Chris Paul's tenure with the Hornets looks more like a temporary arrangement every day, even though he has three years left on his contract. (Danny Moloshok/Associated Press)
MIAMI -- Wonder what's going through Chris Paul's mind these days?
Despite his best efforts, the Hornets are no more than an afterthought, a possible Cinderella candidate, in the Western Conference.
On top of that, the New Orleans franchise, always a fragile business enterprise, is bleeding money. When New Orleans was trying to lure an NBA franchise, certain financial inducements were offered. With the economic collapse, those inducements have gone away.
The Hornets will be luxury taxpayers next season, which is why they tried to trade center Tyson Chandler to Oklahoma City for two expiring contracts. Since that trade was nullified when he failed his physical, you can bet they will try to deal him again this summer.
As All-Star forward David West told the Times-Picayune, "The move had nothing to do with basketball. It was strictly a business decision. Using some common sense, that's what it came down to."
Chandler's isn't even the worst contract on the books. The Hornets owe Peja Stojakovic $30 million over the next two years. They owe Mo Peterson $12.8 million over the next two years and James Posey some $19 million over the next three years.
Good luck trying to move those guys.
So, put yourself in Paul's shoes for a second. (No, you don't get his paycheck.) He's the face of the franchise. He signed an extension that could keep him in New Orleans until at least the summer of 2012. Yet the franchise is looking to trade away basketball assets for financial assets.
What happens if Paul becomes convinced the Hornets don't have the capacity to field a competitive team? He might already have come to that conclusion. He's going to want out, right?
So while we focus on the free agent class of 2010, keep an eye on things in the Big Easy. I don't think teams are going to have to wait until 2012 to make a pitch for Chris Paul.
Fans who were disappointed at the lack of activity at the trade deadline must be riveted to the post-deadline rumors.
Cleveland is thinking about making a run at 38-year-old Robert Horry , who hasn't played this season and has told the San Antonio Spurs that his playing days are definitely over.
Boston signed Mikki Moore , who was waived by Sacramento. Wow, from P.J. Brown to Mikki Moore -- who says the Boston bench has taken a step back this season?
Cleveland is also hoping that 35-year-old Joe Smith gets waived by Oklahoma City. It has $5.1 million of a mid-level exception burning a hole in its pocket.
Sam Cassell was waived by the Kings and he's fielding offers from several teams. He hasn't played this year, either.
Stephon Marbury was waived by the Knicks Tuesday. The Celtics are said to be champing at the bit to add him to the mix, as well.
Here's what I think. If teams are relying on any of the aforementioned players to get them over the hump this season, then they are all worse off than we all thought.
Stack on hold
Another disappointment in a frustrating season for former Piston Jerry Stackhouse : Out since Nov. 14 because of a foot injury, Stackhouse came back for two games last week, but couldn't get comfortable.
"I'm a little down, but it's not where I need it to be," he told reporters in Dallas. "I don't want to take minutes away from guys who deserve to be out there at this point. It's hard and it put (coach Rick Carlisle ) in a tough position. I know he wants to try and get me back, but at the same time, where's the balance? We need to win games."
He badly wants to play before the end of the season, but that's in doubt now.
Bucks thrive, Knicks dive
According to research and criteria developed by 82games.com, here are the teams that drafted the best and worst (in the first round) over the last 20 years (1989-2008).
|3. L.A. Lakers||36||5||3|
|4. San Antonio||30||4||2|
|3. L.A. Clippers||44||2||14|
|1. New York||32||0||4|
Chris' top five
1. L.A. Lakers: Won 11 of 12, scoring over 100 in all but one.
2. Cleveland: They are having way too much fun right now; impressive chemistry.
3. Boston: Barring further complications, three weeks off is a blessing for KG.
4. Orlando: Procuring Rafer Alston at the deadline was season saver.
5. San Antonio: Will they get into the mix for the newly waived Marbury?
Chris' bottom five
26. Washington: Brendan Haywood is back at practice.
27. Minnesota: Good job unloading garbage at deadline.
28. Memphis: Took 3-21 road record into Cleveland Tuesday.
29. Sacramento: Let the Will Solomon, Cedric Simmons, Rashad McCants era begin.
30. L.A. Clippers: Seriously, 503 points allowed in four games? Wow.