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Via Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:
According to multiple people within the NBA who are familiar with the Hornets’ predicament, Paul’s new cadre of power brokers at Creative Artists Agency, led by Rose, are continuing to push Paul’s exit strategy from New Orleans — something members of the organization are well aware of and expected.
The Hornets, meanwhile, have been looking at Orlando, Charlotte and New Jersey as potentially attractive trade partners once the firestorm settles down, according to one of the people with direct knowledge of the Hornets’ strategy. Two other sources familiar with the situation confirmed prior discussions involving the Bobcats and Nets and said those talks are expected to advance in the coming days.
The Hornets are concentrating on Eastern Conference teams as trade partners in the event they decide it isn’t feasible to enter the 2010-11 season with their franchise player wanting out. And despite Monday’s optimistic spin, that is where things are headed, sources say. [...]
There are indications that the Hornets believe the [Orlando] Magic, Bobcats and Nets would have equally, if not more attractive assets to offer. 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.
The Chris Paul storyline never ends.
And it won’t end until Paul is with a new team, it appears.
The news to take away from this report is that the New Orleans Hornets have been concentrating on the Eastern Conference for potential trade partners, including the Orlando Magic. This is significant because this is the franchise, not the player, that is looking into the situation. It’s been widely reported that Paul would prefer to play not only for the Magic but the New York Knicks, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Portland Trail Blazers. Yet Orlando is the only team that is on the “list” for both parties.
It makes sense when you think about it.
It’s common practice for franchises in the NBA to trade their superstars to the other conference for maximum damage control. Magic fans should know that better than anyone, given that Penny Hardaway and Tracy McGrady were shipped off to teams in the Western Conference back in the day.
Surely the Magic are in the best position to win in Paul’s eyes, compared to the Charlotte Bobcats and the New Jersey Nets, but that doesn’t matter. What matters most, especially to the Hornets if they pull the trigger and trade Paul, is that they get maximum value for their superstar. Remember, New Orleans has leverage with the situation and they’re the ones that will decide where Paul goes. Orlando has assets, but that’s not the issue.
What many people are trying to figure out is if the Magic have the gumption to take on Emeka Okafor’s four year, $53 million contract? Some say no but let’s be frank, no one really knows what general manager Otis Smith is thinking. When it comes to information, Smith is the master of misdirection. Smith almost always plays things close to the vest. If the answer is yes (Smith would have to get creative if it’s no), then the next logical question is whether or not Orlando can put together a winning bid? No one knows.
The only thing that is certain is that the Hornets are the ones that will decide Paul’s fate.
If Paul is traded, there’s no guarantee he’ll land with the Magic. However, there is apparent interest on both sides and that’s something worth noting.