It was the first question out of a lot of people’s mouths after it became official that the NBA was purchasing and taking control of the New Orleans Hornets (until they can find another owner to take it off their hands):
What does that mean for Chris Paul? That was quickly followed by Knicks fans asking if he is available in a trade?
The answer is really a two parts — short term he is going nowhere, but long term is anybody’s guess.
Both Chris Paul and David Stern dodged questions about the sale and its impacts in the last 48 hours. So we’re left to speculate a little.
In the short term, there is no way the league allows CP3 to be traded. Those rumors are now DOA. The league — meaning the other owners — just shelled out $300 million to make George Shinn go away and the goal now is to sell the team and maybe turn a little profit. You can’t do that without Paul under contract — he is the gate draw, the face of marketing for the team, the best player and the guy others want to play with.
As Tom Ziller notes at SBNation, you can sell an NBA team without Chris Paul on it — look at the bargain basement prices Mikhail Prokhorov got for the Nets and Michael Jordan got for the Bobcats. But the NBA is looking to make a big score on this sale, and to do that Paul has to be part of the package.
In the long term? Nobody knows. Chris Paul has the remainder of this season and next on his current deal. He wants to play for a winner, because he knows he’ll get max contract money (whatever that is under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement) wherever he goes.
Could this sale and the limbo it leaves the team in lead Chris Paul to go Carmelo Anthony next summer and push for a trade? Yes. Could he play out his contract and go the New York after it? Yes. Does what David West do when he becomes a free agent this summer play into it? Yes. Could a deep-pocketed owner come in and look to change the culture of this franchise, start spending to win and keep CP3 a happy Hornet with a new deal? Yes. Could a new owner plan to move the team to a new market that will provide revenue to spend to win, so Paul stays? Yes. Are there about 243 other scenarios that could play out I’m not listing here? Yes.
Which is to say long term anything can happen. But for now, for the remainder of this season and into the summer at least, Chris Paul is a Hornet and that is not changing.