Orlando's Interest in Chris Paul Involves Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson
The Magic, as part of the early discussion, would receive both Paul and small forward James Posey, according to a second NBA source that confirmed the original FanHouse story by Sam Amick involving the two teams.
Although Paul clearly is the best player in the talks, the Hornets are interested in reducing future salary obligations. The team is in the midst of an ownership sale/transfer that has been stalled by the debt obligations that the new owner would incur.
Paul has three years remaining on his contract worth $49 million. The final year, at $17.7 million, is a player's option.
Although Carter is past his prime, he is attractive because he has only one year remaining on his contract, worth $17.7 million. It would allow the Hornets to drop below the salary cap next summer. Nelson, an All-Star point guard two seasons ago, has three years remaining at $6.7, $7.3 and $7.8 million, making less than half of Paul's salary.
The inclusion of Posey, who is scheduled to make $6.4 and $6.9 million, would make the deal work under salary cap rules and give the Magic a starting small forward to replace Matt Barnes, who is expected to leave as a free agent this summer.
The Magic, who lost in the NBA Finals two years ago and this season in the conference final to the Boston Celtics, are looking to upgrade the roster surrounding franchise center Dwight Howard.
The Magic are just one of several teams that have inquired into Paul's availability, according to league sources. Paul would be considered a significant upgrade over Nelson.
Paul averaged 19.4 points and 9.9 assists in his first four seasons in the league. Last season, though, he missed the final 37 games with knee and ankle problems, averaging 18.7 points. He is expected to be 100 percent by the start of next season.
One reason the Hornets would be willing to entertain the thought of parting with Paul was the rapid growth of Darren Collison, who was a huge surprise as a rookie last season.
In his 36 starts -- after Paul left for the season -- Collison averaged 18.6 points and 9.1 assists. Combined with Nelson, the two could provide an adequate replacement for Paul at half the cost.
The Magic, meanwhile, would be taking on more future financial obligations, but they have expressed a willingness to delve into the luxury tax territory in their quest to win a championship. Their incoming revenue stream is expected to increase significantly next season when they move into a new downtown arena.
They also were disappointed this spring in the performance of Carter, who struggled in the conference final against the Celtics, failing to provide the offensive leadership the Magic expected.
Update: When reached for comment about FanHouse's report, Magic GM Otis Smith issued a flat, if predictable, denial. "It's the first I've heard of it," Smith told the Orlando Sentinel.