Chris Paul says heart is in New Orleans

NEW YORK -- Despite swirling speculation he may soon leave, Chris Paul insisted on Tuesday that his heart is in New Orleans.

Paul can opt out of his contract with the team and become a free agent at the end of the season.

He was asked at a charity event in Brooklyn about speculation that he could soon join the New York Knicks.

"I try not to pay attention to all that different type of stuff," Paul said. "My heart is in New Orleans."

Paul, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony were in New York on Tuesday to help deliver 800 meals to families in conjunction with Anthony's foundation, Feed the Children and The Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Sources have told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard that Paul would eventually like to end up in New York permanently.

Sources told Broussard that Paul's first choice is to team up with Anthony and Amare Stoudemire in New York to form a "Big Three" similar to the Miami Heat's trio of James, Wade and forward Chris Bosh.

Sources also told Broussard that Paul will refuse to sign an extension with the Hornets, which would force the team to either trade him or lose him as a free-agent.

The Knicks are expected to strongly pursue Paul, either as a free-agent or in a sign-and-trade deal. But in order to play in New York, Paul will have to accept less money than he could command from New Orleans.

On Tuesday, Paul politely declined to say if he was willing to take less money to play for the Knicks.

He was asked if the thought the new proposed collective bargaining agreement would allow him to team up with Anthony.

"Oh man, I have no idea about that different type stuff," Paul, 26, said. "I think right now the thing that I'm most focused on is getting all these boxes out of my house in North Carolina and getting everything shipped back to New Orleans so I can get ready for the season."

NBA training camps are expected to start on Dec. 9. Players and owners have reached a tentative agreement to end their nearly five-month labor dispute. Both sides need to vote on the proposal before it can be ratified.

Paul and Anthony said they expect the agreement to pass.

All four superstars also expressed relief that the lockout is nearly over.

"I'm just excited personally not only for myself and my team, but for the fans," James said. "I'm thankful that we've been able to get this resolved and the fans can get back to watching the game that they love."

Added Wade: "We're excited about the opportunity to get back to playing the game of basketball, which we love. I think I'm excited most about all the fans [and] all the small business around that all took a hit from this ... getting back to work."

Anthony, who was acquired by the Knicks in a blockbuster trade in late February, said he is looking forward to having a training camp (albeit a shortened one) with his teammates.

"We had a short run last year when I came here to New York. And now we get a training camp together, we get some time to gel," Anthony said. "... We're just excited to get back out there and have our shot to go get it."

Ian Begley is a frequent contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.