We've been promoting since last year the idea that Chris Paul's situation in New Orleans should be monitored. The Hornets under George Shinn were run on a shoestring budget that continually was cut to the point where the franchise was making salary dump moves and put a team around Paul this season that was barely playoff caliber (and certainly wasn't once Paul was injured). We had reason to believe the Hornets, with the emergence of rookie Darren Collison, might have considered dealing Paul to save money. Several sources indicated to me that the Knicks were certainly preparing to make a call and see if a dialogue could be opened.
But with Shinn on the verge of completing an ownership transfer to billionaire Gary Chouest, who had previously owned a minority stake in the franchise, it is believed any idea of selling off Paul will be dismissed. But will Chouest invest more into the team, which is bleeding money at New Orleans Arena, to put championship-caliber talent around its all-star point guard?
[Bloghost note: By the way, did you see him as a guest in TNT's studio Monday night? He asked Charles Barkley to name his top three point guards and Barkley didn't even try to front; he told him he felt Deron Williams was No. 1 and Paul was No. 2. CP tried to force a smile, but you know inside the fiercely competitive Paul was enraged.]
Paul does have an opt-out in 2012, which would be when the Knicks could attempt to make a play for him (if there was still a need and, of course, if they still had some cap flexibility). If the Hornets haven't built properly around him, perhaps CP considers other options.
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* - David Stern was clearly in "Frozen Envelope Denial" mode Monday night in Cleveland when he was asked about LeBron James' future. "Hopefully, he'll stay," Stern said. "That's the way the system is designed."
We're kidding about the Frozen Envelope thing, but Stern obviously has to be careful when it comes to free agency. Sure, a superstar playing on the grand New York stage would be great for ratings and commercial fees, but it doesn't do the NBA any good to have that Cavaliers franchise go dormant, which is what is sure happen if LeBron did leave. Plus, so many of the league's small-market owners would have little faith in the system, which, like Stern said, is designed to give teams the power to keep their own free agents.