One of the biggest trade rumors prior to this week's NBA Draft has been that circulating around New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul.
In recent days, Paul's possible exit from New Orleans has gained more and more attention, however the Hornets have denied that a deal is in the works.
The NBA Draft can motivate teams to do things they otherwise did not expect. The Hornets could end up dealing their franchise player if the cards fall the right way. New Orleans has denied any such plans to deal Paul, but there are five reasons the club could pull the trigger.
The Nets are obviously not loaded with talent given their league-worst 12 wins this season, but they could have enough to pull the trigger if the Hornets feel their near an end with Paul.
Devin Harris and Courtney Lee and one or two of the Nets' three picks in the top 31 of this year's draft could be enough to start a discussion.
But the Nets, given their descent into one of the worst teams in the league, could be willing to go even further to get Paul.
According to NBA Fanhouse, the Magic may be throwing their hat into the Chris Paul ring. Paul is set to make over $15 million in each of the next three seasons so the Magic will have their work cut out for them.
However, a deal including Jameer Nelson (because a point guard has to go the other way) and the loaded expiring contract of Vince Carter would be a strong start.
Reports from multiple sites, including Yahoo! Sports, have indicated the NBA promoter (for lack of a better world) and bag man to the superstars William Wesley is going around to teams with one message: trade for Chris Paul and the chance of signing LeBron goes up dramatically.
The Knicks, as one of the teams reportedly interested in Paul, are clearly paying attention to that message given their pursuit of LeBron.
The reason the Hornets may eventually end up dealing Paul is the salary cap. Paul is owed $31.3 million over the next seasons before his opt-out clause kicks in prior to the 2012-2013 season.
Owner George Shinn has been a notorious cost-cutter during his tenure at the helm. If he feels he can save more money before a new owner takes over, Paul could be on his way out of the Big Easy.
Yahoo! Sports reported that the Grizzlies' talks that centered around O.J. Mayo were rebuffed, and the Nets would be willing to trade anyone but Brook Lopez for Paul, but that we should not sleep on the Blazers prior to the draft.
The Blazers have numerous players still under contract as well as the 22nd and 34th overall picks in the draft. The Hornets are feeling good about turning the keys to Darren Collison in the short term. The Blazers have a veteran point guard in Andre Miller than could send the other way in addition to the rest of a package likely composed of draft picks.