SI: New idea to hedge Paul risk


The last paragraph is the most interesting part - a way for whoever trades for Paul to get a bit more comfortable with the potential downside. "While there was conflicting information about the Clippers' offer, the bottom line for the Hornets is this: They want the 2012 unprotected first-round pick that came from Minnesota. Of all the assets in play here, that pick is atop the Hornets' wish list, alongside Golden State guard Stephen Curry. Next year's draft is being billed as one of the NBA's best in years. Kentucky forward Anthony Davis, Connecticut center Andre Drummond and North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes are among the many players who could do wonders for the Hornets' rebuilding effort. And while the Timberwolves are expected to improve under new coach Rick Adelman, the Hornets would be rooting all season long for a terrible showing that would lead to a high pick. The question then becomes who would head the Hornets' way in such a deal. Giving up too much (as in shooting guard Eric Gordon and/or center DeAndre Jordan in a sign-and-trade) could affect Paul's willingness to stay there long-term. Nonetheless, two sources close to Paul say he is open to the idea of playing and staying in Los Angeles (either with Blake Griffin or the Lakers' Kobe Bryant). But because the new collective bargaining agreement makes it more lucrative for a player in Paul's position to re-sign in the summer as opposed to signing an extension now, Paul may have to find a new way to show he's willing to stay beyond this season. One likely idea, as was suggested to me recently, would be for Paul to pick up his player option for next season ($17.7 million) as a sign of good faith commitment. While a new deal would eventually be agreed upon, picking up the option would assure the team that they had his contractual rights in the interim and allow the blood pressure of the respective GM to stop rising."