Paul is the best pg in the planet and they are going to continue to waste his abilities if they are mired in the too cheap too spend, but just happy enough to compete balancing act that has them perilously close to disaster.
They seem to want to compete and dump contracts at the same time, I'm not sure if that is possible. They can either package Emeka with Collison for expirings or a little bit more and piss off Paul or trade Paul before he demands a trade and his value plummets.
Who says no to Paul and Emeka to Philly for the #2 pick, Dalembert and Lou Williams or NJ could offer Lopez, the #3, Yi and find a third team to match salaries and then make a legit run at Bron.
Collison is no Paul, but he's cheap and effective and they have Marcus Thorton to play alongside him. You compete in the NBA by building a core and then adding salary. The Hornets are at a crossroads, they have one bad contract in Emeka and one awful contract in Peja that can now be turned into an asset. You either go all in, keep paying Emeka and turn Peja + Collison into an overpaid all star or you hit reset and shop Paul. The last thing you do is panic by making a Bacockian trade that forces you to keep walking the tightrope and risks further alienation of your meal ticket.
They would be crazy to deal Paul unless he wants out.
With mo-sales on this one.
NO is two years away from a "Bosh" off-season.
From Stojakovic (EXP $15.34), Peterson (EXP $6.64), Songaila (PO EXP $4.82) and West (EXP** $8.29) the Hornets have to get SOMETHING of quality to go along with Paul, Collison and Thornton.
Okafor isn't efficient enough for NO given the money he makes and West isn't dominant/good enough to pair with Paul in a dynamic duo situation so neither is a keeper for that team.
Soooo.... I see two routes for them to go:
1. Keep Paul
-- Hold tight and wait to see where all the FA's go - someone will have $ left and, given his contract is an expiring, maybe one of those teams picks up Stojakovic or Peterson to fill out their roster
-- Trade all the other expirings at the deadline and get what they can - explore trades for Okafor** and West
-- Target Carmelo Anthony in 2011-12; NO might be a smaller market but being paired with Paul, Collison, Thornton and Hickson would have to be tempting
2. Trade Paul
-- I have no idea who has the assets NO needs - I know the Raptors don't
** West is going into a PO year in 2011-12 that only pays $7.53 - I expect him to opt-out
** Cleveland could be a destination for Okafor if LeBron re-signs with the Cavs (West, Gibson and Hickson - buy-out West and keep Hickson)
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