Hornets, Chris Paul keep saying he's not on the trading block. Everyone else thinks he will be soon.

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nba_paul_250.jpgOnce again today, someone from the front office of the New Orleans Hornets tried to shoot down Chris Paul trade rumors. ESPN’s Marc Stein tweeted about it:

Hornets prez Hugh Weber, at event WITH Chris Paul, when asked if it’s 100 percent CP3 starts next season as a Hornet: “No question, yes.”

The guys from Fox 8 in New Orleans asked Paul about being back and how much fans wanted him to be back

“Met too.  I hope so too.  Just like I said, I would love to be here and hope I am here.”

And yet, the trade offers keep pouring in. Portland was rumored to be close (Andre Miller, Joel Przybilla, Nicolas Batum, Jerryd Bayless and the 22nd pick to New Orleans for Paul and Emeka Okafor). New Jersey tried. Cleveland (where he could be reunited with Byron Scott, who he likes a lot). Orlando. Each time the Hornets say no.

But the time may come — and it may come sooner than Hornets fans want to think about — that CP3 starts to force a trade.

Two factors will play into this (and they are related):

First, when does the ownership situation get resolved? Or, more to the point, does it? Gary Chouest was going to buy the Hornets off penny-pinching George Shinn two months ago, and yet a deal has not gone through. There have been reports that Shinn wants Chouest to take on a lot of debt as part of the transaction and that is the holdup. The other factor is Chouest is the owner of Edison Chouest Offshore, a company that does offshore oil work in the Gulf of Mexico (as well as shipbuilding and more). His firm had nothing to do with the BP oil spill, but that disaster has hit that region and businesses like his hard. He is working to bring minority investors in with him now.

Which brings us to question number two: Do the Hornets have the money to build a champion? They won’t with Shinn at the helm, and it is fair to question if the Chouest deal will go through at this point. If it does, Chouest has been rumored to be willing to spend on building. But how much?

Paul wants to win. He watches this summer’s free agent moves and sees guys with the chance to go somewhere and win and he gets a little jealous. He wants to win in New Orleans and said so again yesterday. He added that wants his team to go after some of those free agents. But right now the Hornets sit on their hands. If that’s not going to change, at some point he will force the Hornets to take the trade offers more seriously.

Joel Embiid calls out Karl Anthony-Towns’ defense during Instagram trash talk

AP Foto/Hannah Foslien
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Joel Embiid often gloats on Instagram after 76ers wins.

Of course he did after Philadelphia beat Minnesota on Tuesday, specifically calling attention to this move on Karl-Anthony Towns (and this 76ers fan custom):

Embiid:

Euro stepping our way through Minnesota and we ended up raising the cat last night #TheProcess

A post shared by Joel "The Process" Embiid (@joelembiid) on

Towns commented:

That caption was as trash as your picture quality

Embiid replied:

Better quality than your defense

Embiid insisted it’s all in good fun.

Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

https://twitter.com/JCameratoNBCS/status/941395953113804800

I’m not sure Towns is having as much fun as Towns. But I know this:

Embiid had a valid point.

Salah Mejri kicks at Patty Mills as Mavericks and Spurs leave court for halftime (video)

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Mavericks center Salah Mejri has a history of agitating, including against the Spurs.

Two years ago, Mejri dunked while Dallas got blown out by San Antonio and yapped at the Spurs bench – drawing laughter from Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan. Last season, Mejri had Trevor Ariza and other Rockets trying to confront him after reportedly saying something about Ariza’s family.

In the Mavericks’ win over the Spurs on Tuesday, Mejri got into it with Patty Mills.

Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com:

Mejri and Rudy Gay received double technical fouls, and Mejri went to the bench. Everything could have cooled down at halftime, but Mejri escalated tension

Watch the full sequence above, but the key moment:

giphy (2)

That’ll probably draw a fine.

NBA introducing 2-for-1 All-Star voting days

AP Photo/Chris Carlson
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The NBA changed its All-Star format this season from East vs. West to captain-picked teams (though still naming players equally from each conference).

That apparently wasn’t a big enough overhaul.

After including media and player votes last year, the league is making All-Star starter selection even more complex.

NBA release:

NBA All-Star Voting 2018 presented by Verizon will tip off with an early voting period exclusively on the NBA App and NBA.com beginning Thursday, Dec. 21 at 1 p.m. ET.

Voting via all other channels, including Amazon Alexa for the first time, will launch on Monday, Dec. 25 at 11 a.m.

Additionally, new for this season, five “2-for-1 Days” will allow fans to have their votes count twice on Dec. 31, Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Jan. 12 and Jan. 15 when voting through the NBA App and NBA.com, along with Sina Weibo and Tencent in China.  All “2-for-1 Days” will be designated 12 a.m. – 11:59 p.m. ET.

TNT will reveal the All-Star Game starters, including the two captains, on Thursday, Jan. 18 during TNT NBA Tip-Off

The network will announce the reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, on Tuesday, Jan. 23 during TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET. 

The team rosters for NBA All-Star Game 2018 in Los Angeles will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET.

I suppose this is to drum up interest on otherwise quiet voting days. After all, this is really just about the NBA selling itself.

But the All-Star voting process has always left something to be desired. I don’t see how this changes that.

Report: Lakers ‘longshot’ to sign LeBron James

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Preeminent NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski called it “likelyLeBron James would sign with the Lakers or Clippers next summer. The Clippers have since been somewhat debunked as a LeBron destination. There’s circumstantial evidence linking LeBron to Los Angeles.

Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

So imagining James’ last act coming in purple and gold isn’t without basis. But as of now, it’s also a longshot, according to league sources.

Shelburne and Windhorst are highly credible. I doubt they’d report this without connected sources.

LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, and manager, Maverick Carter, have recently publicly downplayed the importance of Los Angeles to LeBron. That felt like a coordinated attack on the LeBron-Lakers rumors, and this fits as a continuation.

But why wage that campaign? To keep the Cavaliers focused while LeBron still plays for them, even if he might leave after the season? To lower expectations among the Lakers’ massive fan base, so as not alienate those people (potential customers of the many LeBron-connected brands) when LeBron inevitably signs elsewhere? Both could be true, but there’s obviously a difference between each driving LeBron’s camp.