Chris Paul Andrew Bynum

Chris Paul trade chatter grows, Lakers right at front of line

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The buzz around the league that the New Orleans Hornets have decided that they have to trade Chris Paul and do it fast is growing.

And the name that keeps coming up more and more as a potential landing spot for the star point guard is the Los Angeles Lakers.

Hornets’ general manager Dell Demps did meet face-to-face with Paul, according to Marc Stein and Chris Broussard of ESPN.

Sources told ESPN.com that Paul and Hornets general manager Dell Demps did have their expected sitdown at the team’s practice facility Monday and that the tone of the meeting was amicable. But Paul, sources said, did not tell the Hornets that he is prepared to sign an extension before the regular season opens Christmas Day, which only increases the likelihood that the Hornets deal the star guard this month.

If they are going to move him, the question is the landing spot. There are a lot of teams interested: The Warriors, Clippers Celtics, Hawks, Rockets and Mavericks. Both the Celtics (who would offer Rajon Rondo) and Rockets are reportedly willing to trade for Paul without him having agreed to extend his deal with the team.

However, more and more the destination that comes up is the Los Angeles Lakers. Sam Amick at Sports Illustrated explains.

Numerous front-office sources told SI.com that the Paul-to-the-Lakers chatter grew louder this week, and the common belief is that it would take Andrew Bynum to get that deal done (as opposed to 31-year-old forward Pau Gasol).

As we passed along yesterday, there are reports that the Lakers and Hornets have had a conversation and would talk again, but that the talks were vague at first. However, that may be changing.

The Lakers want more than just Chris Paul, reports Broussard at ESPN.

It is no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers would like to trade for Dwight Howard or Chris Paul, but sources with knowledge of the situation says the Lakers actually have something greater in mind: acquiring both players.

Hoping to pull off a pair of blockbuster moves that would rock the NBA, the Lakers are willing to trade anyone on their roster outside of Kobe Bryant to bring Howard and Paul to Los Angeles, two sources said.

That is not going to happen because the Lakers have only one real asset a young, rebuilding team would want — Bynum.

Gasol is arguably the most skilled big man in the game right now but he is 31 years old with a huge contract, not a player a rebuilding team will want. Odom works as a throw in as part of a Bynum deal if the Lakers have to take back a bad contract to make it work. But a rebuilding team will want Bynum and picks as part of he deal and the Lakers have only one of him.

The question is, do the Hornets get him for Paul or the Magic for Howard? The key difference is that while the Hornets seem to have come to the conclusion they need to move CP3 now, the Magic still hold out hope they can convince Howard to stay. They  are on a different timeline. Paul seems to be the guy who will get moved first.

Remember this other hurdle to a Paul-to-Lakers deal — the Hornets are owned by the league right now. After preaching competitive balance and giving small market teams a chance throughout the lockout, could the league (and other owners) sign off on a deal that sends CP3 to a marquee team in a huge market? Do not underestimate how that could change things.

Add Kobe Bryant to don’t change hack-a-player crowd

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant gestures after hitting a three point shot during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Associated Press
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LeBron James is already there. So is Kevin Durant. Same with a lot of other old-school GMs and coaches around the league.

Their response to the rapid rise in hack-a-player (shouldn’t it always be hack-a-Shaq?) instances is “tell the guy to hit the free throws.”

Add Kobe Bryant to their ranks, reports Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is starting to feel differently. He realizes he runs an entertainment business and a parade of guys to the free throw line without because of a non-basketball play — you can’t begin to tell me fouling a guy 50 feet from the ball is a basketball play in the spirit of the rules — is bad for that business. It is unwatchable. And while every coach in the NBA “I hate to do it” they all do it with more and more frequency, there will be more than twice as many instances this season as there were a year ago, with more and more players involved. Because it works, and because they are paid to win, not play beautiful basketball.

Change is coming. Old-school types always bemoan change, and that’s not just a basketball thing. But the rest of the world has rules in place to stop this because they realize it’s not basketball, it’s gaming the system. And it needs to change.

Timofey Mozgov with maybe “best” missed dunk of the season (VIDEO)

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On this play the Sacramento Kings played defense like only they can — and you wonder why George Karl’s job is in danger — and gave Cleveland’s Timofey Mozgov a wide-open lane right down the middle for an easy dunk.

Ooof.

LeBron James had a triple-double (the 40th of his career) and the Cavaliers got a needed easy win, but this is the play you’ll remember.

Karl-Anthony Towns with nasty poster dunk on Dante Cunningham (VIDEO)

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Karl-Anthony Towns is a beast.

While the Timberwolves have plenty of question marks around him, but Towns has been exceptional. Coming into Monday night, he was averaging 21.6 points (on 59.9 percent shooting) and 12.7 rebounds a night in his last 10 games.

Then Monday he did that to Dante Cunningham.

The Pelicans went on to win the game 116-102, but Towns continues to play well.

Report: Come 2017, Knicks have real shot to land Russell Westbrook

during the first half of the NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on February 8, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  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.
Russell Westbrook
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The summer of 2016 is all about Kevin Durant — and we don’t know what Durant is going to do as a free agent because Durant doesn’t yet know what Durant is going to do as a free agent. Stay in Oklahoma City, bolt to the Bay Area or maybe Washington D.C.? These playoffs, meetings with teams and his advisors, plus personal factors all will play a role in Durant’s decision. Which he will get around to announcing in early July sometime.

But the sense around the league is that while Durant may very well stay in Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook was drawn to the bright lights of big markets. If an elite player were to bolt OKC, this was the more likely guy. Westbrook is a free agent in 2017.

In an article about Phil Jackson and the Knicks in the wake of Derek Fisher’s firing, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports said the Knicks have a real shot at Westbrook in a couple of summers.

The Knicks have a real chance to sell Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in 2017 – New York and Porzingis have his attention, yes – and Jackson ought to start constructing an elite coaching staff to begin that process with Westbrook and with free agents beyond him.

Come 2017, expect Westbrook to meet with a number of big market teams on both coasts, and then make a decision. The summer of 2017 is a couple of NBA lifetimes away, it’s impossible to say what Westbrook will do (he may well decide to stay in OKC if they win enough), but the big market teams looking for a star will get their turn in the batter’s box.

Which is why I still think Durant signs a 1+1 deal this summer to stay in Oklahoma City for another season — he’s going to give everything another chance to come together for the Thunder, then when the salary cap is at its peak in 2017 (an estimated $108 million) he makes his peak seasons decision. He and Westbrook and Serge Ibaka will all be free agents at the same time, and they can make their calls.

And the Knicks could be involved in all of it.