After the dust kicked up by LeBron James' Decision settled, New Orleans Hornets talisman Chris Paul put his boot in the dirt and sent reporters searching after leads in his own sweepstakes. Only he didn't -- he professed frustration for a lazy summer by Hornets brass -- and eventually had a "come to Jesus" moment with the new bosses (GM Dell Demps and coach Monty Williams).
An 11-1 start furthered those warm-and-fuzzies, but some more recent on-court hiccups and Monday's news of an NBA takeover of the franchise have shattered the smiles. FanHouse's Sam Amick reported that Monday's takeover announcement will open up Demps' floodgates, that every team in the league will try (again) to pry CP3 from New Orleans.
But there's simply no way the Hornets could trade Paul now.
On his conference call announcing and explaining the takeover, NBA commissioner David Stern maintained that Demps, team president Hugh Weber and league-appointed chairman Jac Sperling will maintain control over basketball operations. Drawn into questions about whether the NBA would have a say in major Hornets' move -- David West's 2011 free agency was the hook -- Stern demurred and said the league would cross that river when it's time.
A prospective CP3 trade would be the biggest move possible for the Hornets, and Sperling -- Stern's dude -- would have final say. The NBA, led by Stern, is trying to sell the Hornets for as much money as possible. Does the action (stripping the team of its No. 1 asset) meet the goal (a big sale)? Absolutely, positively not.
Clean-slate, rebuilding teams aren't exactly attractive to buyers. Look at what a discount Mikhail Prokhorov got the historically-bad New Jersey Nets for last season. With Paul, the Hornets are competitive and, to some extent, a draw. Without him? Perhaps the long-term potential is greater -- especially if the team could grab a slew of picks -- but there'd just be a gaping void.
This isn't to say a CP3-less Hornets couldn't be sold -- investors and cities are desperate for the NBA. Look at Oklahoma City, whose taxpayers built an arena before a team was relocated, and whose franchise owners will probably lose money for the next couple years while the economy recovers. But the NBA is looking for a big sale, and gutting the team isn't the way to do it, and Stern (and the other 29 owners) know it.
You don't demolish a house you're trying to sell -- you fix it up. To what degree the Hornets' odd roster can be renovated remains to be seen. I just cannot be convinced a CP3 trade will be a part of that.