The Portland Trailblazers are one of four teams New Orleans Hornets star Chris Paul is interested in being traded to—along with New York, Dallas and Orlando, ESPN's Chris Broussard reported today.
Of the four teams, Broussard reports, the Blazers may have the most enticing package of cap and debt relief, young players and draft picks.
Some of the potential pieces they have to offer include Joel Przybilla and Andre Miller (totalling $14.6 million in expiring contracts), young talent including Nicolas Batum, Jerryd Bayless and Rudy Fernandez, and draft picks, as well as the $3 million in cash that multi-billionaire Trailblazers' owner Paul Allen willingly throws into deals.
A quick review of the current rosters and current expiring contracts of the Knicks, Mavs and Magic tends to support Broussard's assertion.
Additionally, a deal was reportedly agreed to by Hornets and Blazers management just prior to last month's NBA draft, before being nixed at the eleventh hour by Hornets ownership.
The deal reportedly had Paul joining the Blazers in exchange for Przybilla, Miller, Batum, Bayless, and the Blazers first round draft pick (22nd overall).
Since that time, however, with the hiring of former Blazers' assistant coach Monty Williams as the Hornets new head coach, the firing of Hornets GM Jeff Bower, and the recent interest in a trade revealed by Paul himself, things have changed.
Broussard indicates that although Hornets ownership prefer not to trade Paul, they are much more open to the idea than they were one month ago.
A package involving both Przybilla and Miller, draft picks, $3 million cash, and two of three of Batum, Bayless and Fernandez appears to be enough to get a deal done, with Paul and Emeka Okafor (and his oversized contract) departing the Hornets.
The Hornets are reportedly keenly interested in reducing payroll prior to its sale, and such a deal would reduce next season's payroll by more than eight million dollars and future seasons by more than $80 million.
The combined salaries of Paul and Okafor can't be absorbed by the Trailblazers under the current salary cap, so a third team would need to be involved.
The net result for the Hornets?
Serious cap relief this season and a dramatic decrease in future seasons, as well as a couple of the Blazers' deep pool of talented young players.
For the Blazers, the result would be a teaming up of two of the league's brightest young stars in Brandon Roy and Paul.
Portland also believes Paul could elevate LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden into all-star caliber players much the same way he elevated David West and Tyson Chandler.