Hornets not listening to trade offers for Chris Paul

January 20, 2010: Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets in action against the Memphis Grizzlies during an NBA game in the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, LA. Tyler Kaufman/CSM.

Chris Paul and the Hornets are going to sit down today, and in preparation for that meeting, the team is turning away all trade inquiries for Chris Paul.

The New Orleans Hornets prepared for their highly anticipated sitdown with star guard Chris Paul by turning away the latest flurry of trade calls from other teams, according to NBA front-office sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that teams inquiring about Paul’s availability in recent days — and there have been several after persistent media reports suggesting that Paul will formally request to be traded at a meeting Monday — were greeted with the same resistance to Paul offers that the Hornets have maintained for months.

“They say they aren’t moving him,” one rival team executive said of the Hornets.

Sources with knowledge of New Orleans’ thinking said over the weekend that the Hornets’ stance is unlikely to change, at least in the short term, even if Paul himself tells the Hornets for the first time that he wants out.

When it comes down to it, the Hornets hold the keys. Paul has two more years remaining on his contract before he can opt out and become a free agent in the Summer of 2012.

But whenever a superstar says he wants to be traded, he usually gets his wish. Kobe Bryant is the exception, not the rule, because he was unwilling to go to a team that wasn’t up to snuff. Paul already has a list of four or five teams (New York, Orlando, Portland, Dallas and possibly the Lakers) that he’d play for and there are probably a few more teams (Houston, Oklahoma City) who could be in the running as well.

The chances are slim that the Hornets will be able to convince him to stay. They have to prove (or at least have a plan) to turn the team into a contender in the next two years, or else they’ll get nothing for Paul when he bolts in 2012. They haven’t shown that they’re committed to winning (i.e. willing to spend) over the past few months, though they’ve been a bit schizophrenic, financially-speaking (by trading for Emeka Okafor and his monster contract and then turning around and handing the #11 pick over to the Thunder).

GM Jeff Bower is out, and Dell Demps is in. He worked for the Spurs, so he knows how a winning organization is run. But he better have a good plan in place if he hopes to convince Paul to stop all of this trade talk. It sure seems like we’ve passed the point of no return with regard to Paul staying put.

But the Hornets were wise to play things close to the vest over the last week. It does them no good to talk to other teams about trading Paul if they are truly hoping to keep him. All that would do is fuel speculation that he’s available and essentially push him out the door. There is plenty of time to get the best possible deal if the Hornets choose to go that route.

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