Yahoo Sports is reporting that, according to league sources, Chris Paul's agent has told the Hornets that he won't sign a contract extension and has requested a trade to the Knicks. But keep in mind: The Knicks don't have a ton to offer New Orleans in a trade, and the Hornets will obviously want maximum value in return. Then again, if other teams don't think they'll be able to sign Paul to an extension — he reportedly won't sign one if he's traded to Boston — then they won't be willing to part with nearly as much to acquire him.
You'll recall that this isn't the first time Paul-to-the-Knicks trade buzz has surfaced: In July of 2010, Paul reportedly made a wish list of teams he'd like to go to, and the Knicks were on top. But not long after that report was published, Paul met with the Hornets and subsequently put out a statement in which he said he hoped to "represent the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana for many years to come." Dell Demps, who had just been hired as Hornets GM, said at the time that Paul did not request a trade. Still, even then, Adrian Wojnarowski — one of the authors of today's report — warned that we should ignore the spin coming out of that meeting: "He wants out. They don't want to trade him. Nothing's changed, except there's a new GM."
Which brings us back to today. Earlier this week, Paul publicly said all the right things about how his heart is in New Orleans. He said this, by the way, in Brooklyn, where he was handing out boxes of food at a Boys & Girls Club along with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and, yes, Carmelo Anthony. So it's here we'll quote a line from today's Yahoo piece: "Paul’s desire to join the Knicks was cemented after he spent so much time in New York over the summer with close friend Carmelo Anthony."
But again, the Knicks don't have much to offer for Paul in a trade, and during this month's condensed off-season, they'll likely try to preserve cap space for next summer, when Paul and Dwight Howard are among those who can become free agents. But even that route has complications. Wrote Howard Beck in yesterday's Times:
The Knicks have $44.6 million committed for 2012-13, to five players, including the rookie Iman Shumpert and an option on Toney Douglas. That does not include any free-agent signings they might make next month. Assuming the cap remains about $58 million — as the league expects — the Knicks might have only $13 million to spend. Paul would be eligible for a deal starting at $17.4 million.
The Knicks could clear $5.2 million by declining Douglas’s option and letting Shumpert and Renaldo Balkman go for nothing. But that would leave them with three superstars and no teammates, no cap room and few draft picks.
In fact, it's with this in mind that Alan Hahn of Newsday wrote this afternoon that despite the Knicks' lack of appealing assets, "A trade is the more likely result here."
The Yahoo report says that Demps wants to hear directly from Paul once lockout restrictions are lifted, but if Paul does indeed personally request a trade to the Knicks at that time, it puts New Orleans in a tough spot. Safe to say, the Chris Paul Watch is already in full swing.