Here are the key bits from Adrian Wojnarowski’s Y! piece today:
Chris Paul’s agent informed New Orleans Hornets officials on Wednesday that his client will not sign a contract extension and wants to be traded to the New York Knicks, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Paul has reached out to Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard(notes) recently, encouraging Howard to find a way for the two to play together, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Several teams, including Boston, Golden State and Houston have been aggressive in trying to find a way to trade for Paul.
In summary, combined with what we know from other reports: Chris Paul is all but done in New Orleans and wants to sign next summer with the New York Knicks. The Knicks have nothing to offer in trade and can offer Paul just less than the max next summer; it’s believed that Paul would accept such an amount for the opportunity to play in New York. Where it gets interesting is that Paul also has interest in teaming up with Dwight Howard, and according to this report, has reached out to the center in hopes of forcing something through. (The Knicks obviously would not have the assets nor the cap room to acquire both Howard and Paul.)
This report also confirmed that Daryl Morey has been aggressive in his pursuit of Paul. As it stands, the Houston Rockets could have just around the maximum amount available next summer to offer some lucky star player. However, the team’s dilemma all along has been that despite having such enviable flexibility, with no resident star onboard, the city isn’t and most likely won’t be viewed as an attractive destination. (for reference, see: last year’s Chris Bosh fiasco.)
If you’re following along, you know where this is going: trading for Chris Paul in-season would allow the Rockets to then, with that bird-in-hand, pursue Howard in the summer, securing both long-term. Yes, the dream scenario.
But, as you guessed, it’s not so simple. The hard part would be putting together a deal for Paul but also risking the chance of him not signing an extension. If his representatives colluded with Howard ahead of time and secured a commitment, Houston would be in the clear. But what if Morey traded for Paul and in the meantime, the Lakers acquired Howard and Dwight decided he’d rather end his career in Hollywood? Paul would then surely walk and we’d have nothing but Kenny Smith 90′s war stories on TNT to talk about for the next three years. The roster would be fleeced. (Then again, the team would be so bad that you would never again have to worry about Les Alexander standing in the way of a good old classic tank job.)
Unlike Danny Ainge, I think Morey would take the risk of Paul walking. But does he have enough to make a deal? A package of Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin, Patrick Patterson, and next year’s #1 (if the team doesn’t make the playoffs) works for Paul under the rules. If Rajon Rondo is reportedly the bar for Paul, would that be enough? The Clippers can center any deal around guard Eric Gordon and Golden State would probably open talks offering Monta Ellis.
The more important question is whether Morey would gut this roster for the chance at the dream scenario. Given the team’s state, if I were in his shoes, I would make that move.