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He said it also makes it tough for other free agents to want to come to New Orleans.

West suspects Paul wants out not only for that reason, but also because of “a series of events that transpired after (the 2007-08 season) sent Chris and myself into a different mindset in terms of what we really could get in New Orleans.”

West said he and Paul thought the club was headed in the right direction when it fell one victory shy of the 2008 Western Conference finals. But West said that changed when then-general manager Jeff Bower “gave a cold shoulder” to Jannero Pargo in free agency.

The Hornets chose not to re-sign the backup point guard, who had been Paul’s best friend on the team, “and didn’t consult Chris about anything,” West said.

West added that, before the hiring of Demps and Williams, Hornets upper management did not talk to him or Paul about any major moves, such as the 2009 trade of center Tyson Chandler. Chandler was first shipped to Oklahoma City, but that trade was rescinded. The Hornets later dealt Chandler to Charlotte for Emeka Okafor.

“It’s nothing against Emeka, but from our perspective, being teammates with Tyson and knowing the type of impact he had on both of our careers at that particular time, I just felt like at that moment, things, in terms of the trust, the direction we were going, started to wane a bit,” West said. “When you have a franchise guy like Chris, build a team around him, I’m under the impression that you’ve got to keep your franchise guy happy.”

West said Demps and Williams constantly consulted him and Paul, and that he holds the current coach and general manager in high regard. But for him _ and possibly Paul _ it was too little, too late. West said he and Paul both struggled to envision a fruitful long-term future in New Orleans while the Hornets lacked not only a permanent owner, but one who had a proven commitment to winning.

“Ultimately, I think (Demps and Williams) got the bad luck of the draw because things were already sort of soured,” West said of his and Paul’s feelings before last season. “And it was just that idea of trying to build a relationship of trust in such a short period of time.”