Chris Paul, Quincy Pondexter

Chris Paul to Lakers deal back from the dead. Maybe. But modified.

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A little more than 24 hours after the iron fist of David Stern crushed the Chris Paul to the Lakers trade because small market owners complained it was not good for the Hornets, we know four things.

1. Chris Paul is going to be traded. Sooner rather than later.

2. The Lakers’ and Hornets’ three-team deal is gaining momentum again in a modified form and could come to pass, still sending Paul to Los Angeles (although the Rockets may not be the third team in the final version).

3. Other teams and deals are getting a look at it as well.

4. Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and some other small-market owners probably won’t like whatever Hornets GM Dell Demps does anyway.

On Friday the three teams that had their old deal fall apart started looking at ways to sweeten the deal and make it more palatable to Stern. It was Stern wearing the hat of the Hornets owner — not commissioner — that killed the deal, he said in a statement.

“Since the NBA purchased the New Orleans Hornets, final responsibility for significant management decisions lies with the Commissioner’s Office in consultation with team chairman Jac Sperling. All decisions are made on the basis of what is in the best interests of the Hornets. In the case of the trade proposal that was made to the Hornets for Chris Paul, we decided, free from the influence of other NBA owners, that the team was better served with Chris in a Hornets uniform than by the outcome of the terms of that trade.”

That is the company line. Do with it as you will.

What matters is the word that got back to those teams was that the Hornets had to get younger players and more picks in any deal for Paul. In the old deal, they would have gotten Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick. While that is three solid starters and a backup point guard, they would all have had to been flipped for other parts to rebuild. Stern apparently wants less talent now and more building blocks.

There were multiple reports Friday tonight that the sides were making progress. David Aldridge at NBA.com summed up the mood and reports pretty well.

A source directly involved in the negotiations told Aldridge that progress had been made in a potential trade of Paul from the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the trade was not expected to be completed Friday and could have several more incarnations before being completed, if it is completed at all.

There is cautious optimism, but we are a ways from a deal.

Meanwhile, Demps said his is listening to teams that had lost out before, which likely includes Golden State, Boston and others. It is also possible that the Rockets could be moved out as the middle man and a team like the Indiana Pacers take their spot, to provide younger players and picks.

It may not have happened as Demps — and Lakers fans — originally envisioned. But Paul will be traded soon, and the Lakers still seem to be the most likely landing spot.

Al Horford shows he still has hops dunking on Solomon Hill (VIDEO)

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That’s just nasty.

Atlanta’s Al Horford gets the ball out high, but within his range, so when he pump fakes Indiana’s Lavoy Allen goes flying by. That opens up the lane and Horford attacks it, Solomon Hill tries to cut him off, but Horford just finishes threw him.

Pacers and Hawks played an entertaining, close game Friday night.

Dwyane Wade shows he still has hops with dunk on Hornets (VIDEO)

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Dwyane Wade still has some springs.

In what may be his best dunk in recent memory, he shoulders Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to create space in transition, then gets up and throws it down before Nicolas Batum can get there for the block.

Not sure even Wade saw that one coming.

Reigning dunk champ LaVine: ‘I’ve got tricks up my sleeve’

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine is heading back to All-Star weekend to defend his slam dunk title. And he says he has “a few tricks up my sleeve” after dominating the event last year.

LaVine will compete against Detroit center Andre Drummond, Denver swingman Will Barton and Orlando forward Aaron Gordon in Toronto next weekend.

LaVine was one of the breakout stars of All-Star weekend last year with his electric performance in the dunk contest. He says he debated about coming back and made his decision after strong encouragement from his fans.

If LaVine wins, he will become the fourth player in the 31-year history of the event to repeat as champion. Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson are the others.

Report: Blake Griffin has second procedure on hand, timeline remains unchanged

Blake Griffin
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Blake Griffin will still return to the Clippers some time in March (barring any setbacks).

That said, he had a second procedure this week to repair the boxer’s fracture in his right hand, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin underwent a second procedure this week on his broke right hand, sources told ESPN. The procedure was a part of the original surgery last week, so sources said the 4-6 week timeframe for his return remains unchanged.

This might help explain why Griffin’s hand looked so swollen and scarred this week. But to be clear, this was a planned second procedure, not a setback.

Griffin suffered the fracture punching a Clippers’ equipment manager while everyone was out to dinner in Toronto recently, while Griffin was still sidelined with a quadricep injury. The Clippers have moved on, but it is likely the league will tack on a couple of game suspension for Griffin upon his return to health.

And no, the Clippers are not looking to trade Griffin in spite of this. So stop asking.