Chris Paul still wants out

NEW ORLEANS - FEBRUARY 16:  Chris Paul of the New Orlenas Hornets prepares to participate in the Playstation Skills Challenge, part of 2008 NBA All-Star Weekend at the New Orleans Arena on February 16, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com says that what we saw from the Hornets’ brass on Monday was a ‘smokescreen’:

“The telltale thing is that Chris Paul won’t comment publicly other than what was released about it,” said a person familiar with Paul’s strategy. “Leon Rose didn’t come out and say, ‘Chris is happy in New Orleans.’ If he was happy, they would’ve said that. … The only way they can get close to full value is to say, ‘You guys can’t make trade demands.’ They’re orchestrating this thing to likely move him.”

The Hornets, meanwhile, have been looking at Orlando, Charlotte and New Jersey as potentially attractive trade partners once the firestorm settles down, according to one of the people with direct knowledge of the Hornets’ strategy. Two other sources familiar with the situation confirmed prior discussions involving the Bobcats and Nets and said those talks are expected to advance in the coming days.

Berger has emerged as one of the league’s more plugged-in writers, but one has to wonder how close this ‘person familiar with Paul’s strategy’ actually is to the man himself.

Paul doesn’t have a no-trade clause in his contract, so the Hornets can send him wherever they want. The Nets are interesting trade partner due to the upside of Derrick Favors. I doubt New Jersey would give up Brook Lopez, but a deal that included Favors along with salary cap relief might be appealing to the Hornets.

As for Charlotte, it just doesn’t look like the Bobcats have a young piece on the level of Favors (or the Gallinari/Randolph combination from the Knicks). Tyrus Thomas has spent most of his potential capital and Gerald Wallace is getting on in years.

Favors can’t be traded until August 15, though an agreement in principle could be made sooner than that. If the Nets can come out of the summer with a core of Paul and Lopez (while possibly turning Devin Harris into some help on the wing), it will salvage an otherwise disappointing summer.

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