After weeks of rumor and conjecture that Chris Paul wanted out of New Orleans, and after initial denials that such feelings were true, the Hornets point guard officially let it be known he wants to be traded. Paul has let New Orleans ownership and front office brass know that now is the time to work out a deal.
So far, the teams interested come in two different directions. One being the teams that have an inherent need and desire to have Paul on the roster. The other being the list of teams Paul would like to go to.
But where does he fit best? Some teams fit better than others, but which is the likely landing spot for Paul based on these specific categories?
It's not even close when stacking up the history of the Lakers, Knicks, and Magic.
The Lakers the two-time defending champions, they've won five titles over the last decade and are arguably the most prestigious team in the sport (unless your from Boston).
The Knicks history may be a bit inflated, considering the franchise has just two NBA titles to its credit. But, the Knicks are still one of the league's original franchise in the league's biggest market. Playing in Madison Square Garden is certainly an attractive option for Paul.
Then there is the Magic. Orlando's franchise is just over 20 years old and has two NBA Finals appearances to their credit.
EDGE: Lakers—and it's not even close
Again the Lakers take the category in a laugher.
The Lakers are led by the winningest coach in the history of American sports in Phil Jackson and his 11 titles. When Phil Jackson is on the sideline, it is a certainty the team will go the playoffs and what feels like a lock that the team will go to the NBA Finals.
Stan Van Gundy has, so far, had a very promising tenure as the Magic head coach. He has led the team deep into the playoffs in each of his three seasons with the team, including an NBA Finals appearance in 2009. He previous led the Miami Heat to the Eastern Conference finals in 2005.
MIke D'Antoni twice led the Phoenix Suns to the Western Conference Finals, but has since steered the Knicks to two mediocre seasons. It is not entirely his fault in the Big Apple as the organization cleared LeBron cap space throughout his tenure in New York.
EDGE: Phil Jackson—in another run away
The Lakers are right up against the cap space which is why they've only been able to add to the roster via the mid-level exception. They added Steve Blake to work the point, brought back Derek Fisher cheaper than the open market, and are still working on Shannon Brown.
The Knicks used the bulk of what was $34.1 million in cap space on Amar'e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, and acquired Anthony Randolph in the a sign-and-trade for David Lee. Nevertheless, the Knicks still have a significant room under the cap, but may not have enough to pay Paul's full load.
The Magic are also strapped against the cap after resigning J.J. Redick, Quentin Richardson, and bringing in point guard Chris Duhon with the mid-level exception.
Paul wants better players around him, and there is no better option of these three teams than the Lakers.
They are the two-time defending champions and there is a reason why. They have the game's best player in Kobe Bryant, one of the league's best big men in Pau Gasol, a promising young center in Andrew Bynum and a scrappy, hard-nosed defending in Ron Artest plus a quality, experienced bench.
In Orlando, Paul could play with the game's best big man in Dwight Howard, a legit perimeter scoring threat in Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, and an All-Star guard in Jameer Nelson. Paul's presence redefines Orlando's standing in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks. Well, they signed Amar'e Stoudemire and got a young talent in Randolph and a solid point guard in Felton. And? Eddy Curry, Ronny Turiaf?
Paul has many attractive parts of his game, but he is not the guy that's going to command the offense. He works his best in the pick and roll game with a big man in the paint.
That style is not a traditional fit to Phil Jackson's triangle offense.
Orlando has the pieces that would fit Paul, given their perimeter shooters and a big man in Dwight Howard with which to operate.
The Knicks, however, may be the best fit. Mike D'Antoni's upbeat, running offense fits best with Paul's game. He'll have the big man in Amar'e to play with and another inside-out player in Anthony Randolph.
The Lakers and Magic rosters are pretty much set through next season and likely beyond.
That is not true for the Knicks, who are still eying a big free agent signing this time next summer. That player? Carmelo Anthony who hits free agency next summer.
Paul voiced his desire to be part of his own "big three" in the near future. That should get the wheels spinning in MSG looking toward 2011.
Los Angeles is a Lakers town. Orlando is a Magic town. Both cities obviously have fans that love the team, but Knicks fans are aching, thirsty, dying for a winner and another franchise player to go with Amar'e Stoudemire.
Stoudemire was a good start, but even the average Knicks fan knows this team will not really go anywhere without a second piece. The idea of just a Paul/Stoudemire combination will rile up Madison Square Garden and give a wallowing fan base a reason to cheer once again.
The Hornets had a disappointing last season without Paul and it does not appear a big jump is likely should he return to New Orleans this season.
The Knicks even with Paul, are still not competing for an NBA title right now, even with Amar'e because the rest of the roster is still too thin in any other pertinent areas, especially on the perimeter.
Paul to the Magic gives Orlando a significant, and needed, jolt to respond to the big moves made by Miami and Chicago. The free agency summers for both Miami and Chicago have arguably put them both at the top of the favorites list for the East (especially Miami).
The Lakers, meanwhile, are the two-time defending champs that now enter a 2010 season with a weaker Western Conference. It appears the Lakers have an even better shot to go back to the Finals with what could be a much smoother road through the conference.
The Lakers have won more than any team over the last decade and their front office is a big reason why. Owner Jerry Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak have made intelligent, though at times risky, moves that have kept the team in contention every season.
The Magic have built a contender through wise draft picks and certainly have Dwight Howard there at No. 1 in the draft makes it easy. General manager Otis Smith has done a good job keeping this team in contention in a top heavy Eastern Conference.
Then there is the Knicks front office which has been the butt of jokes for the better part of a decade. General manager Donnie Walsh and company dumped the roster for years in preparation for LeBron James—after Isaiah Thomas ran the franchise into the ground.
Pulling a deal to acquire Chris Paul will give the Knicks front office validity.
The Lakers are nudging up against the salary cap. The Magic have exceeded the luxury tax, while the Knicks still have room to work.
Nevertheless, it's going to take a creative deal to get Paul and the $14.9 million he is owed next season, and the near $34 million he is owed in the two seasons beyond.
Paul has stated that New York his top choice. Combine that with the Knicks comparatively financial flexibility and it appears like the right match.
However, though they did not come through with advantages in this list, the Magic have one advantage—pieces to trade.
The Magic could pull it off by trading Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter, and whatever other piece helps match the salaries, and those are more attractive pieces than what the Knicks offer.
That alone should get the Magic in the door first.