According to a report from Yahoo! Sports, the four-time All-Star point guard requested a trade to the New York Knicks through his agent on Wednesday. (Update: Late Thursday afternoon, The Times Picayune refuted the rumors, citing two league sources.)
Amid rumors of Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge’s interest in the 26-year-old, Paul seems committed to the idea of joining Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire in the Big Apple to form yet another “Big Three” in the star-loaded Eastern Conference.
On Thursday — the first day players could return to team facilities since the lockout began on July 1 — Paul shrugged off the trade rumors.
“I don’t think about it, to tell you the truth,” Paul said. “I’m just ready to get out here and compete and hoop. This is what I do. I love it. I have a very tight circle and they know this whole lockout thing’s been driving me nuts, so I’m just happy to get out on the court and compete. This is the way that I express myself, by playing basketball, so I can’t wait to get out there.”
According to his agent Paul, whose contract with the Hornets runs out at the end of the season, will not sign an extension with New Orleans. Hornets general manager Dell Demps said he plans to meet with Paul as soon as the lockout restrictions are lifted.
But Paul may have to wait until next summer to make the move with the Knicks financial situation likely spoiling the prospect of a blockbuster trade. When he becomes a free agent, Paul will be eligible for a maximum four-year, $74 million deal with a new team. Salary cap restrictions would only allow the Knicks to offer him $55.5 million over four years with their current cap status.
The lure of playing under the bright lights in Madison Square Garden grew stronger for Paul this summer when he played alongside close Carmelo Anthony in a number of exhibitions. Paul is also rumored to have contacted Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard — another summer of 2012 free agent — about joining forces.
In addition to assuaging the frustrations of their star point guard, the Hornets are focused on re-signing perennially underrated power forward David West who is returning from a torn ACL.