PHILADELPHIA -- The New Orleans Hornets have prepared for their scheduled sit-down with All-Star guard Chris Paul by fending off the latest flurry of trade calls received from teams salivating over adding the game's best pure point guard.
Opposing general managers are circling New Orleans like sharks smelling blood in the water, with most convinced Paul will formally request to be moved at a planned Monday meeting, and furnish new Hornets GM Dell Demps a list of teams to which he would like to be dealt.
Paul's desire to move away from New Orleans reportedly stems from watching his close friend LeBron James land in Miami with fellow Team USA teammates Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. In fact some have even speculated that LeBron and his lackeys, Maverick Carter and William Wesley, have been pushing Paul to force the Hornets' hand.
"Best of luck to my brother," James wrote on Twitter about Paul. "Do what's best for you and your family."
Of course Demps has no reason to panic and pull the trigger on an ill- conceived deal right now. The Hornets still have two full seasons before CP3 can opt out of his deal in the Big Easy and become a free agent in the summer of 2012.
Monday's tete-a-tete with Paul will be Demps' first face-to-face meeting with his star since taking over basketball operations from Jeff Bower last Wednesday. He and new coach Monty Williams are hoping to sell Paul on the new regime slowing being put in place, and address concerns over the team's inactivity in free agency and delay in ownership transfer from George Shinn to Gary Chouest.
That's a tough task, since Paul urged the Hornets to be an active player in the market and their only move thus far has been re-signing backup center Aaron Gray.
Likely wary of the public backlash James received for ditching Cleveland on national television, Paul has been careful to play both sides of the fence. During the recent Las Vegas Summer League, Paul told his new coach he would like to stay in New Orleans.
"I'm not going to jump to any conclusions off of something that's been alleged," Williams told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "We've already had dialogue and all of it has been great and everything that he said to me is what I'm going off of. He wants to be in New Orleans, and he hadn't said anything to me about any kind of movement, and we're going to sit down again."
What is clear at this point is Paul has been looking at the new NBA landscape and now realizes he has little chance to compete for an NBA championship unless things change drastically in New Orleans. In fact, Paul is suffering from a severe case of envy. Like LeBron, he wants to be part of a super team.
It looks like the competitive juices that defined players like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird just doesn't exist in this generation.
"There's no way, with hindsight, I would've ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, 'Hey, look, let's get together and play on one team.' In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys," Jordan recently said when discussing the James-Wade-Bosh Holy Trinity in Miami.
To players like M.J., the rings may have defined them, but it was the competition that fueled them.
The battle cry of today's NBA player should be "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."
Paul is just the latest superstar that wants to tap out just as things are getting a little tough.