Whatever Chris Paul asks for today, don't bet on the Hornets trading him soon

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Thumbnail image for cpaul_sits.jpgWe know what new General Manager Dell Demps and new coach Monty Williams are going to say to Chris Paul today when the two sides sit down for their first face-to-face meeting:

Give us a chance.

Both have just been hired in recent weeks, both will say they have not had time yet to build and coach up a team around Paul yet. They will ask for that time.

What Paul responds remains the question mark — as does the situation with Hornets ownership. Whatever the best intentions and plans of the new GM and coach, without the ownership situation settled things remain in limbo with the franchise. And Paul is not a fan of limbo. (The place, he may well be very fond of the dance, we don’t know.)

Whatever the case, don’t look for Paul to be moved anywhere anytime soon. Look at what other teams are being told, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.

“They say they aren’t moving him,” one rival team executive said of the Hornets.

Sources with knowledge of New Orleans’ thinking said over the weekend that the Hornets’ stance is unlikely to change, at least in the short term, even if Paul himself tells the Hornets for the first time that he wants out.

If you think the Paul’s preferred destination of the Magic are close, listen to what Stan Van Gundy told FanHouse:

“Much ado about nothing,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy Saturday told the Orlando Sentinel when asked about reports linking his team to Paul.

“We are only involved in this story because someone said he wants to be traded and someone said he wants to come to Orlando,” Van Gundy told FanHouse Sunday. “It’s a New Orleans and Chris Paul story.”

Paul has two years left on his deal. Even if he does want out, the Hornets have enough leverage to wait on a deal they really like.

And any deal they like will probably include someone taking back the contract of Emeka Okafor — four more years and $52 million. Okafor is not a disaster of a player — he gave the Hornets a solid 10 points and nine boards a game last season, with reasonable efficiency — but he is vastly overpaid. Rebuilding without Paul would mean the Hornets would want to get rid of the Okafor contract, which would be an anchor on any rebuilding efforts (sort of like the Elton Brand contract is on Philadelphia).

So finally the Hornets and Paul will sit down face-to-face today and has it out. But don’t expect any resolution soon.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.