NEW ORLEANS -- Heading into his sixth season with the Hornets, Baron Davis, face of the franchise at the time, demanded a trade.
His reason for a change of scenery, an eerily familiar one for Hornets fans these days. Davis' agent told the Associated Press, "I want to put him in the position where he can contend for a title."
The Hornets had just come off a first round loss in the Eastern Conference playoffs and were transitioning into the Western Conference. Davis, just a year prior, had been signed to a max deal. Hornets general manager Alan Bristow bristled at the idea of dealing the club's franchise player; "It's not even a possibility," he said.
The situation never was repaired. Injuries and Davis' admittedly bad attitude ultimately lead to the worst season in franchise history. In February 2005, Davis was dealt at the trade deadline. Not to a contender, but rather to Golden State for Speedy Claxton and Dale Davis.
Fast forward five years later, and the Hornets are again facing a franchise player, entering his sixth season, with an exit strategy. A player who again wants to be in a better position to win a title. According to a league source, the situation has not reached the point of no return. But Chris Paul's recent ultimatums are part of a string a decisions that the source thinks are "going down a dark path."
Paul has signed on with Lebron James' marketing agency, even reportedly expressed his desire to form a "big three" with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudamire in New York. That wedding toast essentially confirmed today with a report that the Knicks top Paul's list of trade partners.
The Hornets have changed their head coach and their general manager all in an attempt to pacify their star player, and apparently it still isn't enough. Later next week, perhaps sooner, the Hornets new brain trust will try to convince Paul that his best chance at a championship is in New Orleans.
Should their argument fail, it's almost assured the Hornets will get more for Chris Paul than they did for Baron Davis. But will they get enough?
Championships in the NBA are won with superstars and money. Only one team in the past six years has won a title without paying the luxury tax. Quiz yourself to think of the last NBA team to win a title without a future hall of fame player.
The Hornets have never been over the luxury tax and currently have a future hall of famer. One of those facts will most likely change soon.