Teaming up is apparently the new way to go in the NBA, and New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul is wasting no time designing his own group.

According to reports, Paul issued a trade request to New Orleans on July 22, and listed four teams that the three-time All-Star would like to play for: New York, Orlando, Dallas and Portland, in that order.

Fed up with New Orleans’ lackluster approach to winning and enticed by the headlines generated by the Miami Heat’s free-agency splash, Paul is scheduled to meet with the Hornets brass on July 26.

At the meeting, Hornets president Hugh Weber, head coach Monty Williams and general manager Dell Demps are expected to discuss the team’s short- and long-term plans for improving the roster with Paul, according to The New Orleans Times–Picayune.

One week after the Heat landed LeBron James, Chris Bosh and resigned Dwayne Wade, Paul hinted at Denver Nuggets superstar Carmelo Anthony’s wedding reception that “we’ll form our own Big Three.”

The “three” would including Paul and Anthony both joining the New York Knicks to play alongside the team’s newly-signed forward Amar’e Stoudemire. The move would immediately place the Knicks among the league’s elite teams and rival the Heat’s new trio.

Paul’s request came as no surprise to NBA.com and NBA TV analyst Sekou Smith, who foresees an ongoing trend of star players partnering up.

“The Pandora’s box was opened when James, Wade and Bosh decided to play together in Miami,” Smith told the AFRO. “The good thing for us is that there’s only so many of these superstars to go around so if there’s three of four super-teams or teams that are built around a threesome of superstar players, it’s not like it’s going to go on forever because there’s only so many of them. The bad part about it is that everyone is going to want to do it. Everybody that thinks they need to do that to compete for a championship is going to start talking about doing it.”

The era of free agency and heightened player demands have given today’s elite superstars the ability to plan their own destinations. NBA legends Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson have lamented the trend, and they’re not the only ones, as several other sports figures and talking heads have openly slammed the Heat, James and the NBA’s free agency system.

“I would prefer to see these guys spread out around the league and develop into some really good rivalries against each other as opposed to playing with each other,” the NBA expert Smith added. “ by the same token, I’m not mad at these guys for exercising the kind of power and control that their predecessors never had—or if they did they didn’t know what to do with. It’s impressive to see these young guys, who often get accused of being simple and not very dynamic in terms of their intellect, do some pretty impressive things from a power structure standpoint in terms of just deciding ‘Hey, I don’t want to be in this situation or that situation, I want to be in a better one and I’m going to do whatever it takes to make it happen.’”

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO