By David Aldridge, TNT analyst
Posted Dec 7 2011 11:29PM - Updated Dec 8 2011 6:11AM
Hornets guard Chris Paul will not commit to signing a contract extension after this season with the Golden State Warriors or Los Angeles Clippers if he is traded to either team, citing the potential financial hit if he were to do that rather than becoming a free agent and signing a new deal with a new team next summer, according to league sources. That has left potential deals with both teams in limbo.
It was not known Wednesday if Paul had similar reluctance to sign an extension after this season with the Lakers, who are also involved in trade talks for Paul.
Paul is essentially making the same decision that Nets guard Deron Williams made last week in deciding not to sign an extension with New Jersey and becoming a free agent next summer. But while Williams could still re-sign in New Jersey, very few people around the league think there's any chance Paul will stay in New Orleans after this season, which is hastening the Hornets' desire to move Paul before the start of the season. Training camps are scheduled to open Friday, after the National Basketball Players Association and the NBA's Board of Governors each complete ratification votes on the new CBA Thursday.
Paul is getting paid $16.359 million this season, and has a player option for next season at $17.779 million. If he were to agree to an extension on the existing contract, he would play for the $17.779 million next season, and then be eligible for a two-year extension in 2013 for $19.112 million and $20.446 million, for a total package of $74 million through the 2014-15 season. If, however, he opts out and becomes a free agent, he'd be able to sign a five-year deal with his incumbent team worth $102 million.
Both teams understand Paul's position, but don't feel comfortable moving forward with no assurances he would stay with them after this season.
The Clippers, for example, are very reluctant to include the unprotected 2012 first-round pick from Minnesota they currently own in any deal with New Orleans -- which is understandably holding out for the maximum amount possible in exchange for its franchise player -- under the current scenario. A source indicated Wednesday it would be up to the Hornets to lower their demands for Paul to make the deal happen. New Orleans wants a combination of young players and Draft picks for Paul. But the Clippers' package still does not include guard Eric Gordon, the player the Hornets are believed to covet most off of L.A.'s roster.
Another source indicated Wednesday night that New Orleans wasn't interested in the Clippers' second-year forward, Al-Farouq Aminu, as part of the package, either. Aminu would be more expendible if the Clippers sign Mavericks free agent small forward Caron Butler, who visited them Monday night, or Detroit's Tayshaun Prince. Butler was in New Jersey Wednesday night visiting with the Nets, after very positive meetings earlier in the week with the Bulls and Spurs.
The Warriors have indicated they will not put their young star guard, Stephen Curry, in a trade package, though league sources are divided as to whether that's a permanent decision or one just based on Paul's current stance.
Paul has only reportedly told the Knicks -- who most believe don't have enough assets to make an acceptable offer to New Orleans -- that he is willing to sign an extension after this season. While there are some teams around the league that would be willing to take the gamble that they were only renting Paul's services for a year, the Clippers and Warriors are not among them.
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