Bower offered Paul a five-year extension worth approximately $87 million, the maximum allowed, just past midnight on Tuesday, but it appears Paul, a first-team All-NBA guard and MVP runner-up to Kobe Bryant, could be leaning toward a four-year deal worth approximately $67 million.
"Jeff and I will talk some more, and I think we'll try to get something done before I leave town on Thursday," Young said Tuesday afternoon from his Washington, D.C. office. "Chris may join us later in the meeting, and talk to Jeff about the future of the franchise."
Paul, 23, is the cornerstone of the Hornets franchise, the man most responsible for saving pro basketball in New Orleans. He has a deep affinity for his teammates, coach and front office, and feels a strong connection to the New Orleans community.
Nevertheless, Paul has watched the departure of officials – including assistant coach Darrell Walker (Detroit) and public relations director Scott Hall (Washington) – and wants to make sure the infrastructure of a successful franchise will be preserved. Ultimately, those are probably questions for owner George Shinn, because Bower is considered one of the elite general mangers in the NBA – an executive who does more with fewer resources.
New Orleans signed Byron Scott to a two-year contract for a little over $10 million last month. Shinn had expected to lose $20 million in New Orleans a year ago, but a triumphant return to the city – 56 victories, the Southwest Division title, and a seven-game series loss to San Antonio – helped him reach the break-even mark.