations, with the Orlando Magic reportedly in the lead over the New York Knicks. The Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers are also on his list.
While this morning, Hornets fans may have been able to convince themselves that Wednesday night's report was another in a series of exaggerated rumors surrounding their superstar point guard, 12 hours later, it's clear that there's some substance to the rumors. We still haven't heard from Paul directly, but clearly, something's up.
From the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Paul's camp elaborates:
“No one from our camp has said that Chris demanded a trade,’’ a source close to Paul said Thursday. "But they (Hornets) have not put themselves in position to win this season. We have the same team as last year, basically. The only thing that matters to Chris is winning.’’
The source said Paul continues to be concerned about the Hornets’ slow movement in free agency in spite of the hiring of General Manager Dell Demps on Wednesday and Coach Monty Williams. The Hornets' only free agent move this offseason was re-signing backup center Aaron Gray.
Mind you, the source says:
"Nobody from our camp has said that Chris demanded a trade."
The source does NOT say:
"Chris hasn't demanded a trade."
That, and we all knew New Orleans had a quiet offseason, but God. When you say "re-signed Aaron Gray" out loud, it just sounds so much more damning. Hopefully both sides will get this worked out when they meet on Monday. Because make no mistake, there's definitely something that needs to get worked out.
While Chris Paul has not appeared to back off his trade request, he will give the Hornets the chance to convince him to do so. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Paul will meet with Hornets president Hugh Webber, new GM Dell Demps and new head coach Monty Williams and hear out their vision for building a contender.
The Hornets, the sources said, will be represented by team president Hugh Weber, general manager Dell Demps and coach Monty Williams, with the hope that Paul -- once he has his first extended conversation with the new GM and coach -- will give the Hornets' new basketball decision-makers an opportunity to sell him on their plan to improve the roster.
If they are not presented with realistic scenarios that convince Paul that New Orleans can build a contender very quickly, he'll ask the club to begin speaking to the Knicks, Magic, Mavericks and Trail Blazers about possible trades.
If I were the Hornets brass, I would talk about how the team is suddenly flushed with decent assets, in the form of a couple expiring contracts (Peja Stojakovic and Darius Songaila ) and promising young players (Darren Collison, Marcus Thornton and 2010 picks Craig Brackins and Quincy Pondexter). The team could conceivably put together a fairly enticing trade package to get a disgruntled star that's also looking to move, so long as they're willing to take on some long-term salary.
Okay Hornets fans, now's the time to panic. No less than LeBron James has come out of the woodwork to offer support for Chris Paul.
It's a small gesture, but still. Paul's newfound alliance with James' marketing company is widely suspected as the source of his sudden urgency about finding a new home, and without delving too far into a discussion about LeBron, it's safe to say he's laid out a pretty clear blueprint for any young superstars looking to "do what's best for their family."
I mean, as an NBA fan, I'd be terrified if LeBron James even spoke to my favorite team's star player, let alone called him one of his best friends. And if James offered a public show of support just hours after said star was rumored to have demanded a trade to a team with one or more superstars? Yeah...
That writing on the wall over there? It's not good for the Hornets.
Now that Chris Paul is apparently on the market, it's worth asking the question: Could New York's Chris Paul pipe dream really become reality? We're getting close, no? They've spent the past two years carving out the cap space and roster flexibility necessary to pull this off, and now a superstar is apparently interested, and it's about time we take this seriously. Newsday's Alan Hahn delves deeper:
The set up wasn't too difficult. The execution of the end game will be. First, the Hornets don't have to trade Paul. Second, they can demand a heavy price in return, plus force a team to take on another big contract to save them money. Paul is scheduled to make $15.2M this coming season and $16.6M in 2011-12 and $18.1M in 2012-13.
Now for the Knicks, where Stoudemire is yet another perfect complement big for a dynamic point guard (recall his years with Steve Nash) and the D'Antoni system is tailor made for his talents. ... The Knicks absolutely love Anthony Randolph, who came as the centerpiece of the David Lee sign-and-trade. But would the Hornets be interested in Randolph ($1.9M), who, by the way, played at LSU, as a main piece?
The Knicks could add Chandler ($2.1M) and Toney Douglas ($1.07M) then include Eddy Curry's expiring $11.2M and agree to take another hefty contract off the Hornets' payroll, such as Emeka Okafor, who has four years and $52M left on his deal. Okafor and Curry are almost a match in salary for 2010-11, so the issue would be matching Paul's $15.2M with cheap players. The Knicks only have about $2M in cap space left. They could try to engage a third team, of course. And then there's this: do they consider including Danilo Gallinari?
It's still early, but New York certainly has the assets to get a deal done if New Orleans becomes desperate. And if their superstar and the face of the franchise is demanding a trade and giving up on the team, won't they be getting desperate soon? Stay tuned.
With the news that Chris Paul reportedly wants out of New Orleans before the NBA season begins -- and would prefer to go to the Lakers, Knicks, or Magic -- let's break down what a deal for Paul would possibly look like.
If a report from Ken Berger of CBS Sports is to be believed, New Orleans Hornets superstar Chris Paul will have a new NBA home before the upcoming season begins...if he has his way. Paul's people have reportedly informed the Hornets brass that he wants to be traded to either the Lakers, Knicks or the Magic. From Berger:
Paul, in fact, has put into motion an aggressive exit strategy that will accelerate in the coming weeks, and his clear intention is to be traded before the start of the 2010-11 season, a person with direct knowledge of his plans told CBSSports.com Wednesday.
"He wants out," said the person, who has been briefed on Paul's strategy but spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it publicly. "He wants to play with another superstar. He wants to follow LeBron's model of teaming up with other great players."
Paul's list of preferred destinations consists of the Knicks, Magic and Lakers, and members of his inner circle already have sent word to the Hornets of his desire to be traded to one of those teams, sources say.
Granted, any report that relies on an anonymous source "with direct knowledge of [Chris Paul's] plans" is certainly suspect, but it would hardly be surprising if it is true. Indeed. Paul was none too pleased with how the team let former coach Byron Scott go last season, and more recently said that he'd be amenable to a trade if the franchise wasn't committed to building a championship contender. Oh, and there was that infamous wedding toast at Carmelo Anthony's wedding a few weeks back, where Paul was rumored to claim he and Anthony would join Amar'e Stoudemire in New York to create their own "Big Three".
From the Hornets perspective, if they could clear out Emeka Okafor's onerous long-term deal and get a pair of established young players, and possibly draft picks too, they'd have to entertain a move. Obviously, this isn't what new GM Dell Demps wants to be doing his first few days on the job, particularly considering it's almost impossible to get equal value back for a superstar of Paul's caliber. Still, if the team is convinced Paul will walk in two seasons when he becomes a free agent, they might be better served moving sooner rather than later.
For more on the Hornets and Chris Paul, check out At The Hive.
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