NBA Trade Rumors: Chris Paul's Future Depends on Free Agent David West

John FrielAnalyst IDecember 1, 2011

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 26:  Chris Paul #3 and David West #30 of the New Orleans Hornets sit on the floor before being substituted into the game while playing the Atlanta Hawks at the New Orleans Arena on December 26, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

In the span of a year, we could possibly see the implosion of two NBA franchises. One of those franchises, the Orlando Magic, are facing the real prospect of losing out on their number one pick of the 2004 NBA draft in Dwight Howard after a few early postseason exits.

The Magic have consistently been at the top of the Eastern Conference and only a few seasons removed from making the NBA Finals.

The other situation featuring the prospect of a franchise winning 25 games for the next 10 years deals with the New Orleans Hornets and their debacle with point guard Chris Paul. The four-time All-Star has grown disgruntled with the organization after a number of quiet free agencies and a lack of trades that could possibly bring in some help for CP3.

After winning 56 games and the Southwest Division in 2008, the Hornets have yet to see any improvement with 49-, 37- and 46-win seasons to show for the past three years following their clinching of one of the NBA's most difficult divisions to thrive in.

Among the key moves that the Hornets have accomplished since Paul's arrival and rise to stardom include signing free agent Trevor Ariza and trading for Peja Stojakovic and Emeka Okafor.

None of these moves are significant in any way as the rest of the Western Conference has caught up and made moves while the Hornets have remained relatively stagnant and conservative.

The Hornets have had their chances to reel in big time names to play alongside Paul and provide the team with a third scoring option that can be reliable. Instead, they now face the prospect of losing Paul via free agency next year with that becoming a possibly reality after word recently came in saying that the point guard would like to join the New York Knicks.

New Orleans can certainly offer more money than any other team, but that might not matter to Paul, who has more of a desire to win and make less money than make $20 million per year with a team that's destined for as much as 50 wins.

The Hornets can basically be considered the Atlanta Hawks of the West as a middle-of-the-pack team with no initiative to win a championship.

Keeping Paul around at this point may seem to be a futile effort (especially with all the recent trade talk). However, there still is a great chance that he stays in New Orleans and that could come as a result of free agency this year, which features Paul's teammate in power forward David West.

West has been with the team since he was drafted in 2003 and has been Paul's most reliable teammate since they joined forces in 2005. West has emerged as one of the NBA's greatest mid-range shooters and has flourished with Paul as his running mate.

Since Paul arrived, West has been one of the few bright spots on this Hornets team. He's averaged as much as 21 points and nine rebounds per and is coming off of another solid season where he averaged 19 points and eight boards per.

West could be the lone person to convince Paul to stay with the Hornets.

What Paul is looking for from the Hornets is a commitment to excellence from the organization and the players to help him achieve that success. Re-signing West would be an enormous step in the right direction for the Hornets.

Such a signing could prove to Paul that they're committed to keeping him around and are willing to do so by any means necessary.

If the team can convince West to stick around for another five years, then that means West can convince Paul to continue to play as his teammate. Paul needs the reassurance that he has teammates he can depend on and there should be no one more suited to do that job than his top running mate and the player that he made into an All-Star.

If West can show his commitment to the Hornets by re-signing, then it means Paul thinks twice about the direction of the team. His heart is still with New Orleans and the two have shared a lot with Hurricane Katrina forcing the team to play in Oklahoma City, where the fans continued to show their support during an unbelievably horrendous tragedy.

Paul may want to go to New York at the moment, but he'll have a year to think it over, barring a Hornets trade.

Re-signing West and showing their commitment to excellence is the key for keeping Paul around and there's no doubt that this organization is adamant about re-signing Paul next season and making their serious championship push once again.