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Which NBA Team Will Chris Paul Lead Next Year?

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Chris Paul wants out of New Orleans. With rumors floating around the league for most of the season that Chris Paul was unhappy in New Orleans, things seem to have heated up to the point that he'll be meeting with the Hornets within a week to ask for a trade.

After Miami's accumulation of stars two weeks ago, it appears Paul doesn't see N.O. as a real title contender in the near future and would like to be dealt to either the Knicks, Magic, Mavericks, or Trail Blazers. All four trade scenarios would pair up the young PG with at least one other established star (Amar'e, Dwight, Dirk, and Roy, respectively). There was talk earlier of the Lakers being on this list, but it appears that's no longer the case.

Paul joined the Hornets as the #4 pick in the 2005 draft, quickly helping the franchise improve from an 18-64 record the year before to 38-44, even with the loss of veteran PG Baron Davis. Third-year PF David West suddenly looked like a good player, and the team took off, winning 39, 56, and 49 games over the next three seasons, including a trip to the Western Semifinals in 2008, with Paul running the show. The team's success helped West make a couple All-Star rosters, even though his stats weren't as good as you remember (he finished in the top-20 in points once and rebounds twice, never higher than 15th in either category, plus his career 49% FG mark is below-average for a post player and he's never been a shot blocker).

N.O. had some other “name” talent during their little run with Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic, but a quick look at the supporting cast's numbers definitely won't wow anyone. Chandler averaged double-digit points and more than 1.2 blocks only one time each for the Hornets, and the 6-10 Stojakovic has averaged 42% FG and 4.1 rpg with the club. Paul really was doing it by himself compared to the elite teams from 2006-07 to 2008-09, so it's understandable that he's upset with the direction his franchise has been moving.

After a 3-6 start last fall, the team let head coach Byron Scott go, and Paul's disappointment with the Hornets first became known. Scott was well-liked by the players, particularly Paul who felt the coach wasn't being treated fairly considering the team's slowly unwinding roster and the fact that 6 of their first 9 games were on the road (which included trips to San Antonio, Boston, LA, and Phoenix). Paul injured his knee in the next contest, eventually missing 37 games as N.O. dropped to 37-45 despite the splendid play of rookie PG Darren Collison.


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