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.

Grizzlies beat slumping Pacers, who fall into tie for final playoff spot

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Conley matched his career high with seven 3-pointers on his way to 36 points, helping the Memphis Grizzlies rout the Indiana Pacers 110-97 on Wednesday night.

Vince Carter had 21 points and eight rebounds, and Zach Randolph finished with 17 points as Memphis snapped a four-game losing streak. Conley went 13 for 21 from the field.

Paul George led the Pacers with 22 points, Aaron Brooks, who provided an early spark from outside the arc, had 18 points, and Thaddeus Young finished with 16.

Indiana lost for the fourth time in five games.

Memphis played without All-Star center Marc Gasol, who missed his third straight game with a left foot strain. But Conley helped the Grizzlies get off the fast start, and Pacers were never able to catch up.

Memphis led by as many as 22 in the second quarter and carried a 72-53 advantage into the break. Conley scored 22 points in the first half, and the Grizzlies went 10 for 17 from beyond the arc in the first two periods.

Brooks made four 3-pointers and scored 14 in the first half for Indiana.

The Grizzlies led 96-79 after three, and the sliding Pacers never threatened in the fourth.

Indiana (37-38) dropped into a tie with Miami for the last spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Both are two games behind Milwaukee and Atlanta.

The Heat, Bucks and Hawks all won Wednesday night.

TIP-INS

Pacers: Brooks made a 3-pointer in the first quarter to reach 800 for his career. … Indiana dropped to 0-8 in road games on the second night of a back-to-back.

Grizzlies: JaMychal Green was out with left shoulder soreness. That caused Memphis to use its 22nd different starting lineup this season. … Memphis scored 38 points in the first quarter, matching its highest point total for any quarter this season. … Memphis has made at least 10 3-pointers in 36 games. … In the third quarter, Carter passed Ray Allen (24,505) for 22nd in NBA history for career points scored. … Reserve guard Andrew Harrison left in the third quarter with a right ankle injury.

PACERS HOMECOMINGS

Pacers forward Thaddeus Young played high school basketball in Memphis and still lives there. Pacers guard Monta Ellis has a home in the Eads community east of Memphis.

HOME STRETCH

Memphis (41-34), which sits seventh in the Western Conference playoff race, has a beneficial schedule down the stretch. Of its seven remaining games, five are at home, and five are against teams with losing records.

UP NEXT

Pacers: Visit Toronto on Friday.

Grizzlies: Host the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

Three Mavericks teammates restrain Devin Harris, who still gets ejected (video)

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Dallas guard Devin Harris was ejected from Wednesday night’s 121-118 loss to New Orleans after angrily protesting calls made by official Ben Taylor.

Harris was assessed two quick technical fouls by Taylor, the first after Harris protested Taylor’s decision to whistle him for a personal foul when he collided with Pelicans’ guard Jordan Crawford.

The impact with Crawford sent Harris crashing to the court, marking the second time in the period that Harris had gone down hard. The first time, no foul was called when a collision with Pelicans’ guard E'Twaun Moore left Harris flat on his back.

When Harris was assessed the first technical, he went into a tirade and had to be restrained by teammates as he advanced toward Taylor. That triggered his ejection.

Bucks’ Malcolm Brogdon beats shot clock, Celtics with dagger (video)

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Who should win Rookie of the Year?

Joel Embiid has been, by far, the best rookie while on the court, but a season-ending injury will limit him to just 31 games. Malcolm Brogdon has been next best over the full course of the season. Dario Saric is making a heck of a finishing kick, and with a couple weeks left, he can still catch Brogdon.

But Brogdon got his own late signature moment in the Bucks’ 103-100 win over the Celtics tonight.

With the Bucks up one in the final seconds and the shot clock nearing expiration, Brogdon hit an off-balance jumper with 3.9 seconds left to produce the final margin.

Milwaukee’s win drops Boston (48-27) to second in the Eastern Conference, behind only the Cavaliers (47-26). The Bucks (39-36) keep pace with the Hawks in a tie for fifth.

Russell Westbrook scores most points ever in triple-double, 57

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Russell Westbrook led a double-digit comeback in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Been there done, that.

Westbrook hit a defining buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Been there done, that.

Westbrook posted a historic triple-double. Been there, done that.

All three in one game?

That’s a new level for Westbrook, who lifted the Thunder to a 114-106 win over the Magic tonight while posting an incredible stat line: 57 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

James Harden scored 53 in a triple-double just this season, and Westbrook has already one-upped that record.

This MVP race is one for the ages.