NEW ORLEANS – Hornets star guard Chris Paul did not request a trade Monday in his meeting with new coach Monty Williams and top team officials, general manager Dell Demps said.
Demps, essentially in his first day on the job since his hiring last week, added that he was confident Paul would still be with New Orleans when the coming season opens.
The meeting was held at an undisclosed downtown location before Demps made his way back to the Hornets' corporate offices to meet with reporters.
Although Paul did not speak with the media, the team released statement from him that indicated the three-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist was encouraged by the Hornets' recent coaching and front-office overhaul.
"The meeting went well. It was great to get an opportunity to sit down with coach Williams, president Weber and our new general manager, Dell Demps," Paul's statement said. "I expressed my desire to win and I like what they said about the direction that they want to take the team. I have been a Hornet my entire career and I hope to represent the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana for many years to come."
Paul has two years remaining before he can opt out of his current contract with the Hornets. However, he said at his charity golf outing earlier this month that he would welcome a trade if the Hornets did not demonstrate a willingness to give him a supporting cast that would make the club good enough to compete with any team in the NBA.
Only days after making that statement, Paul fired his agent and hired Leon Rose, who also represents LeBron James. Paul also agreed to work with James' LRMR marketing agency.
Soon after, Paul's representatives told the Hornets that Paul was interested in being traded, but the Hornets countered by scheduling a meeting in New Orleans that included Demps, Williams and team president Hugh Weber, Paul's brother, C.J. Paul, and Rose.
"It was a very productive meeting. I was encouraged," Demps said. "It was the first time I met Chris. It was a good opportunity for us to open the lines of communication. Chris had some very good points. ... He was energetic, he was open, he was honest. He showed that he wants to win, and that's what we want to do, as well."
Williams and Weber stood nearby but did not comment as Demps discussed the meeting with Paul, which Demps said lasted about an 90 minutes.
While Paul cannot force a trade, the Hornets opted to trade Baron Davis during the 2004-05 season when he had a falling out with the club. New Orleans then began a rebuilding process that essentially began with the drafting of Paul in the summer of 2005. Paul went on to become rookie of the year and quickly became the face of the franchise. In fact, a poster-size photo of Paul's smiling visage is the first thing that greets those who walk into the Hornets' corporate offices on the 19th floor of a downtown high rise near the New Orleans Arena.
Demps said he hoped Paul would not become disruptive as long as he remains in New Orleans.
"I don't anticipate that," Demps said.
Demps did not go into detail about the Hornets' presentation to Paul. He said for competitive reasons he needed to keep much of what they discussed private.
The Hornets' payroll is close to the NBA's luxury tax threshold, and team officials have said they do not want to pay the tax or take on new debt while a planned sale of the club from majority owner George Shinn to his partner, Gary Chouest, is pending.
Still, Demps asserted, "There's always ways to be creative."
"I'm an optimist. I think that we'll sit down and evaluate the roster and look at all our pieces and move forward and do what's in the best interests of the organization."