Chris Paul’s(notes) agent informed New Orleans Hornets officials on Wednesday that his client will not sign a contract extension and wants to be traded to the New York Knicks, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
As soon as the NBA lifts its lockout restrictions, Hornets general manager Dell Demps wants to meet with Paul and hear that directive from him.
Nevertheless, the prospects of the Hornets executing a trade with the Knicks appear to be dim, if not impossible. The Knicks simply don’t have the trade assets that come close to meeting New Orleans’ criteria for a deal. Demps has been listening to overtures from teams around the league, and has been actively working under the assumption that Paul would reject a contract extension.
The Hornets have no intention of letting Paul walk away at season’s end without trying to get maximum value for him. There are several teams, including the Boston Celtics, that could be willing to make a deal for Paul with the hope of convincing him to eventually sign an extension.
The Hornets will be motivated to make a deal as soon as possible for Paul, and aren't completely determined to get a point guard in return for him, sources said. They're willing to play Jarrett Jack(notes) as the starter for the rest of the season, and mostly want to gather the best possible package of overall talent and draft picks.
Paul has reached out to Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard(notes) recently, encouraging Howard to find a way for the two to play together, sources told Yahoo! Sports. That would be a difficult scenario for the Knicks to make happen. Paul’s desire to join the Knicks was cemented after he spent so much time in New York over the summer with close friend Carmelo Anthony(notes).
If Paul were to opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent after this season, he could sign a maximum four-year, $74 million deal with another team. The Knicks currently would have enough salary-cap room to offer him a four-year, $55.5 million contract with a starting salary of $13 million.
Several teams, including Boston, Golden State, Houston and the Los Angeles Clippers have been aggressive in trying to find a way to trade for Paul. The Nets would like to pair Howard with Deron Williams, and could pursue Paul if it appeared Williams no longer wanted to stay with them.
The Warriors have had conversations with the Hornets about Paul and hope their young talent, willingness to spend money under new ownership and being in the nation’s sixth-largest market could entice him to sign an extension. The Warriors are open to trading anyone, including Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry or rookie Klay Thompson, one league source said. Golden State prefers not to use the amnesty clause on center Andris Biedrins, but would to clear money in a Paul deal.
Selling the Hornets on their young talent could be easier for the Warriors than convincing Paul that the franchise is ready to push past its lean years and become a legitimate contender. The Hornets have expressed interest in trying to sign one of the free-agent centers: Nene, Tyson Chandler, Marc Gasol or DeAndre Jordan.
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