Lebron changed things in the NBA.  Less than 24 hours after I proposed a hypothetical trade to Oklahoma City, an anonymous source close to Chris Paul disclosed that Chris Paul wants out of New Orleans and has put into motion an aggressive exit strategy.

The free agent summit, in which Lebron proclaimed himself  “the ringleader”, was Ground Zero of this phenomenon.  Chris Paul wasn’t invited because he has two seasons left on his current four year deal but he’s making his presence known a month later.  Like a bizarre game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, every clue traces back to Lebron James.  Chris Paul spent a lengthy period at Lebron’s camp in Akron, Ohio and on the day Lebron brought his “Robin” costume signed with Lebron’s marketing firm, LRMR, led by Lebron’s chief of staff, Maverick Carter.

Said another anonymous NBA front office source (when did the NBA merge with the KGB?), “Players want to follow in those [Lebron’s] footsteps.  They all want to do that. Everyone got excited about it, and it opened up the players’ imaginations as to what they could do.”

The NBA is a copycat league.  No longer will championship teams be built organically.  Every superstar wants his own Justice League.  New Orleans actually isn’t a bad franchise.  They won 37 games with Paul in a suit and tie for most of the season and discovered their electric fast backup point guard was one of the best in the league.  But that’s not enough in today’s NBA.

Chris Paul was supposed to be the Bayou’s Isiah Thomas.  That may never happen now.  Today, King James tweeted for Chris Paul to do what’s best for his family.  Apparently Lebron doesn’t realize Hurricane Katrina ended three years ago.  Chris Paul isn’t catching some charter bus out of town to avoid a tsunami so don’t try to frame this as some sort of family dilemma.  Unless Chris Paul’s “aggressive exit strategy” involves a floating car, and Elian Gonzalez, Lebron should probably leave Chris Paul’s family out of trade negotiations.

If Lebron had expressed those comments verbally instead of through his dry Twitter page, it’d be dumber than $14 million man Latrell Sprewell requesting a more lucrative extension on top of the $30 million he was offered so he could “feed his kids”.

It didn’t help matters when Byron Scott was fired last season.  The Hornets are fortunate Phil Jackson didn’t retire in June otherwise, Byron Scott would have been hired to reignite the Showtime Offense in Hollywood.  In that scenario, Chris Paul would have walked to L.A., knocked out Andrew Bynum with chloroform and shipped him to New Orleans in a UPS truck.

If the Hornets want to show they’re serious about winning instead of simply dumping salary to stay under the luxury cap, they should consider shopping Darren Collison around the league.  They’ve got an ultimatum at point guard. Either choose between the potential Collison has displayed while Chris Paul was injured or the real deal, Chris Paul.  Point guards aren’t front court players.  This isn’t like when Tim Duncan fell into San Antonio’s lap while David Robinson missed the ’97 season.  Putting two point guards who need the ball to be playmakers on the floor simultaneously, makes about as much sense as running the Wildcat with Jimmy Clausen and Matt Moore.

The Kings traded Kevin Martin just six months into Tyreke Evans rookie year because he couldn’t coexist with point guard Evans’ style of play.  If not, then Collison is wasted on the bench as Chris Paul plays 40 minutes a night. Darren Collison has shown the ability to lead a franchise for a fraction of Chris Paul’s price tag.  At least by trading Chris Paul, some semblance of value can be restored in his place.   Paul’s shortlist allegedly includes the Lakers, Magic and the Knicks.

As I stated semi-satirically before, the Lakers could swing a straight up trade of Bynum for Paul.  However, that seems unlikely considering the Lakers seem hesitant to tinker with the formula which has won them consecutive titles.  It also speaks to how deep their roster is and why I don’t believe Miami can beat them in a seven game series in June.  Since June, the Lakers have had to fend off a pair of gold medal Olympians named Chris in Bosh and Paul.  That’s how good they are.  Despite, their future instability at point guard, they don’t want to welcome the best point guard in the League at the risk of losing their size advantage.

Three summers ago, Kobe sat in Chris Paul’s shoes but in muddier waters.  In 2007, 28 year old Kobe Bryant took to the airwaves expressing his displeasure in Los Angeles.   At least Paul has the luxury of opting out in 2012 at age 27.  At the time, Kobe had satisfied just three years of a seven year $136 million dollar deal. Fortunately an auspicious charity donation from Memphis in the form of a nimble seven footer with uncombed facial hair named Pau Gasol arrived midway through the season.

That same summer, I wrote a blog questioning why Paul Pierce hadn’t expressed any dissatisfaction with the direction of the Boston Celtics.  A few weeks later, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett were wearing green and Doc Rivers went from being considered an X’s and O’s liability to a coaching savant.

Of course, the Hornets will also want to unload Emeka Okafor which means the Lakers will have to further disrupt their chemistry by throwing in Lamar Odom.  L.A. is out. The Magic and Knicks become the clear favorites.

The climate in the NBA has changed since 2007.  When Kobe Bryant forced the Lakers to choose between him or Shaq after losing in the 2004 Finals, it was the epitome of “The Man” era.  Every superstar wanted his own 82 episode sitcom.  Lebron James has shifted the NBA into the era of ensemble casts.  For a decade, I’ve listened to stodgy old analysts rail against the NBA’s “I and me” epidemic of the 2000’s and Allen Iverson is without a team.  This summer is “the answer” to their nostalgic prayers.

Chris Paul would rather join a trilogy in L.A., or a projected mega blockbuster in New York than direct an Indie production in New Orleans.  Players are abandoning the notion of winning fewer as the marquee in favor of earning a plethora of rings alongside their strongest competition. We’re a year away from a six team Super Champions League and 24 team development C-League.   Like I said before, Lebron changed things for the better.  Baseball had the Steroid Era.  Welcome to the NBA’s Merger Era.