Hornets pick up contract option on standout PG Paul

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The New Orleans Hornets picked up an option on Chris Paul's contract Wednesday, keeping the reigning rookie of the year with the Hornets for at least two more seasons.

Paul, the No. 4 overall pick in last year's NBA draft, averaged 16.1 points and 7.8 assists last season, leading all rookies, and his 175 steals were the most in the NBA.

The Hornets still have an option to pick up the fourth year of Paul's contract for the 2008-09 season.

"Chris has exceeded all expectations both on and off the court since we drafted him and we're pleased to have him officially under contract through the 2007-08 season," Hornets general manager Jeff Bower said in a statement. "We envision him as the cornerstone of this franchise for years to come, and today's announcement is the first step toward making that happen."