The most recent word out of the New Orleans Hornets management camp is that Chris Paul never wanted a trade from a team. And Paul said himself that he’s satisfied with the direction of the franchise. Don’t buy it for a second.
Why? Because the only direction this franchise is headed is down. The Hornets have NOTHING.
Any expression of pleasure with the team’s future on Paul’s part is merely a smokescreen to avoid bringing his itch to get out of town to the public and maintain the reputations of both him and the team — in the shadow of the LeBronathon.
Let’s examine what the Hornets don’t have. They don’t have a solid option to complement Paul on either end of the floor. David West might have looked like that companion a couple seasons ago, but he’s 31 now, and injury concerns make him unreliable. As for Emeka Okafor, he’s a markedly underachieving No. 2 overall pick getting paid way too much money. The fact that he hasn’t been dealt yet shows that he can’t make the franchise into a winner. And all but two of the other roster spots are occupied by mediocre bench players (by bench players’ standards) or has-beens. The two others? Darren Collison, who’s buried behind Paul at point guard, and Marcus Thornton, who can score but is hardly a franchise player.
What’s worse, they didn’t retain a single draft pick this summer after dealing Cole Aldrich away. It’s quite clear that the Hornets are not going to be competitive for a few years.
And there sure are a lot of trade rumors swirling around a team that doesn’t want to trade a player that doesn’t want to be traded. There are still those suggestions that he might go to the Orlando Magic, New York Knicks, or Los Angeles Lakers, and now, according to CBS’s Ken Berger, the Charlotte Bobcats and New Jersey Nets (notorious losers of Free Agency 2010) are reportedly getting in on the action.
Then there’s the memo that the league sent out to remind teams about tampering — a memo that specifically mentioned Chris Paul. Would the league really bother if a deal weren’t going to happen?
All that said, it might not be soon. In fact, I’d say it’s likely CP3 is still a Hornet at season’s beginning. Paul’s facade of satisfaction gives New Orleans the benefit of “wanting” to trade Paul instead of “needing” to trade him, so the team can take all the time it wants to get teams to compete in their offers for the point guard. And no matter what they get, they have Collison to fall back on at their next point guard of the future. With Paul in New Orleans, the future is bleak. With Paul gone (maybe in a package with Okafor’s bloated contract) and a few picks and one or two young pieces in return, it’s much, much brighter.
As for this wacko conspiracy that there’s a mysterious orchestra of important people using LeBron and Paul as puppets, I don’t buy it. Continuing to concentrate talent will eventually destroy the league, and then even the teams with all the players won’t have the money to pay them. There won’t be another coup of free agents like the one we saw this summer for some time.