What’s really going on with Chris Paul?

Feb. 28, 2010: New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul did not play due to an injured knee during an NBA game between the New Orleans Hornets and the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX Dallas defeated New Orleans 108-100.

John Reid of the The Times Picayune speculates that it was Paul’s new management (LRMR, LeBron’s buddies) who were behind the news/rumors that Paul wanted out of New Orleans.

“I have a friend in the NBA who stays close with him (Paul),” said veteran sportswriter Sam Smith, who used to cover the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan for the Chicago Tribune. “He said Paul has been telling him that he didn’t come up with any list or push to be traded. But part of my sense is that these people have been speaking for Paul, and they are doing a lot of leaking. And Chris has kind of been influenced by these guys, allowing them to kind of walk all over him and kind of confused about what’s going on.

“He’s really hurting himself. I’ve talked to a couple of GMs who said he’s really suffered a blow personally. He’s made himself look like one of these arrogant guys that’s not communicating anything and sort of wasting the tremendous amount of goodwill that he has built up.”

Paul’s own statements about the meeting with the Hornets’ brass indicate that he wants to stay in New Orleans.

“The meeting went well. It was great to get an opportunity to sit down with Coach Williams, President Weber and our new General Manager Dell Demps. I expressed my desire to win and I like what they said about the direction that they want to take the team. I have been a Hornet my entire career and I hope to represent the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana for many years to come.”

Some say that both this statement and the team’s statement was just a smokescreen in order to portray a unified front, to get the Hornets approximately equal value in any forthcoming trade.

Since the meeting last Monday, things have been awfully quiet. It’s been a full week and no new news.

I just don’t know what Hornets’ management could have told Paul in the meeting that would have convinced him that the team would contend in the near future. Thus far this summer, they’ve elected not to use their mid-level exception and they traded away the #11 pick (Cole Aldrich), presumably to save money.

As it stands, the Hornets are projected to have about $10 million in cap space next summer, but that could rise to about $18 million if David West opts out of his deal. If the team can find a taker for Emeka Okafor (possibly packaging him with Darren Collison), they would have enough money to sign two max free agents (under the current CBA). Perhaps Carmelo Anthony and RFA Al Horford would be willing to join CP3 in New Orleans.

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