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.
- Lakers. Any package for Paul begins and ends with Andrew Bynum. The Lakers would likely have to throw-in some smaller contracts to make a trade work, but this would effectively be a Bynum-for-Paul swap. And really, the Hornets aren't going to get any better value back than a young 7-footer with legit All-Star potential (assuming, of course, he can stay healthy). That alone should make the Lakers frontrunners in the Paul sweepstakes. From a basketball perspective, Paul in the purple and gold is a frightening prospect for the rest of the league, as Bynum's departure would likely mean Lamar Odom would slide into the starting lineup alongside Pau Gasol. A starting five of Paul, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol could win more than a few games.
- Knicks. New York may have the least to offer in terms of assets, but their cap space means that they could possibly take back Emeka Okafor's onerous contract, which would be mighty attractive to New Orleans. Okafor is owed $53.16 million over the next four seasons, a truly back-breaking amount for the small-market Hornets. A package of Eddy Curry's expiring deal, Anthony Randolph and/or Danil Gallinari, and Raymond Felton/Kelenna Azubuike for Paul and Okafor is probably the best the Knicks could do. Maybe they could throw in 2013 and 2014 draft choices as well. In short, they'd give the Hornets cap relief and a promising young player or two. If the Knicks do include any of their recently acquired players in a deal, they'd have to wait until December 15th to complete a trade per NBA rules, however.
- Magic. Orlando has plenty of pieces to mix and match with New Orleans. Vince Carter's expiring deal would likely come into play -- especially if Orlando takes back Okafor as well -- as could Jameer Nelson and Marcin Gortat. The bigger issue is that Nelson is the best player the Magic can realistically offer, and the Hornets may not be interested in another point guard after the emergence of rookie Darren Collison last season.