NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Hornets star guard Chris Paul did not request
a trade Monday in his meeting with new coach Monty Williams and top
team officials, general manager Dell Demps said.
Demps, essentially in his first day on the job since his hiring
last week, added that he was confident Paul would still be with New
Orleans when the coming season opens.
The meeting was held at an undisclosed downtown location before
Demps made his way back to the Hornets' corporate offices to meet
Although Paul did not speak with the media, the team released
statement from him that indicated the three-time All-Star and
Olympic gold medalist was encouraged by the Hornets' recent
coaching and front-office overhaul.
"The meeting went well. It was great to get an opportunity to
sit down with coach Williams, president Weber and our new general
manager, Dell Demps," Paul's statement said. "I expressed my
desire to win and I like what they said about the direction that
they want to take the team. I have been a Hornet my entire career
and I hope to represent the city of New Orleans and state of
Louisiana for many years to come."
Paul has two years remaining before he can opt out of his
current contract with the Hornets. However, he said at his charity
golf outing earlier this month that he would welcome a trade if the
Hornets did not demonstrate a willingness to give him a supporting
cast that would make the club good enough to compete with any team
in the NBA.
Only days after making that statement, Paul fired his agent and
hired Leon Rose, who also represents LeBron James. Paul also agreed
to work with James' LRMR marketing agency.
Soon after, Paul's representatives told the Hornets that Paul
was interested in being traded, but the Hornets countered by
scheduling a meeting in New Orleans that included Demps, Williams
and team president Hugh Weber, Paul's brother, C.J. Paul, and Rose.
"It was a very productive meeting. I was encouraged," Demps
said. "It was the first time I met Chris. It was a good
opportunity for us to open the lines of communication. Chris had
some very good points. ... He was energetic, he was open, he was
honest. He showed that he wants to win, and that's what we want to
do, as well."
Williams and Weber stood nearby but did not comment as Demps
discussed the meeting with Paul, which Demps said lasted about an
While Paul cannot force a trade, the Hornets opted to trade
Baron Davis during the 2004-05 season when he had a falling out
with the club. New Orleans then began a rebuilding process that
essentially began with the drafting of Paul in the summer of 2005.
Paul went on to become rookie of the year and quickly became the
face of the franchise. In fact, a poster-size photo of Paul's
smiling visage is the first thing that greets those who walk into
the Hornets' corporate offices on the 19th floor of a downtown high
rise near the New Orleans Arena.
Demps said he hoped Paul would not become disruptive as long as
he remains in New Orleans.
"I don't anticipate that," Demps said.
Demps did not go into detail about the Hornets' presentation to
Paul. He said for competitive reasons he needed to keep much of
what they discussed private.
The Hornets' payroll is close to the NBA's luxury tax threshold,
and team officials have said they do not want to pay the tax or
take on new debt while a planned sale of the club from majority
owner George Shinn to his partner, Gary Chouest, is pending.
Still, Demps asserted, "There's always ways to be creative."
"I'm an optimist. I think that we'll sit down and evaluate the
roster and look at all our pieces and move forward and do what's in
the best interests of the organization."