Skip to content

Hornets preparing for the worst or subtly appealing to Chris Paul’s pride?

Dec 5, 2011, 2:39 PM EDT

Miami Heat v New Orleans Hornets Getty Images

As has been made abundantly clear over the last few weeks, the New Orleans Hornets are in a tough spot. Most reports have Chris Paul with one foot out the door — a colossally bad omen for the franchise in virtually every sense. Paul is the Hornets’ livelihood. He is the team’s leader, its star player, and the one foundational piece on the roster. He’s an All-World talent, and due to a variety of factors, his time in New Orleans may be coming to a close.

New York is reportedly Paul’s preferred destination, although he openly acknowledges the difficulties in wanting to be traded there. Still, a column from David Aldridge of paints the Hornets’ front office as a place of sobering realism; they seemed to have embraced the possibility that Paul may leave, and are exploring any options that will allow the franchise to move on following his possible departure:

The Hornets are going into this with eyes wide open. They know that Paul spent much of the summer in New York at lockout meetings — and also with Knicks star Carmelo Anthony. They know that even if he can’t get as big a salary from the Knicks as with other teams, it’s likely his representatives have all manner of endorsements at the ready in New York that would make up the difference. They believe he’d prefer going to a team where he doesn’t have to be “the man,” and that the Knicks would be just that, with Anthony and All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire willing and able to take the spotlight and the heat that come with it.

Aldridge’s full column is worth a read, primarily for the display of pragmatism shown in the Hornets’ front office. These are difficult times for that franchise, but refusing to fall into denial over their prospects of keeping Paul could pay off in some form.

Then again, I couldn’t help but read the above section without notice of the rhetoric that, if you’ll notice, comes straight from Hornets sources. The basketball world has a quick, visceral response to players who shrink from their responsibilities as “the man.” LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh received rampant criticism last summer when they decided to team up, as some analysts (and more often, pseudo-analysts) took issue with the Heat’s diffusion of responsibility. Being a franchise player is a sacred duty in the NBA, and declaring a certain player — especially one of Paul’s stature — as unworthy by deficiency or by personality is a heavy claim.

In all likelihood, this is a sincere message from the Hornets that they believe Paul would be happiest playing with other stars. That much is the truth, after all. However, in an age where media control is so important, I wouldn’t completely disregard the possibility of the Hornets appealing to Paul’s sense of pride with Aldridge’s column as the medium.

  1. sunsation3413 - Dec 5, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    All these greedy star players are going to ruin the NBA they say they love so much. It’s going to end up being a league with just a few super teams as the rest of the small market teams will fold. Who wants to go to a game and watch mediocre talent all the time that can’t compete. Sad state the NBA is heading towards.

    • jolink653 - Dec 5, 2011 at 4:11 PM

      so how do you explain oklahoma city? one of the smallest markets in the NBA yet they’ll be one of the best teams in the league this season…super teams don’t always win as we saw last year with the heat losing and a few years ago with the lakers with kobe shaq malone and gary payton losing to the pistons and you could argue that the construction of super teams makes the sport more exciting as casual fans are drawn in to root against those kind of teams…again as we saw last year with the rise in NBA interest

      • rezburna - Dec 5, 2011 at 4:58 PM

        Every article on ProFootballTalk gets at least 30 or 40 comments, while this basketball counterpart is lucky to get 2. Nobody cares about the NBA until the playoffs come around. I’m a Hornets fan. It’s annoying that all the star players are running to big cities. I say trade him if he wants to go though. Send him off and get everything you can get.

      • craigw24 - Dec 5, 2011 at 5:41 PM

        When you quote something, please be accurate. The 2004 Lakers did not have Karl Malone when they played the Pistons – he was injured in a previous series – and that was a real problem with their matchups.

        Take a look at NBA, NFL, or MLB history. They are all dominated, for the most part, by a few teams. Decade to decade – some of those teams may change – not only are these sports made up of mostly successful and mostly also-rans, but the times when they are least relevant are the times when there is no dominant franchise.

  2. Andee - Dec 5, 2011 at 5:08 PM

    These are the types of things that are ultimately going to lead to the league contracting teams. You have entitled players who think an NBA championship is a birthright, yet all hope to shy away from being “the man” on their own teams. Only large market teams can support the payroll (and egos) of a built-for-the-postseason type teams.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (1972)
  2. D. Rose (1771)
  3. K. Bryant (1627)
  4. J. Smith (1545)
  5. T. Thompson (1375)
  1. K. Irving (1343)
  2. T. Wroten (1334)
  3. A. Davis (1277)
  4. F. Saunders (1246)
  5. J. Embiid (1224)