Magic Come Knocking for Chris Paul
Center Dwight Howard is the type of dynamic, unique talent that sparks championship visions, yet the group that won the Eastern Conference championship in 2009 watched the NBA Finals from home this time around after being beaten by Boston in six games for the latest Eastern Conference crown.
And if their latest trade inquiry is any indication, Orlando is looking to upgrade its point guard position.
According to a league source, the Magic are among the teams that recently inquired about New Orleans point guard Chris Paul. While it's not known what the Magic would be willing to offer, the mere inquiry is a reflection of the organizational thinking as they move forward with Howard as the centerpiece and Jameer Nelson running the show.
Orlando is interested in an elite-level, pure point guard to replace Nelson, who has never averaged more than 5.6 assists per game in his six-year career and has three seasons and a combined total of $21.9 million left on his contract. The Magic attempted to make up for his distributing deficiencies by signing veteran Jason Williams last summer, but both he and veteran point guard Anthony Johnson will be free agents on July 1.
The Hornets are unlikely to move Paul, who has two seasons left on his deal for a combined total of $31.3 million with a player option for the 2012-13 campaign worth $17.7 million. He has averaged 19.3 points and 10 assists per game through five seasons, but he is still recovering from ankle, knee and finger injuries that kept him out of 37 games last season.
The only hope for prospective buyers is the continued delay in the ownership transfer from George Shinn to Gary Chouest. The changeover was expected to be completed in early May, but a league source said the two sides continue to disagree about how much of the team's debt Chouest will incur.
Depending on the level of financial desperation from Shinn, he could be intrigued by a trade that would bring significant savings even if it did involve Paul. There were similar signs last season, when the Hornets were reportedly considering trading center Emeka Okafor and the five years and $62.5 million left on his contract.
One thing's for sure, though: the Magic are very curious to see how Paul would look as Superman's sidekick.
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