As you’ve probably read elsewhere, Hornets PG Chris Paul reportedly told the New Orleans Hornets he’d like to be traded to the Knicks sometime in the very near future. Paul, with one year remaining on his deal, must surely be aware New York has no assets in terms of talent or expiring contracts likely to satisfy New Orleans’ wishes, so why, pray tell, would such a request be made publicly? That’s a question tackled by the New York Post’s Peter Vecsey, who cites expert testimony to contradict his own assumption that “Paul, Dwight Howard and DeronWilliams continue to possess the preponderance of clout.”

“They really don’t,” one team executive refutes. “Because they take a huge financial hit if they leave at the end as free agents. Paul and Williams are owed $53 million. If they stay put and opt out at the prescribed date after the season they’re entitled to sign for $100,000 over five years. If they sign elsewhere that number drops to $74 million.”

That is precisely why players now have an added incentive to try to get moved. Another club executive emailed: “That way the new team can offer the extra year and higher annual percentage bumps. So the player has more incentive to make a stink to get moved.

At the same time,” the executive underlined, “a team has more leverage to play it out, and, ultimately, to force the player to choose between money and location.”

In Paul’s case, the team is owned by the league. This makes this situation particularly precarious, prickly and problematic.

Though I applaud Paul’s pitiless competitive spirit, does he honestly believe Stern can be intimidated into donating him to the Knicks? And, as a result, devalue a team so badly it can’t be sold for anything vaguely close to the going rate of other floundering franchises.