Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Updated: March 3, 8:29 AM ET
Chris Paul 'fully invested' in Hornets
By Ian Begley
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- Stating that the summer of 2012 is "a long time from now," a frustrated Chris Paul insisted on Wednesday night that he hasn't been distracted by the speculation surrounding his future.
"It's not a distraction at all. I'm one of those guys who is fully invested in anything I am a part of and New Orleans is my team," Paul said after the Knicks' 107-88 rout of the Hornets at Madison Square Garden. "I have the ultimate faith in my team. We know what we're capable of and we're just not doing that right now. That's a long time from now, free agency."
Paul struggled against the Knicks, scoring just four points on 2-of-7 shooting. The guard has shot a combined 7-of-29 in the Hornets' past three games. Not surprisingly, the Hornets have dropped all three. The Knicks outscored the Hornets by 19 with Paul on the floor on Wednesday.
Hornets coach Monty Williams personally challenged some of his players after New Orleans hit just three of its 14 3-point attempts and trailed by double figures for all but 18 seconds of the second half.
"We know nobody fears us right now. We're not playing with a lot of confidence, especially myself," Paul said. "I guess I've got to try to force the issue."
Some in the Garden crowd chanted "We want Paul!" and "CP3!" late in the fourth quarter. Paul insisted after the game that he didn't hear the cheers from New York fans.
"I didn't even hear that. I was looking at the scoreboard trying to see what I can do to change that around," he said. "I'm tired of losing."
Paul is under contract for the rest of this season and next year but has a player option for the 2012-13 season, during which he is scheduled to make $17.8 million.
Many have speculated that New York is a potential destination for Paul. Current Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups, whom New York acquired in a three-team, 13-player deal last week, will be a free agent after the 2011-12 season.
In addition to Paul, the Knicks are also expected to pursue Deron Williams, who was traded to the Nets last week. Williams has been noncommittal about the idea of signing a new contract with the Nets.
Paul said Wednesday that he was "surprised" that Utah dealt Williams. "D-Will is like a brother to me," he said.
Like Paul, Williams can opt out of the final year of his contract and test free agency after the 2011-2012 season. But Paul wasn't interested in discussing Williams' future or his own after he was thoroughly outplayed by Knicks backup point guard Toney Douglas in the Hornets' ugly loss.
"I won't know until that time comes," Paul said. "Right now, I'm just thinking about tomorrow and why we're on this losing streak."
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.