When Paul was quoted a few weeks ago as saying he'd be open to a trade if the Hornets aren't committed to building a championship team, it was only a small hint as to the size of the chasm that exists between the franchise and its cornerstone player. Paul, in fact, has put into motion an aggressive exit strategy that will accelerate in the coming weeks, and his clear intention is to be traded before the start of the 2010-11 season, a person with direct knowledge of his plans told CBSSports.com Wednesday.
"He wants out," said the person, who has been briefed on Paul's strategy but spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it publicly. "He wants to play with another superstar. He wants to follow LeBron's model of teaming up with other great players."
Paul's list of preferred destinations consists of the Knicks, Magic and Lakers, and members of his inner circle already have sent word to the Hornets of his desire to be traded to one of those teams, sources say. If Paul has his way, he's played his last game in a Hornets jersey.
"He feels like they haven't put the right pieces together," said the person familiar with the star point guard's plans.
Paul, a three-time All-Star, still has two years before he can become a free agent. But his dissatisfaction with the Hornets' downward spiral, coupled with the coup pulled off by James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami has only accelerated his desire to seek a trade. Sources within the NBA say members of Paul's camp have told them recently, "He's not going to start the season in New Orleans."
The Knicks have cap room. They have Amare Stoudemire. There is plenty of scuttlebutt that Denver's Carmelo Anthony, scheduled to be a free agent next summer, might like to join the Knicks. The possibility of a Paul-Anthony-Stoudemire Big Three should leave Knicks' fans having some pleasant dreams.