Chris Paul says he wants to remain a member of the Hornets, and the team, for now, has no interest in trading him.
He’s also quite popular in town.
But can the Hornets continue to not entertain trade offers? Will Paul opt out of the final year of his contract in the summer of 2012?
ESPN’s Marc Stein investigates.
“The reality, though, is that teams are bound to keep trying to pry Paul away from the Hornets, no matter how determined they are to keep the backcourt dynamo. It’s the ultimate quandary. The Hornets don’t appear to have the financial flexibility or the trade assets to significantly upgrade Paul’s supporting cast, but trading him is the last thing that they want to do, not only because of his status as one of the league’s revolutionary point guards but also given his popularity in town. … Yet Paul is also aware that outsiders will remain skeptical about how long he can stomach life with the Hornets’ status as a team flirting with .500 and struggling to crack the top eight in the West, just two years removed from a Southwest Division title and a seven-game series with San Antonio that left New Orleans one win shy of the Western Conference finals.”
Fletcher’s Take: Look, their is no way in hell the Hornets are trading Paul anytime soon…NO WAY!!!!!
That said…what will the Hornets due when the February NBA trade deadline rolls around?
My bet is the team makes a few minor trades to get under the NBA luxury tax…dealing guys like Darius Songaila, Devin Brown, maybe Julian Wright but that they’ll keep everyone else intact and hope that a new coach next season can bring this core group back to prominance.
Is that the smart play? NO!
I’ve suggested before on this blog that maybe the Hornets need a ‘shake-up’ trade. A trade that moves major pieces in an effort to get the right mix around Paul.
Here are some of those trades (plus a NEW…kinda crazy one that I really like).
- David West, Darren Collison & Hilton Armstrong to Memphis for Rudy Gay, Hasheem Thabeet & Steven Hunter
WHY: I love David West and hate to put him in any trade. West is a fierce warrior that any team would relish and that any franchise would be lucky to have. That said, he and Emeka Okafor are not the front court dynamic duo that the Hornets envisioned. The Hornets have been killed rebounding and defensively in the paint this season and West is averaging 4 points less than last season because Okafor’s game is similiar to his and they steal shots from one another. In David West Memphis would get an all star PF who won’t hog the ball the way O.J. Mayo and Zach Randolph do. This move would also give Memphis a classy leader (West) and a player who is under contract for two more years at a bargain basement price. Randolph would have to move to SF for the Grizzlies but he played that position last season for the Clippers. The Grizzlies are also thin at point guard so landing Darren Collison would bolster that position. At best Collison would emerge as the starter, at worst he forms a nice tandem with Mike Conley.
Rudy Gay is a restricted free agent this summer so he could be a short term rental for the Hornets. But, if the Hornets are serious about winning it’s a gamble they take. It would be hard to pry Thabeet away from Memphis but with the emergence of Marc Gasol, who’s playing at an all star level, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to think Memphis would move him in the right deal.
Hunter & Armstrong make the deal work money-wise.
- David West, Morris Peterson & Julian Wright to Detroit For Rip Hamilton, Kwame Brown & Jonas Jerebko
WHY: Rip Hamilton has 4 years left on his massive contract…that’s why this deal would be risky for the Hornets. The Hornets could use a playoff tested SG who averages 2o points a night but Hamilton will be 35 years old when his deal ends. Detroit would also no doubt like to rid themselves of Hamilton’s contract…espicially since they now have Ben Gordon. West gives the Pistons a starting PF for their playoff march. In Morris Peterson Detroit gets a back-up SG and a player who might be rejuvinated being back in his native state. Julian Wright sweetens the deal because he could still be a good player in the NBA. Jerebko is an up-and-coming rookie PF who’s become a fan favortie in Detroit for his relentless style of play. I like Jonas Jerebko and think he’s got a bright future. Kwame Brown has an expiring contract that gives the Hornets some much needed salary relief.
NEW TRADE: 3 Team Deal
- New Orleans Hornets Get: Mehmet Okur, Andrei Kirilenko, Nicolas Batum, a future 2nd round pick from Portland & the rights to Joel Freeland (owned by Portland).
- Utah Jazz Get: Emeka Okafor, Peja Stojakovic, Patrick Mills & a future 2nd round draft pick from Portland.
- Portland Trailblazers Get: Darius Songaila & Hilton Armstrong
WHY: Peja for Kirilenko is a wash, Okafor for Okur is a wash…those two deals are just high paid, relatively under productive players with comparable contracts getting a change of scenery. The Hornets also get a young wing player in Batum. With Mills, Utah picks up a young point guard to replace Eric Maynor (who was traded to OKC for financial reasons). Portland gets a good big man in Songaila and a servicable one in Armstrong to replace Oden & Przybilla who are both out for the season with injury.