Chris Paul trade rumors were quelled by New Orleans Hornets president Hugh Weber. Those Chris Paul trade rumors had Paul going to teams like the New York Knicks, as well as several other NBA teams because of the indication that the Hornets were trying to cut salary. Despite what people may have thought about the situation, or whether Paul is even happy in his situation any longer, Weber told ESPN this weekend that there is no question that Paul will still be with the New Orleans Hornets when the 2010-11 season begins.
The decision to keep Paul in New Orleans is not the biggest surprise of this NBA off-season, as he is really the face of that franchise right now. Paul again put up nice statistics last season, averaging 18.7 points per game and 10.7 assists per game, despite missing some action due to injury. That put him with career numbers of 19.3 points per game and 10 assists per game during his five years in the NBA. As far as the position of point guard goes, he is still one of the best in the NBA, and that makes him one of those players that any franchise would like to have.
Through a draft day trade at the 2010 NBA Draft, the New Orleans Hornets were able to address their salary cap issues, and are now working with a combined team salary of $66.3 million. That’s still a bit above where they would like to be, primarily because Predrag Stojakovic will make $15.3 million in the final year of his contract, and because Emeka Okafor hasn’t really been earning the $11.5 million he will make next season. In comparison, Paul makes $14.9 million in the 2010-11 season and $16.3 million in the 2011-12 season.
With the Chris Paul trade rumors of the past week, there was the thought that the New York Knicks could then target Paul to team him up with someone like Amare Stoudemire for a few years to come. Those rumors, of course, assumed that the Knicks could come up with a package of players that the Hornets would actually want, and we were quite doubtful that they could pull off a deal like that. Now, it doesn’t even matter, because the brass of the Hornets seems to have finally figured out that a lot of their ticket sales may be directly linked to keeping Paul.
The other concern that New Orleans needs to deal with at this time is that these Hornets are not a playoff contender in the NBA. Paul is an All Star, and David West has become a pretty good player, but, beyond that, this team needs a lot of help if they are going to contend for even the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference. This is a story that could be re-visited if Paul becomes unhappy with the lack of action in the Hornets front office, but, for now, they seem intent on keeping him in New Orleans.