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


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.

Byron Scott isn’t thinking about next year’s draft

Byron Scott
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A month into the season, the Lakers the only team in the Western Conference that can absolutely be written out of any hopes of playoff contention. They’re in an awkward position with the upcoming draft: they still need talent long-term, and they owe their pick to the Sixers if it’s outside of the top three. Not surprisingly, Byron Scott isn’t thinking about it at all.

Via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

With the Lakers fielding the NBA’s second-worst record, how much effort will the franchise put in retaining its top-3 protected draft pick?

“I don’t think about that whatsoever,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “I probably won’t until April. That’s something I can’t control.”

The Lakers are in a precarious position. They appear likely bad enough to lose a lot of games. But will they lose enough to land in the top three? Otherwise, the Lakers owe Philadelphia their first-round pick as part of the Steve Nash trade.

“It’s impossible to think about the team, try to get our young guys better, the team better and also thinking about a pick,” Scott said. “That’s six months away and you might not even get it.”

Given Scott’s mentality, it’s not at all surprising that he isn’t thinking about the draft. But with his insistence on playing Kobe Bryant and Lou Williams more crunch-time minutes on this dismal Lakers team than D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, it’s pretty laughable that he talks about wanting to develop their young players.

Scott may not be thinking about the draft, but with the position the franchise is in and the likelihood that they lose their pick, he should be.

Report: Jahlil Okafor stopped for driving 108 MPH three weeks ago

Jahlil Okafor, Derrick Favors

Jahlil Okafor‘s first month in the NBA has been eventful for all the wrong reasons. Early Thanksgiving morning, he was caught on video getting into a fight with a heckler in Boston. Then, a report surfaced of another altercation from October, in which Okafor apparently had a gun pulled on him. Now, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Okafor was recently pulled over in Philadelphia for driving 108 miles per hour:

Four sources independently confirmed to The Inquirer the 76ers center was pulled over on the Ben Franklin Bridge around three weeks ago for 108 miles per hour. Anything over 40 m.p.h. is considered reckless driving.

108 miles per hour in a 40-mile zone isn’t a minor speeding infraction—it’s incredibly dangerous. It might be possible to write off any of these incidents by themselves—particularly the one where he had a gun pulled on him, which doesn’t seem to have been his fault at all. But together, the Boston incident and this speeding report aren’t a good look at all for Okafor. He’s had a solid start to the year for the Sixers, but off the court has been another story.

Harrison Barnes could be out “a few weeks” with ankle injury

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The Warriors’ Friday night 135-116 win over the Suns was bittersweet: Harrison Barnes suffered a sprained left ankle in the third quarter and left for the remainder of the game. He missed Saturday night’s blowout win over the Kings as well, which extended the Warriors’ best-ever start to the season to 18-0.

Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton didn’t have an answer for how long Barnes will be out, but he said it could be a few weeks.

Via ESPN.com’s Ethan Sherwood Strauss:

“He’s being evaluated [Saturday]. We haven’t gotten the results back yet,” interim head coach Luke Walton told reporters before Saturday’s game. “It’s all speculation. It could be a few weeks. It could be a week.

“We’re not going to rush him back because we want to be healthy for later in the season and we don’t want lingering injures, so we’ll have him take his time.”

Losing a starter is never good news, but the silver lining for the Warriors is that they have enough depth and enough of a cushion to be able to take their time and not rush Barnes back. Saturday night, Walton opted to keep Andre Iguodala in his usual sixth-man role and instead start the little-used Brandon Rush in Barnes’ place. Rush responded with a 16-point performance, shooting 4-of-5 from the three-point line. If they can keep getting that kind of production out of their reserves, the Warriors will be able to withstand the loss of Barnes just fine.

Emmanuel Mudiay with the no-look, behind-the-head assist (VIDEO)

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Emmanuel Mudiay is still a work in progress on the court — he’s a rookie, what did you expect? — but he has the court vision and flair you cannot teach.

As evidence, I present this pass from Saturday night, where in transition Mudiay goes with the no-look, behind-the-head dish to Darrell Arthur for the dunk.

The Nuggets dropped this game to the Mavericks 92-81 and have lost six in a row.