Magic atop Paul’s list, but do the Knicks have more to offer?

New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul shoots during warm ups before game two of their opening round series against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center in Denver on April 22, 2009. Paul and the Hornets are 0-1 in the playoffs against the Nuggets. (UPI Photo/Gary C. Caskey) Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom

There were rumblings that the Knicks were Chris Paul’s preferred destination, but now ESPN is reporting that the Magic top his list.

The New Orleans Hornets have yet to start entertaining trade offers for Chris Paul, but that hasn’t stopped the superstar point guard from making exit plans.

The Orlando Magic have emerged as the top team on Paul’s list of preferred destinations, replacing the New York Knicks, according to league sources.

While the Knicks are still high on Paul’s list, he believes the Magic, with All-Star center Dwight Howard, would be a better fit. Paul also realizes Orlando has much more to offer New Orleans in a trade and therefore believes it is a more realistic destination than New York, according to the sources.

When I ran through the various trade scenarios for each team reportedly on Paul’s list, I came up with a deal in the ESPN Trade Machine that would send Jameer Nelson, Marcin Gortat, Brandon Bass and Mickael Pietrus to New Orleans for Paul and Okafor. That doesn’t seem like enough for CP3, even with one or two first round picks thrown in. But who else do the Magic have that the Hornets would want? Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter are too expensive. At least this deal would give Hornets a starting-caliber center (Gortat), an inexpensive quality point guard (Nelson), and a couple of rotation players in Pietrus and Bass.

As for the Knicks, this deal would send Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Anthony Randolph (along with the expiring contracts of Eddy Curry and Kelenna Azubuike) to New Orleans for Paul and Okafor. Gallinari, Chandler and Randolph are all inexpensive, up-and-coming players and could be part of a formidable starting five (with Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton) in a few years.

Don’t the Knicks actually have more to offer?

Paul is meeting with the Hornets on Monday, so I’d expect some movement on this sometime next week. With the way this news is leaking out, it seems like he has his bags packed. The Hornets probably missed the boat on keeping Paul when they traded away their #11 pick and pretty much stood pat this summer (instead of trading Collison away for more wing help and/or making a run at Mike Miller).

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