How about the defending Eastern Conference champions?
While the Boston Celtics may not be on the top of Paul’s approved suitors list — or even on the list at all — the New Orleans Hornets will certainly listen to offers now that their superstar point guard has officially placed himself on the trading block.
The free-agency buzz generated by LeBron James and Chris Bosh joining forces with Dwyane Wade in Miami for a chance to win a title perhaps enticed Paul to weigh his chances in New Orleans.
Apparently, Paul thought the championship outlook in the Big Easy was quite grim. Sources have reported that the three-time NBA All-Star wants to be traded to a championship contender since the Hornets are going nowhere in a hurry.
Saddled with messy contracts, the club was dangerously close to the luxury-tax line last year. A draft-day deal sent Mo Peterson to the Oklahoma City Thunder and kept them from flirting with the line again this season.
But the still have some ugly contracts. Emeka Okafor is owed almost $12 million this season. Former Celtic James Posey will get nearly $7 million, and Peja Stojakovic will cost $14 million. Stojakovic is in the last year of his five-year deal, but Okafor is in the third year of six-year contract.
So what are the chances Danny Ainge and the Celtics could pull off a blockbuster with the Hornets to bring Paul to Boston?
Paul first would have to consider playing in Boston. As of Thursday, the teams on his wish list were New York at the top, followed by Orlando, Dallas and Portland.
A deal bringing CP3 to the Garden most likely would include Rajon Rondo, who solidified himself as one of the top point guards in the league this past season.
The C’s could unload Kendrick Perkins as well as Rasheed Wallace’s deal (worth about $13 million), potentially a first-round draft pick and cash to land Paul and probably Okafor. A move to get Paul may even require more talent from the Celtics’ end to clear cap space for both Okafor and Paul.
A third team also may have to get involved because Rondo is a base-year compensation player.
Paul and Rondo have similar skill sets athletically and defensively, but Paul’s offensive prowess is something Rondo has yet to develop. Both can get to the rim but Paul has a refined shooting touch.
Acquiring Paul arguably would make the Celtics more of a threat to the revamped Miami Heat, but dealing Rondo would be a tough pill to swallow for the Celtics’ front office.
The move would be in line with the types of moves Ainge likes to make. He has consistently brought in shooters to open things up on the offensive end. Consider all the shooters he has brought in over the last few years. Ray Allen was added three years ago. Posey was a shooter added for the 2008 title run. Stephon Marbury arrived in 2009. Nate Robinson was added this year. Eddie House. Sam Cassell. They could all shoot.
As of right now, no deal is in progress to bring Paul to Boston.
The Magic may ultimately be the favorite to land Paul in a package with Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter. A combination of Dwight Howard and CP3 would be dangerous in the East.
But so would a foursome of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Allen and Paul.
Will we see CP3 wearing green?
Do not underestimate Danny Ainge when it comes to trades.
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