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.

NBA suspends Hassan Whiteside for elbowing Boban Marjanovic’s head

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Hassan Whiteside lost his cool and elbowed Boban Marjanovic in the head Tuesday.

The Heat center received a flagrant 2 and an ejection, and now he’s getting the rest of his punishment.

NBA release:

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside has been suspended one game without pay for throwing an elbow and making contact with the head of San Antonio Spurs center Boban Marjanovic, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which Whiteside was assessed a Flagrant 2 and ejected, occurred with 9:35 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Spurs’ 119-101 win over the Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena on Feb. 9.

Whiteside will serve his suspension when Miami plays the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 19 at Philips Arena.

The suspension will cost Whiteside $8,921. As a result, the Heat – in line to become the first team in NBA history to pay the repeater luxury-tax rate – trim their impending tax bill by $24,534.

More importantly for Whiteside, this will be a strike against him for teams considering offering him a big contract in free agency this summer.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist tears labrum

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
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October:

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist‘s shoulder injury?

It’s bad.

Now:

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist‘s shoulder injury?

It’s bad.

Hornets:

Kidd-Gilchrist tore his labrum in the preseason, and the injury was expected to sideline him for the year. But he returned a couple weeks ago and helped Charlotte go 5-2.

Now, another setback. This is just awful news for Kidd-Gilchrist and the Hornets. He had worked so hard to get back.

Hopefully, this injury isn’t as severe and Kidd-Gilchrist can play again this season.

Report: Rockets working with Dwight Howard’s agent on trade

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JANUARY 29: Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets leaves the game after he was ejected during the third quarter of a NBA game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on January 29, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
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The Rockets have a lot of problems.

One of them is Dwight Howard.

Howard plans to opt out this summer, and he could command a max contract. Does Houston want to pay the 30-year-old center that much?

That question has become increasingly essential as Houston – losers of three straight and six of eight – has sunk out of playoff position. If Howard can’t help the Rockets achieve anything of note this season, determining his place past this season takes priority.

On that note…

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Houston Rockets have started contacting teams about trading eight-time All-Star Dwight Howard, league sources told The Vertical.

The Rockets are working with Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, on possible destinations, league executives told The Vertical.

Working with Fegan is imperative. Because Howard can become an unrestricted free agent, teams will fear him walking in free agency and propose trades to the Rockets accordingly. That could sink Howard’s value below the threshold where Houston would trade him.

But Howard and Fegan can assure certain teams Howard would re-sign, which would make Howard more valuable to them – and boost their trade offers. The NBA forbids under-the-table agreements, but these discussions happen.

Teams could also look at Howard as a rest-of-season rental, but it’s tough to find win-now teams that need a center. And again, it’s less likely a team would value Howard as a rental enough to appease the Rockets’ trade demands.

For Howard, this could be a chance to secure a larger contract. His max projects to be about $170 million over five years if he re-signs or $128 million over four years elsewhere. Ideally for him, he’ll finish the season with a team he wants to re-sign with.

Is that Houston? He’s reportedly unhappy taking a backseat to James Harden, though he denies it. The Rockets’ dismal record certainly doesn’t engender confidence from anyone.

The Celtics and Rockets reportedly talked Howard trade, and the notion Houston won’t trade Howard looks outdated.

It’ll still take multiple sides to make a deal happen – the Rockets, a trade partner and, depending on the details, probably Howard. Those are a lot of hurdles.

But it seems Houston is ready to try clearing them.

Report: Patrick Beverley to drop from All-Star Saturday Skills Challenge title

Patrick Beverley
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Last season, the Rockets’ Patrick Beverley won the NBA All-Star Saturday skills challenge because of his jump shot. In head-to-head battles with the Hawks’ Jeff Teague and the Bucks (now a Sun) Brandon Knight, Beverley fell behind on the passing part of the competition but made up the ground by knocking down his jump shot at the end.

He was set to come to Toronto to defend his skills title but has been forced to back out due to injury, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

After tweaking his ankle Wednesday night in a loss to Portland, Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley will not travel to Toronto to defend his skills competition title at All-Star Weekend, league sources told The Vertical.

Beverley wants to rest the ankle over the All-Star break for the Rockets’ final push to make the Western Conference playoffs.

This has yet to be confirmed by the NBA, nor has a replacement been named, but no doubt Woj is accurate on this. No player would risk further injury for a skills competition.

The Rockets have lost six-of-eight, and with the loss to the Blazers Wednesday night have fallen out of the playoffs in the Western Conference. They will need all their players healthy, including Beverley, but they will also need a lot more than that to climb back in the race — they need to start playing defense, they need to stop becoming disinterested for large stretches of the game, and they need someone in that locker room to step up and be a serious leader of men.