Former New Orleans general manager Jeff Bower once famously said Chris Paul was a player he would never trade. But with the recent announcement that Bower would not be returning to the Hornets' front office, that decision is no longer in his hands.
Yesterday, the Charlotte Bobcats completed a trade that sent Tyson Chandler and Alexis Ajinca to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Eduardo Najera, former Bobcat Matt Carroll, and more significantly, Erick Dampier.
Dampier is important because he comes with a 13 million dollar, non-guaranteed contract which the Bobcats could either use if they waive Dampier and owe him nothing or trade him to a team in search of cap relief.
In today's edition of the Charlotte Observer, Bobcats' owner Michael Jordan told writer Scott Fowler that the team was just getting started as far as shaping the roster, and more moves could be expected in the coming weeks.
It's easy to mistake Jordan's words for wishful thinking, unless you consider the fact that only two members remain from Charlotte's roster since coach Larry Brown took over two years ago, and the Cats have averaged almost one trade every two months in that span.
Building the roster through trades has been much kinder to the Bobcats than relying on the draft. As evidence, you don't need to look any further than four players: Tyrus Thomas, Stephen Jackson, Sean May, and Adam Morrison.
Thomas recently signed a new contract with Charlotte, and Jackson has assumed the role of the Bobcats' leading man. Morrison and May, both lottery picks, failed to pan out.
Jordan allowed Raymond Felton to be signed away by New York and has made it publicly known that power forward Boris Diaw is also available, which means Charlotte is angling toward a certain goal.
With the departure of Felton, D.J. Augustin is the only point guard on Charlotte's roster, and their only draft pick, and neither Jordan nor Brown envision Augustin, who struggled in his sophomore NBA season, as the long term solution at the position.
As unlikely as it may sound, there are numerous reasons Paul might be on the Bobcats' radar.
The first stems from his familiarity of the area, considering it is his home state. The Winston-Salem native is highly visible in the Charlotte area during the offseason, and he has previously expressed his desire to play a little closer to his family.
Hornet's owner George Shinn is also very familiar with the Charlotte area since the Hornets originated in Charlotte, and although most people could care less about Shinn, they would welcome Paul with open arms.
One of the main criticisms about Shinn, during his time in Charlotte, was his tendency to make decisions based more on his finances rather than the well-being of the team.
This led to a tenuous relationship with fans, who made the Hornets the NBA's worst draw over several seasons. By the time Shinn finally decided to leave Charlotte, the Hornets were drawing less than 10,000 fans per game at home.
Bower's departure and the rumors concerning Paul suggest Shinn's nature hasn't changed that much since he left the Queen City, and Paul very well could be in play for the Bobcats.
In order to acquire Paul, the Bobcats would likely have to part with fan favorite Gerald Wallace and Diaw. Although Wallace would be missed, Paul would instantly upgrade the Bobcats into a solid playoff team.
So far this is all speculation, but you can definitely sense the excitement in Charlotte. It's obvious the Bobcats are looking to capitalize on the 13 million dollars they were so generously rewarded for taking on Dampier's contract, so there will be plenty of rumors until they do so.
Jordan has constantly told the citizens of Charlotte his goal as owner is to turn the Bobcats into perennial playoff contenders, and completing a deal for Chris Paul would certainly be a step in the right direction.