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.