There are several suitors that have enough cap space to sign Paul in 2012. The number one rumored destination that has been floated around is the Knicks. It is no secret that Carmelo has been trying to recruit Chris Paul to New York ever since he set foot there. The Knicks would have their own big three to compete against Miami's, and he would be in a much larger market. While this idea is certainly a good own, it leaves little room to sign anyone else, especially if the Knicks want a decent Center playing for them. The Nets may try to recruit Paul if Deron Williams decides to opt out. Other teams such as Indiana and the Kings have cap room that they may use to try and get Paul, but small market teams rarely get such star players through free agency.
There is one team that seems to be in the best situation to pick up Paul: the Los Angelos Clippers. Mainly regarded as the little brother to the Lakers they offer an enticing opportunity because of the location, their cap space, and the players that they already have. Already fueled by Blake Griffin and armed with over 30 million dollars in cap space in 2012, the Clippers have the ability to sign Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, and potentially keep Eric Gordon. The Clippers could potentially be The Big Four and over take the West as the number one team. While the Clippers have not had a lot of success in the past, this could be the chance to change that and become not only the best team in LA, but the best team in the whole league.
With the Hornets being owned by the league, and the ownership in a flux the chances of Chris Paul staying with the Hornets is slim to none. While many people think Chris Paul will force a sign-and trade, it could be a PR nightmare for the league because they own the team. Being that the league would not want the Melo-drama to happen again it is more likely Chris Paul will be forced to leave via free agency. A sign and trade could conceivably happen if the Hornets feel like they can get something good in return. If Chris Paul really wants to play for a team over the cap, (I.e. Lakers) then he would have to force a trade, in reality a trade of that proportions would have to be one star player for Paul, or young players for him (I.e. Melo, Deron Williams trade). Asking for a trade is a short sighted thing to do. If Paul wants to go to a talented team it would be more wise to go via free agency.