Paul wants Hornets to upgrade roster
NEW ORLEANS -- Chris Paul kept his message to his fans, and his team, fairly simple.
He loves New Orleans. He hates losing. So at some point soon, something has to give.
"I would love to be here. I want to win many, many championships here," the Hornets' three-time All-Star point guard said during a charity golf event for his CP3 Foundation. "I just want to make sure we're committed to winning. ... I love everything about the city, but at the end of the day, I want to win and I don't want to win years from now. I want to win now."
The 25-year-old Paul may not have much choice where he plays for the next two seasons. The Hornets have said they're not interested in trading him, even as offers pour in from other clubs, and Paul will not be able to opt out of his contract until the 2012-13 season.
The club apparently took a key step toward placating their top player with the hiring of new head coach Monty Williams, a move Paul applauded. Still, Paul wants to see the Hornets, who missed the playoffs last season, take an aggressive approach to free agency this summer.
"I would love to get very active in free agency because there's some players out there, there's some stars out there, guys who've been extremely successful in this league," Paul said. "We obviously have to do something. ... We have to make adjustments, different things like that in order to contend with these great teams in the NBA."
The problem for the Hornets is that they may not have much to spend in free agency this year if they want to avoid paying the NBA's luxury tax. Even after a draft-day trade that will send Morris Peterson and his $6.6 million salary to Oklahoma City, New Orleans' payroll will remain at a little more than $66 million.
The luxury tax threshold is expected to be around $69 million -- possibly a little lower -- and the Hornets still must sign rookies Craig Brackins and Quincey Pondexter, who'll join New Orleans on July 8 when the trade that sent Peterson and the Hornets' 11th overall draft choice, Cole Aldrich, to the Thunder becomes official.
When last season ended, it appeared the Hornets' ability to take financial risks would be strengthened by a verbally agreed upon sale of the club from majority owner George Shinn to minority partner Gary Chouest.
The team had scheduled a news conference to introduce Chouest as the new owner, then called it off when undisclosed complications in the negotiations arose. Hornets president Hugh Weber said the sale has been further slowed by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, causing uncertainty in the industry in which Chouest's company, Edison Chouest Offshore, operates.
That has left open the possibility that Shinn, who has never paid the NBA luxury tax since he founded the Hornets in Charlotte in 1988, will remain the majority owner when next season begins.
Chouest has consistently declined to comment on the status of the sale, and team spokesman Harold Kaufman said Shinn also did not wish to discuss the matter publicly at this time.
Meanwhile, the Hornets have moved on with the hiring of Williams, a first-time head coach who, despite his inexperience, drew high praise from Paul.
Williams is "a great man, someone I have the utmost respect for," Paul said. "He's committed to winning and working hard. ... He's just an unbelievable guy and I'm glad that he's here."
Although Paul missed 37 games last season with three injuries -- a left ankle sprain, a torn meniscus in his left knee and a torn ligament in his right hand -- he said he now feels great and showed no signs of trouble teeing off at his golf outing.
Paul said he has not yet decided whether he will play for the US national team at the FIBA World Championships in Turkey, which begin in late August.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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