This week the NBA announced plans to take over the fiscally struggling New Orleans Hornets whose financial predicaments have left the league with no choice but to take temporary ownership.
Perhaps such a situation could have been avoided had the team decided to retain a 17-year-old Kobe Bryant draft instead of swapping him on draft day in ‘96 for aging center Vlade Divac. Or perhaps it all went wrong in February of 2005 when the team shipped rising star Baron Davis to Golden State for Long Island’s own Speedy Claxton and Dale Davis.
Regardless, the team is in a state of financial flux following their torrid start but now the franchise sees itself sinking fast in the ultra competitive NBA southwest division.
Like Major League Baseball did when the league assumed ownership of the struggling Expos, many Hornet players could see themselves shipped off at bargain prices in order to cut losses so to make the team more attractive for potential sale to a new owner. Among the list of pricey talent-laden players who will soon be available: Chris Paul.
Paul heads many fantasy leagues as a front-runner for MVP. His 16.2 PPG combined with a stately 10.4 ASG plus a near 5 RPG places the Wake Forest product as not just a candidate as a fantasy MVP but also an NBA MVP. Add to Paul’s totals a 90 percent conversion rate from the charity stripe and the Hornet point guard compels trade suitors to salivate.
The 25 year-old guard is set to make over $15MM in ’10-’11 plus incentives which make Paul an imminent trade candidate looking to shed payroll. A team rumored to be a suitor is the Orlando Magic whose ability to offer young trade pieces like Jameer Nelson and J.J. Reddick make a potential deal viable. The feasibility of Paul teaming up with a hyper-athletic scoring center like Dwight Howard could cause the guard’s peripheral stats to explode.
As the February 24th trade deadline approaches and the league pressure for New Orleans to unload payroll intensifies, Chris Paul’s tenure as a Hornet may be coming to a close.
Wilson Chandler may not be the draw that three-time all-star Chris Paul is, but Chandler’s emergence as the Knicks blossoming star certainly has staked his claim as one of Broadway’s newest draws. Statistically Chandler is a top 20 player who contributes in every statistical category including blocked shots where the 6’8’’ forward blocks nearly two shots per contest.