The Hornets are playing for far more than to extend their already unexpected playoff run, and they know it.
The team spent the majority of the year fielding questions about trade rumors involving their star point guard Chris Paul. Paul saw no reason to stay with the Hornets and was not quiet about his wishes during the offseason.
Paul’s desire to leave the Big Easy was at least postponed after a talk with team officials that left him “excited” about the team’s future.
However, that did little to quiet the trade talk during the season. After a frenzied few weeks leading up to the trade deadline, many players were on their way to new cities and new teams while Paul has remained in the city that drafted him.
During the latter part of the season, fans saw Chris Paul return to the All-NBA form that they had grown accustomed to, and so far in the playoffs, it seems that Paul’s skills and intensity have been elevated even more.
The Hornets, who were looked upon by many experts as this year’s weakest playoff team, have already surprised critics with their play against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. However, this could be the teams last chance to show Chris Paul that they are worthy of his talents.
A loss tonight to Los Angeles might be all it takes to convince Paul to begin looking for a new home.
The Hornets have given the Lakers their best shot and if they fall short once again, Chris Paul will see little reason to continue spending the prime years of his career in New Orleans. His contract is set to expire in 2013-14, but after another season ending in disappointment and little hope for the future, the Hornets may have no choice but to cut their losses and trade the disgruntled superstar.
They have been a pleasant surprise for everyone outside of Laker-land, but the Hornets have a lot more than their season on the line tonight.