Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Via Sam Amick of NBA FanHouse:
He’s not a free agent, and he’s certainly far from free.
But Chris Paul is possibly this: the summer’s next storyline.
It often goes that way when a rising star is stuck with a team on the decline, and the signs are strong that the fifth-year pro wants out. He means it when he says he loves New Orleans, and those who know him say it’s not his style to demand a trade in the city that adores him back, but the continuing ownership uncertainty and bleak organizational outlook are clearly an irritant to the three-time All-Star.
“(Paul’s frustration) is very real, very real,” said a source close to Paul. “He doesn’t see them putting a (championship-caliber) team together.” [...]
New Orleans already turned down aggressive proposals from Portland and New Jersey, according to sources, and FanHouse reported on talks with Orlando that were denied by general manager Otis Smith days before additional reports surfaced about his pursuit of Paul.
Paul has three years and a combined $49 million left on his contract, with the final season a player option. It is believed any hopeful suitor would have to take center Emeka Okafor back in a possible deal, thus relieving the cap- and cash-strapped Hornets of his contract worth an astounding $52.1 million over the next four years.
With free agency just a few days old, most of the attention from the mainstream media and the blogosphere has been focused on the three amigos — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. They are the crown jewels of the 2010 free agent class, and everyone is eagerly following their every move. However, there is — at his best — a top five player and the best point guard in the NBA lurking in the shadows. An enigma, in terms of his availability, among the transparent.
That person, of course, is Chris Paul.
James, Wade, and Bosh have control over their destinies and the ability to write their futures as they see it. Paul, on the other hand, does not have that power … not yet, at least. Paul is bound by the max contract extension he signed with the New Orleans Hornets in 2008 after leading a team that was one win away from reaching the Western Conference Finals. However, two years have passed since the Hornets’ memorable run and things have changed. New Orleans isn’t winning and the vultures are circling as an ownership change, which might ultimately decide Paul’s fate, is on the fritz and may not happen. Plus, Paul is becoming very vocal about wanting to win, whether it’s with the Hornets or with another team.
With reports that the Orlando Magic have inquired about Paul and Dwight Howard hoping that general manager Otis Smith can acquire the all-world point guard, free agency is becoming more interesting by the day. Magic fans are whetting their appetite whenever any relevant news about Paul’s future shows up on the internet. The idea of a player of Paul’s caliber possibly being available is a fascinating secondary narrative to the main story surrounding James, Wade, and Bosh.
The odds of Paul being traded are slim to none but as the weeks go by, it’s a story that people will continue to latch onto.