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Thursday, July 22, 2010
Sources: Paul has list, to talk to Hornets

By Chris Broussard
ESPN The Magazine

The New York Knicks are the first team on point guard Chris Paul's wish list of clubs he'd like New Orleans to trade him to, according to sources.

Paul
Paul

Orlando, where he could team with superstar center Dwight Howard, is the second team on Paul's list, which includes Dallas and then Portland, according to sources.

In the ideal scenario, Paul and the Denver Nuggets' Carmelo Anthony would wind up in New York to play alongside Amare Stoudemire, forming a big three that could compete with Miami's newly formed super trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

"Those guys want to beat the three guys in Miami," a source close to the situation said. A report Wednesday on CBSSports.com said Paul saw what James did in signing to play alongside Wade and Bosh and has designs on doing something similar.

Anthony has one year left on his deal with the Nuggets before he can become a free agent. The Nuggets, meanwhile, have offered Anthony a three-year, $65 million contract extension.

James offered his support to Paul via Twitter. "Best of luck to my brother @oneandonlycp3. Do what's best for You and your family," posted James.

Anthony has until next June 30 to sign the extension, and the Nuggets have said they have no intention of trading Anthony. While most league executives believe Anthony will sign the extension, several sources close to him said he will not sign and that his ultimate desire is to play in New York.

Meanwhile, the Hornets have scheduled a face-to-face sitdown with Paul for Monday in New Orleans, sources with knowledge of the meeting told ESPN.com's Marc Stein.

The Hornets, the sources said, will be represented by team president Hugh Weber, general manager Dell Demps and coach Monty Williams, with the hope that Paul -- once he has his first extended conversation with the new GM and coach -- will give the Hornets' new basketball decision-makers an opportunity to sell him on their plan to improve the roster.

If they do not present realistic scenarios that convince Paul that New Orleans can build a contender very quickly, he'll ask the club to begin speaking to the Knicks, Magic, Mavericks and Trail Blazers about possible trades. Sources differ on whether the Lakers are also on list.

Paul's demands come in the immediate aftermath of a Hornets overhaul within the coaching staff and front office. A little more than a month after making 38-year-old Williams the youngest coach in the NBA, the Hornets hired Williams' longtime friend and former NBA teammate, 40-year-old Demps, on Wednesday.

The pitch is expected to include reminders that the Hornets, despite ongoing uncertainty about the proposed ownership transfer from George Shinn to Gary Chouest, had a payroll close to the luxury-tax line last season and would have been in tax territory again next season if not for the draft-day deal that sent Morris Peterson to Oklahoma City.

The Hornets, sources said, will use that reminder to support their claim that they have shown a willingness to spend in recent seasons but spent their money poorly. Sources maintain that Paul's increasingly strained relationship with former GM Jeff Bower was a major factor in Bower's dismissal, but Weber contends that Demps -- after five seasons in the Spurs' highly respected front office -- will make better use of New Orleans' resources.

Weber said earlier this month, while attending a community service event with Paul, that there was "no question" Paul would be in a Hornets uniform when next season opened. As recently as Tuesday, Weber also said that an exchange of text messages gave him the impression that Paul approved of the recent hirings of Williams and Demps.

After the Hornets came within one game of advancing to the 2008 Western Conference finals, Paul agreed to a four-year, $68 million extension that went into effect last season and includes a player's option for the fourth year.

Since then, however, the Hornets have traded center Tyson Chandler and fired coach Byron Scott, who both were close with Paul, all while the club's performance went into steady decline.

The Hornets were bounced from the first round of the 2008-09 playoffs, then missed the playoffs entirely last season, during which Paul missed 37 games with three separate injuries.

Earlier this month, Paul cut ties with his basketball and marketing agents at Octagon and joined LRMR Marketing, an agency founded by James.

Chris Broussard is a senior NBA writer for ESPN The Magazine. Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.