New Orleans Hornets v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Two

Chris Paul denies requesting trade to New York. As he must.

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This was inevitable and predictable. And it doesn’t change one thing.

Chris Paul has officially denied that he has requested a trade to the New York Knicks. Here are the quotes via the Times-Picayune.

But two league sources confirmed after the story broke that Paul’s agent, Leon Rose, never made the request to the Hornets.

“It is just rumors; you can’t control it,’’ Paul said. “It’s always going to happen, and it’s part of the game. I’m just happy to be back with my team.’’

First, Paul likes New Orleans, he is very involved in the community there. This is not about the city or the fans. And Paul may have to play some or all of a season there, so he is going to say this is not him and that he just wants to play basketball and all that. He has to. That is part of the game.

This is not about the Big Easy. This is about Paul wanting to win and seeing a team without an owner and without direction in a small market. It’s hard to see how the Hornets become competitive soon.

Neither Paul nor his agent made direct contact with Hornets GM Dell Demps and say, “trade me.” That’s not how this works, people leave themselves plausible deniability. It’s done though an intermediary but the message is clear nonetheless. At some point Demps and Paul (and his agent) will talk directly, face-to-face. Don’t expect the message to really change.

But that’s not what they will say to the press. It will be CP3 saying he loves New Orleans and he just wants to play basketball. It will be Demps saying the team’s priority is to sign Paul to an extension. It is a dance they will do for as long as this thing plays out. But Paul is leaving New Orleans and that is not changing, it’s just a matter of how and where.

Gordon Hayward dunks on Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thon Maker (videos)

Gordon Hayward (20), del Jazz de Utah, intenta un enceste ante Thon Maker (7) y Michael Beasley (9), de los Bucks de Milwaukee, en el duelo del viernes 24 de febrero de 2017, en Milwaukee. (AP Foto/Benny Sieu)
AP Foto/Benny Sieu
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Are we obligated to call Gordon Hayward “deceptively athletic”?

The Bucks have something special in Giannis Antetokounmpo, and they think they have something special in Thon Maker.

But Hayward jammed all over those two in the Jazz’s 109-95 win last night.

First, he got Antetokounmpo:

Then, he got Maker:

Report: Lakers working toward buyout with Jose Calderon; Warriors, Rockets interested

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 18:  Jose Calderon #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to a called foul during the second half of a game against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on November 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. 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 Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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The Lakers took on the salary of Jose Calderon this year so they could get a couple second-round picks from the Bulls (Chicago got him from New York in the Derrick Rose trade), but even with the previous regime in Los Angeles the aging point guard was never part of the future.

As was expected, the Lakers are now talking about buying out the Spanish national and letting him head to a playoff team for a stretch run, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Sources told ESPN that it’s not yet a certainty Calderon will secure his release from the Lakers in the coming days, but the sides are indeed discussing the options as Wednesday’s playoff eligibility deadline nears….

Sources say that Calderon, if he winds up hitting the open market, would instantly become a target for both the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets.

Cleveland may also have interest if their plan to land Deron Williams when he is bought out by Dallas goes awry.

Calderon, 35, was not part of the Lakers’ regular rotation, playing in just 24 games. He can still knock down a shot if he has space and can set his feet, and he still has a high hoops IQ and can see the floor, but his athleticism has faded, and that can leave him exposed. Particularly on defense.

Players are being waived now so they clear in time for teams to sign them by March 1, after that said players are not eligible for playoff rosters.

There are better players to hit the waiver wire in the coming days — D-Will, Andrew Bogut, Matt Barnes — but Calderon is going to land somewhere. He’d be a solid third point guard and veteran presence for a playoff run.

Marquese Chriss blocks Bobby Portis, who gets testy (video)

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Bobby Portis didn’t enjoy getting blocked by Marquese Chriss. And Portis sure didn’t appreciate how Chriss fell on him.

But it was all worth it (for me, at least) just to see the Bulls forward make a face that reminded me of this:

Dwyane Wade with dagger dunk to seal Bulls win vs. Suns (VIDEO)

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The time off during the All-Star break did Dwyane Wade some good.

The Bulls guard turned back the clock on Friday night, leading the Bulls with 23 points and topping it off with this dunk that proved to be the dagger, sealing a Chicago win. The Suns were convinced Wade was going to run the shot clock way down before making his move and they lollygagged into position — so he just blew past everyone for the poster slam.

The Bulls won 128-121. Devin Booker led the Suns with 27.