- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 14, 2011

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Hornets won’t be rushed into dealing Chris Paul and there’s no timeline for a trade, New Orleans general manager Dell Demps said Wednesday.

“It has to be the right fit,” Demps said at the Hornets’ media day. “When you’re building an organization and putting together a program, you don’t want to make rash decisions. … We’re here to put a team on the court that will be good for the city of New Orleans and our community for a long time. We don’t want to make decisions now that can negatively affect that mission.”

Still, it appears the Hornets would prefer a quick resolution. The team excused Chris Paul from Wednesday’s media day, which is normally mandatory. Paul has not spoken with reporters since reporting for training camp last Friday.

There remain “many options” for the NBA-owned Hornets to pursue in trading their four-time All-Star point guard, Demps said, adding that the team and league will be diligent in “looking for the best one.”

NBA Commissioner David Stern, acting as the team’s owner, has the final say on whether the Hornets can pull the trigger on a trade, Demps said he has not been discouraged or frustrated by the length of time it has taken to reach a deal that satisfies all parties.

“I’m working hand in hand with the commissioner’s office,” Demps said, adding that it would be normal for general managers to have to go to ownership for approval of a trade on any team.

What makes Paul’s situation abnormal, Demps said, “is the level of player and who the owner is.”

The Hornets play their first preseason game on Friday at Memphis. Currently, Paul is one of only six returning veterans on the roster, with shooting guard Marco Belinelli just joining the squad after signing his $3.3 million restricted free agent offer from New Orleans on Tuesday.

The Hornets have not yet decided whether they will allow Paul to play if he has not been dealt by the time games start.

Demps said the risk of injury won’t be a major factor in that decision, which will be based more on progression of trade talks.

Hornets coach Monty Williams said he would like to have those matters settled quickly, but understands the need for patience even as the NBA takes a public relations beating over the lingering uncertainty surrounding Paul’s status, and how that may be holding up the Hornets’ ability to move forward with free-agent moves.

“People are forgetting that the league is trying to put this team in good position,” Williams said.

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