Paul's agent to meet with Hornets Wednesday regarding extension

NEW ORLEANS -- Chris Paul's agent plans to travel to New Orleans on Wednesday with the intention of completing a contract extension that would keep the All-Star and Team USA point guard with the Hornets for an additional three to five years.

Lance Young, a senior director of the sports marketing and management company Octagon, said Tuesday that he had spoken to Hornets general manager Jeff Bower by phone and that they were in general agreement on the terms of an extension for Paul, who has one season remaining on his current contract.

"We seem to be pretty much on the same page," Young said. "A little tweak here and there and we'll probably get it done in the next 48 hours."

Paul is seeking the maximum pay allowable under the league's collective bargaining agreement, or about 25 percent of the NBA salary cap with 10 percent raises going forward. Such a deal could pay Paul from $60 million to more than $80 million, depending on the length of the contract.

"It could be three, four, or five years. We haven't really gotten into any details yet," Young said. "Chris wants to stay with the Hornets. It just depends on how long he's going to be there."

Tuesday marked the first day NBA teams could begin negotiations with free agents or current players who are seeking extensions. Paul has from July 9 until Oct. 31 to sign an extension. Otherwise, the window for negotiations closes until next summer, when Paul would be a restricted free agent.

Last season, Paul led the NBA with averages of 11.6 assists and 2.7 steals. He was second in MVP voting to the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant.

Paul also was the Hornets' second-leading scorer, averaging 21.1 points per game in helping the Hornets reach a franchise-record 56 regular season victories.

The Hornets drafted Paul with the fourth overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft. Paul went on to become rookie of the year while helping the Hornets improve from 18 to 38 victories that season.

The Hornets nearly made the playoffs two seasons ago despite a rash of injuries to key players.

This past season, the New Orleans won the Southwest Division for the franchise's first division title, then defeated the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs before falling to the San Antonio Spurs in seven games in the second-round.

Meanwhile, ticket sales surged and sellouts became the norm during the final months of the season, strengthening the franchise's foothold in a city that once seemed in danger of losing its professional teams after Hurricane Katrina.

Bower, along with head coach Byron Scott and team majority owner George Shinn, have said since last season ended that extending Paul's contract was a top priority.

The belief is that locking in Paul, a top play-maker who has helped teammates David West and Tyson Chandler flourish, will help the Hornets attract and keep the type of supporting cast needed to contend for an NBA championship.

Looking for immediate help heading into next season, the Hornets last week traded away their only draft choice, Kansas forward Darrell Arthur, to the Portland Trail Blazers for $3 million as part of a strategy to sign proven free agents.

New Orleans will attempt to re-sign backup point guard Jannero Pargo, who opted out of the final year of his contract in hopes of getting a longer, more lucrative deal. The Hornets also are seeking a strong wing player such as James Posey or Corey Maggette, both free agents.