|Paul meets with Hornets, but deal still pending|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 02 July 2008 13:18|
``We felt like it went well ... and we'll get it wrapped up sometime soon,'' said Lance Young, senior director of the sports management and marketing company Octagon, which represents Paul.
Young flew into New Orleans on Wednesday morning and spent the day with Paul and Hornets general manager Jeff Bower. Paul left abruptly Wednesday afternoon without making any comment.
Young emerged from Bower's office a couple hours later.
``We're all on the same page, so we'll be able to get it worked out,'' Young said as he walked to his vehicle. ``I don't think we're in any real rush to get it done.''
Young said he was unsure whether he would return to Bower's office at the Alario Center on Thursday.
Paul is trying to decide between a four-year deal worth $68 million or a five-year extension worth $87 million, Young said.
The extension would go into effect after next season, the last season covered by the contract Paul signed as a rookie in the summer of 2005.
Last season, Paul led the NBA with averages of 11.6 assists and 2.7 steals. He was the Hornets' second-leading scorer, averaging 21.1 points per game in helping the Hornets reach a franchise-record 56 regular season victories.
Paul's performance and efforts to aid New Orleans' recovery from Hurricane Katrina may have saved pro basketball in a city that was in danger of losing its pro teams after the devastating storm struck in August 2005.
Sellouts became the norm during the second half of last season and the playoffs.
The Hornets have sold more than 5,000 new season tickets for next season while retaining about 90 percent of last season's season-ticket holders. The Hornets now have about 10,000 season-ticket holders, the most they've had since moving to New Orleans from Charlotte for the 2002-03 season.
Bower, along with head coach Byron Scott and team majority owner George Shinn, have said extending Paul's contract is a top priority.
The belief is that locking in Paul, a top playmaker who helped teammates David West and Tyson Chandler flourish, should help the Hornets entice and keep a supporting cast needed to contend for an NBA title.
Looking for immediate help heading into next season, the Hornets last week traded away their only draft choice, Kansas forward Darrell Arthur, to the Portland Trail Blazers for $3 million as part of a strategy to sign proven free agents.
New Orleans will attempt to re-sign backup point guard Jannero Pargo, who opted out of the final year of his contract. The Hornets also have inquired about Boston Celtics forward James Posey, according to agent Mark Bartelstein, who represents Pargo, Posey and P.J. Brown.
Bartelstein said Brown, who lives in suburban New Orleans and played with Boston last season, is enjoying his first NBA championship and is undecided about whether he might play, coach or simply relax next season, when he'll turn 39.
The Hornets also have asked about Jarvis Hayes and Juan Dixon, who both played for Detroit last season, according to their agent, Mitch Butler.
``The Hornets are definitely interested in trying to enhance their bench and believe Hayes and Dixon, with their ability to shoot the ball, could provide just that,'' Butler said.
Butler said both players ``like the situation'' in New Orleans.
``Obviously they believe New Orleans is a championship caliber team. They have an MVP-type player on their team,'' Butler said. ``They've got a great supporting cast. They both feel like it would be a great opportunity to have chance to win an NBA championship.''